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Another Filipino dish that my hometown, Pampanga, is famous for is our Tocino. It is usually served for breakfast together with fried garlic rice. Tocino is typically a cured meat, may it be pork, beef or chicken. The more popular kind of tocino is sweet, but us Kapampangan have a special kind called ‘Pindang’ which has added tanginess to it. tocino recipe

The process of making tocino varies, but to achieve that soft and tender meat, Kapampangans mix all the ingredients together by hand for 3-5 hours then leave it covered overnight at room temperature before putting it in the fridge. That is how much love and patience Kapampangans put into preparing their food, no wonder they are known to be great cooks  all over the country. This is not me boasting, just talking out of experience, I have been in so many places in the Philippines and more often than not, when people learned that I am from Pampanga, they would expect rather than assume that I know how to cook and that I am good at it! Talk about pressure eh! Good thing my Mama thought a thing or two 😉 !

tocino recipe

If you have the patience and time to do all that mixing, I suggest you do it sitting down, like while watching TV or reading a book. And do not forget to use gloves! The longest that I have tried mixing  a batch was for an hour and that was me being very patient! But I think it actually works! The meat was really soft and tender!   

Traditionally, Tocino is redish in color to make it look more appetizing and this is achieved by adding Saltpeter (Salitre) which is also used as food preservative.  But this recipe does not use salitre but rather something more natural and healthier alternative. Alternatively, natural red food color may also be used or just skip it, totally up to you. 

4.8 from 11 reviews
Tocino Recipe (Sweet Cured Pork)
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
Tocino is a sweet cured meat typically served as Filipino breakfast. Try this easy and simple pork tocino recipe for that sweet, savory and tender tocino.
  • 1 kilo pork (butt, shoulder, ham or belly) cut into ¼ inch thin
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 11/2 Tbsp salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup fruit juice (pineapple, apple) - optional
  • ½ tbsp finely ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp rice flour- optional
  • natural red food color -optional
  1. In a big bowl, combine all ingredients except for the pork slices. Mix until well blended.
  2. Add the pork and mix using hand, use hand gloves to avoid stains. Mix for several minutes to an hour.
  3. Transfer to a container with cover and let it sit overnight on the counter.
  4. Mix again for a couple of times before putting in the fridge. Cure for 24 hours or up to 3 days. Can be frozen afterwards and stored longer.

 How to cook Tocino?

The way we cook Tocino in Pampanga is we first boil it in about 1-2 cups of water in a pan. When most of the water is gone and sauce starts to thicken, you can add cooking oil. If your pork has enough fats on it, then no need to add oil as it will make its own but if not then add 3-4 tablespoon of cooking oil and let it cook over medium heat until the sauce caramelize and meat is browned.

homemade tocino

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Written by Bebs

Bebs here! I love to cook and try new things and DIY projects! And although I think of myself as a homebody, I like seeing other places from time to time. If you are looking for a recipe and it ain't here, make a request and I will try my best to make it for you!

This article has 42 comments

    • Reply

      Hi Hann, the vinegar is needed for the curing of the meat. You can use other kinds of vinegar or apple cider.

  1. Mommy B

    I followed everything except for mixing it by hand for a long time, I only lasted I few minutes 🙂 But I did leave it on the kitchen counter for at least six hours. I cooked it in its own marinate until oil came out and I didn’t have to add oil. My family was surprised at the taste as it does taste like authentic kapampangan tocino. Thank you very much for sharing!

  2. Maryet

    Hi there, is it ok to leave in a room temperature for 24 hours,? It won’t make the meat off? Or is it ok if I put it straight in the fridge? Thank you

    • Reply

      Hi Maryet, I did it so many times and it was all fine. And think that this was done in the Philippines in the early years when there was no fridge at all. But there is also no harm in putting it straight into the fridge but maybe it will need a bit more time (days) to cure. 🙂


  4. Luke

    My tocino fell apart to crumbly pieces while cooking? Used pork loin meat, is that why?

    • Reply

      Hhhmm…depends, if the pork loin you used has too less fat (no marbling at all) then it is possible, especially if you’ve mixed it too long during marination. Meat with a bit fats are best to use for tocino.

  5. camill pastoriza

    hi bebs, can i also use this ingredients in making chicken tocino? (except the pork :-)) thanks!

    • Reply

      Hi Camill, I haven’t tried it with chicken yet but I think it should also be fine and less time mixing because chicken is more tender than pork ?

  6. Tim

    Hi Bebs,

    What is your measurement for the natural red food coloring for the tocino mixture? I would like to make this so I don’t have to have a cooler full of Pampanga’s Best Tocino shipped to me from Chicago every couple of months.

    • Reply

      I didn’t put measurement because every food color agent, even the natural ones, have different results. I suggest to start with a pinch (dry) or drop (liquid) then mix it with the meat to see its effect then add some more until you get the desired redness…

    • Reply

      Hi Betsy, depends where you are. If you’re in the Philippines, try your local wet market. But I think in some places they do not use it anymore and I personally would not suggest it.

    • Reply

      Hi Nina, the rice flour helps in fermentation. The original Kapampangan tocino (Pindang) was traditionally fermented using glutinous rice flour.

  7. Jenilyn Liangco Eslabon

    hi bebs thanks so much for the tocino recipe…my late father was also from pampanga but unfortunately i have never been visit pampanga 🙁 but anyway im planning to have a tocino business & im planning to use your recipe 🙂 what is the other alternative of rice vinegar?thanks & god bless

    • Reply

      Coconut or cane vinegar would be fine but the truth is I also tried using apple cider vinegar because it is easier to get here in Germany and it works just as good.. ?

    • Reply

      Just let it sit on room temperature and marinate for 24 hours before putting in the fridge.. 😉

  8. Pingback: Tocino—simple but good | SMØRGÅSBORD!


    Just fixed the braised beef and it was wonderful.


    I tried your tocino recipe and my husband and son liked it so much. Easy to fix…

  11. melany flores

    how long can i store/preserve this? i want to try this for business. thank you for sharing!

  12. melany flores

    i want to try this. how long can i store this? i want to try this for business. thank you for sharing!

    • Reply

      Hi Melany,
      I haven’t really tested it as to how long it will last without spoiling. One time I had my Tocino sitting in the fridge for a week and it was still fine. I haven’t tried longer than that. But I am assuming that if you freeze them after curing, it could go longer. I read that it could last for 3 months in the freezer if but that is if you are using saltpeter/salitre, this recipe does not.

    • Reply

      Since they are cured meat, it means they can last really long. This recipe however used only natural preservative like vinegar and sugar so if stored in the fridge I would say 1 week to be on the safe side but if frozen after curing then weeks or even months. Haven’t really tried it that long since I am usually impatient to wait that long..goodluck Vince..

    • Reply

      Hi Mila…this recipe for tocino does not use salitre but is just as good and more natural or healthier.. ☺

  13. Harry See

    Hi Bebs, thank you for this recipe and intructions I need this for our youth group in church and I’m in charge this Friday, thanks so much

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