Filipinos love to eat and there’s no better occasion to indulge on delicious food than during the Christmas holidays. We’re not just talking about Noche Buena! This country celebrates the holidays on the ber-months, from September to December. It’s basically months of good vibes, bonding with family and friends, and of course eating!
Here we’ve compiled the most popular Filipino Christmas food that you can find in every household. Use this list to get Filipino Christmas food ideas for when you’re preparing your own spread at home.
- 1. Ham
- 2. Queso de bola
- 3. Pinoy-style spaghetti
- 4. Lechon
- 5. Roasted chicken
- 6. Fruit salad
- 7. Macaroni salad
- 8. Pinoy-style carbonara
- 9. Bibingka
- 10. Puto Bumbong
- 11. Chicken relleno
- 12. Callos
- 13. Pancit
- 14. Lumpiang shanghai
- 15. Ube halaya
- 16. Leche flan
- 17. Buko pandan
- 18. Paella
- 19. Kare-Kare
- 20. Garlic buttered shrimp
- 21. Pork barbecue
- 22. Morcon
- 23. Mango float
- 24. Lumpiang ubod
- 25. Castanas
- 26. Tsokolate batirol
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The Christmas ham is often the centerpiece of a Noche Buena table. It’s so popular that it’s often gifted by companies to their employees along with their bonuses.
Hams are not only delicious, but affordable as well making it a staple in Filipino households. Juicy and moist with a sticky, sweet glaze, it’s a perfect stuffing for sandwiches, or even warm pandesals in the morning.
2. Queso de bola
Queso de bola is a Christmas food staple and also a great gift for Christmas. It’s basically edam cheese wrapped in red wax paper. It’s a perfect accompaniment to wine or as ingredient to a cheese and ham sandwich. Some also use it as grating for pasta.
3. Pinoy-style spaghetti
A celebration isn’t complete without a plate of Pinoy-style spaghetti. Made with sweet tomato sauce, lots of cheddar cheese, and hotdogs, this pasta is a favorite of both the young and young at heart.
Lechon (or whole-roasted pig) is a unique dish typically served in different festivities and celebrations. It’s also a staple during Noche Buena.
5. Roasted chicken
Lechon manok (or roasted chicken) is one of the most popular Christmas food in the Philippines. Coated in flavorful marinade and cooked on a rotisserie, it’s a great pairing for hot rice. It’s also readily available in the local markets, which makes it an easy addition to the Christmas table.
6. Fruit salad
This isn’t like the healthy fruit salads you can find in other countries. Filipino’s version of fruit salad is sinfully sweet – made with fruit cocktail, nata de coco, macapuno, and other ingredients, mixed with all-purpose cream and condensed milk.
A popular variant of this is buko salad, which contains fresh coconut strips that provides a mild flavor to the dessert.
7. Macaroni salad
Macaroni salad is an amazing Filipino Christmas food. It’s delicious and easy to make. In fact, it’s best to prepare it a day before, so you can pop it in the fridge to chill. This gives it time for the mayo dressing to fully coat the pasta for a more flavorful bite.
8. Pinoy-style carbonara
Though Italians will probably feel grave offense, Filipinos have their own version of carbonara: the pasta is cooked with a thick, creamy sauce with sautéed mushrooms and crispy bacon bits. It is topped with cheddar or parmesan cheese.
It may be far from original, but no one can deny that Filipino-style carbonara is delicious! As such, it’s a popular dish to serve during Christmas.
Bibingka is a traditional Christmas food often sold in stalls outside the church during simbang gabi. It’s a sticky rice dessert cooked in banana leaves over a charcoal stove, which gives it extra flavor. The inside is stuffed with slices of salted egg and it is served topped with desiccated coconut, butter, and sugar.
10. Puto Bumbong
Bibingka and puto bumbong are often sold together, and you can’t have without the other! Puto bumbong is also a sticky rice dessert, but it’s made from pirurutong (black glutinous rice) which is steamed in bamboo tubes.
It’s also served topped with dessicated coconut, butter, and sugar. Modern variations also add grated cheese.
