If there’s anything that’s true about us Filipinos, it’s that we love to eat. Merienda time is no exception. In fact, we Pinoys must admit that once the afternoon rolls around, we’re already thinking of what to eat for merienda! It’s a much-needed break that satisfies cravings for food that’s not breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
The problem with this is that Pinoys have so many options for what to eat for merienda it can be hard to decide what to eat. And if you face the exact same dilemma, this blog post is what you need. We’ll be looking at 10 classic Filipino snacks that you should definitely try.
There’s something on this list for everyone, whether you’re craving for delicious sweets or savory snacks. Sit back, relax, and read for mouth-watering easy merienda ideas!
What is a “merienda”?
Okay, first things first. What the heck is “merienda,” and why do we observe it? You know, aside from the fact that eating is one of the most pleasurable things in the world, and Pinoys really love to eat?
According to Spanish Sabores, merienda is Spain’s traditional afternoon snack. Think of it as English afternoon tea or the equivalent of other cultures that eat during the afternoon, between lunch and dinner.
The origin of merienda itself is a bit unclear, but you can be sure that this concept has already been around for a long time, with different snacks throughout. We can speculate, though.
“Merienda” comes from the Latin word “merenda”, which means “to earn” or “to deserve.” According to Why this place, it designated food given to Roman soldiers during ancient times. They earned it with the effort they gave in fighting, guarding prisoners, or whatever they were up to for the day.
With that in mind, we can guess that merienda came to be because Spaniards felt that they deserved their afternoon snack since they worked hard during the day.
So, of course, since we Filipinos were colonized by Spain, we got introduced to the concept. We have since adopted the Spanish tradition as our own and now eat light meals in the middle of the day.
What time is merienda?
It can vary in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries like Cuba and Colombia. Some start merienda at around 4 PM, while others start at 5 PM. The common factor is that it’s eaten before dinner.
For Filipinos, though, who have taken this snack culture for our own, we can start as early as 3 PM for some afternoon snacking. In fact, whether we want to admit it or not, some of us actually have Filipino merienda twice a day–one between breakfast and lunch and one between dinner and lunch.
Hey, eating is delicious. What can we do, right?
So… what’s good for merienda?
Let’s take a look at this Filipino merienda food list. Although this is not a comprehensive list of Pinoy popular snacks by any means, we’re sure any of these will make you say, “Kain na!” (Let’s eat!)!
What To Eat For Merienda: Turon
Turon is a sweet snack made from sliced bananas, and jackfruit rolled in a spring roll wrapper and then deep-fried. The result is a crispy and sweet treat. People love the delicious taste of brown sugar, bananas, and jackfruit. That’s probably the reason why street vendors always carry this during merienda time.
What To Eat For Merienda: Kakanin
Kakanin is an umbrella term for any Filipino rice cake. They’re made from glutinous rice, flavored with coconut milk and sugar, and can come in various colors and shapes. And since Filipinos love rice, these are a favorite Filipino snack! Examples of these are suman, biko, puto, sapin-sapin.
Of course, you don’t have to rely on your favorite street vendor to experience these rice cakes. Just enroll in Chef Chona Garcia’s classes, Kakanin Espesyal 1 and Kakanin Espesyal 2. Both are available here at The Bailiwick Academy. You’ll be able to make some of these classic Filipino snacks yourself in the comfort of your home!
What To Eat For Merienda: Cheese Sandwiches
If you’re looking for a low-budget merienda, a cheese sandwich is the answer to your problem. Just get your favorite cheese spread (a popular sandwich spread in the Philippines for sure) and your favorite bread, spread generously, and you’re good to go! It’s a simple yet satisfying merienda option that’s perfect for those who love cheese.
If you want to add more taste, add your favorite ketchup or mayonnaise, or get some ham to convert it into a ham and cheese sandwich. It might be good enough to serve as a light meal to tide you until dinner.
What To Eat For Merienda: Green Mango and Bagoong
Green mango and bagoong is a classic Filipino merienda combination. The tartness of the unripe mango pairs perfectly with the salty and savory bagoong, creating a unique and delicious flavor profile. It’s a refreshing and satisfying snack that’s perfect for a hot day.
It’s simple to prepare and eat. Slice up the mangoes, dip the slices in the bagoong, and enjoy!
