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Ginataang Bilo bilo (sticky rice balls in coco milk)

Ginataang Bilo bilo (or Ginataang Halo-halo) is a popular Filipino afternoon snack or dessert.

Made with glutinous rice balls, plantain bananas, sweet potatoes and tapioca pearls that is cooked in sweet coconut milk, and to make it more special, jackfruit is also usually added.

ginataang bilo bilo

Ginataan Bilo Bilo is a great comfort food, especially on a rainy day. It is very versatile as it can be eaten hot or cold so you can enjoy it as an afternoon snack and even for breakfast or as a dessert.

It is hearty and very nutritious at the same time. Plantain or cooking bananas and sweet potato are both good sources of fiber. They also contain a good array of vitamins and minerals. Ginataang Bilo bilo (or Ginataang Halo-halo) is a popular merienda (afternoon snack) to us Filipinos. It is made of glutinous or sticky rice balls, plantain bananas, sweet potatoes and tapioca pearls cooked in coconut milk, to make it more special, jack fruit is also usually added. It is sweet and delicious and can be eaten either hot or cold.|

When we were young,  I remember my mama would buy freshly ground glutinous rice from the local marketplace. She would have to buy the glutinous rice from the rice vendor herself and bring it to the grinder afterward.

Nowadays you can buy a bag of glutinous or sticky rice flour and just add water to it and they are ready to use.

As you can see in the photo below, I added some purple or violet food color to half of my sticky rice balls. It makes the Ginataan Bilo Bilo a bit more vibrant so does the orange sweet potatoes.

There is also an Ube food flavoring that you can buy that will give the same result plus the added flavor to the balls.  Just be careful though with using liquid food colors as just some drops can already go a long way.

ingredients for ginataan

Do not laugh at me but I have to say that it was my first time to see orange sweet potatoes.

Back home they are usually off-white to yellowish or even purple, they looked weird to me at first and it was like I was cooking squash or pumpkin instead but it tasted just like the sweet potatoes I know.

Update: Orange-colored sweet potatoes are now also available in the Philippines. Hurray! 

bilo bilo

Too bad though I was not able to find jackfruit so I was not able to add some.

I have to ask the other Filipinas around where they get it because I am fairly sure I saw some jackfruit when a friend brought Ginataan Bilo Bilo to a Filipino get-together one time. Of course, it could only be in a can unless she was able to bring it directly from the Philippines.

Update: I decided to remake the photos and as you can see there is now jackfruit in it. I will never make Bilo Bilo without it again! I mean, it is good without but it is so much better with them.

ginataang halo halo

How to cook tapioca pearls?

Cooking sago or tapioca pearls could take a while, depending on the size. The bigger ones could take more than an hour to cook. This steps here is for the small ones that I usually use for making Ginataang Bilo-Bilo.

There are different ways to cook tapioca pearls but I like this method because it is faster and it makes sure that the pearls are cooked through by cooking it twice.

  1. Bring 4-5 cups of water into a rolling boil over high heat. Add the tapioca pearls. Let it cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Place a colander/strainer in a bowl or pot and pour the contents to separate the tapioca from the water. Use the same water and bring it to boil the second time.
  3. Wash the strained tapioca pearls thoroughly with tap water and put it back into the boiling water and cook again for several minutes until they become completely translucent and no more white spot at the core.

Bilo Bilo

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Bilo Bilo
5 from 10 votes

Ginataang Bilo bilo (glutinous rice balls in coconut milk)

Filipino dessert from glutinous rice balls, plantain bananas, sweet potatoes, tapioca pearls cooked in coconut milk.
Print Rate
Course: Snack
Cuisine: Asian,Filipino
Keyword: bilo-bilo,ginataang bilo-bilo
Servings: 6
Calories: 726kcal
Author: Bebs
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes


  • 2 cups glutinous rice flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 2 400ml can coconut milk or cream
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked tapioca pearls
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 big sweet potatoes - - peeled and cubed
  • 4 piece plantain bananas - - peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup jackfruit - - cut into strips


