A Delicious Recipe for Ilocos Empanada


Welcome to 2024, where culinary enthusiasts are still craving traditional and flavorful dishes that have stood the test of time. In this article, we’ll take you on a journey to the Northern Philippines, specifically to the province of Ilocos Norte, and introduce you to the mouthwatering Ilocos Empanada. This delectable treat is a combination of crispy dough, savory fillings, and a burst of flavors that will leave you asking for more.

What is Ilocos Empanada?

Ilocos Empanada is a popular street food that originated from the Ilocos Region in the Philippines. It is a traditional turnover made with a vibrant orange rice flour dough filled with a delicious mixture of ground pork, vegetables, and spices. This delicacy is often served with vinegar as a dipping sauce, adding a tangy kick to every bite.

The Delicious Recipe

Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Servings: 6 empanadas


  • 2 cups of rice flour
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of annatto powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 cup of grated unripe papaya
  • 1 cup of grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup of bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup of mung bean noodles (sotanghon), soaked and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup of green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of Ilocos bagoong (fermented shrimp paste)
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil, for frying


  1. In a mixing bowl, combine rice flour, annatto powder, salt, and baking powder. Slowly add water and mix until a dough is formed. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic.
  2. Divide the dough into six equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball and flatten it using a rolling pin. Ensure that the dough is thin yet sturdy enough to hold the filling.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix grated papaya, carrots, bean sprouts, mung bean noodles, and green onions. Add the Ilocos bagoong and mix well.
  4. Place a portion of the filling onto one side of the flattened dough. Fold the other side over the filling to create a semi-circle. Press the edges together to seal.
  5. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan or deep fryer over medium heat. Carefully place the empanadas in the hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides.
  6. Remove the empanadas from the oil and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil.
  7. Serve your delicious Ilocos Empanadas while still hot and crispy. Enjoy them with a side of vinegar dipping sauce.

The Local Experience

The Ilocos Empanada is not just a food, but a cultural symbol for the people of Ilocos Norte. It embodies the resourcefulness and creativity of the locals who have perfected this dish through generations. The vibrant orange color of the dough is derived from annatto, a natural food coloring commonly used in Filipino cuisine. The combination of flavors from the vegetables, noodles, and bagoong creates a harmonious blend that is unique to this dish.

Culture and Heritage

Food is an integral part of any culture, and the Ilocos Empanada reflects the pride and heritage of the Ilocano people. It has become a staple in local festivities and is often featured in food fairs and markets. Its popularity has spread beyond Ilocos Norte, making it a beloved Filipino dish enjoyed by many.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ilocos Empanada is a popular street food from the Ilocos region in the Philippines.
  • It is made with a vibrant orange rice flour dough filled with a mixture of ground pork, vegetables, and spices.
  • The dough is thin and crispy, while the filling provides a burst of flavors.
  • Ilocos Empanada is typically served with vinegar as a dipping sauce.
  • It is a cultural symbol and a reflection of the Ilocano heritage.
  • The recipe can be easily recreated at home with simple ingredients and minimal preparation time.


Q: Can I use other vegetables for the filling?

A: Absolutely! The recipe is quite versatile, and you can experiment with different vegetables based on your personal preferences. Some popular alternatives include cabbage, bell peppers, and water chestnuts.

Q: Can I make the empanadas in advance?

A: Yes, you can prepare the empanadas ahead of time and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to enjoy them, simply reheat them in an oven or toaster oven to bring back their crispiness.

Q: Is there a vegetarian version of Ilocos Empanada?

A: Absolutely! You can omit the ground pork and replace it with tofu or simply focus on using an assortment of vegetables for the filling. The result will still be a delicious empanada packed with flavors.


Traveling through food allows us to experience different cultures and traditions, and Ilocos Empanada is a culinary journey worth taking. Its unique flavors and textures make it a standout dish that has captivated the taste buds of both locals and visitors alike. With this recipe, you can recreate the magic of Ilocos Empanada within the comfort of your own kitchen. So go ahead, gather the ingredients, and embark on a flavorful adventure that will transport you to the beautiful province of Ilocos Norte.


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