How to Cook Tocino: A Step-by-Step Guide

Tocino is a popular Filipino dish that is often served for breakfast. It is a sweet and savory cured meat that is commonly made with pork, although other meats such as chicken or beef can also be used. Learning how to cook tocino is an excellent way to add some variety to your breakfast menu or to impress your guests with your culinary skills. In this article, we’ll show you how to prepare and cook tocino in three different ways, so you can choose the method that works best for you.


Before we begin, let’s take a look at the ingredients you’ll need to make tocino. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pound of pork or other meat
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

It’s essential to use high-quality ingredients when making tocino to ensure that the final dish is flavorful and delicious. When selecting your meat, choose a cut that is well-marbled, such as pork belly or pork shoulder. You can also use pre-sliced meat if you prefer. For the pineapple juice, it’s best to use fresh juice if possible, but canned juice will work in a pinch. The soy sauce and vinegar should be of good quality, and the garlic should be fresh and minced finely. With these ingredients in hand, you’re ready to start preparing your tocino.


The first step in making tocino is to prepare the meat. If you’re using a whole cut of meat, slice it into thin strips that are approximately 1/4 inch thick. If you’re using pre-sliced meat, you can skip this step. Next, combine the brown sugar, pineapple juice, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, salt, and black pepper in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Place the meat in a large resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over it. Seal the bag and massage the marinade into the meat, making sure that each piece is well-coated. Place the bag in the refrigerator and let the meat marinate for at least six hours, or overnight for best results.

Marinating the meat is an essential step in making tocino. It allows the flavors to penetrate the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and tender dish. Be sure to turn the bag occasionally to ensure that the marinade is evenly distributed. When you’re ready to cook the tocino, remove the meat from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels. At this point, you can choose how you want to cook your tocino. In the next section, we’ll explore three different cooking methods: pan-frying, grilling, and baking.


Once your tocino has been marinated, it’s time to cook it. There are three primary ways to cook tocino: pan-frying, grilling, and baking. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, so choose the one that works best for you.


Pan-frying is the most popular way to cook tocino. It’s quick and easy, and you don’t need any special equipment. To pan-fry your tocino, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the tocino to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes per side, or until the meat is browned and caramelized. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan, as this will prevent the meat from browning properly. Once the tocino is cooked, remove it from the pan and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.


Grilling is another great way to cook tocino. It gives the meat a smoky flavor and a nice char, which adds to its overall appeal. To grill your tocino, preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Thread the meat onto skewers and grill for 3-4 minutes per side, or until the meat is cooked through. Be sure to brush the meat with some of the marinade as it cooks to keep it moist and flavorful.


Baking is a less common way to cook tocino, but it’s still an excellent option. It’s especially useful if you’re cooking a large batch of tocino and want to do it all at once. To bake your tocino, preheat your oven to 375°F. Place the meat on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the meat is browned and cooked through. Be sure to flip the meat halfway through cooking to ensure that it cooks evenly.


Now that your tocino is cooked, it’s time to serve it. Tocino is traditionally served with garlic fried rice and a fried egg, but you can also serve it with other sides such as sliced tomatoes, cucumber, or atsara (pickled papaya). To plate your tocino, arrange it on a platter and garnish it with some sliced scallions or chopped cilantro. If you’re serving it with garlic fried rice, be sure to drizzle some of the tocino’s marinade over the rice to add some extra flavor. With the right sides and presentation, your tocino will be a hit at any breakfast table.


Tocino is a versatile dish that can be served in many ways. Here are a few suggestions for what to serve tocino with:

  • Rice: Tocino is often served with garlic fried rice for breakfast in the Philippines. The sweet and savory flavors of the tocino pair perfectly with the fragrant garlic rice.
  • Fried Egg: Adding a fried egg on top of your tocino and rice is a classic breakfast combination. The runny yolk mixes with the tocino’s syrupy sauce, creating a delicious flavor explosion.
  • Vegetables: To balance out the sweetness of the tocino, you can serve it with some sautéed greens such as bok choy or broccoli.

Presentation is also an essential aspect of serving tocino. You can make your dish look as good as it tastes by arranging the slices of tocino on a plate and garnishing with chopped scallions or cilantro. You can also add a drizzle of the marinade on top of the tocino for a more visually appealing presentation.


Learning how to cook tocino is an excellent way to expand your cooking skills and impress your friends and family. By following this step-by-step guide, you can prepare and cook tocino in three different ways, depending on your preference. Remember to use high-quality ingredients and allow the meat to marinate for the best flavor. With a little practice, you’ll be serving up delicious tocino in no time. So why not try this recipe at home and enjoy a taste of the Philippines for your next breakfast or brunch?

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