Filipino Spaghetti: Cooking Tips, Leftover Storage & FAQs You Need to Know

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Filipino spaghetti is a popular dish in the Philippines that’s made with sweetened tomato sauce, ground meat, and hot dogs. It’s usually served with shredded cheese or quick melt cheese on top.

Filipino-style spaghetti stands out because it has a very sweet tomato sauce compared to the regular tomato sauce Italians use. Also, this dish is cooked with hot dogs, ground pork, and banana ketchup (sweet banana catsup) instead of the usual beef.

Italian spaghetti recipes usually contain ground meat but not hot dogs. The addition of the hot dogs makes this “authentic Filipino spaghetti.”

The sauce is also mixed with shredded cheese, and this is what makes it different from the traditional Italian spaghetti sauce.

What is filipino spaghetti

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It’s believed that Filipino spaghetti (full recipe here) was invented after the introduction of various European and American ingredients brought over by colonizers. Filipino spaghetti is a traditional meal that’s been around from the time that European traders traveled the seas looking for salt and spices.

Spaghetti noodles were imported at that time and modified by local chefs. Like many Filipino dishes, new ingredients and culinary interpretations brought by traders, immigrants, and conquerors found their way into local Filipino cuisine.

After the noodles were imported, the locals developed the sweet meat sauce that’s now associated with Filipino spaghetti. Hot dogs and ketchup were imported by Americans in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

The traditional tomato ketchup was turned into banana ketchup to give the spaghetti sauce its unique sweet and tangy flavor. Thus, Filipino spaghetti sauce was invented!

The use of cheddar cheese for this dish was also introduced by Americans.

The Secret Sauce

The sweetened tomato sauce is the star of the dish and is what gives it its unique flavor. The secret to the sauce is the addition of brown sugar, which is not typically found in traditional Italian spaghetti recipes. The sweetness of the sauce is balanced by the saltiness of the meat and cheese, creating a perfect harmony of flavors.

The Japanese Influence

During the war, the Japanese brought a new form of spaghetti to the Philippines, which was thinner and more delicate than the traditional Italian version. Filipinos loved the new form of spaghetti and eventually incorporated it into their own version of the dish.

The Local Adaptation

Filipino spaghetti has become a beloved dish among Filipino families and is typically served during special occasions such as birthdays and dinner parties. The dish is easy to make and requires simple ingredients that can be found in most local markets. Some of the unique features of Filipino spaghetti include:

  • The use of sweetened tomato sauce
  • The addition of sliced hot dogs or smoked longganisa
  • The use of grated cheese as a topping

The Final Verdict

While the origin of Filipino spaghetti may be traced back to its Italian roots, the dish has been transformed into a distinctively Filipino recipe that is loved by many. Its sweet sauce, unique ingredients, and easy recipe make it a go-to dish for many Filipinos. So, if you want to pass as a true Filipino, better know your spaghetti sweet and thinly sliced.

The Sweet and Unique Cultural Significance of Filipino Spaghetti

Filipino spaghetti is not your typical pasta dish. It consists of a sweet and rich tomato sauce mixed with ground beef and pork, served over a bed of sticky rice. The sauce is usually made with tomato sauce, banana ketchup, soy sauce, and sugar, giving it a unique sweet and savory flavor. This dish is considered a staple in Filipino cuisine and is commonly served at special occasions and family gatherings.

The Influence of Local and Western Cuisine

Filipino spaghetti is a dish that combines the influences of local and Western cuisine. The presence of sugar in the sauce is a direct influence of the ancient practice of making sweet dishes in the country. The use of banana ketchup, a condiment made from mashed bananas, vinegar, and spices, is a unique feature of Filipino spaghetti. The dish also features ground beef and pork, which are commonly found in Western-style spaghetti.

The Significant Differences from Normal Spaghetti

The Filipino version of spaghetti is known for its sweet and rich flavor, which sets it apart from the typical savory tomato sauce found in Western-style spaghetti. The sauce is also slightly thicker and stickier than the normal sauce. The use of banana ketchup and soy sauce gives the dish a unique taste that is not commonly found in other countries.

