Merienda in the Philippines

Today, I am writing about the different kinds of merienda, kakanin (snacks) here in the Philippines. I think that we can make a lot of different kinds of snacks here in the Philippines that are unheard of elsewhere. The names of our marienda alone are not common. Oh well, the thing is that it tastes good.  Maybe some of you who are married to a Filipina already are familiar with these snacks that I am going to mention. For those of you Filipinos that grew up abroad you may have never heard of them  or you hear them only when there is a Filipino party.

Filipino Snacks!
Filipino Snacks!

I remember when we used to have parties in the States. A lot of my Pinay friends brought a Filipino dish for our potluck party. We would be thrilled over it. The dish would be gone in an instant. I remember one of our friend made a good cassava cake. Every party she really made sure to bring the cassava cake! As if she’s already expected to bring it.  Like I remember when one party that she attended and she didn’t bring the cassava cake because she can’t find the main ingredient (the cassava), my gosh we really were so disappointed that she didn’t bring it. We didn’t blame her, its just that we already felt that cassava cake was her thing to bring. I guess we just were hungry for the Filipino snacks.

To be honest with you I am not good in making our native snacks. My siblings are good at it. When they come to the house for a visit we always make some and I help them. Especially the tasting. You know they need to have somebody to taste if its good or not. 😉

My siblings and nieces know how to make most of this kakanin. I think the only things we haven’t made ourselves are sapin-sapin and kutsinta.

We have Ginataanit is compose of coconut milk, brown sugar, sweet potatoes (kamote), sliced banana, jackfruit, rice and ground rice (formed into little balls), sagu (round thing looks like tiny colorful Christmas ornaments it makes the ginataan so colorful), some people put small slices of ube. Some people put some slices of young coconut. Personally I don’t like it, but others like it.

The suman – One of the famous kakanin here in the Philippines. Its made of coconut milk, cooked sweet rice (the sticky kind), a little bit of salt, brown sugar or muscovado sugar. Wrapped all up in a banana leaf. Put in the pot and cook, boil it for about an hour. Yummy.


Biko – is another famous kakanin here. Prepared similarly to the suman. Mix the coconut milk and the sugar and simmer for a long time until the mixture gets sticky, then scoop the cooked sticky rice in the batter until not much liquid left, then cover it with a banana leaf.  Biko is really good with hot tabliya.

Bibingka it has coconut milk, sugar and of course the ground sticky rice (in Mindanao we call it Pilit). Mix all the ingredients and put the batter into like a muffin pan with a banana leaf to pour the batter with. Cook in a oven similar with the pizza oven that the fire its top and bottom, cook until its brown or some the top will crack.  The only person in my family that can make a good and delicious bibingka is my aunt. I like to eat bibingka its really yummy.


Sapin-sapin – Here’s another snacks that is made of ground sticky rice. I think here in the Philippines a lot of the snacks are made out of sticky rice (pilit). The batter can be a color of purple, yellow, white. Really any color that you feel like making. Be careful with it though because of the stickiness it can choke you.


Kutsinta – I think this is made out of flour and brown sugar. Steamed to cook in a muffin mold. Served with mixture of sugar and grated coconut on top. Or just grated coconut. Really good too.

Bananacue or Banana-Q – To cook the banana-q it can be fried or grilled. To fry deep it, put it in the hot oil then when in a few minutes of frying put some brown sugar on the banana in the oil and stir for awhile until the sugar will stick to the banana. Put it in the skewers just like BBQ and it is ready to eat. To grill, heat the grill to not so hot so that the banana will not burn right away. Put the banana in the skewer then put in the heated grill when it gets brown in all sides. Brush with margarine or butter and dip in white sugar. Its yummy.

Kamote-cue – The way to cook it, is just same as the fried banana. You can also boil the kamote and dip it with sugar or some bagoong.  Kamote french fries are really good too.

Turon – Slice the banana into half and wrapped it with the lumpia wrapper then fry it.  Some people will put some jackfruit inside with the banana before wrapping it in the lumpia wrapper.

Palitaw – Sugar and pilit mixture form like a cookie then dropped into the boiling water. When its floating in the boiling water then its cooked already. To serve dip it in the sugar and coconut mixture.

Nilupak or Niluyang – Boil the not ripe banana in the pan. When it is cooked peel the banana and put it in the mortar and pestle  with the sugar and grated coconut, and grind it.  I am not sure what it is called up the in Luzon area.

Cassava (the green one)
Cassava (the green one)

Cassava cakeA grated cassava ( kamoteng kahoy or balanghoy), sugar, coconut milk and some other ingredients. Here in Davao we usually purchase this cassava cake at one of the places here in the mall. Its really good.


