Hand holding a coconut and sugar coated Filipino palitaw.

My friends, this little white ball is on its way to becoming Palitaw.

Palitaw is the weirdest and most addicting little snack that I’ve probably ever had. I say that about all of these recipes, don’t I? About the addicting part? But really, this one is. Truly.

Palitaw is actually glutinous rice flour and water mixed into a dough, rolled into balls, boiled until they’re soft and kind of chewy, and rolled in coconut and sugar. And if you’re having a party, you decorate them with colored sugar or food coloring and put ’em on a stick, because food on a stick = party.

This was another recipe that was supposed to be a “lesson” with my students where I’d bring them into the kitchen and they’d learn infinite amounts of math and reading by using a written recipe and halving the fractions. What ensued was more like a lesson for me in 1) how most Filipinos actually cook, which is without a recipe; 2) the wonders of glutinous rice flour; and 3) how to dab the sweat off your forehead with a paper towel in one hand while simultaneously popping another palitaw bite into your mouth with the other.

Coconut and sugar coated Filipino palitaw in white bowls.

I have this vivid memory of being hotter (as in scorchingly hotter) than humanly possible and trying to help my students make sense of writing this recipe all while sneaking one after another of these little coconut rice flour gooey balls into my mouth. “Yes, students, that’s the correct spelling of Palitaw.” *chomp chomp* “Mmhm, a half cup.” *chomp*

I mean, you’re done making them before you’ve basically even started, so pop. Into the mouth they go. Served warm and soft with FRESH coconut (I mean, literally, there’s a tree right out there and one of the uncles just grabbed a coconut from it) and sugar stuck to the outside? These are the kinds of foods I miss.

Long live Filipino snacks. ♥

Here’s the rest of the story in pictures.

Dough in an orange bowl.
Coconut and sugar coated Filipino palitaw on a tray.
Filipino palitaw in a big pan.
Children sitting on a bench.
A picture of Palitaw



This is recipe for coconut and sugar coated Filipino palitaw from the orphanage in the Philippines where I lived and worked for a year.


  • 4 1/2 cups glutinous rice flour
  • 2 cups water
  • sugar for dusting
  • shredded coconut for dusting


  1. Mix the glutinous rice flour with the water until a thick, sticky mixture forms. Roll into small balls.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the glutinous rice balls and boil until solid and floating to the top, about 10 minutes. Drain the water and let the palitaw cool slightly.
  3. When cool enough to handle, roll in a bowl of sugar and coconut. Serve plain or on skewers. In my opinion, these are best while they’re still hot. For a fun twist, try adding food coloring to the dough or topping with colored sugar.
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: Filipino

Keywords: palitaw, filipino dessert, coconut and sugar

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