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Filipino fruit salad recipe: What is it and is it good?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  January 13, 2022

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There’s something about a creamy fruit salad that just makes sense, especially on hot summer days!

But this popular fruit salad is actually the perfect dessert anytime. This Filipino fruit salad recipe is a hit at Filipino parties and celebrations of all kinds!

And what makes it so great is that there’s actually no cooking involved. It’s perfect for those who aren’t great in the kitchen and appreciate the taste of fresh fruit and a creamy “dressing.”

But I’m telling you the secret to the best Pinoy fruit salad is to add some maraschino cherries, which brighten up the salad and add a touch of sweetness.

Again, keeping in touch with the Filipino sweet tooth, the ingredients in this fruit salad recipe are all sweet and store-bought, making it very accessible, especially if you’re rushing to get everything done for your 7-year-old’s birthday party.

I’m going to show you how to make a deliciously sweet, creamy dessert, and chances are, you have the fruit salad ingredients in your pantry or fridge already!

Filipino Fruit Salad Recipe

If you like Filipino fruit salad, then try buko pandan salad (another fruit salad type but with buko and macaroni)

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Filipino fruit salad recipe preparation

To make this Filipino-style fruit salad, you’ll need canned fruit cocktail, all-purpose cream (a heavy cream used to give the fruit salad texture and for it to hold the fruit together once the salad solidifies in the refrigerator), and canned condensed milk, which is just heavy and sweetened milk.

If you’re feeling bold, then you can add diced cheese and apples to the fruit cocktail!

To make this Filipino fruit salad recipe, drain the fruit cocktail of its juice and transfer it into a large mixing bowl. Add the all-purpose cream and the condensed milk, and mix all 3 ingredients together.

You can add more all-purpose cream or condensed milk, depending on your taste. After mixing all of the ingredients well, you can now refrigerate it and serve it chilled the next day.

Filipino Fruit Salad Recipe

Filipino fruit salad recipe

Joost Nusselder
Yet another hit at Filipino parties, this Filipino fruit salad recipe is an easy-to-make dessert not only for homey parties, but also, big celebrations! And what makes it so great is that there’s actually no cooking involved.
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Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Filipino
Servings 4 people
Calories 690 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cans fruit cocktail in a can
  • 2 red apples cubed
  • 2 green apples cubed
  • 560 g lychees in can
  • 2 cups nata de coco
  • 1 cup cooked corn kernels
  • 400 ml can condensed milk chilled
  • 300 ml thick cream chilled
  • Maraschino cherry optional, to garnish

Instructions
 

  • Thoroughly drain the fruit cocktail, lychees and nata de coco in a colander.
  • Cut lychees into quarters.
  • Combine condensed milk and thickened cream together.
  • In a large bowl, combine the drained fruit cocktail, lychees, nata de coco, apples, and corn.
  • Pour the milk and cream mixture into the bowl, then toss to coat the fruits evenly.
  • Place in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 690kcal
Keyword Fruit
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Filipino Fruit Salad Ingredients
Fruit Cocktail and Lychees with Nata De Coco
Cut Lychees and quartered in a bowl
Milk and heavy cream mixture with Filipino fruit salad

Cooking tips

Well, there’s no actual cooking involved, and that’s what makes this easy dessert perfect for anyone to make, even those who have no cooking skills whatsoever!

But here are some tips to ensure your fruit salad turns out delicious:

  • Be sure to use sweetened condensed milk and not evaporated milk. The former is much sweeter and will give your salad the desired sweetness.
  • If you want a more solid fruit salad, add more all-purpose cream. The cream will help the salad bind together and hold its shape.
  • You can use table cream or Nestle cream in place of all-purpose cream.
  • Add some color to your salad by including red and green apples. You can also use other fruits like grapes, mangoes, or pineapples.
  • Make sure to drain the fruit cocktail, nata de coco, and lychees thoroughly before adding them to the salad. Otherwise, your salad will be watery.

Check out YouTube user Honey 1980’s video on making Filipino fruit salad:

Substitutions & variations

There are plenty of suitable fruit salad ingredients you can use for this salad. A canned fruit cocktail is most commonly used, but you can use any canned fruits such as canned peaches, lychees, pears, or pineapple chunks.

Local Filipino fruit is used to make these recipes, but you can use local produce from your area.

You can also use fresh fruits, such as grapes, papaya, mangoes, cherries, or bananas. If using fresh fruits, you may want to add a little bit of sugar to sweeten the salad.

Technically, you can use frozen fruit too, but it has to be thawed, and you must add more cream to prevent it from being too watery.

As I already mentioned, maraschino cherries are the best garnish for these types of Filipino desserts. But you can add some sweetened macapuno strings (young coconut strips) or even some toasted cashews.

Some recipes also call for kaong, which is sugar palm fruit, but these aren’t easy to find. If you do happen to come across some, by all means, add them in!

And if you want a bit of color in your salad, feel free to add some food coloring!

When it comes to fruit salad topping, sweetened condensed milk, thick cream, and table cream are all suitable options. You can even use all-purpose cream, and you’ll still end up with this creamy fruit salad.

Nata de coco is an important ingredient in this recipe, but if you can’t find it, then you can use coconut gel or kaong instead. Both of these ingredients are available in most Filipino grocery stores.

As for the garnishes, the maraschino cherry is king. But tapioca pearls, nata de coco, or macapuno strings are also good options.