Puto – Some puto are made of sticky rice and some are made of cassava. I like both of them. With the cassava you have to have liquid when eating the cassava puto. It can choke you to death.

I hope I didn’t make my kababayan hungry by reading this column. Sorry guys I just like to share with all of you what we have here so that you guys will not forget. I’m sure some of you readers here tasted some of this kakanin here in the Philippines. If you didn’t taste it yet try them, you might like it.

Have fun eating!

Post Author: Feyma (353 Posts)

Feyma Martin is a Columnist here on the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine, she is the wife of site Publisher, Bob Martin. Feyma is originally from the Philippines, but went to the USA for 10 years after marrying Bob in 1990. Bob & Feyma moved to the Philippines to live permanently in 2000.

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  1. Bacolod Barry says

    Hi Feyma
    Hope you are feeling better now.

    yum yum one thing you forgot to mention is halo-halo, or is that regarded as a drink rather than a snack?
    I have tried the suman and another type of coconut pie, but I'm not sure what it was called.
    Must show asawa this web-page :-)

  2. daryl lister says

    YUUUUUMMMMMMMYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!! what more can you say. But now I know why Bobs a little ( ahem, nervous cough ) rotund :-)

  3. queeniebee says

    Hi Feyma, All these sound good–many I've tried and some I've only had at parties and from the Tagalog bakeries and markets. I make a good banana bread, but I don't know how to make a lot of these dishes yet and leave it up to Filipina friends and relatives to prepare. In Cebu we all love budbud, do you have that down there? In the province luckily there are a lot of local vendors that go around the town selling a lot of these things, so it's easy to order or buy them. I recently had a kind of coconut cake with corn kernals in it that someone dropped by to give us that was delicious, but I don't remember the name of it. Empanadas are good too, and on the lighter side, just scraped young coconut
    with Seven-up and ice is great on a hot day. Oh and don't forget leche flan on special occasions too!

  4. Danny says

    Kamusta ka Feyma,

    Salamat Feyma now I am hungry!! :)
    These all look sooo good, I haven't heard of many of these snacks, but a few.
    Rose and her family sell banana q and kamote q at market and at there house which is next to high school for the students there. They also serve a juice with it too, I think is called buko juice? I can't remember now. Also have heard of the cassava, and seen it in our local filipino market here in Florida. Yet to try it though.

    Ok..going to eat now..thanks so much Feyma,
    Danny :)

  5. says

    Hi Feyma: My mouth is watering just reading your post. My favorites are ginat-an and bibingka,. Note that the ingredients of these two meriendas varies from regions to regions in the Philippines. For example, the Ginat-an ILoilo is slightly different from Marinduque. Both tastes very good. Be careful you do not overeat as the coconut milk is very heavy to digest. Bon Apetit to ALL!

    A question to all LiP readers. Why is it that in the Philippines, the merienda is almost a part of daily living? Here in the States, I only eat three times a day. Sometimes, I don't even eat breakfast, just coffee. In the Philippines, I eat five times a day, a merienda at 10AM and another merienda at 3:00PM, besides breakfast, lunch and dinner. But my weight is still under control in the Philippines, but not here in the States. Comments any one?

  6. wildcat75 says

    OMG! Feyma, you make me so hungry w/ all these merienda, i like empanada and kutsinta whew! i missed home, i also love halo-halo specially during summer, but i also don't know how to make these filipino merienda and wish i could but since i live overseas for so many yrs i also forgot to cook filipino food but i cook more of chinese, western and some japanese food..

  7. Garryck says

    Thanks Feyma! It looks like I'll have lots of tasty things to look forward to when I get there.. :)

  8. says

    kamusta femya
    ahhh i been eating alot of filipino food since my wife is here for a month now. i do have to say my favorite is the fruit salad.its kind of a mix of macaroni salad with fruit and i really love it alot.i do remember alot that you mention here and i like alot of them also.
    nice article salamat fayma

  9. Vanessa says


    I love all of it hahaha. I just made some ginataan this week one big kaldero all for myself lol. Nah, i did gave a bowl to my pinay coworker but the rest i pig out for the entire week. Ingredients are sticky rice(floured)formed into balls, langka, gabi and saging. No camote and sago as i forgot to stop at the local store here. This i think tops all filipino merienda. Next is the buchi, bananaque and palitaw. I have never seen a colorful cassava like the one in your post.

  10. ann says

    Everything looks sooo yummy… My old time favorite merinda is maruya, and don't forget to post 'nilupak na saging on your next issue…(I think this is only in mindanao snakcs) Hay, na miss ko.

    Thnx Feyms…:-)

  11. JR Tingson (a.k.a. P says

    Hi, Feyma!

    That's a mouthwatering article!

