Ube Extract Substitutes

Ube Extract Substitutes

Ube extract which is pronounced as “ooh-bay” extract is a colouring extract essential for making mouth-watering, eye-catching dishes. Though the ube yams from which the ube extract is made is hard to find, you can always pick a few preferable options below, which you can use to substitute ube extract with.

Ube Extract

Ube are yams originally found in Southern Asia. Ube extract is made from these purple yams and it gives dishes a striking violet colour which makes it more appealing. Ube extract is commonly used by the Filipino. It is creamy and coconut like in taste and is not really top notch sweet, rather, it is vanilla flavoured, mellow and has an ounce of nuttiness. Ube extract is flavourful, hence it is normally used in sweet dishes, specifically desserts.

Substitutes for Ube extract

Ube Halaya

Ube halaya also known as halayang Ube or Ube jam which is boiled mashed purple yam makes a good substitute for Ube extract. When using it, it is important to note that Ube halaya is already sweetened so you will need to cut down on the sugar required by the dish.Using Ube halaya as a substitute might seem to be easy, which it is, but one needs to be careful as using it wrongly might lead to a spoilt dish. The re ason one might fail is that, Ube halaya is a coloured starch; it can make a good dessert but it being a starch means it can turn your dessert dry, firm and dense. This is why one has to follow the following steps before using the Ube halaya as a substitute in a dish.

  • Check its consistency: Check the texture of your Ube halaya, whether it is thick or watery or sticky so that you can adjust your recipe to accommodate that consistency.
  • Taste your Ube halaya: The flavour of Ube halaya is not strong enough. It can be easily overwhelmed when paired with strong-flavoured ingredients. Vanilla itself can be strong enough to overwhelm the Ube flavour if too much of it and less of Ube is mixed. Mixing the two at a good ratio will help bring out the subtle flavour of the Ube halaya.
  • Substitute some flour for Ube halaya: The Ube halaya has characteristics of a starch, if your recipe recommends the use of half a cup of Ube halaya, substitute half a cup of flour. This substitution is a means of compensating for the density of the Ube halaya, thereby allowing your dessert to turn out fluffy.


Ube itself, the purple yam be it fresh or frozen it is the perfect substitute for Ube extract. You peel it first, steam it then grate it before incorporating it into a recipe. It gives the dish or dessert just the right violet colour and vibrancy an Ube extract offers.

Powdered Ube

Powdered Ube can also be used as a substitute for Ube extract. The Ube powder gives the dessert a strong creamy Ube taste. Powdered Ube is generally a dehydrated Ube yam. In order to achieve that striking violet colour, the powder alone is not enough, you will need to add artificial colouring. To use the powder in recipes, mix it with water and bring it to heat, leave it to boil until its texture is as thick as a sweet potato puree.

Purple Kamote

Kamote is a purple sweet potato. It is sweet just like the Ube, so it does well in desserts. Its characteristics match those of the Ube yam, hence it makes a good substitute of the Ube extract. The Kamote has a purple hue which compares to that of the Ube extract. If used for baking, it causes the products to turn slightly darker but the purple colour remains vibrant. The purple Kamote has a neutral flavour and it can only replace Ube extract in colouring the food and not in flavour.

Okinawan Sweet Potato

This is also another type of sweet potato which can be used in substituting Ube extract. Okinawan does well as a substitute of Ube in baking. To use it you have to peel it, cook it then grate it. Though it is able to provide the eye-catching violet colour, it can be easily overwhelmed by other ingredients causing it to lose its colour. When mixed in the dough, it maintains its purple after being beaten with butter and a regular aluminium-free baking powder. It is best to use the baking powder which does not tamper with the dough causing its colour to change to light brown. To maintain the purple colour, you will need to add a few drops of purple artificial colouring. If you are trying to stay away from artificial colourings then only substitute Ube for Okinawan when baking foods which do not have egg and aluminium-baking powder as ingredients.

Stokes purple sweet potatoes

This type of sweet potato has a brownish purple skin. It is the best Ube extract substitute there is; its natural colouring is deep enough no additional food colouring is needed. This substitute is the full package as it also has a light taste of Ube, its products are barely different in taste from those of Ube. When used in baking, the substitute gives the food a darker colour on the outside, but the inside maintains a nice purple colour.

Artificial colouring

Ube extract can be alternated with artificial colouring. When you are out of Ube extract but you still need a consistent deep purple colour in your dishes, you can mix together the blue and red artificial colouring and you will have that deep purple colour.

Make your own Ube extract

You can always use your own homemade Ube extract in place of the store-bought one which you usually use.

  • Pour eight ounces of vodka in a canning jar
  • Add your peeled Ube yam to it
  • Store your Ube extracted for a month in a cool place like a cupboard. Make sure it is stored in a place where light does not penetrate: Leaving it for a month is done so that the flavour develops.
  • After a month, remove the flavouring (the Ube yam) and transfer the extract to another container. The extract will be safe to use

Adding Ube Extract to your Dessert

  • Ice cream

Add a spoon of Ube extracts to your ice cream before freezing it and stir to reach the desired purple hue.

  • Toppings

Stir in the Ube extract into your cream so it turns purple then use it as a topping for fluffy waffles or Ube cream sandwiches.

  • Cake and cupcakes

Incorporate Ube extract into a vanilla cake recipe, the violet colour will add vibrancy to the cake. Unlike artificial food colouring, Ube extract does not only add colour to the cake but it adds moisture too as well as flavour.

  • Cookies

Mix the Ube extract into the cookie dough which will produce tasty lavender cookies.

Nutrient Content of Ube Extract

Though it is popular for colouring food, Ube extract is as nutritious as a sweet potato. It is a good sauce of fibre, vitamins and minerals which protect the body against cellular damage. It has small amounts of calcium and iron too. Antioxidants in the Ube extract giving it that purple hue, help the body fight inflammation. The Ube extract consists of a resistant starch which act as a prebiotic fibre responsible for enhancing the growth of a beneficial bacteria in the gut helping it flourish and protect one’s immune system.

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