Christmas takes up a third of the year in the Philippines, so there’s plenty of Filipino Christmas foods and recipes to try.
92 percent of Filipinos identify as Christian, and 80 percent claim a Roman Catholic identity. These enthusiastic people of faith celebrate Christmas through all the later months beginning in September and running until the beginning of January.
When Christmas holds an important place in your life, you need a wide array of festive recipes. Filipinos are more than up to the task; their traditional yuletide recipes cover every meal needed from breakfast through dessert.
Read on for my list of some of the best Filipino Christmas recipes for the holiday season.
Though bibingka is a Filipino dish that's available year-round, the sweet, salty rice flour cakes embody the Filipino Christmas spirit.
Festive families traditionally prepare the cakes as a breakfast treat to enjoy after early mass nine days before Christmas.
Different regions and families top bibingka with unique ingredients. Traditional preparation calls for rice flour, baking powder, sugar, coconut milk, eggs, and melted butter.
Buko pandan is a cold coconut and jelly dessert that is quick, easy, and inexpensive to prepare.
The treat’s affordability makes it a Christmas favorite when many of us have to feed a large group.
This recipe guides you through making your own pandan jelly and adds tapioca pearls for texture.
The process is beginner-friendly, however, buko pandan needs to chill thoroughly prior to serving, so plan to make it a day ahead of time.
Chicken macaroni salad elevates the dish’s status from side to main. The sweeter variation on a picnic favorite contains every element needed for a balanced meal, from carbohydrates to protein.
Chicken macaroni salad looks like Christmas, with bright bursts of green and red peppered through the white mayonnaise dressing.
Quick and easy to prepare, chicken macaroni salad contains cheese and fruit, adding a punch of sweetness with pineapple and raisins.
Crispy pata’s long, involved preparation process makes it an ideal choice for a Christmas dinner designed to impress.
Patta is a pork leg dish. Cooks can use either the front or rear hocks; however, the back legs are bigger and less fatty than the front ones.
Chefs deep fry crispy pata to achieve the juicy flavor and crisp skin. The pork is carefully seasoned and comes with a spicy, delicious dipping sauce.
Embutido is a rich, steamed meatloaf recipe packed full of veggies and pork.
Embutido includes some ingredients that may surprise casual meatloaf eaters, including hard-boiled eggs, raisins, and Vienna sausages.
The dish comes together relatively simply; mix all the ingredients in one bowl, then steam for an hour. However, allow plenty of time for dicing the vegetables.
Nothing says Christmas like a rich, hearty stew. Beef kaldereta is a thick, chunky soup packed with vegetables and beef cubes.
Kaldereta derives its complex, layered flavor from a slew of unique ingredients, including olives, tomato sauce, and liver spread.
The soup requires considerable preparation time, mostly dedicated to cooking the beef to perfect tenderness.
Leche flan earns its Christmas-favorite stripes through its rich caramel and dense custard taste. The recipe requires work, time, and patience.
Bakers make their own caramel, which burns quite easily. Additionally, Leche flan requires ten egg yolks at room temperature, so plan ahead; this one requires some preparation.
The dessert is worth the effort, however. The flan is creamy and sure to delight every Christmas guest.
Cooks traditionally cook Lechon manok on a spit over hot coals, but this recipe lets you make the chicken indoors in an oven.
Lechon manok is an entire marinated roast chicken. A melange of flavors infuses the fowl, including soy sauce, garlic, onion, lemongrass, fish sauce, calamansi juice, and brown sugar.
Lechon manok needs to marinate overnight to achieve its full flavor, so plan ahead. After cooking for an hour and 15 minutes, the juicy, flavorful chicken will be the star of your Christmas table.
Morcon stuffs a nice cut of beef with eggs, cheese, pickles, carrots, and hot dogs.
The Christmas classic ensures every diner gets a taste of everything with each bite.
While the dish’s steps are straightforward and easy to follow, the recipe requires two preparation hours and a commitment to following directions.
