Savory, sweet, and juicy. We can hardly resist a steamy plate of a dish like chicken adobo.
What’s so great about many Filipino foods (besides often bursting with flavor) is how versatile they are.
You can pair it with everything from rice, soup, and Filipino vegetable side dishes.
The crispiness of an empanada or lumpia complements the tenderness of Filipino chicken thighs perfectly.
Colorful salads can spark up your meal and add a nutritional boost, making it a perfect side dish for kids.
And of course, you can’t go wrong with potatoes!
In this article, you’ll find some of the best Filipino side dishes that go well with adobo, lechon, and other hearty meals.
Let’s take a look at 15 mouthwatering Filipino side dishes that will make your main course sing!
15 Traditional Filipino Side Dishes to Pair up Tonight
You can put in all your effort in perfecting your main course, but without the right sides, it’ll always seem pale.
Here are some of my favorite side dishes to pair with Filipino main courses:
1. Filipino Okra
One of the most common side dishes in the Philippines is blanched okra in vegetable broth.
The broth itself is slightly acidic, for when you can’t get enough tanginess!
Here’s the catch, though:
Okra is a mucilaginous vegetable that has a persistent slimy texture.
If this slimness might be a problem for you, try soaking or boiling the pods in cider vinegar for 30 minutes before cooking.
2. Poqui Poqui
If you still haven’t tried roasted eggplants, you’re missing on a flavor bomb.
Hot Poqui Poqui Filipino vegetable side dishes might be all you need to get hooked on the taste.
Traditional Poqui Poqui brings together eggs, eggplants, tomatoes, and garlic in one scrumptious plate.
You might be thinking that this is a breakfast meal, and you’d be right. Poqui Poqui works for breakfast just as well as a side dish.
3. Basic Garlic Fried Rice
A pack of white rice, onions, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper are all you need to make this staple of a side dish!
Garlic fried rice is so easy to make, and it pairs nicely with most Filipino and Mexican main courses.
Here’s the best part:
The garlic flavor in this recipe isn’t even overpowering.
It starts with a tame flavor that you can build on if you like your plates with a stronger kick to them. See the full recipe here.
4. Creamy Mashed Potatoes
This is the kind of side dish that requires no introduction.
It’s the perfect pairing for protein dishes with a flavor combination that transcends borders.
Regardless of what cuisine you grew up eating, you probably had a hot plate of mashed potatoes every now and then.
It’s soft and melts in the mouth, making it ideal for hearty main courses. It’ll also keep you full for a while.
5. Colorful Kangkong Salad
Because it has a slight bitterness, raw Kangkong is a perfect pair for hearty meals. It keeps the palate fresh and hydrated.
If you want a protein kick to your salad, try dicing a hard-boiled egg on top.
Keep in mind that you might want to add crispy Kangkong stems to balance the mushy texture, though.
Don’t forget to top up the salad with a dressing. Personally, I find that vinegar-based dressing works best for Kangkong.
6. Crunchy Kalabasa Fritters
Imagine squash, but crunchy.
That’s exactly what a Kalabasa fritter is. It’s a fried mix of vegetables with a sweet taste and a hint of saltiness.
You can eat the fritters as snacks, lechon side dishes, or adobo side dishes.
The crispy surface breaks the tender texture of chicken and other meats for a palate boost.
Kalabasa fritters are hardly a stand-alone dish. For a quick snack, pair it with a chili dipping sauce.
7. Glazed Potato Marbles
No matter what you’re eating, you can’t go wrong with a side dish of potatoes, especially not these glazed marbles!
They’re bite-sized, steamy, and have an earthy taste that complements the sweet and sour Filipino sauces.
However, you need to know your way around the kitchen to get this plate done the right way.
You’ll be boiling, sauteing, and simmering the potatoes to a full cook
8. Crispy Lumpia Rolls
Lumpia is one of the most common traditional Filipino side dishes, and it uses pork, pastry, and vegetables as the main ingredients.
The beauty of this Filipino twist on spring rolls is that it’s very hearty without being too oily or greasy.
It works well as an appetizer and a side dish.
Lumpia is such a smashing dish that you’ll often crave it on its own.
You’ll find yourself wondering what to serve with lumpia and not the other way around.
9. Savory Mango Salad
Mango for lunch might sound a bit much till you actually give it a shot.
