Buko Pandan is one of the best Filipino desserts you’ll ever have. Made with strips of young coconut, pandan jelly (gulaman), kaong, and nata de coco smothered in cream and condensed milk.

coconut with pandan jelly, Cream and condensed milk

Buko Pandan: A Filipino Dessert

Making Buko Pandan is a family activity in the Philippines, especially during holidays like Christmas and New Year. The men climb the trees to pick the coconuts and then open them. Immediately, the ladies are in charge of shredding the coconut meat using a unique tool while other members of the family prepare the pandan jelly and dressing ingredients.

Ahh, this brings back so many memories of growing up!

Don’t worry, this recipe won’t require you to climb coconut trees (wink!).

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Extra creamy and syrupy! Just how I want my buko pandan to be.
  • Less sweet than most recipes. The pandan gelatin uses less sugar and the sweet salad dressing has less condensed milk.
  • The coconut and the pandan flavor are the stars.
pandan jelly, cream, condensed milk, coconut

Buko Pandan Ingredients

Here are the main ingredients:

  • Buko is the first main ingredient of “Buko Pandan Salad”. It is the Filipino term that means young coconut. You can buy this frozen in most Filipino and popular Asian stores in the U.S.
  • Green Jelly Powder or Agar (gulaman) – use unflavored jelly powder. Gelatin or agar can be used interchangeably. “Gelatin” is animal-based jelly while Agar is seaweed-based (vegetarian) jelly. You can also use pandan-flavored gelatin if available.
  • Pandan Flavor Extract – to flavor the gelatin. You can buy this in most baking stores or online.
  • Coconut water or buko juice will be the base liquid for the gelatin or agar instead of water. This enhances the coconut flavor of the jelly, a perfect complement for the pandan.
  • Cream – use fresh whipping cream or table cream (also known as canned cream).
  • Condensed milk – the secret to making the best dessert salad is condensed milk.

Other ingredients

Add these ingredients to make your coconut pandan salad special:

  • Nata de coco or coconut gel – I used pandan-flavored nata de coco. Also available online (see recipe card for link).
  • Kaong or sugar palm fruit – available in Asian stores.
  • Cooked Tapioca Pearls – also known as sago.
  • Evaporated Milk – to make the dressing extra creamy and extra syrupy.
shredded coconut with pandan jelly, cream, condensed milk and evaporated milk

How to Make Buko Pandan

You only need 3 steps to make this Filipino dessert:

  1. Make the pandan jelly. Let it set in the fridge and cut into small cubes.
  2. Prepare the other ingredients–shred the young coconut, drain nata de coco and kaong.
  3. Combine all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Place in the refrigerator or freezer. Serve cold or frozen like icecream!

Tips

Follow my tips before you start:

  • Make the pandan jelly ahead of time. I usually make it a day ahead so it’s fully set and firm on the day I’m making the salad.
  • Dissolve the gelatin or agar in room temperature liquid. You can use water or coconut water before turning on the heat.
  • Pandan flavor extracts have different concentrations. Start with 1/2 tsp and go from there. If using pandan extract paste which includes green food color, start with 1/4 tsp. Use clear (colorless) jelly powder.
  • If using fresh pandan leaves, tie them into a bundle so you can easily remove them from the pot.
  • Cut the jelly and kaong into bite-size pieces, preferably the same size as the nata de coco so it’s easier to eat.
sweet salad made of coconut and pandan jelly

To Serve

Buko Pandan is best enjoyed when it’s chilled or semi-frozen. And this is precisely the reason why it’s a perfect summer dessert!

Believe it or not, many Filipinos also enjoy this sweet dessert for Christmas and New Year’s celebrations when the weather is cool and chilly.

To chill: refrigerate buko pandan for 6 hours, preferably overnight. The dressing will become thicker as it becomes colder.

To freeze: place in single-serving containers. Freeze for 4 to 6 hours until it becomes melt-in-your-mouth soft fruit candies. I personally like it when it’s partially frozen and the dressing is icy and cold. Yum!