This paella recipe includes plenty of seafood, chicken, and chorizo.
The hearty, filling rice dish allows chefs to prepare most of the ingredients ahead of time and then to bake the meal right before serving.
Cooks don’t need to commit their whole Christmas day to making the paella as long as they’ve done some prep work.
The recipe uses a wide array of proteins to craft a complex flavor, including shrimp, squid, chicken, sausage, and hard-boiled eggs.
Puto bumbong is a traditional rice recipe that calls for specialized equipment. This recipe removes the need for specifically designed bamboo tubes so anyone can make the dish at home.
The rice for puto bumbong needs to soak before you can prepare the food. Allowing plenty of time usually means several hours, but for puto bumbong, it means a few days.
The steamed dish doesn’t require many ingredients. You’ll need banana leaves, coconut, rice, butter, and palm sugar.
Macapuno balls salad makes a creamy, delicious dessert from coconut and condensed milk candies.
The dish uses fruit, candy, whipping cream, and condensed milk to create its layered flavor. The salad even appears festive, with bright pops of fruit color enhancing the smooth white sauce.
Macapuno salad comes together quickly and easily, so you won’t lose much of your festive season to preparation.
Kare Kare is another delicious, hearty beef stew recipe. The holiday favorite supplements a peanut broth and chunks of oxtail with bok choy, string beans, and eggplant.
Toasted ground rice rounds out the stew, lending the soup texture and flavor.
Kare Kare takes several hours to make. However, much of that time is dedicated to simmering, so you can enjoy Christmas with friends and family while your stew cooks.
Maja Blanca fills sweet coconut pudding with a crunchy surprise; corn kernels add a fun texture to the creamy dessert.
Toasted coconut lends the dish a crunchy topping. Maja Blanca calls for four varieties of milk, coconut flakes, cornstarch, and corn.
The recipe requires consistent supervision; however, it only needs 25 minutes to make. You’ll be enjoying a serving and opening presents before your hot chocolate has cooled.
Pork afritada is a thick, filling dish, certain to stick to your ribs and give you the energy you need for holiday festivities.
The meal uses pork belly, sausage, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, peppers, and peas to create a complex, layered flavor profile.
This four-and-a-half-star recipe needs an hour and a half to prepare.
Pancit palabok is a delicious seafood dish with noodles, beloved for both its complex flavor and customizability.
This recipe uses some prepared ingredients to ease the time and stress of preparing the dish. Pancit palabok needs: pork, shrimp stock, hard-boiled eggs, pork rind, and fish.
A wide range of spices provides the dish with robust flavor. Pancit palabok cooks up in half an hour.
Pork sisig uses inexpensive pig parts to make a hearty, delicious dish. Sisig is an adaptable dish; however, this recipe centralizes pork meat, specifically pig ears and bellies.
Sisig goes well with a side of rice and is topped with an egg.
Chefs making pork sisig need chicken livers, spices, mayonnaise, and soy sauce. Allow two hours for the preparation.
Sapin Sapin is a beautiful, layered, sticky rice cake. The steamed rice dessert needs coconut cream, rice flour, two kinds of milk, sugar, ube flavoring, and langka extract.
The recipe isn’t difficult, but it is involved. You’ll need to pay close attention to every step; however, the process takes an hour, so you’ll still have plenty of Christmas day left to celebrate after the Sapin sapin preparation.
Lumpia is a fun finger food. The Filipino variation on spring rolls fills lumpia wrappers with pork, cabbage, onion, carrots, and a slew of spices.
This lumpia recipe requires some assembly but is otherwise simple and speedy. If you have an hour, you have enough time to fry some lumpia.
Serve the spring rolls with a sweet chili sauce for the ultimate appetizer experience.
Add these Filipino Christmas dishes to your usual lineup – they could be a great addition to Christmas Eve dinner or for any meal around the holiday season!
Check out other holiday foods from around the world, including German Christmas favorites or Mexican Christmas food!