Small Batch Filipino Palitaw

Palitaw is a traditional Filipino dessert made with glutinous flour, sugar, shredded coconut and sesame seed. It has a soft, smooth chewy texture with bits and pieces of grated coconut and toasted sesame seed sugar coating. It is a very easy dessert that is often sold in small kiosk in markets.

If you are new to Filipino cooking, welcome. I do not post as much Filipino desserts and dishes in my website but one of my goal is to feature some of our Filipino desserts one step at a time. I want this to be a part of me that I can share with you. Some of you may find it unique, some my find it interesting and some maybe will not be into it. If you are open to trying new food, then I encourage you to step into our Filipino cuisine world and give it a try.

Filipino Palitaw

We Filipinos love anything with coconut. When it comes coconut desserts and savory dishes, you can count on us, we go nuts with coconuts. Although I do not leave in Philippines anymore, from time I time I still make some of our Filipino desserts here in Canada. I am glad that now a days, a lot of the ingredients are now accessible in most Asian markets. Of course it is not 100% the same using fresh ingredients like shredded coconut or freshly ground glutinous rice, but this is as close as it gets. So I’ll take that, it is better than nothing. It came out pretty good to even with the use of substitute ingredients.

What is Glutinous Rice?

For all you guys who are not familiar with glutinous rice, let us talk about it more before we dive into the recipe.

Glutinous rice is a type rice that tends to be sticky when cooked. The grain looks quite white and not as transparent as regular white rice. The grains are also shorter and thicker. This rice is widely consumed across Asia. It is also called as sticky rice because it gets really thick and sticky when cooked. It is called as glutinous more because of the glue-like- sticky texture once cooked, and not because of lack of gluten in it. But yes, in case you are into gluten free diet, this type of rice is gluten free too.

The Authentic Filipino Palitaw

Unfortunately, due to the difficulty of accessing the original Ingredients, this version will not be the authentic Filipino Palitaw, but this is the close that it could get. What is authentic Filipino Palitaw? The authentic version was made using a freshly ground glutinous rice. We always buy this in the wet market. They are submerged in water and they almost look like tofu to me. Basically the rice is grounded into powdered form and them mix with water to form into a solid block. Almost the same as this version, but instead we are using a glutinous powdered rice instead of grinding our own. 

Second difference is the shredded coconut. The authentic version uses freshly grated coconut. The texture is fluffier and it taste cream or and milky. In this version, we are using frozen shredded coconut. The big difference is the texture, fresh is always better especially when it comes to shredded coconut. Frozen tends to be watery and wet, but it still works. The substitute ingredients are not that far from the original, a slight difference in texture and taste but it still works. 

Palitaw By SweetNSpicyLiving

How to Make Palitaw

Start by mixing boiling water in a pan. This will give a good head start while you make the dough.

Next, toast the sesame seeds until it turned brown and smells fragrant. Although toasting is optional, I highly recommend that you do as it brings out the nutty flavor of the sesame seeds, plus it gives a nice appeal to the Palitaw once coated with eat. Remember, presentation and looks counts, a LOT. Add sugar to the toasted sesame seed and transfer is a plate.

Now be ready to start making the rice dough. Mix glutinous rice with water. As you mix the water and glutinous rice, the mixture will start to form into a soft smooth dough. It is soft and pliable, almost like a playdough that you can form into different shape. The dough will not look like much, that is expected as we are making a small batch of 6. First roll into a ball shape and then flatten it into an oblong shape. You can use a rolling pin, put some plastic warp or parchment paper on top to avoid sticking, OR you can use your hands and palm to flatten the dough. Either way works. Arrange the shape dough in a large tray.

Time to cook the rice dough. Slowly drop each piece in the boiling water, and wait about 1 minute. You will know it is cook once it starts to float on top. In tagalog ‘litaw’ means to to be visible, in this case, it floats on top and is more visible. If you are using a small pan, do it one by one. Do not over crowd to avoid sticking. Use a slotted spoon to remove each piece and let the excess water drip. This is a very important step as you do not want the ‘Palitaw’ to be too wet. Lightly dab with paper towel to dry.

Now, coat the Palitaw with the shredded coconut first, be generous. Next, roll and coat with the toasted sesame and sugar mixture. Sprinkle some toasted sesame and sugar mixture in the serving plate, the arrange each piece one at a time as you finish coating it. Sprinkle remaining toppings on top.



  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon Glutinous Rice
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Milk or Water
  • 3 tablespoon granulated Sugar

For the Sesame Coconut Coating

  • 2 tablespoon Coconut or Granulated Sugar
  • 3 tablespoon toasted Sesame Seed
  • 1/3 cup Grated Coconut or Desiccated Coconut
  • 4 cups Water – for boiling


  1. Boil the Water: Pour the water in a pan and bring to a boil. Keep in rolling boil while you make the rice dough.
  2. Toast the Sesame Seeds: In a heated pan, toast the sesame seeds until nicely browned and fragrant. Transfer in a plate and let cool completely. Add granulated sugar and mix to combine.
    • Alternatively, you can also use already toasted Sesame seed and skip the toasting step. 
  3. Transfer the shredded coconut in a plate. If using frozen coconut, lightly squeeze to remove the coconut milk. Side aside the coconut milk for use later in making the dough.
    • Alternatively, you can use desiccated coconut or a combination of both
  4. Make the Sesame Coating: Mix the toasted sesame seed, sugar and coconut
  5. Make the Rice Dough: Mix glutinous rice, sugar and water until it forms into a soft, smooth, pliable dough. You should be able to shape it into a small ball without falling apart. If still a bit dry, small a small amount of coconut or water.
  6. Portion and Shape: Divide into 8 portion and shape an oblong shape. First roll into a round shape, then shape into oblong. You can use a rolling pin to shape it into oblong. Lay it in plastic wrap or parchment paper, then fold the plastic wrap or parchment paper on top. Start rolling to about 2-inch oblong. The plastic wrap will help prevent sticking. Alternatively, you can also just use your hands and palm to shape the dough. Dust you hands with flour to lessen sticking. Arrange each shape dough in a large plate with parchment paper.
  7. Cook the Rice Dough: Cook the glutinous rice dough in the boiling water for about 3 minutes or until it floats on the top. Using a slotted spoon, take each piece out of the water and let the excess water drip. Lay each piece in a paper towel to allow excess water to be absorbed. To much moisture will make the shredded coconut and sugar mixture wet. Do not over crowd the pan, if using a small pan, cook each piece one at a time.
  8. Have the serving plate ready. If you have banana leaf, lay the banana leaf on the plate. Sprinkle some sesame seed and sugar mixture on the plate.
  9. Dip each piece in the coating mixture, making sure to cover both front and back.
  10. Transfer in a serving plate and you finish cooking and coating each piece. Sprinkle more of the coating mixture on top and use any excess to be served on the side.

Makes 8 pieces

Small Batch Filipino Palitaw By SweetNSpicyLiving

Nutritional Information

Nutritional Information was calculated using Veryfitwell Recipe Calorie and Nutrition Calculator. For details about Nutritional Information in this website, please read the Disclaimer page.

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