Shelf-life

Store in an airtight container. The shelf life in the fridge is 5 days and two weeks in the freezer. DO NOT refreeze after thawing. Keep it in the fridge and it should be good within 24 hours.

Recipe Video

Frequently asked questions

What is the best cream for buko pandan?

You can use either fresh whipping cream or table cream (also known as canned cream or all-purpose cream) to make buko pandan. The flavor difference is minimal and works well for making this dessert. Note that table cream becomes thicker as it cools (no whipping needed) thus favored for making dessert salads like buko pandan and Filipino fruit salad.

Can I use fresh pandan leaves to make the pandan jelly?

You can use fresh pandan leaves to make the pandan jelly. To use, boil it in a pot to extract the flavor. Use the flavored water to make the gelatin.

Hungry for more? Try these!

shredded coconut with pandan jelly, Cream and condensed milk

Buko Pandan Recipe (extra creamy!)

5 from 1 vote
Buko Pandan is one of the best Filipino desserts you'll ever have. Made with strips of young coconut, pandan flavored jelly or gelatin, kaong and nata de coco all smothered in a creamy and sweet dressing.
Servings10 servings
preparation time20 minutes
Total cooking time10 minutes

Ingredients
 

Pandan Jelly (see notes for substitutes)

  • 1 pack 25g green jelly powder (gulaman) (see note 1 and 2)
  • 2 ½ cups coconut water or plain water
  • cup white sugar (add more if preferred)
  • ½ – 1 tsp pandan extract (see note 2)

Buko Salad

Instructions

  • In a small pot, combine coconut water, jelly powder or agar-agar, and sugar. Whisk to combine. Turn on the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Taste, adjust sugar based on preference.
  • Turn off heat and add pandan extract. Stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a rectangular shallow dish. Cool completely. Cover with a cling wrap and let it set in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight. Cut into bite-size pieces.
  • In a large bowl, combine pandan jelly and the buko salad ingredients. Gently toss until well combined. Refrigerate overnight or freeze for 6 hours. Serve in salad bowls and enjoy!
    2 cups young coconut, 2 packs 360g each nata de coco, 1 jar kaong, syrup drained, 3 cans 7.6 oz each table cream, 1/2 can condensed milk, 1/2 cup evaporated milk

Recipe Notes & Tips:

  1. Pandan-flavored gelatin can also be used. Follow package directions for preparation.
  2. Pandan flavor extracts have different concentrations. Start with 1/2 tsp and go from there. If using pandan extract paste which includes green food color, start with 1/4 tsp. Use clear (colorless) jelly powder.
  3. If using fresh pandan leaves: washed and clean pandan leaves thoroughly. Tie into a knot. Add into a pot of water together with the jelly powder and sugar.
  4. To reduce the sugar of kaong, wash it with water and drain it well before using.
  5. Nutrition: Does not include the syrup of Nata de coco. Kaong is also not included.
  6. Shelf-life:  The shelf life in the fridge is 5 days and two weeks in the freezer. DO NOT refreeze after thawing. Keep it in the fridge and it should be good within 24 hours.
Jump to Video
Author : Mella
Course : Dessert
Cuisine : Filipino
Keyword : buko pandan recipe, buko salad, coconut pandan dessert
Nutrition Facts
Buko Pandan Recipe (extra creamy!)
Amount per Serving
Calories
434
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
30
g
46
%
Saturated Fat
 
19
g
119
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
7
g
Cholesterol
 
91
mg
30
%
Sodium
 
134
mg
6
%
Potassium
 
333
mg
10
%
Carbohydrates
 
27
g
9
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
25
g
28
%
Protein
 
7
g
14
%
Vitamin A
 
1133
IU
23
%
Vitamin C
 
3
mg
4
%
Calcium
 
163
mg
16
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    I love how simple this recipe is! So easy to make and it turned out really good! Thanks for the recipe. Will make this again on my birthday!