What Is Ube and Why Is It So Popular?

  • Sep 14, 2023
  • By Glai Manlangit

What is Ube?

Ube, also known as purple yam, is a root vegetable native to Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines.

It is a tuberous root that belongs to the Dioscorea alata species and is widely cultivated for its striking purple flesh.

In Filipino culture, Ube has deep-rooted significance, often being associated with special occasions and celebrations. Beyond the Philippines, Ube goes by various names in different regions, such as "ubi" in Indonesia and "ratalu" in India. It's also known as "purple yam."

The Origins of Ube

The history of 
Ube cultivation can be traced back to ancient times in the Philippines. Indigenous communities would cultivate Ube for sustenance, as it was a reliable source of food in challenging environmental conditions.

Over time, Ube found its way into traditional Filipino cuisine, becoming an integral part of many dishes and desserts.


Ube spread on bread

Ube's Unique Characteristics

What sets Ube apart and makes it so appealing to consumers is its vivid purple color and natural sweetness.

The vibrant hue of Ube not only enhances its visual appeal but also adds an element of excitement to any culinary creation. Its flavor profile is nutty, similar to that of a sweet potato, but with a distinct taste that is difficult to replicate with other ingredients.

Furthermore, Ube boasts several 
nutritional benefits, containing essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Ube's Journey to Global Fame

The recent surge in Ube's popularity can largely be attributed to the power of social media and online platforms.

Food bloggers, influencers, and cooking enthusiasts have showcased the versatility of Ube, sharing enticing recipes and mesmerizing photos of Ube-infused creations.

As these posts went viral, the demand for Ube-related content skyrocketed, leading to a widespread fascination with the purple yam.


Ube Tres Leches post by @the.frugal.foodies


Moreover, trendy restaurants and dessert shops have started incorporating Ube into their menus, capitalizing on its popularity. Ube-flavored ice cream, pastries, cakes, and other treats have become a hit among customers, further fueling the Ube trend.

Ube's Versatility in Culinary Creations

Ube's unique flavor and color have inspired chefs and home cooks to experiment with various dishes and desserts.

In traditional Filipino cuisine, Ube is used to make classic delicacies such as "halaya" (Ube jam) and "ube hopia" (Ube-filled pastry).

However, its influence extends beyond Filipino borders, with Ube finding its way into modern fusion desserts and international cuisines.

For instance, Ube has been infused into pancakes, doughnuts, cheesecakes, and even savory dishes like Ube gnocchi and Ube fries.

The versatility of Ube allows it to be seamlessly integrated into diverse culinary creations, adding a touch of novelty to familiar dishes.

Ube's Impact on the Food and Beverage Industry

The popularity of Ube has not only impacted home kitchens but also the food and beverage industry as a whole. Major food brands have recognized the demand for Ube-infused products and have started incorporating it into their offerings.

From Ube-flavored cookies to Ube-infused beverages, these products have become accessible to a broader consumer base, contributing to the ongoing Ube craze.

As a result of Ube's global reach, the demand for Ube has surged significantly, prompting increased cultivation and trade. 

The Cultural Influence of Ube

Beyond its culinary appeal, Ube holds immense cultural significance, especially within the Filipino community. It has become a symbol of Filipino identity, evoking memories of family gatherings and traditional festivities.

As Filipinos have migrated to different parts of the world, Ube has found its way into Filipino diaspora communities, serving as a nostalgic link to their homeland.

Moreover, Ube's popularity has led to cultural exchanges and fusions in the culinary world.

Chefs from different backgrounds have embraced Ube, incorporating it into their cuisines and creating innovative dishes that blend traditional flavors with a modern twist.

Ube on a plate


Ube's rise to popularity is a fascinating blend of cultural heritage, visual allure, and culinary ingenuity. As a cherished ingredient from the Philippines, Ube has captured the hearts and taste buds of people worldwide. Its versatility in culinary creations, coupled with the power of social media, has turned it into a global sensation.

By celebrating its heritage and embracing sustainable practices, we can savor the unique and delightful taste of Ube while preserving its legacy for generations to come.

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