Everyone seems to be seeking ways to cool off during one of the hottest summers on record—myself included. I mean, my handheld fan can only do so much. So when my TikTok feed started filling up with folks beating the heat with spoonfuls of shaved ice made from frozen fruit, I was intrigued.
Basically, the trend—which first went viral when food blogger Frankie Gaw showcased his own version—promises to turn frozen produce like strawberries or mangos into a cold treat similar to snow cones simply by grating them. But I know that hyped TikTok recipes can be just okay-tasting at best, and a flat-out waste of time at worst. So, was this new shaved ice made from frozen fruit worth a try?
It actually took me a couple of weeks to give it a shot myself—I just have way too much experience with viral recipes never quite tasting as good as they look online. But soon I started seeing more and more culturally-specific iterations of the dish as the trend started to gain greater traction. I came across halo-halo, a Filipino style that involves shaved ice, condensed milk and tasty toppings, and was even more excited when I saw that my own Haitian culture has a version called “fresco,” too. At this point, the hack started feeling pretty significant—connecting with culture through food has always been a priority for me—so I decided to try it out.
Gathering the ingredients to make the homemade shaved ice was easy. A few days before I decided to test this hack, I went peach and nectarine picking, so I had a bunch of stone fruit dangerously close to going bad. I also wanted to use up some sad-looking apples and plums that were sitting on my counter as well. I’m always looking for practical ways to get through my fruit haul so I don’t have to throw anything out—and besides, rainbow snow cones were my favorite flavor as a kid, so why not replicate that with nature’s bounty?
Then came the prep work, which in the case of this hack, was all about freezing. I washed my fruit well under running water (super important, since you’ll be eating the peel), and popped them in a bowl and then into my ice box, where they chilled overnight. Your fruit must be really frozen before moving on to the next step, or they won’t grate properly—nor taste quite as refreshing.
When it was time to start the actual hands-on work, I took inventory of my tools. This hack is nifty because you likely have all the kitchen instruments on hand—a specialized shaved ice or sorbet machine isn’t necessary. You may have noticed a microplane (a fancy zester with tiny holes) in some of the videos, which can help shave the fruit into smaller bits. But not everyone has one of those handy—myself included—so I tested it with a regular grater, and it worked out great. Just make sure to use the finer side of the shredder, which creates wispier fruit remnants (and thus fluffier results).
While grating your fruit, I’d also recommend using a towel or clean kitchen gloves to protect your hands from the cold. I definitely started to get numb fingertips—which I ignored at first, due to all the adrenaline and excitement from how good my bowl was looking—but I had to take a break after moving on to my third peach. I called in my partner for temporary reinforcement because the situation was getting a little too chilly.
Shaving all my fruit took just a few minutes. I saw a bunch of people get creative on TikTok by adding toppings like crushed peanuts, condensed milk, tajin spice, or fresh whipped cream to their bowls, but I decided to go a simpler route to finish mine off: I just drizzled on some local honey.
As soon as I took a bite, I could see its viral appeal. The treat is delicious, fluffy, nostalgic—it reminds me of the juicy shaved ice that I would get at Caribbean carnival as a kid—and, most importantly, refreshing. The ripe fruit offers bright flavors that are richer than the overly sweet syrup that is typically drizzled on snow cones. It’s also stunning enough to gush over once it’s done: My bowl had various hues of pink, deep red, and lime green colors thanks to the shreds of peaches, plums, apples, and nectarines.
Not all viral food trends are worth the hype, but I have to say the homemade shaved ice one delivers on its promise. If you’re looking to test one out while the weather remains warm, go ahead and give this one a shot—I’m betting on this hack being the best one of the summer. As for me? I’m definitely adding this dish to my dessert rotation. I can’t wait to try it with ripe mangos, juicy guava topped with coconut whipped cream, and crushed candied peanuts.