Filipino Pork Barbecue Marinade Recipe – Not Just for Parties

If you have been to a Filipino party, I’m sure you have seen the grilled pork on skewers that I am featuring on this article. This is a favorite at parties because they are finger foods, looks good and are very delicious. It is popular with children and adults alike.

This is good to make at home on weekends. You can even prepare this on weeknights if you have an indoor barbecue grill like the one I am linking to at the end of this article.

You can make this ahead by marinating the meat (chicken or pork) from 3 hours to 48 hours before you cook it. Most of the preparation time is in cutting up the meat into bite-sized squares.


filipino pork barbecue marinade recipe

A Bit Of History


The word barbecue itself came from a mid 17th century Spanish word barbacoa. It meant wooden frame on posts for storing meat or fish. Now, it means any food cooked on a grill, most often, outside,

Grilled food is very popular in the Philippines. We grill seafood, pork, beef, chicken, corn, etc. Street vendors offer a variety of these grilled food, often on skewers. I will not mention the variety of meat parts that are grilled in the Philippines. Personally, I go for the more conventionally eaten parts of pigs and chickens.

The taste and look of this marinade is very similar to the marinade for Southern Barbecue here in the US. The difference is the barbecue in the US are slabs of meat cooked very slow on low to medium indirect heat.

My theory is when Americans came to the Philippines after World War 2, they brought with them this way of marinating meat for barbecue. Ketchup, sugar, garlic is used on both marinades. The only difference is that the Filipino version uses banana catsup and the American version uses tomato ketchup. Also, the Filipino version has soy sauce (Chinese influence) while the American version has Worcestershire sauce.


Main Ingredients:

This is what you need for Filipino Pork Barbecue Marinade.

Serves: 4 to 6 Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes

  • 2 lbs. pork shoulder or pork belly – cut up in 1-inch squares
  • 5 cloves garlic – minced
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup *banana catsup or tomato catsup
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • bamboo skewers – 14 to 16 pcs

*For banana catsup,  I use Jufran or UFC brand.


How to Cook Filipino Barbecue

  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup marinade in a cup.
  2. Add the meat to the bowl and marinate in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight.
  3. Soak the barbecue sticks in water for 15 minutes
  4. Skewer the meat into the sticks, making sure the meat are touching together.
  5. Fire up the grill. Get the reserved marinade.
  6. Grill the pork, about 11 to 12 minutes on each side. Baste the meat with the marinade after every few minutes to make sure it is moist
  7. Take the meat off the grill before the sugar starts burning

How to Serve


Filipino Barbecue is usually eaten with rice but you can serve it with anything. You can grill skewers of mushroom, zucchini, bell pepper and pineapple chunks and serve them together. The advantage of having the vegetables and meat separate is you can make sure they cook at the right length of time without the meat being undercooked or the vegetables being overcooked.

grilled skewered vegetablesIt can be eaten with a side salad of lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, kale with your favorite dressing. Since the marinade is on the sweet and salty side, you can use a tangy vinaigrette dressing to complement.

You can serve it with a dipping sauce of vinegar and soy sauce and Thai peppers.

You can serve it with atchara (shredded and pickled green papaya with carrots) if you can get a hold of a jar in an Asian store or a Filipino store.

This is a favorite appetizer to serve with drinks. In that case, you can use shorter sticks and smaller pieces of meat. The street vendor’s pork BBQ is a common sight in the Philippines where people get a few sticks and then eat them with friends over a few beers.


My Best Memories of Filipino BBQ


Growing up in the Philippines, barbecue skewers were always served on birthdays and holidays. It is commonly served with spaghetti. If you had those two dishes and a gallon of ice cream, life was sweet.

We did not even have a fancy grill. My father had two big rocks and used those as support for a wire mesh. He put coals under it and he was ready to grill.

When I started to work and moved to Manila and was on a budget, I would always order barbecue skewers at food courts. A stick of this eaten with rice and some pickled papaya was more than enough for a meal.

I migrated to the US with my then new husband back in 1993. Before we left, I asked my mom for Filipino recipes as I know I will miss the foods that I grew up on. One of the recipes she gave me was this ( in Tagalog):

filipino pork bbq marinade

Notice the drops of marinade. I have used this recipe many times until I have committed it to memory. It eased the pain of homesickness that we experienced in the first few years we were here.