What to Eat For Merienda: Taho
It’s one of those merienda choices that make us go running. Why, you ask? Well, street vendors announce their presence by yelling “TAHOOOOO!” while walking.
That’s why you must run: by the time you leave the house, they may be long gone!
And yes, taho is worth running for. It’s a sweet, silken tofu dessert served warm with brown sugar syrup and sago or white tapioca pearls. It’s a healthy yet satisfying merienda option that’s perfect for those who want something light.
Taho can come in different flavors as well. Enroll in Chef Allan Mertola’s Taho class and learn how to make them!
What To Eat For Merienda: Instant Pancit Canton
Instant pancit canton is another classic Filipino snack. Nope, this isn’t made of rice noodles. We’re talking about pancit canton in a packet that’s easy to prepare–think quick merienda recipes!
After all, you just need to put it in boiling water for a few minutes, drain it, and mix it with the powders and liquids in the packet. It can vary from chicken and beef to other favorite Filipino flavors like spicy calamansi or sweet and spicy chili. We Pinoys love to eat it as well with hot pandesal (or other Pinoy bakery products we love to eat) or even rice–talk about carbo-loading!
What To Eat For Merienda: Champorado
Champorado is a sweet chocolate rice porridge usually served with tuyo or salted dried fish. It’s a unique merienda option that’s perfect for those who want something sweet and savory at the same time. It’s also great comfort food, especially during the rainy season.
What To Eat For Merienda: Banana Cue
Think of banana cue as the sibling of turon–they’re the same in the sense that both snacks involve a saba banana and sugar. The banana cue, though, is not wrapped and is instead skewered on barbecue sticks. Just like the turon, this is a sweet and filling street food merienda option perfect for those who love bananas.
What To Eat For Merienda: Fish Balls
Fish balls are arguably THE most popular merienda in the Philippines. Go out during merienda time here, and you’ll see fish ball vendors surrounded by those craving for this Filipino snack. The snack food is fried and served with either a sweet or spicy dipping sauce. It’s another low-budget merienda option for those who want something savory.
What To Eat For Merienda: Halo-Halo
The halo-halo is one of the favorite Filipino snacks especially during the summer season. It’s a cold dessert made with shaved ice, evaporated milk, various fruits like shredded coconut, and sweets such as ube halaya, leche flan, and sago pearls. It’s a popular and refreshing merienda option that’s perfect for a hot day.
One Filipino version of this snack can also involve adding sweet corn.
And here our merienda food guide ends. Did you get hungry while reading this? Well, accept the fact that merienda is an important part of Filipino culture and provides a much-needed break in between meals and get to eating various meriendas in the Philippines!
Whether you prefer sweet or savory treats, there’s something on this list for everyone. So the next time you’re feeling peckish, give one of these delicious merienda options a try!
Want more options to eat during merienda?
Are you looking for even more options of Filipino cuisine, especially when it comes to merienda? Well, it just so happens that The Bailiwick Academy has just released a new class that will give you exactly that!
Check out Chef Jimbo Panadero’s newest class: Merienda Classics!
If you want something really and truly Pinoy, this class has three options for you! First, you’ll get to make Toasted Siopao, a Filipino recipe or version for the usual siopao. It’s a soft, slightly dense bun filled with a delicious mixture of meat and spices.
Next, you’ll learn how to make merienda using the same ingredients but with different outcomes! First, you’ll get to make Bicho-Bicho, a deep-fried fluffy pastry coated in a cinnamon-sugar or milk-sugar mixture. The other one is Cheese Donuts–sweet and salty goodness that’s a delicious combination of sweet and savory!
And don’t worry: Chef Jimbo will show you how to cook merienda in the easiest way possible, and only using simple ingredients. You won’t get lost while watching our videos!
Oh, and did we mention that these particular recipes are Filipino food that are BELOVED by plenty of Pinoys? And that means they’re good for a food business–you’ll run out of stocks in no time thanks to plenty of orders.
So what are you waiting for? Sign up at The Bailiwick Academy today and get started making these classic and delicious Pinoy treats. They’re so good you might end up snacking on them yourself while making them.
Just remember to leave some for your family, friends, and customers, okay/
Keep coming back to The Bailiwick Academy blog for more kitchen tips, tricks, and much more!