Lugaw vs Arroz Caldo: these are the differences

We may earn a commission on qualified purchases made through one of our links. Learn more

You have officially jumped into the world of rice porridge along with its many different names and versions.

You must have had rice porridge at least once in your life, but have you had these specific versions?

Almost all cultures around the globe will have their own special or unique version of porridge, including Lugaw and Arroz Caldo coming from the Philippines.

Lugaw vs Arroz caldo

Filipino’s are known to absolutely love their rice, and their culture uses a lot of rice every day along with almost every meal they have.

You can find a few standard versions of rice porridge dishes which have become favorites amongst a lot of people around the world, and not only in the Philippines.

Keep reading to find out more about these dishes, and what their differences and uses are.

Also read: how to make a delicious arroz a la cubana at home

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

What Is Lugaw?

In the Philippines, lugaw is a term that is used to describe almost all rice porridge dishes. Nevertheless, if you want to know how to make a proper lugaw, you have to cook rice that is in water until it becomes a thick, porridge-like consistency.

A basic lugaw dish is exactly that, just seasoned with fish sauce and some ginger.

Sometimes people will add tenderized pork intestines to it as well. In terms of garnish, typically you would add spring onion and bits of toasted garlic on top, as well as half of a hard-boiled egg.

In the Philippines, it is known as the ultimate comfort food, and people often eat it when they are sick or are just not feeling too good.

Perhaps it could be something to try instead of a go-to mac and cheese, or a grilled cheese and tomato soup?

Also read: this is how you make a delicious Lugaw

What Is Arroz Caldo?

To add in a bit of history, when it was the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines, that is when arroz caldo was born, and this is also why it sounds Spanish rather than Filippino.

Translated from Spanish it means “hot rice”, and the flavors used are a bit more applicable to the Spanish culture than to the Filippino one.

What really makes this rice porridge dish different from standard lugaw is the striking ginger flavor and the chicken pieces that are used as well.

The Spanish also added saffron to the dish to give a beautifully bright yellow color. A local, cheaper substitute for saffron is kasubha, giving it almost the exact same vibrant yellow color.

Also read: this is how you make arroz caldo, Filipino style


Fun fact: since we have talked about the top two, we will also mention the third most important rice dish from the Philippines, and this is goto. Goto is kind of the middle man between a basic lugaw and an arroz caldo.

It is a basic lugaw but with meat inside. Not chicken, but instead it is often ox tripe. If you know how to make lugaw, you can also make goto.


To summarise, the two rice dishes are to be found in the exact same country and culture and prove to be just as important.

Lugaw is an umbrella term for almost all the rice dishes found in the Philippines.

However, the basic lugaw dish is seasoned only with fish sauce and some ginger, and seasoned with spring onion, toasted garlic, and half a boiled egg.

On the other hand, arroz caldo, due to its Spanish influence, is a bit more flashy.

Arroz caldo is different from a standard lugaw due to its prominent use of ginger and chicken.

Not to forget, what makes this dish stand out visually is the yellow color which is created with saffron, or a cheaper, local substitute, kasubha.

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

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.