Skip the store-bought stuff because this homemade pork belly tocino recipe is legit. With a mix of sweet, salty, and garlicky, pork tocino is a Filipino breakfast favorite that’s hard to resist. I grew up eating this Filipino bacon as a kid!
Filipino pork tocino, or sweetened cured pork, is an easy-to-make dish similar to ham and bacon. The sweet marinade can be made from scratch using natural ingredients and is sure to turn your breakfast into a meal fit for royalty. I always make this homemade pork tocino when we want breakfast for dinner, and it sure doesn't fail to satisfy our cravings.
Why you will love this recipe
- Easy to make. Just marinate, cook, and you're done!
- You can pan-fry these, but I highly recommend using the AIR FRYER. Game changer!
- Perfectly balanced. Sweet, salty, and savory all in one dish.
- All-day breakfast meal! I love freezing this recipe for future uses. We usually enjoy this as a breakfast staple or for a simple dinner.
- NO red food coloring! Most tocino recipes use red food coloring, but not this one. We rely on natural ingredients to give this dish its signature color.
Tips for making the best pork belly tocino
- Marinate the pork belly for at least 8 hours or overnight to get the best result. If you're keeping it for more than that, place it in a plastic bag for freezing.
- Fry the pork slowly over medium heat until it’s cooked through. Keep an eye out because the sugar in the marinade can cause it to burn quickly.
- SKIP the pan-frying. Use your AIR FRYER for a better cooking alternative.
- Use a good-quality pork cut with enough fats and lean meat. The fat will help keep the pork moist while cooking, and the lean meat will give it a nice chew.
- Adjust the amount of sugar in the marinade to suit your preference. If you do not like it too sweet, use less sugar.
- Chicken tocino is just as delicious as pork tocino. You can substitute the pork with chicken and follow the same recipe for a variation on this dish.
Ingredients and Substitution for Pork Tocino
Pork: You can use any cut of pork, but I prefer to use pork shoulder, pork belly, or pork butt because they are already quite fatty and tender. Options for leaner cuts are pork loin chops or pork tenderloin.
Pineapple juice: Sweet and tangy, it adds a great balance to the dish's saltiness. I find that it also helps to tenderize the meat. Use pure pineapple juice as much as possible.
White sugar: Added to balance the salty flavor of the dish. Feel free to adjust it according to your preference. You can also substitute it with dark brown sugar or honey if desired.
Garlic: An essential flavor in Filipino tocino, it adds an earthy note and subtle sweetness. Best to use freshly minced garlic, but you can use powdered garlic too.
Salt and black pepper: Don't forget to season your dish with salt and pepper to taste. Commercial tocino uses a food additive called prague powder (pink curing salt) to extend the shelf life of the meat, but this homemade tocino recipe can be preserved with normal salt.
Annatto powder: Gives the tocino its characteristic reddish color. If you don’t have annatto powder, you can substitute it with a little bit of paprika. You can find annatto powder in Filipino stores or Asian grocery stores.
Storage and Reheating tips
STORE – store the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge.
REHEAT – reheat in a microwave or pan just enough to warm it through.
FREEZE – freeze the uncooked pork belly tocino in the freezer for up to 3 months.
What to serve with pork belly tocino
- Steamed rice
- Garlic rice
- Sunny side-up eggs
- Atchara (pickled green papaya)
- Slices of tomato
More Filipino Pork recipes
Pork tocino is made of pork pieces marinated in a mixture of pineapple juice, sugar, garlic, soy sauce, and annatto powder. However, most commercially made tocino use saltpeter (salitre) for color and preservation. Not very healthy for you. This recipe only uses natural ingredients.
Tocino is a popular dish in the Philippines because it can be served as an all-day breakfast meal. The sweet, savory, and garlicky flavors of tocino pair well with garlic-fried rice, fried eggs, and tomatoes. It can also be made with pork or chicken.
1.5 lb pork belly or pork shoulder (600 grams)
½ cup pineapple juice (100% juice - not concentrate)
5 tbsp white sugar
5 cloves of minced garlic
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp annatto powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
- Cut your pork slices into 1-inch pieces. Put in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and marinate in the fridge for a minimum of 8 hours. The pork will get tough after 24 hours, so if you're not going to cook it, freeze it.
- Air fry at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Flipping every 10 minutes. Flipping it frequently will prevent sugar from burning.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- marinating time: 4-8 hours
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: mains
- Method: air fryer
- Cuisine: filipino
Keywords: tocino, pork tocino, pork belly tocino, filipino breeakfast