Filipino food Cebu Lechon

Hello, fellow food enthusiasts! It’s JaimeInez from Food and Meal, and today we’re embarking on a culinary adventure to the heart of the Philippines – Cebu. Our star dish for today is none other than the world-renowned Cebu Lechon.

Cebu Lechon is not just a dish; it’s a celebration of flavors, a testament to the rich culinary heritage of the Philippines, and a symbol of festive gatherings. This iconic dish is a whole pig, seasoned with a blend of local spices, skewered on a bamboo pole, and slow-roasted over an open fire until it achieves a perfect balance of tender meat and crispy skin.

Cebu Lechon Recipe

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Cebu’s Lechon

Sinulog Festival of Cebu City (3rd Sunday in January). This is a premier Filipino fiesta celebrated in honor of Sto. Niño or the Holy Child. Cebu City has the oldest image of Sto. Niño, brought in by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan when he arrived in the country in 1521. The image is believed to be miraculous on top of being symbolic for the Filipinos’ catholic belief. That’s why hordes of people come over to celebrate the feast day of Sto. Niño.
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Course: Main dishes
Cuisine: Philippines
Keyword: native pig
CookingStyle: Grilling
Prep Time: 4 hours 35 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 7 hours
Servings: 30 people
Calories: 510kcal
Author: Jaime Inez
Cost: $150
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1 grill


  • 1 whole native pig live weight: about 40 lbs.
  • 8 pcs plantain bananas halved and boiled
  • 10 bundles lemon grass
  • 4 lbs. green onion leaves
  • 5 cups garlic crushed
  • 1/4 cup star anise
  • 6 pcs bay leaves torn into smaller pieces
  • 1 L clear soda
  • 2 cups oy sauce
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste


  • The pig must be cleaned thoroughly. That’s the first secret to the best tasting lechon. The hair follicles, the innards, and the lumps of blood must be completely removed and the pig must be rinsed many times, then, pat dry.
  • Rub salt and pepper generously from the inside to the skin. Let sit for a couple of minutes before brushing the inside of the belly with soy sauce.
  • Start stuffing the pig with bananas, lemon grass, green onion leaves, garlic, star anise, and bay leaves.
  • Seal the belly with stitches, keeping the stuffing’s secured while you are roasting it in a pit.
  • Lechon is traditionally skewered in a piece of bamboo, then, roasted in a charcoal pit. The heat is not placed directly onto the pig to cook it on all sides in a slow manner while glazing the skin with clear soda to keep it extra crispy once cooked. The pig must also be constantly rotating to cook the meat evenly. This will take about 4 hours, depending on the size of the pig.
  • Allow to rest for a few minutes before chopping into bite-size pieces and serving with an equally delicious lechon sauce.


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Calories: 510kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 0.5g | Saturated Fat: 0.04g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Sodium: 868mg | Potassium: 153mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.5g | Vitamin A: 21IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 2mg
© Food And Meal

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the Spoonacular Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.

Cebu Lechon using an oven

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  • Preparation: Start by preparing the pig. Clean it thoroughly and pat it dry. Then, season the inside of the pig with a mixture of salt, pepper, and other spices like garlic, lemongrass, and onions. This will help to flavor the meat from the inside out.
  • Roasting: Preheat your oven to a high temperature (around 475°F or 245°C). Place the pig on a large roasting pan or a wire rack set over a baking sheet. This will allow the heat to circulate evenly around the pig.
  • Cooking: Cook the pig in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to around 350°F (175°C) and continue cooking. The total cooking time will depend on the size of the pig, but a good rule of thumb is to cook it for about 20 minutes per pound.
  • Basting: To achieve the crispy skin that Cebu Lechon is known for, you’ll need to baste the pig regularly during the cooking process. You can use a mixture of soy sauce and vegetable oil for this. Baste the pig every 30 minutes to keep the skin moist and help it achieve a beautiful golden brown color.
  • Resting and Serving: Once the pig is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 20 minutes before carving. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and juicy Lechon.

Tips for making Cebu Lechon

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Cooking Tips

  • Choose the Right Pig: The quality of your lechon starts with the pig itself. Choose a young, healthy pig that weighs around 20-25 kilograms for the best results.
  • Season Well: Don’t skimp on the seasonings. A good Cebu Lechon is known for its flavorful meat, achieved by stuffing the pig with a mix of lemongrass, onions, garlic, and other local spices.
  • Monitor the Fire: The secret to that crispy skin and tender meat lies in the roasting process. Make sure to maintain a consistent fire and rotate the pig evenly for a uniform cook.

Serving Suggestions

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Cebu Lechon is traditionally served as the centerpiece of a feast, accompanied by a variety of side dishes such as puso (hanging rice), atchara (pickled papaya), and a dipping sauce made from vinegar, soy sauce, and chili.


  • What makes Cebu Lechon different from other types of lechon? Cebu Lechon is known for its unique blend of spices and the method of cooking, which gives it a distinct flavor and texture.
  • Can I cook Cebu Lechon in an oven? While traditionally cooked over an open fire, you can also cook lechon in an oven. However, this might slightly alter the taste and texture.
  • What can I do with leftover Cebu Lechon? Leftover lechon can be turned into other delicious dishes like Lechon Paksiw or Lechon Fried Rice.
  • How long does it take to cook a Cebu Lechon? The cooking time depends on the size of the pig but generally, it takes about 4-5 hours to cook a whole lechon.
  • Where can I buy a Cebu Lechon if I’m not in the Philippines? Some Filipino restaurants and stores abroad offer Cebu Lechon, especially during festive seasons. You can also check online platforms that cater to Filipino food products.
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Now, let’s talk about alternative ways to prepare Cebu Lechon. If you don’t have access to an open fire, you can use a large rotisserie oven. This method allows for even cooking and easy rotation. Another option is to cook a smaller cut of pork, like a belly or shoulder, using the same seasonings and techniques. This can be done in a regular oven or even a barbecue grill.

  • Cooking Like A Pro
  • Author Name : Jaime Inez
  • Address: Times Street, West Triangle, 1103, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
  • Phone:  96-2-4108596
  • Email:
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