    As a typical Pinoy, I enjoy all those yummy snacks you've mentioned. Among my favorites include turon (especially with 'langka' or jackfruit), local pudding, espasol, buchi, puto (with red eggs and melted cheese!) and pichi-pichi! And of course, don't forget we have the arroz-caldo (with chicken or egg) and goto(perfect for the rainy days!)

    But to top it all, my extra favorite would be a freshly baked, piping hot original recipe buco (coconut) pie from Los Baños, in my home province of Laguna. 'Masarap!' Yummy! :)

  12. banot says


    Not that i was hungry i just made a batch coz i couldn't make half of the pot since i used a can concentrated coconut milk which makes it really rich so i have to add little water then the ingredients mix together makes the pot full. Husband doesn't eat any of our filipino sweets and his not a big fan of coconut either. I don't have a lot of pinoy friends nearby to share it with only at work. Every few months i would crave for pinoy snacks, sometimes i'm hesitant to make it coz it requires me to eat a portion everyday before it gets bad. Wasting is the lasting i want to do with this yummy food but i don't have the sweet tooth to eat sugar constantly either lol. Every now and then i would just go the pinoy store and buy a piece but other than it's expensive it doesn't taste that good. I love my own cooking hahaha.

    I'm looking forward to meet you and Bob.

  13. BrSpiritus says

    Here I am stuck in alaska and now I'm dreaming of Turon. We have a vendor that comes past our gate every afternoon selling Pinay Pie, Turon and grilled saging. Yummy. Ah well I will be home by the end of August.

  14. says

    your biko and sapin-sapin is waaaaaaay much different from ours in Butuan, i hope we can exchange biko & sapin-sapin someday to have a taste 😉

  15. missgiftsphilippines says

    hi feyma, im so hungry now coz i see lot of merienda foods… heheheheh i really like GINATAAN and MARUYA

  16. Madely says


    I have been here in US since 1996 and I missed all the foods. You are definitely making me absolutely hungry. I have tried to recreate some foods but just doesn’t compare. Can you also do fruits? I grew up in the farms, so fruits and vegetables were and still are my staples. There are not a lot of Filipino stores/Asian stores where I am. I have to drive 1 hr to get there. Please do some fruits. Thank you.

  17. katrina says

    is it oky if i wont use “bilao” for selling a kakanin or sapin sapin? ill just put a banana leaf in a corrugated box and plastic.

  18. Ernest says

    Hi David,
    I think it's about the concept of togetherness we Filipinos we value so much. And eating is one sure way of being together and exchanging stories. Haven't you noticed that eating together is very sacred for us. It's in the family table where we get to talk with each other and learn what went on throughout the day.
    Just my 2 cents worth.

  19. Garryck says

    Hi David,
    It's because 3 meals a day is not natural for us. For hundreds of thousands of years humans snacked or grazed throughout the day. Long periods of no food during the day (when we're active) makes the body feel that it does not know when the next meal is coming, so it goes into 'starvation protection mode' and stores as much fat as it can.

    Five (or even more!) smaller meals throughout the day lets the body know that food is plentiful and regular, so the body uses the energy instead of storing it up as fat, thus leading to the (apparent) contradiction that eating more food (not really, just more meals but smaller portions) leads to a slimmer body.

    Quite a few westerners know this, but not many practice it, as it doesn't fit well with our work and lifestyles. If western society followed the Filipino approach to eating, obesity would be much less of a problem, I suspect. (And yes, I need to follow my own advice… hehe) :)

  20. says

    Hi David B Katague – Ha ha ha… Ginataan is my favorite too. Yes I agree with you in every kakanin the ingredients really is different from one place to another. We like what we have here because we grow up eating it. Same in your end there, you like what you have there too.

    Yes too much coconut milk will lead you to stay in the bathroom for awhile. 😉

    Yes we eat here in the Philippines how many times a day. But my goodness you sweat to death too. 😉

    Take care and have fun eating! Good to see you again here.

  21. Garryck says

    I should add that this assumes you're actually eating decent food.. snacking all day on the kind of over-processed junk most westerners eat as snacks will still lead to weight problems, of course!

  22. says

    Hi Garryck, may be your theory is correct. In addition, in the Philippines, I get my daily exercise, gardening and walking by the beach. Here in Northern California, I just sit in the computer so I notice my tummy is bulging and I feel sluggish. I also eat only small portions of the merienda, big lunch and light breakfast and dinner in Marinduque.

  23. says

    Hi Bacolod Barry – Thank you for your concern. I am good now.

    Halo-halo can be a snack too. I like just a plain halo-halo without the beans and cereals and ice cream. You must have tried lots of our snacks already? Good for you though. To be honest with you theirs a lot of snacks here and I just don't know the name. I don't even know if I know half of them. I just listed the familiar one for me.

