Thinking outside the cup: 9 bizarre ice cream flavors in the Philippines

Ice cream, how we love thee. Sweet, creamy, and spicy! Wait...what?
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Ice cream, how we love thee. Sweet, creamy, and spicy! Wait…what?

The Filipino people take great pleasure in adding their own unique spin on mundane things, and there’s no doubt that we always bring something new to the table. Even when it comes to the flavors of our ice cream, we have made it a point to not only settle for the traditional vanilla or chocolate options. We’ve already got cheese ice cream that has foreigners quirking their eyebrows. But, we’ll take it up a notch in this article as we break down some of the most bizarre flavors Filipinos have come up with.

SILI ICE CREAM

1st Colonial Now Delivers Sili Ice Cream To Metro Manila
Photo from 1st Colonial’s Instagram

You’ll know you’re in Bicol when everything starts becoming fiery to the taste. The province is renowned for its spicy cuisine and even ice cream wasn’t spared as Bicol is home to the famed sili (chili) ice cream. The origin of Sili (chili) ice cream in the province of Bicol may be traced back to its days as a novelty dish with the intention of promoting the province. The sili ice cream, made with “siling labuyo” and coconut milk, was first served in 2004 by the local restaurant 1st Colonial Grill and quickly became popular with both residents and visitors.

In December of 2016, the inaugural “Choose Philippines Awards” were conducted, where bloggers, influencers, and industry professionals selected, whittled down, and voted for finalists in multiple categories along with internet users. The sili ice cream was awarded the best panghimagas (dessert) award which helped solidify its standing as a local tourism hallmark of Bicol.

1st Colonial delivers to Metro Manila, Albay, Naga, and Iriga. Order through their Instagram or Facebook page.

AMPALAYA ICE CREAM

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Photo by Myles Jamito

As of writing, Valentine’s Day is a long way to go but just in case you’re reading this around the time and fighting off a broken heart, this could be the flavor for you. Every year around Valentine’s Day, an ice cream shop called Sebastian’s Ice Cream releases a line of ice creams infused with ampalaya or bitter melon. The irony of a sweet and creamy delight being flavored with something as bitter as ampalaya is not lost on anyone. 

The daring and one-of-a-kind ice cream flavors that Sebastian Ice Cream creates and sells are noted for having humorous names. Owner Ian Carandang’s annual Valentine’s Day flavors, which began as a joke, have grown to be a fan favorite. The ice cream, dubbed “Unresolved Issues,” is created with fresh bitter melons and garnished with candied bitter melon pieces and is the star of the show every Valentine’s Day. 

Though this bizarrely sweet and bitter treat is only available during Valentine’s, there might still be something for you on the menu: https://sebastiansicecream.com/ice-creams/ 

SAMPAGUITA

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Photo from Ilustrado Restaurant’s Facebook

You would expect a description of an ice cream to include words like fragrant, sweet, and creamy, right? Is a fragrant flavor profile typical of ice creams? This one does, at any rate! The creative people who were responsible for the success of the well-known Ilustrado Restaurant came up with this ground-breaking concept with the objective of creating a dessert that was not only quite different from anything else in the world but was also deeply rooted in Filipino culture. The Sampaguita flower, which is revered in the Philippines as the country’s national flower, has been transformed into a whole new product.

Get your fix of this super fragrant and velvety ice cream at Ilustrado Restaurant located at 744 General Luna St, Intramuros, Manila, 1002 Metro Manila.

TINUTONG/BURNT RICE ICE CREAM

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Photo from Manila Creamery’s Facebook

Cooking rice usually means there’s going to be a slightly browned (or completely burnt, depending on who’s cooking) part at the bottom of the pot. That is undeniably one of the best aspects of the rice. After all, there are several means of savoring it in various cultures. Tossed with fluffy white rice, it has the perfect balance of smokey bite and silky sweetness. There aren’t many things in life that can compare to the satisfying crunch and charred flavor of burned rice. And Manila Creamery has made it even better to enjoy by turning it into a creamy and luscious dessert. Charred rice, macapuno, coconut milk, and red beans come together in one spoonful of this sweet concoction. An initial burst of tartness gives way to a smooth, replete flavor with a smokey undertone that is true to the taste of the rice

BEER AND CHICHARON ICE CREAM

Carousel Creamery
Photo from Spot PH

Crunchy chicharon is a traditional complement to cold beers in the Philippines. It’s the classic inuman pairing of bitterness and salty food. Now imagine it as an ice cream flavor—a sweet, creamy, and cold dessert. Well, that’s exactly what Carousel Creamery did to this popular combo. Carrying 101 flavors of unique ice creams, Beer and Chicharon is just the tip of the iceberg, but definitely the most eye-catching. The sweetened beer goes well with the tiny, soft chicharon chunks, producing that sweet-and-salty combination that satisfies like nothing else.