The Popular and Wide Range of Varieties

Filipino spaghetti is a popular dish in the country and can be found in many local restaurants and fast-food chains such as Jollibee. The dish can be prepared in a variety of ways, featuring different ingredients such as grilled or boiled hot dogs, cheese, and fresh vegetables. Some versions of the dish even include a sprinkle of sugar on top to enhance the sweetness.

The Perfect Circle of Making and Serving

The process of making Filipino spaghetti involves simmering the sauce in water and sugar until it thickens. The ground beef and pork are then added to the sauce and cooked until they are browned. The dish is typically served over a bed of sticky rice, which complements the sweet and savory flavors of the sauce. The presence of the rice also makes it a filling and satisfying meal.

Cooking Tips for the Ultimate Filipino Spaghetti Dish

  • Use regular spaghetti noodles, preferably thin type, and cook according to package instructions in boiling water with a bit of salt and oil.
  • For the sauce, use a mix of tomato sauce and ketchup in equal amounts to achieve the sweet and savory characteristics of Filipino spaghetti.
  • Add a little sugar to the sauce to balance out the acidity of the tomato sauce and ketchup.
  • Use ground beef as the main meat ingredient, but you can substitute it with shredded chicken or pork for a smoky flavor.
  • Slice onions into small pieces and set aside for later use.
  • Shred a large amount of cheese, preferably cheddar, for a great finishing touch.

Cooking the Meat and Sauce

  • In a medium-sized pan, cook the ground beef until it turns brown and firm.
  • Remove excess oil from the pan and add the sliced onions, stirring occasionally until they become translucent.
  • Add the tomato sauce and ketchup mixture to the pan and stir until fully combined.
  • Lower the heat and let the sauce simmer for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  • If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little water to achieve the desired consistency.
  • Add a teaspoon of pepper and salt to taste.

Additional Tips and Information

  • For a quick lunch or dinner, you can store the leftover sauce and noodles separately in the fridge for up to three days.
  • When reheating, add a little water to the sauce to prevent it from drying out.
  • For a special touch, you can add sliced hotdogs or ham to the dish.
  • Nutrition data for this dish varies depending on the amounts of ingredients used and the type of cheese used.
  • Access to special ingredients may vary depending on location and convenience.
  • Follow these tips to achieve the ultimate Filipino spaghetti dish that plays a big role in Filipino cuisine.

The Sweet and Tangy Filipino Spaghetti at Jollibee

Jollibee is a popular fast-food chain in the Philippines that serves a lot of different dishes, but their spaghetti is one of the most famous. The recipe was created by a food scientist who wanted to fulfill the local taste for sweet and tangy flavors. The sauce is tomato-based, but it’s different from the traditional Italian spaghetti sauce. It’s sweetened with banana ketchup, a local ingredient that gives it a unique taste.

The Ingredients and Toppings

Jollibee’s spaghetti is typically made with ground pork and sliced hot dogs, which are added to the sauce to give it a heartier flavor. The sauce also contains Velveeta cheese, which is a processed cheese that melts well and adds a cheeselike flavor to the dish. Cheddar cheese is also added to the sauce, which gives it a salty flavor that works well with the sweet and tangy sauce.

The toppings for Jollibee’s spaghetti include grated cheese, which is typically a mix of cheddar and Velveeta, and sliced hot dogs. Some people also like to add BBQ sauce or dipping sauce for lumpia, a Filipino spring roll, to their spaghetti.

The Special Limited Offerings

Jollibee also offers a special version of their spaghetti that’s only available for a limited time. This version is called the “Cheesy Classic Jolly Spaghetti” and it’s filled with a lot of cheese. The sauce is still sweet and tangy, but the cheese is abundant and gives the dish a different flavor.

My Personal Experience with Jollibee’s Spaghetti

As an American who loves Italian spaghetti, I was skeptical about trying Jollibee’s version. But after my aunt, who is Filipino, introduced me to it, I was hooked. The sweet and tangy sauce is different from anything I’ve ever tasted, and the sliced hot dogs add a unique flavor that I never would have thought to add to spaghetti. The cheese also elevates the dish and gives it a bright, salty flavor. I prefer Jollibee’s spaghetti over traditional Italian spaghetti now, and it’s become one of my favorite Filipino foods.

Leftover Filipino Spaghetti? Here’s How to Store It

If you have leftover Filipino spaghetti, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Here’s how:

  • Transfer the spaghetti and sauce to an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag.
  • Make sure to submerge the spaghetti in the sauce to prevent it from drying out.
  • Label the container or bag with the date and contents.
  • Store it in the refrigerator.

