Traditionally, an ice shaving machine is used to churn out the shaved ice used in the dessert, originally hand cranked but now more often motorized. Many Southeast Asian coffee shops, hawker centres, and food courts offer this dessert.
Formerly, it was made of only shaved ice and red beans, though the number and diversity of ingredients has since expanded. Today, ais kacang generally comes in bright colours, and with different fruit cocktails and dressings.
In Malaysia, almost all variants now contain a large serving of attap chee (palm seed), red beans, sweet corn, grass jelly and cubes of agar agar as common ingredients. Other less-common ingredients include aloe vera, cendol, nata de coco, or ice cream. A final topping of evaporated milk, condensed milk, or coconut milk is drizzled over the mountain of ice along with red rose syrup and sarsi syrup. Some stalls have even introduced novelty toppings such as durian, chocolate syrup and ice cream. There are also versions that shun the multi-coloured syrup and are served with just a drizzling of gula melaka syrup instead.