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What is Haitian Fresco?

Haitian Fresco

Haitian Fresco is an ice treat made with shaved ice and flavored syrup and topped with toasted peanuts. In a tropical country like Haiti, enjoying a fresco in the middle of the day is one of the most beautiful things that can exist. 

For many Haitians, enjoying a fresco under the sun, especially in the summer when it is very hot, is a real treat because fresco is a refreshing drink. To my knowledge, the origin of this wonderful treat is not known, but it sure is delicious. 

Fresco is a Global Treat

Different names know this classic treat and is particularly popular in the Caribbean, South America, and other parts of the world. The recipes are somewhat similar as the main ingredient is always ice. The most popular name for this snack is the snow cone. 

How Fresco is made in Haiti

For many years, merchants (usually men) selling Haitian Fresco would push a colorful 3-wheeler wooden cart in the street, yelling “Fresco, Fresco” to alert people. Today, many merchants have upgraded their carts. The upgrade is a metal cart with smaller wheels and an overhead. The cart also is more efficient. It contains a place for the cooler that preserves the ice and compartments for the cups and bottles of syrup. The metal cart is more functional and easier to maneuver around the neighborhoods.

Haitian Fresco

Typically, to make fresco, the merchants use a type of ice grater called a “graj,” made with aluminum. As they grate the ice, it becomes fine, like snow. The shaved ice is then poured into a cup, and your choice of syrup is drizzled on top to cover most of the ice. 

There are several varieties of syrup. Some of the popular flavors are anisette, mint, orgeat, grenadine, lemon, coconut, and many more. Each syrup has a distinct taste and color. The best part is mixing flavors for optimum enjoyment. 

Many people will add toasted peanuts because they believe that drinking fresco with peanuts makes it more flavorful. Don’t like peanuts? Don’t worry, you can have your fresco without it.

To make fresco, you will need:

  • Shaved ice
  • Flavored syrup
  • Peanuts (optional)


  1. Place shaved ice in a cup or bowl.
  2. Drizzle flavored syrup over the ice.
  3. Top with peanuts (optional).
  4. Enjoy!

Fresco syrups are typically made with fruits, flowers, or spices. Some popular fresco flavors include:

  • Anisette
  • Mint
  • Orgeat (almond syrup)
  • Grenadine
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Coconut
  • Tamarind
  • Hibiscus

You can buy fresco syrups at Haitian grocery stores or online. If you can’t find fresco syrup, you can make your own by simmering fruit juice, water, and sugar together until a syrup forms.

Here are some tips for making the best fresco:

  • Use fresh, high-quality ingredients.
  • Don’t over-shave the ice. You want the ice to be fluffy and light.
  • Use a good quality flavored syrup.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors.
  • Serve fresco immediately.

Here are some ideas for how to enjoy fresco:

  • As a snack or dessert on a hot day.
  • At a barbecue or pool party.

Can you make Fresco at home?

Absolutely! Fresco can be made at home using a snow cone machine. You can find several types of snow cone machines on Amazon and the flavored syrup.

To make a homemade snow cone, you need the following:

To make the snow cone, crush the ice in a Snow Cone Maker or Food Processor, fill up your cup, pour the syrup, and enjoy.

Adding other roasted nuts is a good idea, and even toasted coconut.

Haitian Fresco

A modern look a Haitian Fresco

These days, as we all know, it is all about being innovative. And because service and presentation are significant to any business, the fresco carts have been looking pretty lovely. Lots of color and design to fully portray what Haiti is all about. Good local food, sunshine, and many colors make you feel you are on a beautiful planet.

Why do we love Fresco so much?

Haitian fresco is a refreshing shaved ice treat that is perfect for a hot summer day. It is made with shaved ice-flavored syrup and often topped with peanuts. Fresco is a popular snack and dessert in Haiti, and Haitians around the world also enjoy it.

Here are 4 reasons why we love fresco so much:

  • Cold and Refreshing
  • Delicious
  • Addictive
  • It always makes you feel like a kid.

Fresco is a delicious and refreshing treat that is perfect for any occasion. It is also a great way to cool down on a hot day. So next time you are looking for a refreshing snack or dessert, try Haitian fresco!

Photo Credits: Sarah Dumel

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