Most Popular Types of Shaved Ice 

Types of Shaved Ice

From Classic Snow Cones in the US to Halo-Halo in the Philippines, Shaved Ice Desserts are unique in countries around the world.  So strap in, stow your tray table and let’s get started on this world tour of all the best types of shaved ice!

A Brief History: Types of Shaved Ice

Before we delve into the delicious details, let’s take a journey back in time to explore the origins of shaved ice. Dating back to ancient China, shaved ice was initially a royal indulgence. The process of shaving ice into delicate flakes remained exclusive until it spread to other parts of the world. Now, it’s a beloved summer staple enjoyed by people of all ages.

Traditional Shaved Ice

The Classic Snow Cone

The Classic Snow Cone is a nostalgic American favorite for many. It consists of finely crushed ice topped with vibrant, flavored syrups. Often served in a paper cone, this treat is a simple yet satisfying way to beat the heat.

Snow Cones

Italian Granita

Hailing from Sicily, Italian Granita is a semi-frozen dessert made by scraping ice into a grainy texture. It’s often served with a scoop of gelato or whipped cream, creating a delightful contrast of temperatures and textures.

Italian Granita

Korean Bingsu

Korean bingsu elevates shaved ice to an art form. It features finely shaved ice drizzled with sweet toppings like condensed milk, fruit syrups, and a variety of fruits and nuts. The result is a visually stunning and decadent dessert.

Korean Bingsu

Taiwanese Tsua Bing (Baobing)

Tsua Bing or Baobing is Taiwanese Shaved Ice that became popular in Taiwan during Japanese Rule and has it’s own unique elements such as red bean, grass jelly, taro balls and tangyuan.

Taiwanese Shaved Ice

Exotic and Modern Types of Shaved Ice

Japanese Kakigori

Dating back to the 8th Century, Kakigori is the Japanese take on shaved ice. It involves fluffy ice shavings drizzled with a wide array of syrups, including matcha, cherry blossom, and sweetened red bean paste. Kakigori often incorporates fresh fruit and mochi for extra flavor and texture.

Japanese Shaved Ice Kakigori

Hawaiian Shave Ice

Hawaiian Shave Ice is beleived to have come from Kakigori.  This variation is created by finely shaving a block of ice and enhancing its flavor with syrup and various toppings such as mochi balls, fresh fruit and even ice cream.

Hawaiian Shave Ice

Thai Nam Kang Sai

In Thailand, Nam Kang Sai is a beloved street food dessert. It combines shaved ice with colorful jellies, palm seeds, and various fruit toppings. It’s then generously drizzled with syrups and condensed milk, resulting in a vibrant and sweet delight.

Thai Shaved Ice Toppings

Filipino Halo Halo

Halo-Halo is reated using crushed ice, condensed milk, and various components like purple yam (ube), sweetened beans, coconut strips, sago (a starch derived from palm trees), and agar agar. It’s frequently garnished with a scoop of ube ice cream too!

what is halo-halo

Taiwanese Snow Ice

What makes Snow Ice unique is that it uses an ice block that is made with milk and fruit flavors which is frozen at ultra-low temperatures.  The Snow Ice Block is then shaved with a special Snow Ice Shaver into fine “ribbons” that produce a snow like texture.  This variation is also sometimes called “snowflake ice”.

Mango Snow Ice

Popular Shaved Ice Toppings

Whipped Cream and Condensed Milk

The classic combination of whipped cream and condensed milk adds richness and creaminess to shaved ice. It’s a beloved topping choice that enhances the overall flavor profile.

Fresh Fruits and Nuts

To add a touch of freshness and crunchiness, many opt for toppings like fresh berries, mango slices, or chopped nuts. These toppings not only elevate the taste but also provide a delightful contrast in texture.

Sweetened Red Beans

In some Asian countries, sweetened red beans are a popular topping choice. Their natural sweetness and slightly earthy flavor pair harmoniously with the icy base.

Japanese Kakigori Toppings

DIY Shaved Ice at Home

Essential Equipment

To recreate the magic of shaved ice at home, you’ll need some essential equipment, including a quality ice shaver or blender, sturdy cups or bowls, and a variety of syrups and toppings.

Choosing the Right Ice

The key to achieving the perfect shaved ice texture is choosing the right ice. Start with ice that is free from impurities and has been properly frozen to ensure a fluffy and fine consistency.

Crafting Flavored Syrups

Experimenting with homemade syrups is a fun way to customize your shaved ice. You can infuse syrups with herbs, spices, or even your favorite teas to create unique flavors.

Healthier Shaved Ice Options

Sugar-Free Alternatives

For those watching their sugar intake, there are sugar-free syrups and natural fruit juices that can be used to sweeten shaved ice without the guilt.

Natural Fruit Juices

Opting for natural fruit juices as syrups adds a burst of fruity goodness to your shaved ice while keeping it healthier and more wholesome.

Low-Calorie Toppings

You can also make healthier choices when it comes to toppings. Fresh fruits and nuts are low in calories and high in nutrition, making them a guilt-free option.


Shaved Ice as a Cultural Icon

Shaved ice has transcended its status as a mere dessert. It has become a cultural icon, symbolizing summer, joy, and the simple pleasures of life. Whether enjoyed on a bustling street corner or at a beachside shack, shaved ice brings people together to savor the moment and beat the heat.


Wrapping Up

In the world of frozen treats, shaved ice stands out as a versatile and delightful option. From its ancient origins to its modern interpretations, shaved ice continues to captivate taste buds worldwide. Whether you prefer traditional snow cones or adventurous international variations, one thing is certain: shaved ice is the perfect way to cool down on a hot day.


What is the origin of shaved ice?
Shaved ice dates back to ancient China, where it was initially a royal indulgence before spreading to other parts of the world.

What are some popular shaved ice toppings?
Popular toppings include whipped cream, condensed milk, fresh fruits, nuts, and sweetened red beans.

Are there healthier shaved ice options available?
Yes, you can opt for sugar-free syrups, natural fruit juices, and low-calorie toppings to make shaved ice a healthier treat.

Is shaved ice only popular in warm climates?
Shaved ice is enjoyed worldwide, but it’s particularly popular in warm and tropical regions.

Can I make shaved ice at home?
Absolutely! With the right equipment and ingredients, you can create delicious shaved ice treats in the comfort of your own kitchen.