Ginataang Bilo-Bilo in a coconut shell with a white spoon nearby.

Ginataang Bilo-Bilo: Filipino Coconut Tapioca Pudding

Ginataang Bilo-Bilo (Filipino Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Glutinous Rice Balls/Mochi) is a traditional Filipino dessert that is pure creamy comfort. It’s like a coconut tapioca pudding, studded with delightfully chewy orbs of glutinous rice dumplings (also known as mochi), Saba bananas, and jackfruit.

Ginataang Bilo-Bilo in a coconut shell with a white spoon nearby.
Ginataang Bilo-Bilo: Filipino Coconut Tapioca Pudding

Ginataang Bilo-Bilo (Filipino Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Glutinous Rice Balls/Mochi) is a traditional Filipino dessert that is pure creamy comfort.

Note: This post first appeared on March 14, 2011, originally titled Eight Years. The recipe has been updated from the archives with updated content and photographs, as well as improved kitchen notes and recipe annotation. I hope you enjoy this favorite from my kitchen.

Ginataang Bilo-Bilo in a white bowl with a coconut shell nearby.

They say the number eight is an auspicious number. In Chinese culture, particularly, there is a special affinity to the number eight, not only because it sounds similar to the word meaning prosper or wealth, but also because the digits 88 share a resemblance to the characters depicting double joy or happiness. I find the number eight meaningful because I was eight years old when my little sister was born.

Eight years. A large enough age gap where I loved playing little mommy with my new sibling. Enough time for an older sister to grow up just enough to guide a little sister through life. And time enough for one to truly appreciate the blessing of getting the little sister I always wanted. I love my sister, she’s my best friend. She loves my children almost as much as I do.

Only trouble is, we live a six hour flight apart, and our sisterly bonding time is resigned to yearly visits, phone calls (lots of them), and family weddings. But when we do see each other, it is definitely a joy. Double joy.

What I miss most is Christmas with my sister. I miss sitting around in our comfy clothes, forming little sweet balls of glutinous rice for a dessert that has become our own little holiday tradition.

What Is Ginataang Bilo-Bilo?

When my sister came to spend a whole week with us last month, I couldn’t wait to see her, and I knew right away what we must do. We were going to have our own Christmas in February and make Ginataang Bilo-Bilo. Translated quite literally, it means Balls Cooked in Coconut Milk (Gata). This Filipino dessert is like a coconut tapioca pudding, studded with delightfully chewy orbs of glutinous rice dumplings, or mochi, Saba bananas, and jackfruit. Served warm, the scent of coconut is intoxicating, and the creamy spoonfuls are pure comfort. As soon as I knew my sister was coming, I bought a box of sweet rice flour in anticipation.

I think the weather knew what we were up to. Her arrival was marked by torrential rains and dismally gloomy, cold weather. But it was alright. In our cozy clothes, we were eager to share this dessert with the next generation. My daughter is now eight herself, and we couldn’t wait to teach her how to form the dough into those blobs of chewy delight. Seeing her sit with my sister at the table with handfuls of dough made me so happy, as I stirred the pot of sweetened coconut milk on the stove.

Ginataang Bilo-Bilo in a white pot.

Passing on this tradition to my own little ones was poignant for both my sister and I; watching their reactions to their first sweet spoonfuls brought us true joy. It was the best Christmas present I could ask for.

How to Make Ginataang Bilo-Bilo

First, rice flour and water combine to form a smooth dough. The dough is then rolled into 1/2″ balls, the Bilo-Bilo. Step by step instructions for how to make Ginataang Bilo-Bilo. Then, coconut milk and water are brought to simmer while you simultaneously boil water and cook the tapioca.

Step by step instructions for how to make Ginataang Bilo-Bilo.

Bananas, langka (jackfruit), and sweet potato are added to the simmering coconut milk and the mixture is sweetened to taste. Finally the tapioca and Bilo-Bilo are added to the coconut milk mixture and cooked. Step by step instructions for how to make Ginataang Bilo-Bilo.

The delicious pudding is served warm.

Ginataang Bilo-Bilo in a coconut shell with a white spoon.


