4 Ingredient Easy Vegan Purple Yam Jam (Ube Halaya)

Hi. I got an easy recipe for Vegan Purple Yam Jam, or Ube Halaya, to share on the blog today. I grew up eating fresh purple yam but it’s harder to find them fresh these days. I either purchase the frozen type or the powder type at the asian market, and in this form, it’s available year-round. Once in a while, I am able to find fresh purple yam too. Purple yam is a tuberous root vegetable and when sweetened, it is one of my favorite desserts of all-time. It can be turned into in a variety of desserts, such as ube tart, ube cake, ube ice cream; but, of all the ones I have eaten in my lifetime, nothing beats the Ube Halaya my dad makes – purple yam jam smoothly presented and served on a plate – my dad’s specialty – and I just eat it by the spoonful. It’s simple, deliciously made with love, and satiates my sweet tooth every single time.


Growing up, I have watched my dad and grandpa make this dessert in this giant wok over wood fire for special occasions in our garden. My part was to feed the boiled purple yam into a meat grinder so that it’s easier to mix with the rest of the ingredients. The batch that my grandpa and dad laboured over back then would take nearly a whole day to stir and reduce to clay-like texture. I got to eat the crusty bits that crystalized on the sides of the pot or the giant spatula. Yum! During the plating, my job would be to lather it with butter so that it’s’ perfectly smooth and shiny.

Thinking back, I love how I was such a big part of the cooking process for the many dishes my family made. It has committed the love of cooking in me. Let’s just say, I was never bored as a kid. haha That’s before all this technology advancements by the way, way before Sega and all that first gen game consoles.

The original recipe is also as easy as this vegan recipe I am presenting to you now. Unfortunately, the original recipe calls for condensed milk, which I can no longer eat on a vegan diet. Fortunately, I am able to revise it so that it is vegan-friendly. I’m grateful for the brain gears that keeps on turning, helping me find ways to replicate my dietary roots in my own little way. It makes me happy when I’m successful in doing so. I have a lot of fond memories circling food. If I can’t have meat, let me atleast have dessert, eh?



You will need the following:

  • 16 oz bag of frozen purple yam
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 10 tbsp refined white sugar
  • Coconut flakes (optional)


  1. Thaw out and drain the frozen purple yam first. The dryer it is, the quicker it will cook. (I’ve used papertowels before to wring out the excess fluid to expedite the process.)
  2. In a skillet (preferably non-stick), add the thawed purple yam and coconut milk together. IMG_1729.JPG
  3. Stir mixture over medium- low heat.
  4. When the mixture starts becoming solid, you will need to stir more often to prevent the bottom from burning. I like to use the fold method mixing when it becomes thicker in texture. 
  5. Add the sugar when the mixture is dry and solid. The mixture will liquify again when the sugar melts. Mix, cook, until dry.
  6. It is done when the mixture is clay-like in appearance and/or texture. The cooking process takes 25 minutes for me.                       . IMG_1736
  7. Set aside and cool.
  8. When cool, roll into balls and roll onto coconut flakes. Makes 25 pieces.
  9. Or just plate it and eat. Enjoy.

Benefits of Purple Yam

So, sweetened, the purple yam have additional empty calories, as most cooked or baked desserts do; but, I will say that it is still healthier than cookies – which is typically laced with too much butter and sugar. (Note: I have no qualms with cookies and eat them by the dozens if uncontrolled.)


Purple yam jam offers healthier benefits that are not so empty:

  • Healthy source of fiber, vitamins, copper, and potassium.
  • Promotes better blood circulation.
  • Prevent cardiovascular diseases.
  • Detoxing agent for kidney and pancreas.

*But don’t just take my word for it. I am, after all, not a doctor or nutritionist. You may find more information about the health benefits of purple yam with a quick search online. Read more about the purple yam’s benefits from these two I read: PaulHaider.Wordpress.com and HealthyEating.SFGate.com. But honestly, I don’t really need convincing. I eat it because I love it, the health benefit is just a plus.

Final words

I have a pretty good relationship with food. My entire family loves to eat and gatherings are never without food on the table. This recipe is quite easy and only requires 4 ingredients. Thaw the frozen purple yam overnight in the fridge and in 30 minutes the next day, you’ll have a delicious homemade vegan treat. We found a restaurant that serves these at $5 for 3 pieces. Making it at home is so much more budget-friendly. In comparison, it costs me less than $10 for 25 pieces! Happy cooking.

Have you tried purple yam?

Until next time.


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