This website contains affiliate links to help keep this blog running. Read my Disclosure Policy.

The Best Carioca Recipe You’ll Make (Addicting Sauce)

Recipes Pinterest Pin with two sticks of carioca, a Filipino dessert of fried coconut balls glazed in brown sugar sauce

Carioca, sometimes spelled karioka or called cascaron, is my favorite Filipino dessert. While the Philippines has so many great desserts, carioca is pretty underrated! The carioca recipe is quite simple.

What is Carioca?

Carioca are deep-fried glutinous sweet rice balls coated in a brown sugar and coconut milk glaze, then skewered on a BBQ stick.

You can sometimes find carioca as a Filipino street food dessert. The outside is crispy and the inside soft and chewy.

Carioca has different names & variations throughout the Philippines, like tungi-tungi in Kapampangan, bitsu-bitsu in Bisaya, and tinudok in Ilocano.

Ingredients in Carioka Recipe

This carioca recipe includes glutinous rice flour (I usually use Mochiko brand), coconut milk, and coconut shreds. Some carioca desserts don’t use coconut shreds, but I find using coconut adds more flavor and sweetness.

For this carioca recipe, I add gula melaka palm sugar to the sauce for a richer caramel flavor, similar to the Kapampangan bibikang nasi recipe.

I highly recommend using gula melaka palm sugar in general. I’ve tried different carioca, and this is the best carioca recipe that I’ve tried so far!

I make it at family parties, and it’s always a hit. Hands down a must-make recipe. If anything, make the carioca sauce. 100% addicting.

Language Learning Bits

  • Gata = coconut milk
  • Gula Melaka = palm sugar (gula is sugar in Malay and Indonesian langauges)
Two sticks of karioka, a Filipino dessert of fried coconut balls glazed in brown sugar sauce

The Best Carioka Recipe You’ll Make

Ingredients

Carioca balls

  • 1 pack frozen grated coconut (3 cups) Note: You can use dried, but make sure it’s either unsweetened or use less sugar
  • 1.5 cup white sugar
  • 2.5 cups mochiko sweet rice flour
  • 1 cup coconut milk

Sauce coating

  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup gula melaka sugar (can sub for more brown sugar if you don’t have gula melaka)

Optional

  • BBQ skewers

Instructions

How to Make Carioca Dessert

Balls:

  1. Thaw the frozen coconut shreds, and pat down dry.
  2. In a bowl, combine the coconut shreds, white sugar, sweet rice flour, and coconut milk.
  3. Take two tablespoons of the mixture and roll into a ball. Repeat for all carioca balls.
  4. Heat up a small pot with frying oil on low-medium heat.
  5. Test fry one carioka ball for 2-4 minutes, or until outside is lightly-browned. Cut open. The inside should be throughly cooked and bouncy.
  6. Fry the remaining carioka balls and set aside on a napkin-lined plate.

Sauce:

  1. In a wide saucepan on medium heat, add coconut milk and brown sugar. If you have gula melaka sugar, add a 3/4 cup or to your liking, or add more brown sugar.
  2. Mix and stir until sauce thickens, around 10-15 minutes.

Prepare:

  1. Add the fried carioca balls to the saucepan and evenly coat each ball.
  2. Take three to four carioca balls and add to BBQ skewer. Enjoy!

Notes

  • If your test ball isn’t thoroughly cooked, pop them in the microwave for 10 seconds, re-roll, then fry.
  • If you don’t have BBQ skewers, you can definitely eat the karioka balls separately.

Try These Other Vegan Recipes

Recipes Pinterest Pin of Bibingkang Nasi, a Filipino dessert of baked cake of cooked glutinous rice topped with brown sugar sauce