Ensaymada: Filipino Brioche Bread Ube Halaya (Filipino Purple Yam Jam) Coconut Ube Rolls Cassava Cake Ginataang Mais: Filipino Coconut Rice Pudding with Corn Bibingka: Filipino Coconut-Rice Cake

Ginataang Bilo-Bilo {Filipino Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Glutinous Rice Balls}

Ginataang Bilo-Bilo (Filipino Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Glutinous Rice Balls) is a traditional Filipino dessert that is pure creamy comfort.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Filipino
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 533kcal


For the Bilo-Bilo:

  • 1 cup sweet glutinous rice flour (also labeled as mochiko)
  • 1/2 cup water

For the Ginataan:

  • 4 oz small pearl tapioca (makes about 1 1/2 cups when cooked)
  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup jackfruit (langka) sliced into strips
  • 1 cup Saba banana or plantain sliced (if you can't find Saba bananas or plantains, substitute with standard bananas)
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato cut in 1/2-inch cubes (optional)
  • 2/3 cups granulated sugar (to taste)


  • Form the Bilo-Bilo by combining the rice flour and water in a small bowl until you have a dough that can be formed into balls, adding a touch more water if necessary. Form into balls no larger than 1/2 inch in diameter. Set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the tapioca, stirring frequently, until fully cooked and the tapioca pearls are clear. Drain and set aside.
  • In a medium pot over medium heat, bring the coconut milk and water to a bubbling simmer.
  • Add the jackfruit, bananas and sweet potato (if using) to the simmering coconut milk. Add sugar and sweeten to taste. When the bananas are fork tender, add the tapioca, as well as the Bilo-Bilo one at a time to prevent sticking. You will know the Bilo-Bilo is cooked when they float to the top and are chewy to taste.
  • Serve warm and enjoy!


Ginataang Bilo-Bilo vs Ginataang Halo-Halo
Technically, Ginataang Bilo-Bilo is the more basic of the two, with just the Bilo-bilo, tapioca, and jackfruit. The addition of sweet potato or taro makes this Ginataang Halo-Halo, but growing up, my family always called it Bilo-bilo as the catch-all term. I will admit that as a child, the sweet potato was my least favorite part of the dessert, but now I love adding it to the dish!
Ginataang Bilo-Bilo Tips/FAQ
  • Where do I find jackfruit? These days, it is becoming easier to find jackfruit. For convenience, I buy either canned or jarred jackfruit at my local Asian market.
  • What do I do if it's too thick? Ginataan tends to thicken as it cools, or of course, if there's more tapioca to liquid. Simply thin it out with a little extra water if you wish.


Calories: 533kcal | Carbohydrates: 79g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Sodium: 29mg | Potassium: 424mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 1588IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 4mg
Did you make this recipe?I'd love to see! Tag @kitchconfidante on Instagram and hashtag it #kitchenconfidante


Recipe Rating

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  1. Isadora Filipina

    I was looking for a link to ginataang bilo bilo and stumbled upon your site. That’s a really cute story with your sister; I was just blogging about mine last night. Lovely site you have here…

  2. Cooking Rookie

    I am saving this recipe! I just bought some tapioca, and I have rice flour from my failed mochi attempt, and this sounds like a perfect way to try again :-).
    Love your photos, as always ;-)

  3. Orly @yumivore

    If I could dip my spoon into my screen I would! Tapioca conjures up childhood memories (though different from Bilo-Bilo). I envision the flavors to be similar to Mango with Sticky Rice? I would LOVE to try this!

    • Liren

      Hi Orly! YES, the flavors of the coconut tapioca will taste very similar to the sticky rice! You would definitely love this, I’m sure :)

  4. norma

    What a wonderful and touching story. I only wish I had a sister. I was raised with 4 brothers and it was tough.

  5. rebecca

    wow looks so tasty and hope J loves her sibling like this :-)

    you need to just wear your saree for fun!

    • Liren

      You’re right! I should just learn how to wear my sari and just have a party or something :) And yes, your little ones will surely love each other so very much, just you wait!

  6. Lannie

    Hi. Stumbled on your blog today and find your food pics so nice :) Yeah, I’m jealous of those angles and lighting as I find my own food pics always lacking in some artsy way. Grrr.

    • Liren

      Hi Lannie, you’re too sweet! Do not be jealous, you’re doing great – keep taking pictures and enjoy every tasty moment!

  7. Stephanie @ okie dokie artichokie

    What a lovely story. I have a younger sister as well — 9 years my junior, and I recall how thrilled I was when she was born. I spent my days helping my mom take care of her and I have wonderful memories of our childhood together. She lives in CA and I live in MI, so we are apart and miss each others company all the time. Luckily, we get to see each other again in two weeks…in beautiful Cabo!

    • Liren

      Oh so lucky, you get to see your sister AND in Cabo no less – have FUN!