Additional Tips

  • If you’re freezing the leftovers, it’s best to freeze the spaghetti and sauce separately. This will prevent the noodles from getting soggy when you reheat them.
  • When you’re reheating the spaghetti on the stovetop, you can add some extra water or tomato sauce to the pan to prevent it from sticking.
  • If you want to add some extra flavor to your leftover spaghetti, you can top it with some grated cheese, chopped hotdogs, or sliced bell peppers before reheating it.
  • If you’re making the classic Filipino spaghetti recipe, which includes ground meat, garlic, onion, and tomato sauce, you can use lean ground beef or turkey instead of pork to make it healthier. You can also add some soy sauce or sugar to balance out the sweet and savory flavors.
  • When you’re prepping the spaghetti, make sure to cook it al dente (firm to the bite) and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process. This will prevent the noodles from becoming mushy.
  • If you’re making the sauce from scratch, you can use olive oil instead of vegetable oil to make it healthier. You can also add some seeded and chopped tomatoes or tomato paste to thicken the sauce. Don’t forget to season it with salt, pepper, and sugar to taste.
  • If you’re making a large batch of spaghetti for a party or potluck, you can use disposable aluminum containers or plastic containers with lids to store and transport it. This will make it easier to clean up afterwards.

Filipino Spaghetti: Everything You Need to Know

Filipino spaghetti consists of the following basic ingredients:

  • Spaghetti noodles
  • Ground pork or beef
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Tomato sauce
  • Sugar
  • Water or stock
  • Soy sauce

What makes Filipino spaghetti different from traditional spaghetti?

Filipino spaghetti is different from traditional spaghetti in the following ways:

  • The sauce is sweet and contains sugar, which is not typical in traditional spaghetti.
  • The sauce is a mixture of tomato sauce and banana ketchup, which gives it a unique flavor.
  • It contains ground pork or beef, which is not typically found in traditional spaghetti.

How is Filipino spaghetti cooked?

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to cook Filipino spaghetti:

  1. Cook spaghetti noodles according to package instructions.
  2. In a large pan, sauté garlic and onion until translucent.
  3. Add ground pork or beef and cook until brown.
  4. Add tomato sauce, sugar, water or stock, and soy sauce. Mix well.
  5. Allow the mixture to simmer for 20-30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  6. Add the cooked spaghetti noodles to the sauce and mix well.
  7. Cover the pan and continue to simmer for a few more minutes to allow the noodles to absorb the sauce.
  8. Serve hot and enjoy!

What are some tips for cooking Filipino spaghetti?

Here are some tips to keep in mind when cooking Filipino spaghetti:

  • Use a mix of ground pork and beef for a more flavorful sauce.
  • Adding a little bit of stock or water to the sauce can prevent it from becoming too thick.
  • Allowing the sauce to simmer for a longer period of time can make it more flavorful.
  • Some recipes call for adding sliced hot dogs or Vienna sausages to the sauce for an added twist.

What are some alternatives to using ground pork or beef in Filipino spaghetti?

If you prefer a leaner option, you can use ground turkey or chicken instead of pork or beef. Another alternative is to use solid pieces of meat, such as thinly sliced beef or pork, instead of ground meat. Adding vegetables, such as bell peppers or carrots, can also be a good way to add some nutrients to the dish.

How should I store leftover Filipino spaghetti?

To store leftover Filipino spaghetti, simply place it in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. You can also freeze leftover spaghetti for up to 2-3 months. When reheating, add a little bit of water or stock to prevent the noodles from drying out.

What brand of tomato sauce is typically used in Filipino spaghetti?

While there is no specific brand of tomato sauce that is considered the “official” brand for Filipino spaghetti, many followers of the dish prefer to use the local brands that are available in the Philippines. Some popular brands include UFC, Del Monte, and Hunt’s.


So there you have it- Filipino spaghetti is a unique dish that’s a local adaptation of the Italian spaghetti dish, but with a sweet sauce and some local ingredients. It’s a dish that’s loved by Filipinos and is considered a staple of Filipino cuisine. You can’t go wrong with Filipino spaghetti as a delicious and filling meal!

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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.