    Good to see you here again. Thanks for stopping by. Take care!

  24. says

    Hi daryl lister – Yummy for us.

    Honestly Bob just likes a few of our kakanin(snacks) here.

    Nice to see you again. Take care!

  25. says

    Hi queeniebee – Yeah here also in Mindanao a lot of the bakeries were selling kakanin too. Same here too we called suman budbud. Banana bread is good too. You can also buy a lot of this snacks at the public market or someone sells it in the neighborhood (house to house).

    A lot of people likes empanada and leche flan. I'm just not a fan of it. Not sure why though. But I like to eat the young coconut and also drink the juice.

    I am not sure whats the name of the coconut cake with corn kernel though.

    Hey have fun eating there. Take care!

  26. says

    Hi Danny – Yes looking at the pictures really makes you hungry.

    At least your learning. 😉 Near the school is one of the good place to sell snacks. The kids will really buy it. I remember when I was in school me and my friends will buy different kinds of snacks and shared between us.

    Buko juice is from the young coconut. Its really good. Cassava is good if cook properly.

    You have to tastes a lot of snacks when time for you to come and visit Rose. Lots to look forward too for you.

    Take care and good to see you again here.

  27. says

    Hi wildcat75 – Sorry to make you envy. 😉 Ha ha ha

    Hey welcome to the club. A lot of us doesn't know how to cook it, but we are good in tasting. That's why we have family here they will take care of the cooking. 😉

    I can cook western food but not so much of the Filipino dishes and delicacies. Oh well, my nieces and nephews cook for me though.

    Good to see you here. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  28. says

    Hi RonW – Oh yeah the fruit salad is good. You will learn and know the name of this snacks soon. Your wife will cook it for you.

    Have fun eating and learning our food.

    By the way, CONGRATULATIONS to You and your Wife on your wedding.

    Take care!

  29. says

    Hi Vanessa – Hey your hungry I understand. 😉 Don't worry I can eat a lot of ginataan too. Can't help it we like to eat that. 😉

    I think they just put food coloring on the cassava. I like buchi too.

    Take care and good to see you again.

  30. says

    Hi Ann – I like maruya too.

    Really the nilupak is just for us Mindanaons? I included it in my post I thought they also had that in Luzon and Vizayas. Anyway, I like to eat those nilupak too. Yummy for your tummy… 😉

    Sorry my friend that I made you hungry for this kakanin. Oh well, thats one reason for you to come to the Philippines to visit again. 😉

    Take care Ann. Hope to see you sometime soon!

  31. says

    Hi JR Tingson (a.k.a. ProudPinoy, Jr. – Sorry to make you hungry there.

    I think if your in the States and residing in the big city with Pinoy store. I think they are selling a lot of this kakanin now. Its in the box and ready to cook.

    I haven't tasted the buco pie from Laguna.

    I haven't seen you in awhile though. Nice to see you again.

    Take care!

  32. queeniebee says

    Hi JR Tingson, At one time I was doing my US Peace Corps language training in Los Banos when I first arrived in the Philippines. What a pretty place. I remember eating buko pie and also sampling the young coconut with the straws in them sold along the road. I've had buko pie since, but you're right, never as good as in Los Banos!

  33. ann says

    Hi Feyms,

    I really look forward to meet u too. Hay, if only I could retire soon, but I have long ways to go. Next time I’m in pinas, definitely stop by to have lunch or dinner with you & Bob, or we can have some binignit together that’s one of my faves too, pohon ha! Promise jud na…

  34. says

    Hi BrSpiritus – Just eat a lot of those king crabs instead. 😉 Those are yummy too. Will trade the turon with the crabs. 😉

    But really after watching the deadliest catch TV show I am not sure if I will eat king crabs again.

    Stay warm. Take care!

  35. says

    Hey Joy – Send me a PM on Facebook, or e-mail me with your address. I owe you a favor for the help you give me on my other website. We'll send you some treats. 😉

  36. JR Tingson (a.k.a. P says

    Hi, queeniebee!

    Sorry for my late reply though.

    I'm glad to know you've visited Los Baños, Laguna! It is indeed a nice place. As you know it's situated near Mt. Makiling, one of the Philippines' legendary mountains, and it's popular for nature-tripping, hiking and hot springs!

    Yes, when it comes to the traditional Filipino pie, nothing beats the original buco pie from Los Baños!

    Cheers! :)

  37. Queenie says

    Hi Feyma,
    I finally found out what the name of the pudding-like coconut cake with the corn is:
    Maja Blanca. I remember asking you about it a long while back in this post– not sure if you’ve ever tasted it or prepared it yourself..
    I really like it. Hoping you share some of your sweets recipes soon!

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