Soft and chewy ube cookies that melt in your mouth. These purple yam crinkle cookies are delicious, buttery and flavourful. Coated in crunchy sugar, these cookies are really easy and fun to make.
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Ube or purple yam has become increasingly popular all over the world in recent years. From ube cake, to cheesecake, ice cream or flans, ube is everywhere. I love all things ube flavor, but nothing has my heart quite like chewy ube cookies.
Of course, purple yam has been around for a long time in Asia and South America before it made its way to the western world. In the Philippines ube has been used for centuries for desserts and purple yam jam (ube halaya).
These purple ube crinkle cookies are soft, chewy and naturally purple. You can take them to the next level by using them to make ice cream sandwiches using my Homemade Ube Ice Cream recipe.
What is ube?
Ube, also known as purple yam, is a starchy root that’s usually vibrant purple in colour. It has a deep purple skin, similar to a purple potato. Ube has a naturally sweet flavour that tasted almost like vanilla, which is why it’s used almost exclusively for desserts.
Although closely related to taro, they are two different yams. Ube has a dark purple skin, whereas taro is brown with stripes. Inside, ube is also vibrant purple in colour, whilst taro is white with purple-red speckles.
When boiled or steamed, ube turns a deep purple color, but taro become a pale lavender colour. In terms of flavour, ube is much sweeter and tastes a little like vanilla, whereas taro has a milder sweet flavour with hints of earthiness. Although both are great for desserts, ube is much more commonly used for sweets than taro.
What does ube taste like?
Ube is naturally quite sweet, which is why it’s such a popular ingredient for desserts. It has a flavour very similar to vanilla, with a subtle nutty hint. When boiled or steamed, the texture of ube is quite moist and creamy, making it ideal for puddings or jams.
Although used heavily in baking, I find that once it’s baked ube loses a bit of its wonderful flavour. In cookies or cakes only a subtle hint of vanilla nuttiness stands out. Hoewever, seeing as purple yam adds natural sweetness and the perfect shade of purple, it’s definitely worth it. The flavour can also be enhanced by adding more ube extract.
Filipino desserts use ube quite a lot. One of the most famous ube desserts is ube halaya (or ube jam), a Filipino dessert made from boiled ube, condensed milk and butter. It’s delicious on its own, but it can also be used as a sweet filling for other desserts.
- Quick & easy to make: Nothing says comfort dessert quite like freshly baked chewy cookies. This recipe is super easy to make and takes minimal effort in prepping. All you need is one bowl and an electric mixer.
- Entirely natural: I love desserts that not only taste amazing, but are also natural. These ube crinkles are wonderful because they are entirely natural, with a lovely flavour.
- Subtle vanilla flavour: Using fresh ube gives these crinkle cookies a wonderful vanilla flavour, with subtle hints of nuttiness.
- Beautiful purple colour: This ube cookie recipe uses ube halaya as a base, which contains no food colouring. The lovely purple colour comes exclusively from natural ube. Of course, if you want a very deep purple colour, a dash of purple food coloring or ube extract can be added.
Where to find ube
Fresh ube can be a little tricky to find in the United States or Europe. Only specialty shops or large Asian supermarkets stock it, and even then it’s not always readily available. Common names for ube are:
- Greater yam
- Purple yam
- Violet yam
- Water yam
- Guyana arrowroot
- White yam
- Winged yam
Ube can be found in the following variations, all of which work for this ube cookies recipe:
- Fresh ube – I recommend looking for it in Filipino stores, which are most likely to stock it.
- Frozen ube – commonly found already boiled/steamed, mashed and packaged in 1 pound packs then frozen. It can be found in the frozen section of most large Asian markets.
- Ube halaya – much easier to find than fresh or frozen ube. Ube halaya is a sweet jam made from fresh ube, sugar, condensed milk or coconut milk and butter. It can be found in jars in most Asian supermarkets or online. Here’s an example of ube halaya readily available, but most other brands work as well.
- Ube extract – again, much easier to find than fresh purple yam. Ube extract can be found in almost all Asian grocery stores, as well as online. I recommend this Ube extract by McCormick because it has the best flavour and intense purple colour.
- Ube powder – is safest to use in most recipes, because it doesn’t alter the liquid content. Ube powder is also easier to find, especially online. I recommend this Suncore Foods Purple Yam Powder.
This ube crinkle cookies recipe only needs a handful of ingredients, most of which can be found in regular pantries. Only ube is a slightly more specialised ingredient. Here’s what you will need:
- Butter – regular unsalted butter is needed. Ensure it’s softened to room temperature for at least 1-2 hours before using.
- Sugar – plain granulated sugar is needed. You can also use brown sugar, although it can make the cookies a little more brown in colour.
- Egg – one large egg is needed. Leave it at room temperature for at least 1-2 hours before starting the recipe.
- Ube – I like to use a combination of ube halaya and ube extract. You can use fresh ube (boiled/steamed and mashed) or frozen purple yam as well, just make sure it’s well thawed before. Ube extract can be left out if other types of ube are used. See section up on how to find ube.
- Salt – fine table or sea salt
- Flour – all-purpose flour is needed for this recipe. It cannot be replaced with self-rising flour, as it contains baking powder. You can also use glutinous rice flour combined with all-purpose flour for a chewier texture. The ratio for this is 1:2 (1 cup glutinous rice flour to 2 cups all-purpose flour).
