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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 all smothered in a creamy and sweet dressing.

Buko Pandan Dessert

Making Buko Pandan it is a family affair in the Philippines especially during the holiday season like Christmas and New Year. The men climb the trees to pick the coconuts and then cracks them open using a big knife called “itak”. Immediately, the ladies then shred or scrapes the meat using a special tool (see video) and while the others start preparing the other ingredients.

Ahh, this brings back so many memories growing up!

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

Young Coconut strips

Buko Pandan Ingredients

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  • Buko is the Filipino term for young coconut. In Singapore, young coconuts are widely sold fresh (as in one whole coconut) in many supermarkets. We buy four to five pieces, crack it open then scrape the meat using the special tool that I brought with me back from home. In other countries like the US, young coconuts are frozen fresh and sold in packs like this (follow this link). Some are already pre-shredded. If not, you can just thinly slice it with a sharp knife.
  • Fresh pandan leaves. If this is not available, pandan extracts are a good substitute.
  • Gelatin or Agar can be used to make the jelly. Gelatin is animal-based while Agar is seaweed-based (vegetarian). In the Philippines, Pandan-flavored gelatin is widely available.
  • Coconut water or buko juice which 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.
  • Table cream and condensed milk are the essential ingredients for the dressing. Fresh whipping cream can also be used if preferred. In this recipe, I also added evaporated milk. And it made it even more delicious!
  • Other classic Filipino fruit salad ingredients are nata de coco or coconut gel, kaong and sago. All are optional but highly recommended. I personally love Nata de coco.

Buko Pandan Dessert Ingredients

A FEW TIPS IN MAKING BUKO PANDAN

  • 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 i.e. coconut water together with the sugar before turning on the heat.
  • If using fresh pandan leaves, tie it into a bundle so you can easily remove it from the pot.
  • Cut the jelly and kaong in bite-size pieces, preferably the same size as the nata de coco so it’s easier to eat.
  • Freezing the buko pandan for 6 hours instead of just letting it cool in the fridge completely transforms each piece into melt-in-your-mouth soft fruit candies. You can just chill it in the fridge if preferred.
  • 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.

buko pandan salad in a bowl

This yummy Filipino dessert is the husband’s favorite “salad” in the whole world! He is the happiest whenever I make this. And, it’s one of the rare moments he magically transforms into a sous chef and helps me make it as quickly as possible. I am always amazed I tell you.




Buko Pandan (Coconut Pandan Salad)

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 all smothered in a creamy and sweet dressing.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Filipino
Keyword: buko pandan recipe, buko salad, coconut pandan dessert
Servings: 8 -10 servings
Author: Mella

Ingredients

Pandan Jelly

  • 3 tsp unsweetened gelatin or agar-agar powder green color
  • 3 cups coconut water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 7 pcs pandan leaves washed thoroughly

Buko Salad

  • 2 cups young coconut strips
  • 2 packs 360g nata de coco syrup drained
  • 1 jar kaong syrup drained
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 3 cans (6 oz /170 g each) table cream or whipping cream
  • 1 1/4 cup condensed milk add more if preferred

Instructions

  • In a small pot, add coconut water, gelatin or agar-agar, and sugar. Whisk to combine. Add pandan leaves. Turn on the heat and bring mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until fragrant, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove pandan leaves and pour the mixture in a shallow dish. Cool completely. Cover with a cling wrap and let it set in the fridge for 6 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!

Notes

  • 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.
  • If using fresh pandan leaves, tie it into a bundle so you can easily remove it from the pot.
  • If fresh pandan leaves are not available, use pandan extracts or pandan-flavored gelatin.
  • 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.

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