  • Prepare the sticky rice balls by adding 1 cup of water to 2 cups glutinous rice flour. Mix with a fork until it forms a dough. Scoop about half a spoon of the dough and form them into balls using your palms. Set them aside.
  • In a pot, combine 2 cups water, coconut milk, and sugar and bring to boil. Add the sweet potato cubes and cook for about 3 minutes stirring occasionally. Next, add the plantain banana cubes and cook for about 3 minutes.
  • Once the sweet potatoes and bananas are almost cooked, add the sticky rice balls and let simmer until they are cooked (about 5 minutes) while stirring occasionally. You know the sticky balls are done when they are floating.
  • Add the jackfruit slices and the cooked tapioca pearls. Let simmer for another 3-5 minutes or until all fruits are tender and cooked.
  • Note that it will continue to thicken even after removing it from the heat. Serve hot or cold.



If you want, food color may be added to the sticky rice when it is still in dough form before forming the balls.
While cooking, you may need to add more water if it is getting too thick.
Nutrition Facts
Ginataang Bilo bilo (glutinous rice balls in coconut milk)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 726
% Daily Value*
Fat 0g0%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 12mg1%
Potassium 340mg10%
Carbohydrates 179g60%
Fiber 3g12%
Sugar 42g47%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 95IU2%
Vitamin C 9.1mg11%
Calcium 42mg4%
Iron 2.5mg14%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe? Tell us how it went. Tag us at @foxyfolksy or leave a comment and rating below.



More Tapioca Pearls/Sago Pearls Recipes


Bebs here! I love to cook and try new things and DIY projects! And although I think of myself as a homebody, I like seeing other places from time to time.
If you are looking for a recipe and it ain't here, make a request and I will try my best to make it for you!

This Post Has 39 Comments

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  1. 5 stars
    It tasted exactly how I remembered and was easier to make than I thought it would be. My tapioca pearls took a couple of hours to cook though because I used the larger ones on accident. Great recipe, I’ll definitely make it again!

    1. Hi Kara, glad you like it. Yup, that is why I like the tiny tapioca pearls more, they save you a lot of time to cook. Thanks for the 5 stars…

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve been using this recipe since last April and it never failed to satisfy my love of ginataan, its the best!!! Thank you for sharing… All the best!!!

  3. 5 stars
    First time making this today and it is so delicious!! Instructions so easy to follow! Thank you for sharing!

  4. 5 stars
    Your recipe was simple & my first try came out so good! I tried a second time but unlike the first time I made my own White balls with rice flour! It came out super dense and not light and airy like I am used to . It came apart on me when I tried rolling the balls because the flour wasn’t always sticking well so I added more water! Was that a mistake? Is this why the dough balls were so heavy and thick?

    1. Hi Jackee, what did you use the first time? When you make the balls, the texture of the rice daugh should be like play-dough. Maybe they were not cooked yet? They should float on top when cooked.

    1. Hi Beverly, saba bananas are really for cooking and add some tartness to the rather sweet dish. I haven’t tried cooking regular banana, except for banana bread. I am not sure how it will turn out. But why not try..

  5. Thank you for sharing the recipes. I enjoy cooking. I love the filipino desserts. I will follow them & hope the end result will come close or just as good. Thanks.

    1. Hi Erlinda, I just got hold of the purple sticky rice and was thinking of making puto bumbong with it to make it as authentic as possible. Will try to make it soon.

  6. Hello I tried your recipe for the first time. Once I had put the rice balls in, they did not float and was not cooked in the center. It was still delicious. Tell me what I did wrong, please?!

    1. Hi Gerald, that is actually how you tell that the glutinous rice balls are cooked through, they will float. How long did you let them boil? Maybe you should have waited a bit more… 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    I made this ginataang bilo bilo and my co-workers and my ate Ellen really love it. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  8. I can’t find a fresh purple yam but what i got was the frozen grated kind. Can I still use this and just form it into balls or can i mix the grated yam to the glutinous rice mixture? Pls advise. Thanks

    1. Hi Sam, I didn’t use purple yam in this recipe.:-) The purple you see are just colored glutinous rice balls. We usually just use sweet potato.

  9. I made some ginataan yesterday. I did not follow the the measurements but I used it as a guide. Thank you for this easy recipe! I will try the Palitaw next time ????

  10. 5 stars
    i was looking for a very simple recipe on how to cook ginataang bilo-bilo..yours was really impressive and looks really yummy..thanks for sharing..

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