  8. Annie

    More number trivia – my chinese colleague just told me today that the ages that end in 3s or 9s are skipped over, so you’re allowed to lie about your age when you turn 43, or 59! She’s been 50 for years! The guinataan looks so delicious, with the sago, langka, and bilo-bilo made by sisters.

    • Liren

      LOVE this idea of skipping 3’s and 9’s :) I’ll remember that for sure :)

  9. TheAppleDoesntFallFarFromthePan-Tree

    Your sister is very lucky to have you, your little ones, and your kitchen talent in her life!

  10. Julie

    This has always been one of my favorite Filipino desserts too. So while the pictures and recipe made my mouth water, this beautiful tribute to your sister and the bond you share made my eyes water. Well done!

  11. fooddreamer

    Your connection with your sister touched me. My sister and I are 6 years apart, and although we didn’t get along that much as kids, we are the best of friends now. But we live on opposite sides of the continent and it’s hard. I love how you are creating these traditions with your sister and passing them on to your daughter. I’d love to try this dessert!

  12. Xai

    Such a lovely story and what a wonderful tradition. The photographs are also so beautiful. I miss ginataan. If only someone else other than me would help eat the finished product. Livig with a picky eater is really hard.

  13. Jean

    So happy to hear about your sister’s visit, Liren. I love that you’re passing the tradition of the ginataan to your daughter. I can relate to your sister’s relationship with your kids, too, since I feel the same way about my two sisters’ children. Love, love them!

    When you posted a preview on FB, I wondered if you made ginataan. I’ve never made it myself but I do fondly remember my mom serving it to me and my sisters when we were kids. Fun memories. Glad to read about yours.

  14. Dan (mychef)

    …nice post, the ginataan bilo bilo… cooking it up just like the good old days and now with your little ones… really interesting

  15. Jackie

    I have to admit, I am incredibly childish: when I saw the words ‘balls cooked in coconut milk’ I let out a wee snigger. I’m sorry. I can’t help it – too much time spent around boys! :P

    These look beautiful though – if I had a sister I’d be making this with her! Since I don’t I’ll just giggle over the cooked balls with my older brother.

    Jax x

    PS: I love your site redesign, can’t remember if I told you already?

    • Liren

      LOL, it is sweet young ladies like you, Jackie, that I had to consider as I typed out this post. But then, your brother has already corrupted you! Snigger away, my sister and I do, too. OH, and thank you – glad you like how the site is looking!

  16. Jun Belen

    Eight is my favorite, my lucky number, because I was born on the eighth! And just like your sister, I am eight years younger than my own sister. Lovely photographs, Liren and a lovely recipe. My mom makes this with saba bananas, too. Makes me think about home!

    • Liren

      Jun, you’re a man of luck! And are you really also eight years apart from your Ate? What an amazing coincidence!

      • Jun Belen

        Yes! I have five sisters and the youngest is eight years older than me. My parents waited eight years before trying again for a boy. And they had me!

  17. foodwanderings

    Wow Liren, beautiful!! I never cooked anything with tapioca and this looks fantastic. Reminds me I want to post an Indian breakfast dish I grew up on. Thanks girl and the new revamped site ooks phenomenal!

  18. Lisa { AuthenticSuburbanGourmet }

    Liren – I love tapiocca, so I am sure that I would adore this one. Not too mention the coconut – what a perfect dessert! What a terrific tradition that you have with your daughter – that is very special. Enjoy your week!!!

    • Liren

      Hope you’re enjoying your week, Lisa! I’ll have to make this for you sometime :)

  19. joey

    The bilo-bilo is my favorite part of ginataan! Followed by the tapioca, saba, and langka…your recipe is perfect!!!

    What a lovely tradition you’ve started with your daughter :)

  20. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen

    Christmas in February is such a sweet idea, why not, after all the essence of the holidays is spending time with family. It’s so wonderful that you were able to pass on this tradition to your daughter as well.

  21. Tracey@TangledNoodle

    My little sister (not so little anymore, of course) was born when I was about 10 years old, so I can definitely relate to your relationship. Your post makes me miss my sisters back in California, though. 8-( I guess I will just have to console myself with a bowl of Ginataang Bilo-Bilo – I looooove this almost as much as I love my sibs. 8-D

    • Liren

      Tracey, you’re even farther away from your sisters! How hard that must be! But it must be nice to also be closer to the rest of the familia now that you’re in Manila!

  22. carolineadobo

    The number 8, sisterhood and traditions, your ginataan bilo-bilo coming full circle with your daughter plus your delicious recipe makes for a lovely post. It’s way past my bedtime but so glad I stayed up a few minutes longer tonight–now I’m off to a sweet slumber.

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