More than its breathtaking natural wonders such as pristine beach destinations, majestic mountains, sparkling waterfalls, and many more, the Philippines is also known for a whole lot of other things! There’s its extremely rich and colorful history, infectious culture and traditions, and of course, notable Filipino icons such as Jo Koy, Jordan Clarkson, and the one and only boxing legend, Manny Pacquiao.
But there’s still another famous distinction heralded to the Philippines and it’s none other than our country’s iconic cuisine. Yup! Filipino Cuisine is making rounds all over the globe and currently trending on social media as one of the most delicious cuisines in society. People are loving the unique taste and most importantly the flexibility, adaptability, and creativity of Filipino dishes that consistently impress foreign tourists.
As an archipelago that’s surrounded by thriving waters and abundant supplies of different seafood, Filipino cuisine is mainly known for its seafood specialties. Despite that, you still shouldn’t underestimate its other dishes consisting of pork, chicken, beef, and vegetables! Some of the most famous Filipino dishes of all time are Sinigang, Caldereta, Sisig, Lechon, and of course, Adobo. Trust me, there are literally countless must-try Filipino dishes and delicacies. You’ll be able to discover a new delicious dish each time you visit a new place!
Well, the dishes I’ve mentioned above are just some of my all-time favorite Filipino main courses. An interesting thing about us Filipinos is that we’re used to eating more than three times a day! Sometimes we even eat four, five, or even six times a day because of our traditional siesta time or merienda time. These are usually held around 10:00 in the morning and 3:00 in the afternoon. And guess what? We have a separate set of delicious foods created specifically for merienda. Well, lucky for you because that is exactly what we’re talking about today in this article!
Prepare to go on another gastronomic adventure with me as we discover and taste the 15 Best Merienda in the Philippines! I hope you’re hungry because everything on this list is super irresistibly delicious. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s do it!
First on the list and definitely one of the all-time favorite merienda dishes of Filipinos is the iconic Turon. These are ripe Saba bananas wrapped with spring roll wrappers, and then deliciously coated with brown sugar before being deep-fried. The yummy, crunchy, and addicting flavor combination of Turon truly is something you should try!
To make it even more special, strips of langka or jackfruit are added to the mix, this gives the Turon a more unique flavor and texture which makes it extra delicious. You can usually spot Turon vendors around crowded places in the Philippines like transport terminals, schools, and local markets. They usually start selling Turon in the afternoon. That’s why it really is a perfect merienda snack!
2. Banana Cue
Up next, when you mention Turon as one of the most popular merienda dishes in the Philippines, it’s impossible not to include Banana Cue in the conversation! Banana Cues are essentially the twin sister of Turon because they’re made of the same exact ingredients except for the spring rolls.
Instead of rolling the Saba bananas with spring roll wrappers, the fruit is directly coated with brown sugar and then deep-fried. And then, the bananas are skewered into wood sticks in groups of two or three bananas. See? That’s already a heavy meal for some people! Filipinos usually like to pair their Banana Cue merienda with an ice-cold bottle of soft drink, just to beat the summer heat!
3. Camote Cue
Yup! There is indeed another famous Filipino street food that’s very similar to our first two entries, Turon and Banana Cue. Wanna take a guess? Ah, I’m sure you’re also very familiar with this, the Camote Cue! This yet another classic merienda dish is made in the same way as a Banana Cue.
The only difference is that the main ingredients used are sweet potatoes or camote/kamote. So just like the cooking process of Banana Cues, these are made by coating slices of sweet potatoes with brown sugar and then deep-fried to perfection. Camote Cues are also skewered in wood sticks for a more convenient way of eating, a perfect merienda indeed!
4. Maja Blanca
Ah, this time we’re trying a different kind of Filipino merienda that uses yet another abundant agricultural product of the Philippines. Maja Blanca is essentially a Filipino dessert that has a gelatin-like consistency and uses coconut milk and corn as its main ingredients.
The richness and creaminess of this merienda dish truly are so outstanding that Maja Blanca became a usual dessert served during special occasions like birthday parties, festivals, and wedding receptions. Oh, and it tastes better with toasted coconut bits on top!
“Tahooo”, anyone? If you try to live in the Philippines even for just a couple of days in the city, I’m sure that you would hear a loud voice in the neighborhood every morning shouting the word Taho in a lengthy and catchy manner. Well, that has been the tradition that every Filipino grew up in.
Taho is an iconic Filipino snack or merienda that’s made of a perfect combination of fresh silken tofu, small white pearls, and sugar syrup or arnibal. You can easily spot Taho vendors anywhere around the country because they’re carrying two tin containers and shouting the word Taho every time!
Next up, Binatog is also a very popular merienda that Filipinos absolutely love. It’s made from waxy corn kernels that are usually topped with plenty of flavors like grated coconut meat, butter, sugar, and sometimes salt. It’s actually a heavy snack already because the corn kernels are high in carbohydrates.
Binatog vendors or more popularly known as magbibinatog can also be spotted easily because they’re carrying small tin cans containing the fresh ingredients to make binatog. You can also spot these delicious snacks around malls nowadays, so better give it a try!
Ah, absolutely! Another iconic Filipino merienda that you really have to try is Pancit. Now, there are countless different versions of pancit in the Philippines, I think every province has its own special recipe for it. But to make things simpler, pancit or pansit is the traditional noodle dish of the Philippines.
