Michelle Lopez’s Ube Crinkle Cookies

updated Jan 21, 2021
Ube Crinkle Cookies

Ube, pronounced ooh-beh, has a natural, deep purple color and a flavor that's a mix between vanilla and pistachio. Here, it replaces chocolate in the classic crinkle cookie.

Makes16 (2 3/4-inch) cookies

Prep15 minutes

Cook24 minutes to 30 minutes

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Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

This recipe is part of our Quarantine Cookies package, featuring 16 of our favorite bakers and their best cookie for 2020. Check out all the amazing cookies here, and sign up here to receive one cookie recipe per day, for 20 days, straight to your inbox.

Christmas in the Philippines, where I was born, is a wonderful thing. Although the tropical country doesn’t ever get cool enough for a stereotypical snowy white Christmas (in fact, I’m pretty sure the coldest it ever gets in Manila is a balmy 75°F), it definitely makes up for it in style. There are plenty of Christmas trees, wreaths, fairy lights, and nativity scenes, but there are decorations that are unique to the Philippines, too — like the Filipino parol, a star-shaped lantern made from bamboo and paper. During the holiday season, many houses and businesses hang these colorful lanterns, turning Manila into a riot of color. In fact, when I immigrated to the United States from the Philippines, a typical, colorful Filipino Christmas was one of the things I was most homesick for.

I quickly came to embrace the Christmas traditions of the United States, too. Specifically, I fell in love with Western holiday desserts and the tradition of holiday baking. Many Western Christmas desserts — like pumpkin pies, Christmas Bundts, and plentiful batches of holiday cookies — are all-day affairs. I loved having the oven on all day, with its heat protecting me from the cold of a winter’s day. I loved the coziness and warming flavors of baked goods like gingerbread and chocolate crinkle cookies. 

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

In contrast, it never gets cool enough in the Philippines to leave your oven on all day. So Filipino Christmas desserts tend to be iced (like the iconic Filipino halo-halo, a shaved ice pudding made with tropical fruits and jellies), steamed (like biko, a sticky rice cake), or cooked quickly over the stovetop (like leche flan, a steamed flan similar to creme caramel). Similar to the Philippines’ colorful Christmas celebrations, these desserts are colorful, flavored with bright tropical flavors like mango, ube, pandan, and more. 

Every year, I visit my family in the Philippines and get nostalgic for the tropical Christmas desserts of my childhood. I always come back from Manila inspired, wishing I could incorporate more of my Filipino heritage into my adopted American one. Some of the recipes on Hummingbird High are a direct result of that fusion, like these ube crinkle cookies!

I’ve taken the chocolate crinkle cookie — a traditional holiday cookie here in America — and replaced its chocolate flavor with the beloved Filipino dessert flavor of ube. Ube, pronounced ooh-beh, is a purple yam often used in Filipino desserts. It has a natural, deep purple color and tastes delicious, too! Many folks describe ube’s flavor as a mix between vanilla and pistachio. It has a wonderfully earthy and almost nutty flavor. These cookies are the perfect marriage between my love for Filipino tropical flavors and more traditional Christmas baked goods.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Tester’s Note

Everyone I gave these cookies to were so impressed by their vivid purple color! If you can’t find purple food coloring, I think the ube jam and ube extract will still give a good dose of color, just one not as bright. These soft, cake-y cookies have a slightly earthy flavor from the ube and are a welcome change from butter or chocolate-heavy cookies. Definitely roll the dough balls a few times in powdered sugar so that there’s enough to coat and stay on the cookies as they bake. — Christine Gallary, Food Editor-at-Large

Ube Crinkle Cookies

Ube, pronounced ooh-beh, has a natural, deep purple color and a flavor that's a mix between vanilla and pistachio. Here, it replaces chocolate in the classic crinkle cookie.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 24 minutes to 30 minutes

Makes 16 (2 3/4-inch) cookies

Nutritional Info


  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1 3/4 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1/2 cup

    ube halaya jam, such as Tropics

  • 1 teaspoon

    liquid purple food coloring (not gel)

  • 1 teaspoon

    ube extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1 cup

    powdered sugar


  1. Place 1 stick unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if mixing by hand or with an electric hand mixer) and let sit at room temperature until softened.

  2. Place 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

  3. Add 1 cup granulated sugar to the butter. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light, fluffy, and doubled in volume, 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1 large egg and beat on low speed until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the paddle and sides of the bowl.

  4. Add 1/2 cup ube halaya jam, 1 teaspoon liquid purple food coloring, 1 teaspoon ube extract, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Beat on low speed until combined and completely purple, 1 to 2 minutes.

  5. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Scrape down the paddle and sides of the bowl once more, and beat on low for 30 seconds more.

  6. Cover and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.

  7. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

  8. Place 1 cup powdered sugar in a medium, shallow bowl. Divide the dough into 16 portions (about 3 scant tablespoons each), then roll each portion into a smooth ball. Toss the cookie dough balls one at a time in the powdered sugar until completely and generously coated (aim for a layer so thick you can’t see the cookie dough anymore). Place 8 on each baking sheet, spacing them at least 3 inches apart.

  9. Bake one sheet at a time until the edges are set but the centers are still soft, 12 to 15 minutes. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet.

Recipe Notes

Ube halaya jam: Ube halaya is a jam made from ube; you can buy it online or in the Filipino/Hawaiian section of most Asian supermarkets. My favorite brand of ube halaya jam in the United States is the Monika brand.

Ube extract: Ube extract is similar to vanilla extract, but flavors and colors baked goods with ube. You can also buy it online or in the baking section of most Asian supermarkets. My favorite brand of ube extract in the United States is McCormick.

Make-ahead: The dough balls can be frozen solid (do not coat with powdered sugar), then stored in a freezer zip-top bag for up to 2 months. When ready to bake, let the dough balls sit at room temperature while the oven is heating. Coat in powdered sugar and immediately bake according to instructions, adding 1 to 3 minutes additional baking time.

Storage: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container or zip-top bag at room temperature for up to 3 days.