Tocino is a breakfast dish that is popular in the Philippines. It is made of pork fat, typically coming from the pig's shoulder, rear, or loin. To make tocino, all you have to do is cure it in a mixture of delicious spices, refrigerate it for a few days, and then fry it or grill it until it has reached the crunchy, tasty consistency you desire. (Though "tocino" means bacon in Spanish, we will focus on the Philippine dish here.) If you want to know how to make your own tocino instead of running to the specialty market every time you have a craving, see Step 1 to get started.


  • 1 kg. pork loin or shoulder
  • 2 tbsp. table salt
  • ½ cup ordinary vinegar
  • ½ - 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp. onion powder
  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. food coloring (optional)


Preparing the Meat

  1. Slice the meat thinly. You should cut the pork shoulder or pork loin into -thick slices. You can go even thinner and cut it into -thick pieces if you want it to be extra thin. Make sure to remove all of the bone. If you want to make it easier for yourself to slice the pieces, you can throw them in the freezer first until they start to firm up a bit, and then cut them.

  2. Create the curing mixture. You should mix the table salt, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, onion powder, and food coloring together until you've thoroughly combined the ingredients. Instead of the food coloring, you can use a teaspoon of red beet powder if you'd like. Place the ingredients in a bowl so you can easily rub the pork in the mixture.

    • For a more tart flavor, you can add 1/2 cup of pineapple juice to the mixture.
  3. Rub the pork in the curing mixture. Press the pork into the curing mixture until you've covered it thoroughly and evenly. Toss the pork to fully immerse it in the curing mixture.

  4. Refrigerate the pork for three days. Place the pork in a zip-seal bag or a closed plastic container and place it in the fridge for three days. This will ensure that the pork is fully cured before you cook it. When you take the pork out of the fridge, don't be disappointed if it doesn't have the bright, vibrant color you expected; it may look a bit gray and drab, but the colors will come out as you cook it.

Cooking the Meat

  1. Pan-fry the pork. Here's what you should do to pan fry the cured pork:

    • Place the cured pork meat into a frying pan with a little bit of oil.
    • Heat up the oil over medium-to-high heat and then heat each of the pieces for two to three minutes per side. Think of it as cooking bacon: just fry each piece until it is a nice crispy golden brown.
    • When you're done frying each piece, just put it on a plate and move on to the next piece or pieces.
    • You can even place the pieces on a paper towel if you want to soak up some of the grease first.
    • If you want a more Caribbean flavor, you should cut up the pork into little squares and then fry it until its crunchy, serving it with white rice in a traditional dish called arroz blanco con tocino or "white rice with tocino."
  2. Grill the pork. You can also opt to use a grill instead. Here's what you can do to grill your tocino to perfection:

    • Simply heat up the grill and place each piece of pork on it for two to three minutes on each side, just as you would in a frying pan.
    • When each piece is crunchy and charred, remove it from the grill and you're all done.
    • Wait for the pork to rest for about five minutes before you serve it.
  3. Serve the pork. There are a variety of ways to serve this delicious dish. Though you can enjoy it on its own, you can also serve it as part of a traditional dish called Tosilog in the Philippines, which consists of tocino, garlic rice, and fried egg.

Things You'll Need

  • Frying pot
  • Strainer
  • Covered mixing bowl or anything you can use for proper storage.

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Sources and Citations