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Tocino Recipe (Sweet Cured Pork)

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 (Sweet Cured Pork)  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.|

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 16 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


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 Post Has 70 Comments
  1. If I transfer it to a container with cover overnight. Then next morning cure again in 24hours? After curing in 24hrs is that the time to put in fridge?… Overall more than 24hrs out of fridge? Am I correct?

  2. Hello po, summer na po kase dito sa pinas, mainit na.. Nag aalangan po ako na i cure sa labas ng ref kasi baka masira.. Okay pa rin po ba sya i cure sa labas ng ref? Thanks po..

    1. Hi Jaylord,
      I am only guessing that it should be fine since tocino makers/vendors in the past did not have a fridge at all, thus, curing or fermenting is used to prolong the shelf life of the meat. When I go to palengke I see tocino in big tubs exposed to the heat and they are fine (the best actually) but those are cured with saltpeter. But if you are a bit worried you can put it in the fridge (not freezer). It may take longer time (several days) to cure in the fridge though.

  3. Hi Ms.Bebs! I would like to know if I can use rice wine instead of rice vinegar since I cannot find one here in our local grocery stores. Please respond asap for my family is in hurry to taste your tocino recipe. ????

  4. Hi Bebs, Have tried to make this last time, taste good but it find it be too peppery. Not sure why…just that I bought a new pack of ground black pepper made in Inda.

    1. Hi Eena, well, I’ve used this same recipe a lot of times and so did a lot of other readers and so far I have never had this problem or heard it from others. So I am guessing it might be the ground pepper that you used. I know spices can vary in their intensity or even their taste depending sometimes on which brand or which country you got them from.

  5. Hi Bebs!

    I would like to try this because it sounds so delicious. I would like to know how to freeze it after curing. Do you need to get rid of the excess liquid first? Or you can simply place it in a plastic container without doing anything special? Thanks!

    1. Hi Grace, after curing just transfer it to the freezer in the same container or you may want to divide it into smaller batches in Ziplocs so you only defrost what you need.

  6. Awesome recipe! FYI, saltpeter is no longer available or used in cooking because it is toxic. Sodium nitrite is now used as a curing agent (pink curing salt) and is more stable. The ratio for the curing salt is 1 tsp for 4lbs of meat. 🙂

  7. Hello,
    I did a batch the other night and cooked them the next morning. My wife loved them and can’t wait to cook the rest. I didn’t add food coloring and mistakenly read 1 tbsp groundpepper. Luckily I noticed that it’s too much for a kilo of meat. I also add more garlic on it.

    Thanks a lot and this will be a part of my breakfast special for my wife and her co nurses here in New York.

        1. Hi Roel, I haven’t used curing salt before. All the things I read and hear about using curing salt makes me think twice if it is safe to use healthwise. Some say it is fine or even good while others say it is bad (could be carcinogenic). I suppose using and consuming it not so often should be fine. But sadly, I cannot tell you how to use it for making tocino. I only know that there are different kinds of curing salts that are used depending on how long you want to cure and consume the meat.

    1. Hi Angie, if you mean how long it can be stored uncooked, it can be in the fridge for a couple of days or can be frozen for weeks. But if you mean how long it was consumed…well it was all gone after I cooked it ????

  8. I spent 3 years in Dau, a suburb of Angeles City. Married a Pampangan girl. Her mom made me a batch of pindang for break one morning, and I was hooked. I make my own, even though my wife passed away long ago. Delicious food. None do it better than the Kapangans!

    1. Aaawww thank you Terry for your beautiful comment! So sorry to hear about your wife, bet she is a wonderful person that made you also love our food!

  9. Bebs, thank you for the recipe. I, too, come from a Kapampangan family. Mom is from Mabalacat. I grew up eating pindang all my life. When I went into the Army, I was stationed in Germany and missed eating Pindang. Mom spoke with an elder family member and got me a recipe. I married a German girl and had 3 kids. They all love Pindang ALOT ! I make it in 5 kilo batches now. I will be trying your recipe. Question I have is Dark or Light packed Brown Sugar -or- Granulated Brown Sugar for your recipe ?

    1. Hi Darrell, I would love to have your family recipe for pindang! Is it sour? I like it as sour as it can get hehehe. You can use either but usually, I use a cup when using granulated brown sugar and only 3/4 cup of dark brown sugar. Are you still living in Germany? Where were you based before? I don’t get to meet a lot of Kapampangans in our area (Bodensee).

      1. Thank you for your response. I was stationed in Worms in 1989. Long story short..I got out of Active Duty in 1992 and stayed in Worms, Germany until 2004. We have been here in California since. Plan is to move back to Germany (Worms) as soon as I can find a job there. I miss living there a lot ! I speak fluent German, so it makes it easier for me. When I get back to Deutschland, I will let you know ! My 3 kids are huge fans of Filipino food. Taught my German wife to cook some Filipino dishes.

  10. Bebs,
    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!

  11. 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

    1. 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. 🙂

    1. 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.

    1. 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 ?

  12. 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.

    1. 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…

    1. 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.

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

  13. 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

    1. 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.. ?

    1. 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.

    1. 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..

  14. 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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