- Baking soda – used to make the cookies soft and chewy, as well as making them spread and crinkle when baking.
1. In a large bowl cream softened butter and sugar with a hand mixer until fluffy. Crack in an egg and mix again to combine.
2. Add in fresh ube (or ube halaya) and ube extract.
3. Mix to combine, scraping the bowl a few times.
4. Sift in the dry ingredients. Combine with a mixer until a cookie dough forms. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
5. Scoop out dough balls with a medium cookie scoop, then shape it into a ball.
6. Roll through granulated sugar or powdered sugar, then place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake.
Flavour variations & more
Although these ube crinkle cookies are absolutely delicious and fragrant plain, you can also add extra ingredients to make them even more delicious. Here are some of my favourites:
- White chocolate chips – simply mix them into the dough, then bake. Add more chocolate chips on top for decoration.
- Cream cheese filling – Mix cream cheese with a little sugar and vanilla extract. Pipe small dollops of cream, then freeze solid. Place them in the middle of the ube cookie, then roll the dough around it. Bake for 1-2 minutes longer.
- Ube halaya filling – For an even more intense ube flavour, freeze small dollops of ube halaya jam. Add them in the middle of each ube cookie, then wrap dough around it into a ball. Bake for 1-2 minutes longer.
- Sandwich cookies – Use any type of filling between two ube crinkle cookies to make a delicious sandwich cookie. I recommend trying it with ube ice cream!
- Lavender – Add edible lavender buds into the cookie dough for an even more fragrant aroma. Do not go overboard with lavender, as it can make the cookies taste soapy.
- Mochi filling – Add a small mochi in the middle of the ube cookie for a wonderful chewy surprise!
Success Tips & Tricks
- Use real ube – nothing gives a better flavour to these ube cookies than using real ube. Whether it’s fresh, frozen or ube halaya, I strongly recommend using the real thing.
- Room temperature ingredients – Using room temperature ingredients ensures the cookie dough is homogenous. This yields the best texture cookies, moist and delicious.
- Do not overmix – Overmixing the cookie dough can make the ube crinkle cookies too dense and bread-like. Only mix until the dough is combined.
- Chill the dough – Refrigerating the dough is essential for the cookie texture. This way the dough spreads well, without being too thin. A chilled dough is also much easier to scoop, as the cookie dough can be quite sticky.
- Space out the cookies – Make sure you leave at least 2-3 inches between each cookie, as they spread a low when baking.
- Don’t overbake – Overbaking can make the cookies become brown in colour and dry inside. Use an oven thermometer to calibrate your oven temperature if needed. It’s better to bake at a lower temperature if you know your oven runs hot.
How to store
Room temperature: once baked, let the ube cookies cool down completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Freezing: these cookies are also great for freezing. Freeze individually on a cookie sheet, then place in an airtight container or aluminium foil. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. To thaw, leave in the fridge overnight.
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If you’ve tried this recipe out, please don’t forget to rate and comment on this post. I love hearing from you, so feel free to reach out to me on social media as well and tag me in your posts!
Chewy Ube Cookies Recipe
- ½ cup butter, softened (110 grams)
- ½ cup granulated sugar* (100 grams)
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 4 ounces ube halaya or ube puree (120 grams)
- 2 teaspoons ube extract
- 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour (200 grams)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup sugar, for coating (100 grams)
- In a large mixing bowl, add softened butter and sugar. Cream them together with an electric mixer, until the butter is fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
- Crack in an egg, then mix again until fully combined.
- Add in ube halaya (or ube puree) and ube extract. Mix well, scraping the bowl a few times if needed.
- Sieve in the flour, salt and baking soda. Using the hand mixer on medium speed, combine until a cookie dough forms.
- Cover in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 325°C (170°C) and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Using a medium cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop out cookie batter. Shape it into a ball, then roll it through granulated sugar. Repeat process for all other cookies.
- Place cookie balls at least 2-3 inches apart on the lined sheets. Bake for 10 minutes or until the bottom edges look slightly browned.
- Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer onto a wire rack and cool down completely.
- If desired, melt some white chocolate and drizzle it over the cookies for decoration.
- I recommend using a kitchen scale in grams for more accuracy. The cups used for the conversion are standard US customary cups (1 cup flour = 136g). There are many different types of cups across the globe, which is why I strongly recommend using grams instead.
- Nutritional value is estimative and it is calculated per 1 plain ube cookie.
- If using fresh ube or ube puree, double the sugar quantity.
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Cookies for Kids' Cancer
This recipe is part of The Sweetest Season, an annual virtual cookie swap co-hosted by Erin of The Speckled Palate and Susannah of Feast + West. Every year, food bloggers get together to share new holiday cookie recipes to make and give.
This year we are raising money for Cookies 4 Kids' Cancer, which is a recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to funding research for new, innovative and less-toxic treatments for childhood cancer.
Since 2008, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer has granted nearly $18 million to pediatric cancer research in the form of 100+ research grants to leading pediatric cancer centers across the country. From these grants have stemmed 35+ treatments available to kids battling cancer today.
Help us raise money for this important cause! Donate through our fundraising page.
Another exciting thing is that Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is in a matching window with their friends at OXO, meaning OXO will be matching every dollar raised through the end of 2022, up to $100,000. Whatever money we raise will automatically double on our fundraising page!