First it was unicorn lattes, then it was mermaid toast. The past year’s food trends have been all about color and, well, there’s a new hue invading our Instagram feeds: purple!

Meet ube (pronounced “ooh-bay”), a purple yam native to Southeast Asia that has recently gained popularity stateside thanks to its rich violet color. While its social media buzz makes ube seem like the newest food trend, it’s been a staple in Filipino cooking for years. Ube’s mild, slightly earthy and nutty flavor makes it easy to incorporate into desserts, and its striking color means it will make any dish instantly more photogenic.

Read on to learn how to use ube to make your cooking even more show-stopping, and how to work more Filipino meals into your family’s menu:


Where to Find Ube

Still a somewhat niche food stateside, tracking down ube might take some work. Check Filipino markets first or shop online. Ube can be found in many different forms:

  • Fresh purple yams – Make sure to cook and grate before using
  • Powdered ube – Cook in a water-filled saucepan until it forms a paste similar in texture to pureed sweet potato
  • Ube flavor extract, flash frozen grated ube, or grated ube jam - These are ready-to-use


How to Add Ube to Your Desserts

It’s easy to create Instagram-worthy desserts by adding ube. Use these starting points to introduce the vibrant purple vegetable into your cooking.

Ube Ice Cream

DIY no-churn ice cream is the dessert of summer, and adding ube makes your scoop look as good as it tastes. Check out our guide to making homemade ice cream – incorporating ube into these delicious hassle-free recipes is super easy. Just add a spoonful of ube extract to the ice cream base before freezing or simply stir in a spoonful of grated or powdered ube until the ice cream reaches your desired violet hue.

Enjoy the purple ice cream on its own or use it to make ube ice cream sandwiches, like this simple no-bake cookie dough variety. You can also use it as a topping for fluffy waffles.

Ube Cake and Cupcakes

Royal purple cake? Yes, please! Keep it simple by using ube extract to add flavor and vibrancy to your favorite vanilla cake recipe, and amp up the color with purple food coloring as needed. You can also use real grated ube for rich flavor. Keep in mind that grated ube adds moisture as well as flavor, and can yield a denser and moister cake.

This purple yam can be incorporated into the icing on the cake too: Just add ube extract to your favorite buttercream frosting recipe and dress your cake to Pinterest-worthy perfection.


Ube Cheesecake and Cookies

If you’re hooked on ube after trying out ice cream and cake, making more ube desserts is super easy. Mix the purple sweet potato in with sugar cookie dough to make gorgeous lavender cookies, or stir ube into a creamy cheesecake mixture to make beautiful mini purple sweet potato cheesecakes. Blend ube ice cream into for purple milkshakes, or use an ube and cinnamon sugar mixture as the filling for purple cinnamon rolls that will take your brunch to the next level.


Enjoy More Filipino Foods

Ube’s mild taste makes the perfect entry point into Filipino cooking, so take the opportunity to try out new flavors. Get dinner on the table quickly with these easy and satisfying Pinoy Pork BBQ skewers. A popular Filipino street food that’ll please both adults and kids alike, these barbecue kabobs flavored by crushed red pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika and coarse black pepper taste delicious served with a side of bright and fresh green mango slaw seasoned with fresh cilantro, sea salt, and a dash of cayenne pepper for some heat.

Whip up a batch of banana ketchup to coat your skewers and get the summer started! Perfectly seasoned with garlic, jalapeno, allspice and turmeric, this easy sauce will add a Filipino flavor to hot dogs, burgers, chicken or pork (and make all your BBQ dreams come true).

Exploring Filipino cuisine helps you to enjoy ube as more than just a trend, and who knows — you just might find your family’s new favorite meal!

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