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10 Breads and Pastries That Filipinos Love

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Kerlyn loves to share her passion for Filipino food with others so that they too can delight in delicious Southeast Asian cuisine.

Try These Traditional Filipino Breads and Pastries

Unfussy, modest, and without airs—if Filipino breads and pastries have character, then that's what it is.

These breads and pastries from the Philippines are well-liked by their equally self-effacing Filipino or Pinoy makers, who take delight in the thought that their baked creations nourish their bodies and lift their spirits.

In fact, any true-blue Pinoy should be able to recall a morning of eating hot pandesal with his or her family, an afternoon of eating siopao with friends, or the surprise of opening his or her lunch box at school and seeing a large, puffy, creamy ensaymada.

In the Philippines, breads and pastries are not just for eating. They are a tradition. Filipinos share these breads and pastries with their loved ones, bringing them home as pasalubong or gifts, and eating them together with family and friends during special occasions.

Much has changed in the tastes and lifestyles of most Filipinos. Many of us are now heavy eaters of muffins, bars, scones, turnovers, buns and rolls, croissants, Danish pastries, French breads, and other non-Filipino breads and pastries.

Amazingly, we Filipinos almost always come back to our time-honored Pinoy hopia, monay, and pan de coco. And we never miss out on buko pie and crema de fruta for special get-togethers.

While there are a lot of well-loved breads and pastries in the Philippines, below is a list of ten kinds that Filipinos are especially fond of.

1. Pan de Sal or Pandesal

The most humble of Filipino breads is also the most popular: pandesal, which is made simply with eggs, flour, salt, sugar, and yeast.

Created in the Philippines in the 16th century, pandesal has become a part of the traditional Filipino breakfast. Filipinos usually eat it in the mornings while it is oven-fresh and warm.

While pandesal can be eaten on its own, many Filipinos fill it with cheese, coconut jam, peanut butter, butter, fried eggs, sardines, or cooked meat. A cup of hot coffee or chocolate drink goes well with it.

Originally, pandesal was hard and crusty outside and bland inside. Over the years, it has changed into a softer and sweeter bread.

2. Siopao

Siopao is a round white steamed bun stuffed with pork, beef, shrimp, or salted egg and flavored with sweet or spicy sauces. It is very filling and is usually eaten by Filipinos on the go as a mid-afternoon snack.

Siopao is originally from China where is it called baozi. It is also popular in Thailand where it is called salapao.

3. Ensaymada

A kind of brioche, ensaymada is a rounded Filipino bread flavored with grated cheese and sprinkled with sugar on top, making it popular among sweet-toothed kids and kids-at-heart alike.

Ensaymada is suited to people from all walks of life. Our local bakeshop sells it for a dime. But we can also get upscale ensaymada in five-star hotels, where it is topped with buttercream and filled with purple yam, ham, salted eggs, or macapuno (a jelly-like coconut variety).

Ensaymada originally came from Majorca, Spain where it is called ensaimada. It has become hugely popular in South America where Spain held several territories.

4. Buko Pie

Buko pie is a traditional Filipino baked pastry that uses coconut, a fruit present everywhere in the Philippines. It is filled with young coconut meat and is made sweet, thick, and rich with condensed milk.

Buko pie was originally plain. More recently, essences of almond, pandan and vanilla have been used to add interesting flavors to this already yummy dish.

5. Crema de Fruta

A staple during the yuletide season in the Philippines, crema de fruta was originally a soft cake layered with cream, custard, and candied fruit, and topped off with gelatin.

Recently, however, Filipinos have created crema de fruta using layers of honey-flavored crackers, cream, condensed milk, candied fruits, and gelatin.

This colorful and lip-smacking treat is chilled until the gelatin is set. It is served cold.

Dice-shaped hopia with mung bean paste filling

Dice-shaped hopia with mung bean paste filling

6. Hopia

Hopia is a customary, delicious gift that Filipinos give to friends and families on special occasions. It can, however, be eaten on just about any ordinary day.

This round, bean-filled pastry is so popular in the Philippines that it has spawned varieties:

  • Hopiang mungo: Filled with mung bean paste
  • Hopiang baboy: Filled with pork, winter melon, and onions
  • Hopiang ube: Filled with purple yam paste
  • Hopiang hapon: Filled with azuki beans

7. Empanada

Empanada is a world-recognized pastry that got its name from the Spanish verb empanar, which means to wrap in bread. It is made by wrapping dough around fillings of meat, cheese, fruits, and vegetables.

The Filipino-style empanada is usually filled with beef, chicken, potatoes, onions, and raisins.

In the Ilocos region of the northern Philippines, famous for its local empanada, the pastry is made with egg yolks, local sausages, green papayas, and mung beans.

Pinoy empanada is either baked or deep-fried, giving it either a chewy or crunchy texture.

8. Monay

Basically a milk and egg bread, monay is a heavy, fine, and solid baked goodie that is easily recognized by its large size, round shape, and crease on the top.

Its exterior is a bit hard but its interior is soft, chewy, and tasty enough to eat without any spreads.

9. Pan de Coco

Literally translated to English as coconut bread, pan de coco is a sweet, medium-sized bread with sweet shredded coconut meat inside.

Plump, round, and golden brown, it is usually eaten as a mid-afternoon snack.

10. Puto Seko

Light, crunchy and a bit tough on the outside, puto seko is a Filipino butter pastry that Pinoys love to dip into coffee or hot chocolate.

It is quickly recognizable by its small size, round shape, and white color.

Puto seko can be ready in less than 30 minutes.

Its ingredients are simply butter, sugar, corn flour, and baking powder.

© 2011 kerlynb