Filipino spaghetti recipe: Sweet pinoy-style Italian spaghetti

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  July 24, 2022

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This Filipino spaghetti recipe is the star at birthday parties or any other festive celebrations in the Philippines. It always excites guests if they see this spaghetti served at the dining table!

What is Filipino spaghetti? It’s a sweeter version of traditional Italian-style spaghetti. But the secret is the Filipino-style spaghetti sauce, which contains evaporated milk.

It also has a lot of other ingredients like chunks of hot dogs (which Filipino children really love), ground pork or ground beef (other versions also use corned beef), some finely grated carrots, various seasonings, Filipino-style tomato sauce (which is available at all Asian groceries), and last but not least, banana ketchup.

Yes, you read that right: the Filipino version of spaghetti sauce will never be complete without sweet and tangy banana ketchup!

The amount of sugar needed for the sauce is also a little surprising for non-Filipinos. They always think they’re making dessert because of the sweetness of the sauce in this Pinoy spaghetti.

Now let me show you how to cook Filipino-style spaghetti!

Filipino Spaghetti Recipe

Recipe

Before you can make this recipe, you need to get your hands on:

These are unique Filipino ingredients, but the rest you’ll find at all types of grocery stores.

Filipino Spaghetti Recipe

Filipino spaghetti with hotdogs

Joost Nusselder
This Filipino spaghetti recipe is the star at birthday parties or any other festive celebrations in the Philippines. It always excites guests if they see this spaghetti served at the dining table!
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Filipino
Servings 10 people
Calories 410 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb spaghetti noodles
  • 1 lb Italian tomato sauce the kind used is called “Italian” but tastes sweet and is very smooth in texture
  • 8 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp minced onion
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • ½ cup minced carrots and red peppers
  • 2 cups diced or thinly sliced hot dogs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp seasoning mix
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp banana ketchup
  • 7 ounces evaporated milk
  • Grated cheese for topping use a processed cheese similar to Velveeta

Instructions
 

  • Cook the noodles according to package directions. Set aside.
  • Place the garlic, onion, and oil in a large saucepan or skillet. Saute for 3-4 minutes or until soft and fragrant. Add the ground pork and brown the meat until it’s completely cooked.
  • Add the minced vegetables and hot dog pieces, and stir to combine. Add the water and allow the mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Add tomato sauce and tomato paste to the meat and continue to simmer the mixture for another 10-15 minutes. Add the banana catsup (ketchup), sugar, evaporated milk, and salt, and stir until incorporated.
  • Combine the noodles and the sauce in a large pot or mixing bowl. Top with grated cheese. You can grate a processed cheese similar to Velveeta and let it melt into the top layer of the spaghetti.

Nutrition

Calories: 410kcal
Keyword Spaghetti
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

If you want to see Jolibee-style Filipino spaghetti being cooked, then check out YouTube user Get Cookin’s video:

Cooking tips

  • All-purpose cream is sometimes mixed in to make the meat sauce more savory and creamy.
  • During special holidays like Christmas and New Year, they also use leftover queso de bola, a red, covered, round-shaped cheese.
  • Some families prefer a chunkier sauce, while others like it smooth and creamy. It’s really up to you how you want your sauce to be. I personally like mine with chunks of carrots and red peppers because it adds color to the sauce and a bit of crunch too.
  • You can also use ground beef instead of pork, or a combination of both. I’ve seen some recipes that call for a can of corned beef to be added to the sauce.
  • If you want your spaghetti to have a little bit of heat, add some red pepper flakes or chopped chili pepper to the sauce.
  • If you want to make things even easier, you can use a jar of premade spaghetti sauce. Just make sure to add some sugar to balance out the acidity of the tomato sauce.
person in checkered shirt cooking Filipino spaghetti over the stove

Substitutions & variations

You can really play around with this Filipino spaghetti recipe and use substitute ingredients depending on what you have at home.

Meat

This Filipino spaghetti recipe calls for ground pork and hot dogs, but you can use ground beef or ground chicken and hot dogs, depending on your preferences and dietary needs.

Favorite Asian Recipes
Favorite Asian Recipes

You can also use Italian sausage, chorizo, or longganisa instead of hot dogs.

The hotdogs they use in the Philippines have a red color to them, and they’re commonly known as “red hot dogs.” This is hard to find in other countries, but you can also use Vienna sausages or beef hot dogs, which have a reddish tinge to them.

Some people also skip the hot dogs and just use Spam canned meat, which is widely available in supermarkets.

Vegetarian

If you want to make it a vegetarian dish, simply omit the meat and add more vegetables, like mushrooms, zucchini, and eggplant.

You can’t really make this dish vegan without completely changing the dish. The hot dogs and ground meat makes this recipe special.

Pasta

Filipino spaghetti is made using spaghetti noodles, which are long and thin. But if you don’t have spaghetti, you can use any type of pasta like macaroni, fusilli, rigatoni, or even penne.

