ube in a spoon

What Is Ube and How Does It Differ From Other Yams?

  • Ube is a root-like vegetable from the Asian tropics with a notable purple color.
  • Due to the specific purple color, Ube is often confused with other yams and sweet potatoes with unrelated tastes.
  • Ube is one of the best sweeteners to add to a dessert because it’s sweet and aesthetically appealing.
  • The Ube flavor is similar to pistachio, with a hint of vanilla.

Ube is a traditional Philippine root vegetable and its most typical feature is its purple color. The pigmentation intensity varies depending on the vegetable’s ripeness or cooking and preparation method. So, what’s ube flavor like?

The sweet Ube flavor reminds us of vanilla with pistachio, which you can always find in stores and create cakes in all purple shades. Many want to learn more about using and mixing this vegetable with other ingredients. Read to learn what is ube and how you can use it.

What is Ube?

Before we jump into details of “whats ube taste like?”, let’s elaborate more on what is ube and what is Ube made of.

Ube is a tropical vegetable originating from the Asian tropics, more precisely, the Philippines. It is recognizable for its vibrant purple color, ranging from light lavender to deep purple. Ube is a root vegetable with a characteristically sweet flavor that’s present in many desserts nowadays.

Ube is a yam that belongs to the plant called Dioscorea Alata. The closest veggie that resembles it is the taro with its fleshy yam. However, Ube’s inside flesh is a light purple when not cooked and turns deep purple after cooking.

Ube’s light texture is reminiscent of yam – close to a sweet potato. Yet, the sweet potato is slightly drier than the Ube, similar to the red yam, which has a drier texture.

As a vegetable with rising popularity in the culinary industry, many are interested in the ube flavor profile. Coolinary enthusiasts study it closely to learn which foods are mostly compatible with ube.

ube in a jar

What Does Ube Taste Like?

So, what does Ube taste like?

Regarding taste comparison, the Ube taste is often related to sweet potatoes or yams. Sweet potatoes and yams have a sweetened flavor, but they are initially served with savory meals over the sweet. 

The purple yam taste of ube is why chefs serve it in desserts. It’s a vegetable featuring hints of vanilla and pistachio flavor, but it’s not as intense as the actual vanilla. Other taste descriptions include the nutty flavor but are related more to a chestnut than pistachio.

The sweet ube flavor is an excellent choice for many Filipino dessert specialties, including the halo-halo, candies, ice creams, and other cakes. Halaya is a well-known creamy and cheesy traditional dessert popular in Filipino cuisine. 

How Does Ube Differ from Other Yams and Sweet Potatoes?

Ube differs from other yams and sweet potatoes in terms of nutritional values, taste and texture.

Yams are rich in beta carotene despite the purple color, which comes from the high anthocyanin levels. Ube is rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and resistant starch. 

Ube is often confused with Okinawan and Stokes Purple sweet potatoes. They are all underground plants with slight differences.

Okinawan sweet potatoes are known to have a bluish-purple color on the inside and a pale exterior. Despite the blue color, these sweet potatoes have a dry, starchy texture and a mildly sweet and bitter flavor. 

On the other hand, the Stokes sweet potato has a starchy and moist texture compared to the dry, nutty Ube’s texture. The taste of the Stokes purple sweet potato is mildly sweet and floral. Their skin and insides are purple, the main reason they are often confused with ube. 

Where Can You Find Delicious Ube Dishes Around the World?

Ube originates from the Philippines, where the climate seems convenient for various species of yams, including purple, water, and violet. Similarly, Southeast Asia also offers convenient conditions for the growth of ube and other yams.

Asian tropics appear to be the most popular areas for ube breeding in the world, but that doesn’t mean that places with similar climate conditions are not. New Guinea also seems to have a good climate for ube breeding. In fact, before the official Austronesian expansion, New Guinea adopted ube among many other crops and customized the cultivation as a native plant. 


Ube vs. Purple Sweet Potato: Is There a Difference in Taste? 

Establishing similarity between crops unfolds many other questions, such as “What do purple yams taste like exactly?”, “What flavor is ube compared to sweet potato?”, or “What’s ube flavor got to do with nuts?” To reach the Ube flavor description, you need to learn the similarities and differences between sweet potatoes and ube.