For a Healthier Version

Filipinos usually make this with pork belly or pork shoulder that has a layer of fat. This makes the BBQ very tender and moist, For a healthy Filipino BBQ, you can use the leaner cuts of pork without fat. Pork tenderloin is a good, lean cut. Basting the meat while grilling will ensure that the BBQ is not dry,

You can eat a skewer with brown rice and vegetables or with quinoa or other whole grains. Serving it with a salad as mentioned above will give you a good balanced meal. Like any other delicious and indulgent food, the key is in portion control.

filipino pork barbecue


What do You Think?

Try this recipe for a weekend meal or for special occasions. I’m sure it will be a crowd hit. One hundred (100) million Filipinos can’t be wrong. As I promised above, I am giving you some indoor grill options here in case grilling outside is not available. I’m sure it will be just as delicious.

This indoor smokeless grill has a lot of good reviews. The price is over $200 but it uses infrared heat and is verified smokeless.

If you do not want an appliance and just want a good pan to use on your stove to grill, this is a good one I have personally used: Staub Indoor Grill. This cast iron pan requires no seasoning. It is perfect for two people because the pan is not that big but you can also grill in several batches to feed a family.


Kain Na! (Let’s Eat).







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20 thoughts on “Filipino Pork Barbecue Marinade Recipe – Not Just for Parties

  1. This sounds delicious! I even think my kids might even try it.. I say its great for any night of the week! Thanks for posting.

    • Thanks Carolyn! Yes I think the kids will like it, just be careful with the pointy ends of the sticks. with a little prep, you can make it for weeknights too, I agree. have a great day!

  2. Hi Maria, I love trying new recipes and this looks really good. I think I would prefer to use chicken tho.
    I have never heard of banana catsup. Does it make a big difference in the taste of the marinade to use tomato catsup instead of the banana catsup?
    I’m excited to try this. Many marinades and barbeque sauces have mustard and I can’t eat mustard. We are celebrating my daughter’s birthday this weekend and I think I will make this for my contribution.

    • Hi Taianne, yes this definitely does not have mustard. We do not use mustard much in filipino dishes. The banana catsup is a bit sweeter than tomato ketchup but both will work. I hope you get to make it for your daughter’s birthday!

  3. Dear Maria, Thanks for describing the process in detail, right from its history and use-cases. Enjoyed reading through it and could feel the aroma as well. Mouth-watering indeed. The pictures go very well with the description. Its amazing to see a healthier version of Pork barbecue 🙂

    Keep it up!

    • Thanks Rudolph, you can indeed make it healthier although purists would raise their eyebrows. It’s always a struggle between eating great tasting food and keeping healthy. everything in moderation I guess. Thank you for the encouragement. Have a great day!

  4. Wow! Love this article! We really enjoy Filipino BBQ but never thought we could make it ourselves. I think we are going to try this. And I really appreciate the personal memory at the end, makes this recipe even better. Thank you.

  5. I smiled throughout this article, for a few reasons. My dad loved to cook, period. But that handwritten recipe reminded me of him. But unlike your mom, my dad was sneaky. He would put the main ingredient down on paper, yet he would purposely leave out a couple of small ingredients, so that if anyone tried to make it, theirs would not come out right. Also, I love to watch a YouTuber name Keemi, she loves to cook on her inside grill.
    Your article was very warm and cleverly put together. You held my attention with your warm memories and conversational writing. I appreciated the visual aids you provided and the links in blue.
    Your layout is nice and spaced beautifully. A real joy to read.

    • Thank you so much Lanetta. Your comments make me happy. I will definitely check out Keemi and her inside grill. That is funny about your dad. I guess he just wants all of you to depend on him for great food :-). Have a great day!

  6. Grilling is the best way to cook meat I think or at least the healthiest anyway. Living in the UK we aren’t blessed with great weather and therefore barbecue’s don’t come around too often.

    I love simple dishes and will be trying your mother’s recipe hopefully when the sun is shining else I might have to cook this inside.

    Thanks for sharing

    • Mick, I know about grilling and bad weather. The Philippines has tropical weather and it is either sunny or rainy. Hope cooking inside works for you. Good luck with it!

  7. I like barbecue, whether it is made of pork or chicken. I am familiar with your recipe because I make barbecue too, because my son loves it. Nobody can beat the filipino version of barbecue! This is a great recipe that anybody can make. Kain na tayo, kabayan.

  8. Hi Maria,
    I was looking around for a recipe for a Sunday barbecue we have planned next week before the summer ends. We’ve prepared pork, lamb and beef barbecues in the past, and your recipe for the Filipino style sounds very good. It looks as if you have provided detailed instructions. Just need to get all the ingredients. We’ll give it a try. Thanks!

    • Thanks Bob,
      That sounds like a fun to celebrate the end of summer. Hope it turns out well and you like it. Ask me if you have questions about the marinade recipe.

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