11. Chicken relleno
Though it takes long to prepare, chicken relleno remains a Filipino favorite during the holidays. It is made of deboned chicken stuffed with ground pork, ham, cheese, and other ingredients and then roasted in an oven. It is served sliced with liver sauce.
Originally from Spain, callos is ox tripe strew served over rice or scooped up with a crusty bread. This dish is known for its laborious preparation and has tender ox tripe, deboned trotters, and chorizo in a tomato-based sauce.
Before the arrival of the Korean influence and japchae, we already have our own version of this noodle. Pancit is basically vermicelli noodles cooked with chicken bits and vegetables. It’s an easy, go-to recipe during Christmas in the Philippines.
14. Lumpiang shanghai
Another dish that’s always present during celebrations is lumpiang shanghai (fried spring rolls). It’s so popular that it has become a meme over the recent years. But no matter, no one can deny that lumpiang shanghai is delicious and perfec for snacking!
15. Ube halaya
Ube halaya is a unique Filipino dessert made from purple yam, coconut milk, and butter. Although it is painstaking to make (mixing the sticky yam requires muscle strength), the final dish is worth it.
It’s easily one of the best desserts to serve during Noche Buena.
16. Leche flan
Leche flan is a Spanish-derived dessert. It’s a type of smooth, creamy custard served with a golden, sugary syrup.
17. Buko pandan
Similar to other cold salads, Buko pandan is another crowd-favorite dessert. It is a simple dish containing coconut, pandan-flavored gelatin, and light cream. Since it’s not as sweet as other sugar-laden food, it’s easy to finish more than bowl without feeling too full!
Due to its history under the rule of Spain, the Philippines culinary scene includes a lot of Spanish dishes. Arroz Valencia is Filipino-style paella made from glutinous rice, coconut milk, and various ingredients such as seafood, chicken, sausage, boiled egg, and vegetables.
There is another type of local paella called bringhe, which is normally found in Pampanga. Unlike the traditional Spanish version that uses saffron, bringhe uses turmeric to color the rice and give it a mild herby flavor.
Kare-Kare is one of the best Filipino food out there. It’s made of melt-in-your-mouth beef and/or ox tripe in a peanut-based sauce, served with vegetables and bagoong. It’s perfect to server over a cup of hot rice.
20. Garlic buttered shrimp
Garlic buttered shrimps are always a hit at parties and it’s also become a standard food for Noche Buena over the past years. It is fairly easy to make and the finished dish is so good that you can eat it with or without rice.
21. Pork barbecue
For some households, grilling barbecue is in itself a bonding moment. Pork barbecue is one of the common Filipino Christmas food. Pork slices are marinated in BBQ sauce and then skewered and cooked over hot charcoals. It can be eaten by itself or with hot rice.
Similar to another dish called embutido, morcon is often served during special occasions such as Christmas. It’s braised beef roulade stuffed with sausage, bacon, cheese, eggs, carrots, and pickles. It is ofen served with tangy and savory tomato gravy.
23. Mango float
Over the years, mango float has become a go-to dessert for special occasions including holidays. It’s a layered cake made with mango grahams, cream, and sweet ripe mangoes. Some version also add mango-flavored ice cream.
Mango float uses cheap ingredients, is easy to make that even kids can help, and tastes delicious!
24. Lumpiang ubod
This uniquely Filipino dish is a healthy addition to a holiday menu. Lumpiang ubod is a fresh spring roll packed with different vegetables including “ubod” (julienned heart of palm) and/or shrimp or pork and served with sweet sauce and crushed peanuts.
Castanas (or roasted chestnuts) is often sold in streets and markets during the Holiday season. Although on the expensive side, the sweet, smoky, and nutty flavor of castanas are always a hit among Filipinos.
26. Tsokolate batirol
Tsokolate batirol is the ultimate Filipino Christmas drink. This thick, delicious chocolate drink is made from tablea (roasted cocoa beans with sugar), which is produced from local farms in the country.
What other Filipino Christmas food do you prepare at home? Let us know in the comments section below!
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Katherine Cortes is a long-time backpacker and a freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).