Firstly, ube is not a sweet potato. Despite the root look, ube is a yam, not a sweet potato. Ube is nuttier and has a bark-like texture, which differs from the purple sweet potato’s moist and smooth texture.

The two tubers have a similar taste. The sweet flavor comes from the high concentration of anthocyanins present in the plants. Yet, to be precise, although nuances are in question, ube tastes sweeter compared to the purple sweet potato and is rich in vitamins A, C, and potassium.

Comparing the Taste of Ube with Other Purple-Hued Tubers

Taro is a root vegetable with dark purple skin and white flesh inside – pretty similar to ube on the outside. Yet, the similarities between ube and taro are on a flavor level. Both vegetables have a nutty taste, where taro has more hints of almonds and chestnuts, while ube is more of a pistachio-flavored vegetable with a hint of vanilla. 

Chefs use ube more in desserts, especially ice creams, while they serve taro as a side dish for savory meals. Depending on the methods of cooking taro, the texture can be starchy, creamy, or everything in between. 

Why has Ube Become a Sensation in Global Cuisine?

This purple yam was initially consumed as a jam – ube halaya – one of the most popular pantry fillings. There are no formal notes on when, where, and how the use and cooking of Ube expanded. Some believe it originated during the Spanish colonization of the Asian islands. 

With the appearance of social media and TikTok influencers, ube was introduced as a vegetable to the general public, and its popularity went through the roof. It is believed to be ranked number one on some “food of the year” lists.  

Rising Popularity of Ube in the Culinary World

The moderately sweet flavor, unique natural color, nutritional value and presence of antioxidants are why ube is currently the most popular vegetable. However, the growth of Ube is not only for olfactory or degustation reasons but is also related to beauty. 

“You are what you eat” is a popular saying that seems to be the focus of our lifestyle at the moment. New generations, such as Gen Z and the late millennials, replace rejuvenating, hydrating and nutritional skin care products with effective and nutritional diets. Ube is in high demand because it is rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants.

Ube specialties and delicatessens promote Philippenian culture, background, and cuisine. We have all heard of ube rolls, jams, ice creams, and cakes that glow differently. Wondering what does Ube cake taste like? – Think divine!


The Final Verdict: What Makes Ube a Flavorful Delight?

This ingredient’s unique flavor is the key to creating the best jams, ice creams, and cake fillings. Over the years, ube gained publicity because of its unique purple color, nutritional value and richness in antioxidants. 

Although many regularly mistake ube for sweet potatoes, they do not share the same features. Sweet potatoes have a sweet flavor but are not as intense as ube’s, which is why purple sweet potatoes are used in savory dishes and ube in desserts. 

What does Ube ice cream taste like? Well, you’ll need to try it yourself because some flavors simply cannot be described.


How do you describe the taste of ube?

Ube has a moderately sweet, nutty and moist taste – resembling the taste of pistachio with a hint of vanilla. 

What flavor is similar to ube?

Taro root has a similar flavor and texture to ube but has a lower fat content. The purple sweet potato has a similar earthy sweetness and color, with a slightly sweeter and less nutty flavor.

What is healthier taro or ube?

Both taro and ube are very nutritious for your body and are excellent sources of dietary fiber and good carbohydrates.

Are Gabi and Ube the same?

No, they are different root crops. Gabi originated from taro and can be creamy white to purple-flecked in color. It is used in savory dishes and sweet desserts. Ubo has a specific purple color and is mainly used in desserts.

Is Ube only found in the Philippines?

Ube can be found in Southeast Asia, but it is a main ingredient used in kitchens in the Philippines.

Emily Summers
Emily Summers

Hi there! I'm Emily Summers, your friendly guide to living a vibrant and fulfilling life on the Quenchers blog. As a travel and lifestyle enthusiast myself, I'm passionate about helping you explore the world, nourish your body with delicious food, and discover the secrets to a balanced and happy life. Join me as we embark on exciting adventures, uncover wellness tips, indulge in mouthwatering recipes, and share a good laugh along the way. Together, let's quench our thirst for a vibrant life and make every moment count! Cheers!

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