I recommend a long thin pasta like linguine or fettuccine for this recipe because they’re easy to twirl around your fork and have a similar shape to cooked spaghetti, so you still get the Filipino-style spaghetti flavors and textures.

Banana ketchup and pasta sauce

The sauce can also be made without banana ketchup by using regular tomato ketchup. But the reason people love banana ketchup is that it gives the sauce a unique, sweet, and tangy flavor.

If you want to make a more traditional tomato-based spaghetti sauce, you can use this recipe.

There are also those who like to add green bell peppers or olives to their Filipino spaghetti sauce.

But the traditional Filipino-style spaghetti sauce is made using banana ketchup and carrots, so you end up with a sweet-style sauce.

To make the sauce more watery, you can add a bit of beef broth, and the sauce won’t be as thick.

close-up of a plate of Filipino spaghetti with basil on top

Seasoning

For the seasoning, you can keep it simple with salt and pepper. But there’s a special Filipino spice mix called Magic Sarap, and many home cooks use this when making spaghetti sauce.

Filipinos also serve their spaghetti with lots and lots of grated cheddar cheese. There are also other variations where grated cheddar cheese is added directly to the sauce and cooked.

Velveeta type of cheese is well-loved by Filipinos. There are also those who use other forms of cheese, like Parmesan cheese, which is commonly used for Italian spaghetti.

How to serve and eat

This Filipino-style spaghetti recipe is commonly served with a slice of toasted garlic or plain bread. It can be eaten as a snack or merienda, as well as lunch or dinner.

It’s commonly served at kids’ parties in the Philippines. But don’t be surprised to find this simple yet delicious dish at many Filipino parties as main course cuisine.

In some restaurants in the Philippines, they offer spaghetti meals with a choice of soup or salad on the side.

How to store

This version of spaghetti is a highly perishable food. The best way to store any leftovers is to place them in the refrigerator or freezer and consume within 2 days.

When storing the spaghetti, place it in an airtight container.

Similar dishes

Filipino-style spaghetti is quite similar to other types of spaghetti when it comes to pasta and ground beef or pork. However, the sweet sauce and hot dogs are a unique addition.

There are some similar dishes you can also try, including:

  • Italian bolognese spaghetti: This dish is cooked with a tomato sauce and ground beef.
  • American spaghetti: This dish is cooked with a tomato sauce, ground beef, and onions.
  • Japanese spaghetti: This dish is cooked with a sweet soy sauce and ground beef.
  • Chinese spaghetti: This dish is cooked with a tomato and bean sauce, ground pork, and vegetables.

FAQs

What is the difference between Italian spaghetti and Filipino spaghetti?

The combination of sweet and savory flavors in 1 dish is what makes Filipino spaghetti unique. The sweetness of the banana ketchup, the saltiness of the cheese, and the savoriness of the ground beef or pork all come together to create a delicious and unique spaghetti dish.

The addition of hot dogs is also a unique touch that you won’t find in other spaghetti dishes.

Even though this dish is quite similar to other types of spaghetti, the sweetness of the sauce and the addition of hot dogs make it authentically Filipino.

Italian spaghetti (like bolognese, for example), is cooked with a tomato sauce and ground beef. But it’s not sweet, and there’s no banana ketchup in the sauce.

a plate of Filipino spaghetti with basil on top and napkin below

Can you use Spam to make Filipino spaghetti?

Yes, you can use Spam to make Filipino spaghetti.

Spam is a type of canned meat that’s made from pork and ham. It’s very popular in the Philippines, and it can be used as a substitute for ground beef or pork in this dish.

If you’re using Spam, you can just add it to the sauce and cook it until it’s heated through. There’s no need to cook the Spam before adding it in.

Can you use other types of cheese?

Yes, you can use other types of cheese in this dish.

Cheddar cheese is the most common type of cheese used in Filipino spaghetti. But you can also use mozzarella, Parmesan, or any other type of cheese that you like.

If you’re using a different type of cheese, you can just add it to the sauce and cook it until it’s melted.

Why does Filipino spaghetti have hot dogs?

The addition of hot dogs is a unique touch that you won’t find in other spaghetti dishes.

Hot dogs are a popular food in the Philippines, and they’re often used as an ingredient in many Filipino dishes. They became popular during the American colonization period, and they’ve been a staple in Filipino cuisine ever since.

The hot dogs add a bit of sweetness and saltiness to the dish, and they’re a delicious addition to the spaghetti. They also have an interesting red color that makes them stand out.

Serve Filipino spaghetti for your next party

Sweet Filipino spaghetti continues to be a traditional and beloved dish for Filipinos worldwide, wherever and whenever it’s eaten.

It’s a cuisine that emerged as a result of a shortage in ingredients and illustrates how food can change to meet a population’s requirements in new and diverse surroundings.

Additionally, if you haven’t had Filipino spaghetti yet, you need to try out this sweet take on pasta. It’s the kind of Filipino food you just have to try!

If you want to learn more about Filipino spaghetti, then check out this article.

Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?

We now have "cooking Japanese with ease", our full recipe book and video course with step-by-step tutorials on your favorite recipes.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.