Mange salad or Ensaladang Mangga isn’t a dessert. It’s a Filipino side dish that pairs with savory dishes.
The freshness of this salad’s flavors cools down the intensity of hearty and spicy meals like adobo.
Try the recipe here!
10. Pickled Atchara
If you want something to boost the spiciness of the main course, Filipino Atchara has got your back.
Atchara is usually a jar of pickled Filipino vegetable sides like papaya, carrots, peppers, raisins, and pineapple.
It’s the kind of dish that combines sweet, sour, and salty flavors in ways you didn’t know even existed!
Get the full instructions now!
11. Vegetable Empanada
Empanada is a shared dish between Spain, the Philippines, Portugal, and Mexico.
Because Empanadas are traditionally deep-fried, they have a crunchy shell that will wrap you in warmth with every crispy bite.
Here’s the key to the perfect empanada:
Don’t go overboard with the stuffing. As the dough cooks, the outer shell tightens, and you don’t want it to tear or burst.
12. Creamy Ginataang Gulay
Ginataang Gulay is a mix of vegetables cooked in coconut milk, creating a creamy broth that you can spice to your liking.
To keep the side dish aromatic, use moringa leaves. They’re also rich in vitamins that boost the immunity benefits of Kalabasa.
That’s not all.
You can follow this Ginataang Gulay recipe using only a single pan. In short, it’s easy, delicious, pleasant to look at, and healthy!
Follow the recipe now with this one.
13. Glass Sotanghon Soup
With transparent noodles, Sotanghon soup is a unique culinary experience that you have to try out.
The noodle itself is chewy and doesn’t have a particular flavor, but this is a chance to give them the taste you want by customizing the soup ingredients.
You might want to try adding some meatballs or eggs and turning the soup into a stand-alone winter snack
14. Traditional Talong Eggplant Salad
The traditional Ensaladang Talong plates are Filipino vegetable side dishes usually placed next to hearty protein main courses.
It’s easy to make, and the grilled texture of eggplant ties the remaining ingredients together perfectly.
Here’s the kicker:
Most Talong recipes use a hard-boiled egg as a topping. If you want to keep the side dish fresh and light, feel free to skip this step.
15. Soft and Fluffy Pandesal
Pandesal (also written as Pan De Sal) is a traditional Filipino bread that pairs with almost any main course.
On the plus side, it’s very inexpensive to make, and even beginner bakers can get soft, fluffy loaves from the first try.
Here’s a pro tip:
Bake a bit more pandesal than you think you’ll need. The leftovers will make a wonderful Filipino breakfast meal with some soft butter!
More Than Just Filipino Side Dishes
Now that you have your main course and your side dish, it’s time to go the extra mile and find more pairings to try.
Appetizers for the Win!
What I look forward to the most in a meal is the appetizer. It can set the mood for the rest of the courses.
Plus, it feels very fancy to hand out little plates that tease the palate for what’s to come!
Here are some must-try Filipino appetizers that pair nicely with your Filipino meal:
Pour Yourself Something Bubbly and Fruity
We all know that no meal is complete without a drink pairing.
Since many Filipino food is based on salty flavors with perhaps some tanginess, sweet drinks complement it the best.
The Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Rijom all have the right acidity and sweetness balance to match your main course.
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth Cravings
During dinner parties, I have a golden rule: Never let your guests leave without dessert.
Going for a traditional rice cake is suitable for people without much culinary experience.
They’re fluffy, sweet, and get the job done without a lot of mess.
However, if you’re feeling adventurous, try a dreamy Ginataang Halo-Halo.
Bonus points if you served a coconut-based side dish like Ginataang Gulay!
With flavor-bombs and surprising textures, Filipino side dishes can tie any hearty meal together!
15 Filipino Side Dishes You'll Love
- Filipino Okra
- Poqui Poqui
- Garlic Filipino Fried Rice
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- Colorful Kangkong Salad
- Crunchy Kalabasa Fritters
- Glazed Potato Marbles
- Crispy Lumpia Rolls
- Savory Mango Salad
- Pickled Atchara
- Vegetable empanada
- Creamy Ginataang Gulay
- Glass Sotanghon Soup
- Traditional Talong Eggplant Salad
- Soft and Fluffy Pandesal
- Choose your desired Filipino side dishes.
- Gather and organize needed ingredients.
- Create a tasty recipe to complete your meal!