It may vary based on the type of noodle used, the location it originated from, or even the method of cooking. Some of the most popular varieties of pancit in the country are Pancit Canton, Pancit Bihon, Lomi, and many more! These can be made of different tasty ingredients like pork, chicken meat, chicken liver, and vegetables. The wonderful thing about pancit is that it can serve as a merienda or the main course for a family’s meal. It’s usually served with calamansi to perfectly compliment the flavors.
You can buy pancit from essentially anywhere around the country such as local eateries, restaurants, and vendors. Pancit has also become an all-time favorite merienda by Filipinos because of its affordability and delicious taste.
Empanada is another special Filipino merienda that became known in the country for its different delicious flavors that can easily fill up your tummy. The empanada is essentially a turnover that can either be baked or fried with pastries and different fillings inside.
In the Philippines, it can be made of chicken, tuna, pork, cheese, and such. The name Empanada actually came from the Spanish word “empanar” which means “enbreaded” or to be wrapped in bread. You can usually buy cooked empanadas from different stores around the country, especially outside crowded places like schools, local markets, and malls. Just a bite of this goodie and you’re absolutely ready to go!
9. Ginataang Bilo-Bilo
Next up, another classic and special Filipino merienda is Ginataang Bilo-Bilo. This sweet delight is made up of coconut milk, tapioca, ube, camote, langka, and of course the main ingredient, bilo-bilo or glutinous rice balls. It takes a lot of time and patience to master or even cook this traditional Filipino dessert, that’s why it’s usually served on special occasions like fiestas.
So if you’re able to find a vendor selling Ginataang Bilo-Bilo nearby, I suggest that you grab the chance and buy some! Trust me, you’ll never regret your decisions because you’ll be satisfied with its delicious taste and on top of that, you’ll have a full belly!
Ah, yes. The one and only favorite breakfast, lunch, dinner, and merienda dish of Filipinos, Lugaw! Lugaw is essentially a rice porridge that’s made of either glutinous or regular rice. Plain Lugaw can be made of only rice, water, and salt. But to make it even more special, adding chicken meat, garlic, onion, ginger, or egg really does take it to another level.
Eating Lugaw as your merienda is very calming and satisfying especially during the rainy season. You can easily spot stores or what Filipinos like to call “Lugawan” in almost every street and corner in the country. Some are even open 24/7 to serve the cravings of hardworking Filipinos!
Oh, and just a quick tip! It’s best to pair your Lugaw with the traditional Tokwa’t Baboy as your side dish. And you can add some special toppings as well like toasted garlic, fresh onion leeks, and even chili oil to add some spice!
Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without including one of the most famous delicacies of the Philippines, Puto or Filipino Rice Cakes. Now, there are many kinds and varieties of Puto all throughout the history of Filipino cuisine, but the main thing is that the traditional recipe of puto is made of rice flour.
These fluffy rice cakes can be made extra special by adding some toppings like cheese, salted egg, and butter. And to give you an idea, some of the popular versions of Puto are Puto Calasiao, Puto Kutsinta, and probably the most famous, Puto Bumbong, which is an iconic merienda during the Christmas season. But no matter what version you like the most, I’m sure that you’ll agree that Puto is indeed one of the best Filipino merienda of all time.
12. Buko Pandan
More than being a fan-favorite dessert of Filipinos, Buko Pandan also grew to become one of the most sought-after merienda in our culture. Buko Pandan, or sometimes called Buko Pandan Salad, is made using coconut milk, coconut cream, sago pearls, gulaman, and of course, pandan leaves.
These are best served cold because they are absolutely refreshing and addicting at the same time! In case you’re wondering, Buko Pandan is usually served on special occasions like festivals, birthday parties, and wedding celebrations. Because it’s relatively easy to make, Filipinos choose to make their own Buko Pandan Salad at home. But if you really want to try and taste it right away, I’m sure you’ll be able to find some in local eateries, restaurants, and food halls!
Ah, there it is! The ultimate merienda and pulutan choice of all Filipinos, the Chicharon! These are pork rinds or pork belly deep-fried to crunchy, crispy, and tasty perfection. Every bite of this irresistible Filipino delicacy can make all your worries away! I suggest that you prepare a vinegar filled with chili as your dipping sauce as it makes eating chicharon even more special.
You can easily buy chicharon from local vendors, food outlets, and popular brands anywhere in the country. Oh, and there’s also another kind of chicharon you definitely shouldn’t miss when you have the chance, the Chicharong Bulaklak. These are made of deep-fried pork intestines that are best consumed right after cooking! Yum!
Along with many other delicious dishes and delicacies, one of the most influential foods shared with us by the Chinese is Siopao. Filipinos absolutely love Siopao, trust me. Whether it’s in the classic Asado, Bola-Bola, Tuna, Chicken, and all sorts of flavors, it will definitely be one of the top merienda choices of Filipinos.
Siopao is essentially a type of dumpling with traditional sweet pork filling. And aside from being the main dish for merienda, it’s usually paired with noodle dishes like Wonton Soup, Lomi, and Beef Mami. Ah, those are all definitely a must-try!
Finally, last but absolutely not the least is Suman. It is a rice cake usually made from glutinous rice cooked perfectly in flavorful coconut milk. It’s traditionally wrapped in banana leaves and served with a sprinkle of brown sugar or latik, a delicious caramel sauce.
It’s famously known as a sticky rice delicacy prepared by Filipinos during occasions like fiestas, baptismal celebrations, weddings, and such religious celebrations. But they can also be bought as a pasalubong from different parts of the Philippines so make sure to check out your next travel destination!