Some people like to add syrup or lemon juice to their fruit salad, but I think the sweetness of the condensed milk is enough. If you want a tart flavor, then you can add some grated lime or calamansi juice.

You might wonder: can I make this recipe vegan?

Yes! You can make this recipe vegan by using plant-based milk and cream.

I also recommend using brown sugar or coconut sugar to sweeten the salad instead of condensed milk. You can also use maple syrup or agave nectar.

What is Filipino fruit salad?

Filipino fruit salad (also called buko salad) is a popular Filipino dessert that typically consists of a mix of fresh or canned fruits, such as mangoes, grapes, apples, pineapples, and bananas, mixed with cream and condensed milk.

Buko salad and fruit salad usually refer to the same salad, but there’s also buko pandan salad, which is made with young coconut meat, pandan leaves, and tapioca pearls.

Traditional Filipino fruit salad (buko salad) is made with canned fruit only, and that’s why it’s so convenient.

The fruit salad is often garnished with maraschino cherries, macapuno strings (sweetened young coconut strips), or toasted cashews. Palm fruits are also added to the traditional version because they’re available locally in the Philippines.

This dessert is popular because it’s very easy to make and can be served either as a snack or as a dessert.

What sets this fruit salad apart from others is that it has a creamy sauce topping. This makes it super delicious.

Filipino-style fruit salad is often served during parties, potlucks, and other gatherings.

Since it’s a quick and easy dessert, it’s perfect for busy people who don’t have time to make an elaborate dessert.

Origin

Buko salad originated during the American colonial period in the Philippines.

It’s said to be inspired by an American dish called ambrosia salad, which is made with fruits, cream, and coconut.

The difference between ambrosia salad and buko salad is that the latter has a sweeter taste because of the addition of condensed milk and/or cream.

Over the years, Filipinos have put their own twist on this dish by adding different fruits, but the key ingredients remain the same.

How to serve and eat

Buko salad is typically served cold. Leave the fruit salad in the fridge overnight or for a few hours, and then serve cold.

When you refrigerate overnight, the salad takes on more of that cream flavor and becomes even tastier since all the ingredients combine.

It can be eaten as a snack or as a dessert. Use a spoon to scoop out the salad, and then enjoy!

If you want, you can also add some chopped nuts on top for extra crunch and serve it with a good drink.

Filipino fruit salad is a common dessert for potlucks, parties, and other gatherings.

It’s best to make this dish ahead of time so that the flavors have a chance to marry.

How to store Filipino fruit salad

Filipino fruit salad can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Just make sure to keep it covered so that the salad doesn’t dry out. I recommend putting it in an airtight container.

If you want to make it ahead and store for later, you can freeze this dessert for up to 2 months. Just thaw it overnight in the fridge before serving.

Similar dishes

There are many similar dishes to Filipino fruit salad.

Some of these include:

  • Buko pandan salad: This is a variation of buko salad that’s made with pandan extract and typically has green jello or gelatin.
  • Fruit cocktail: This dish is similar to buko salad, but it’s made with canned fruits only.
  • Fruit pizza: This is a pizza cake that’s made with a fruit topping.
  • Ambrosia salad: This is the dish that’s said to have inspired buko salad. It’s made with fruits, cream, and coconut.
  • Fruit kebabs: These are fruit skewers that are often served as a dessert or snack.

FAQs

What is the difference between Filipino-style fruit salad and fruit cocktail?

The difference between these 2 dishes is that buko salad is made with fresh or canned fruits, while fruit cocktail is made with canned fruits only.

Buko salad also has a creamy sauce, while fruit cocktail does not.

Can I use frozen fruits for this recipe?

Yes, you can use frozen fruits for this recipe. Just make sure to thaw them first before using.

If you use frozen fruits, you might need to add more condensed milk or cream since they can be a bit watery.

What are some other fruits that I can use for this recipe?

Some other fruits that you can use for this recipe include mangoes, pineapples, watermelons, cantaloupes, honeydews, mandarin oranges, grapes, and strawberries.

You can also add other ingredients like chopped nuts, raisins, or shredded coconut.

What mixture is buko salad?

The key ingredients include heavy cream, condensed milk, mixed fruit, nata de coco, and some sweet garnish.

What are the benefits of buko salad?

Some benefits of buko salad include:

  • It’s a good source of vitamins and minerals: Since buko salad is made with fruits, it’s a good source of vitamins and minerals.
  • It contains potassium, which is good for blood pressure: Potassium helps to regulate blood pressure.
  • It’s a good source of dietary fiber: Buko salad contains dietary fiber, which is good for the digestive system.
  • It’s hydrating and refreshing
  • It’s a good way to get your fruit intake

How do you keep Filipino fruit salad from spoiling?

Filipino fruit salad can last in the fridge for up to 3 days. Just make sure to keep it covered so that the salad doesn’t dry out.

Once the creamy sauce is added, the salad doesn’t have a long shelf life.

Whip up a cool dessert

When it comes to Filipino recipes, this fruit salad is probably the simplest to make.

You only need some canned fruit, cream, or sweetened condensed milk, and voila! You have one of the most refreshing Filipino desserts you can enjoy in both cool or warm weather since it’s light and fresh.

This dish is perfect for potlucks, parties, and other gatherings because it’s so easy to make ahead of time, and even kids love the taste! So it’s sure to be a hit.

You can also try my special halo-halo recipe.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.