Filipino spaghetti
Filipino spaghetti with hot dogs and cheese
Alternative namesSweet spaghetti
CourseMain dish
Place of originPhilippines
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsSpaghetti, tomato sauce, tomato paste, banana ketchup or brown sugar, giniling, hot dogs, cheese

Filipino spaghetti (also known as sweet spaghetti) is a Filipino adaptation of Italian spaghetti with Bolognese sauce. It has a distinctively sweet sauce, usually made from tomato sauce sweetened with brown sugar and banana ketchup. It is typically topped with sliced hot dogs or smoked longganisa sausages, giniling (ground meat), and grated cheese. It is regarded as a comfort food in Philippine cuisine. It is typically served on almost any special occasion, especially on children's birthdays.[1][2][3]


The dish is believed to date back to the period between the 1940s and the 1960s. During the American Commonwealth Period, a shortage of tomato supplies in the Second World War forced the local development of banana ketchup.[1][4][2] Spaghetti with Bolognese sauce was introduced by the Americans and was tweaked to suit the local Filipino predilection for sweet dishes.[5]


Filipino spaghetti with giniling (ground meat) and grated cheese

Filipino spaghetti is relatively cheap and easy to make, which is part of the reason for its popularity. First, minced garlic and onions are sautéed in oil in a large pan until they caramelize. The giniling (ground meat) is added and cooked until it is brown. The sliced hot dogs are then added, though it can be replaced with other processed meat like smoked longganisa sausages, ham, Vienna sausages, meatballs, luncheon meat, Spam, or corned beef.[6][7] It is cooked for a few more minutes before the tomato sauce and tomato paste mixture is poured into the pan. Beef stock, mushroom soup, or evaporated milk may also be added.[5] This is sweetened with a bit of banana ketchup or brown sugar, and spiced to taste with salt and black pepper.[8] Other common sweeteners include condensed milk, syrup, or even carbonated soft drinks.[9][10] It is boiled until it reduces to the right consistency.[8] Some people use store-bought spaghetti sauce as the base for convenience that, in the Philippines, may already be sold in Filipino-style flavors.[11][7]

The spaghetti pasta noodles are almost always store-bought. They are cooked usually to al dente consistency. They may be added directly to the sauce and pre-mixed, or served separately with a large amount of sauce poured over them.[11] Grated or cubed cheese (usually cheddar) is added before serving, though sometimes the cheese is infused in the sauce or melted over the pasta.[4][6]

Other ingredients that may be added to the sauce include finely minced red and green bell peppers and carrots.[8][11]

Cultural significance

Homemade spaghetti with cheese

Filipino spaghetti has great cultural significance for Filipinos as a comfort food.[2] It is almost always served on special occasions, especially on children's birthdays. As such, most Filipinos attach a nostalgic fondness to the dish.[3][4][7]

Filipino spaghetti is a unique offering of fast food chains in the Philippines.[2] It is part of the regular menu of the Philippine branches of Jollibee, McDonald's, and KFC, among others.[2]

In Nueva Ecija, a similar but distinct dish to Filipino spaghetti is bangus spaghetti, which is made from native milkfish, called bangus in the native language.[12]

See also


  1. ^ a b Halpern, Sue; McKibben, Bill (May 2015). "Filipino Cuisine Was Asian Fusion Before "Asian Fusion" Existed". Smithsonian Magazine. Smithsonian Institution. Archived from the original on September 26, 2021. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e Estrella, Serna (July 30, 2014). "The Origins of Sweet Spaghetti: A Closer Look at the Filipino Sweet Tooth". Archived from the original on March 7, 2022. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Filipino-style Spaghetti". Kawaling Pinoy. March 13, 2017. Archived from the original on June 17, 2021. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "The Origin of the Filipino Style Spaghetti". Juan Carlo. April 15, 2016. Archived from the original on June 20, 2021. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "How to make Sweet Filipino Spaghetti with Meat Sauce". Asian in America. October 23, 2012. Archived from the original on July 20, 2019. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Filipino Sweet-Style Spaghetti". Spoonful of Butter. Archived from the original on April 11, 2021. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Merano, Vanjo (May 24, 2015). "Filipino Spaghetti Recipe". Panlasang Pinoy. Archived from the original on May 27, 2015. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Lee, Sue (April 1, 2017). "Sweet and tangy Filipino spaghetti". Pacific Daily News. Archived from the original on March 31, 2024. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  9. ^ "Spaghetti with Condensed Milk". Panlasang Pinoy Meaty Recipes. Archived from the original on June 23, 2021. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  10. ^ "Just Like Jollibee Spaghetti Recipe". Pinoy Thinking. Archived from the original on July 20, 2019. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c "Filipino Spaghetti". Pinch of Yum. August 22, 2013. Archived from the original on December 13, 2020. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  12. ^ Santos, Kara (March 5, 2017). "9 unique eats in Nueva Ecija". Archived from the original on June 24, 2023.