TILAPIA ICE CREAM

Are You Brave Enough to Try Tilapia Ice Cream?
Photo by Dairy Darilag via Yummy PH

You have not been misled; this is still an article about ice cream. And to get this out of the way as quickly as possible, tilapia ice cream does not in the slightest bit have a “fishy” flavor. Tilapia Ice Cream is made using tilapia fillet, all-purpose cream, condensed and fresh milk, chopped walnut s, and diced cheese. The combination of these ingredients leave no fishy scent or aftertaste. Tereso Abella, president of Central Luzon State University, had the idea for the project, while Dana Vera Cruz, an assistant professor at CLSU, was the one who came up with the recipe for the tilapia ice cream. Together, they are responsible for the inception of the product.

During the SIAL ASEAN Manila 2016 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City, Manila, this eye-catching sweet treat earned the SIAL Innovation Gold Award. The ice cream has successfully won over the palates of people in a number of other nations.

Get yourself a cup of this treat here: https://daerrys-tilapia-ice-cream.business.site/

CROCODILE ICE CREAM

Evil Smells and Heavenly Bites: Our Davao Food Expeditions – The Shoestring  Diaries
Photo from The Shoestring Diaries

The words “ice cream” and “crocodile” seem odd together in one sentence, yet here we are with this bizarre pairing. However, in Davao (where crocodile lechon is also a thing), crocodile ice cream is not some made-up fantasy for daring foodies. With no discernible features from a good old regular ice cream, a cup of this frozen delight looks unsuspecting. But fear not, as this sweet dessert has no business with actual crocodile meat. It is actually just the typical ice cream but infused with crocodile eggs and the taste is not as overpowering as some might think. Chef Dino Dizon, dubbed the “Crocodile Chef” for his plethora of crocodile-themed dishes, has noted that crocodile ice cream is really more healthy than its conventional equivalents. Crocodile ice cream has less calories and more protein per serving than a regular chicken egg would have.

The Sweet Spot Artisan Ice Cream, which is a shop located in the Davao Crocodile Park and is run by Chef Dizon, is where you can have your taste of crocodile ice cream.

CHAMPORADO AND DILIS ICE CREAM

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Photo By: krishnana_snaps on Instagram

The traditional thick rice pudding from the Philippines that has become a classic Filipino merienda is also taken as the new candidate for new ice cream flavors that are being released in the market. Unlike Mexican champurrado which is more similar to a warm and thick beverage, Filipino champorado is heavier on the appetite as one of its few main ingredients is malagkit or glutinous rice. As it is already embedded in Filipino culture, this new flavor released as an original from Sebastian’s Ice Cream definitely got a quirk of an eyebrow as well as a lot of curious glances from Filipinos, but they will never shy away from trying.

This ice cream is served with the usual pairing of traditional Filipino champorado which would be dilis or dried anchovies on top of the ice cream scoops. As it might sound weird to those who haven’t tried champorado with such a pair, the contrast between the usual sweetness of champorado and the rather saltish taste of the dilis becomes a good compliment to one’s palate. It might sound weird to many, but the ice cream flavor did earn good reviews!

GREEN MANGO AND BAGOONG ICE CREAM

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Photo By: poisonayvi on Instagram

When a Filipino thinks about green mangoes and bagoong it’s automatically the usual street food or the classic snack in Filipino households and gatherings; not in ice creams. But fear not, even if there would not be the classic crunch of the green mango when bitten, there is the new flavor all infused in the softness and coolness of ice cream!


Sebastian’s Ice Cream once again introduces this unique flavor to the Filipino masses in highlighting some of the Filipinos’ classic taste buds. This ice cream is rich in flavor and might not fit to most people’s tastes, considering the huge contrast with the flavor and the topping itself, but for some, green mango and bagoong ice cream is something that they would not mind having another taste of. If anyone looks at Sebastian’s Ice Cream’s menu, they would definitely see this flavor listed under the favorites!

When it comes to ice cream in the Philippines, even the simple act of eating one is an experience in itself. With the creativity and ingenuity of Filipinos, it wouldn’t be surprising if there are even more obscure ice cream flavors that didn’t make this list. Even so, did you find anything that piqued your taste buds? 

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