Budget-Friendly Chicken Tocino Recipe

Chicken Tocino is a delightful twist on the traditional Filipino breakfast favorite, originally made with pork. This version uses chicken thigh fillets, making it a healthier, budget-friendly, and equally tasty alternative. Perfect for breakfast, this dish can also be enjoyed any time of the day, offering a sweet, slightly garlicky, and peppery taste that’s sure to please both kids and adults.


For the Chicken Tocino:

Skinless chicken thigh fillet, cut thinly in serving size: 2 pounds (about 900g)
For the Marinade:

Dark brown sugar: ¾ cup (150g)
Finely ground white pepper: ½ tablespoon (4g)
Rice flour: 1 tablespoon (8g)
Salt (adjust to preference): 1 tablespoon (15g)
Garlic, grated: 3 cloves
Soy sauce: 1 tablespoon (15ml)
Vinegar: 2 tablespoons (30ml)
Unsweetened pineapple juice (optional, replace with water if not using): ½ cup (120ml)
A few drops of red food color (optional)
For Cooking:

Water: 1 cup (240ml)
Oil (any neutral-tasting oil): 3 tablespoons (45ml)


Marinate the Chicken: In a large bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients and mix until well blended. Add the chicken fillets and gently massage them into the marinade to fully coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it marinate for at least an hour, or transfer to ziplock bags and refrigerate for 24 hours or up to 3 days. The chicken can be frozen afterward for longer storage.

Cook the Chicken: To cook, place the marinated chicken pieces into a skillet or wok and add 1 cup of water. Let it simmer over medium-high heat, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until the liquid is greatly reduced. Add the oil and continue cooking until the liquid turns thick and dark, and the chicken is lightly charred.

Serve: Transfer the cooked Chicken Tocino to a serving dish and enjoy with rice and spiced vinegar dip or tomatoes.

Serving Suggestions:
Chicken Tocino is traditionally served with garlic rice and a fried egg, known as Tocilog. For a complete meal, add Atchara (pickled papaya) and sliced tomatoes on the side.

Cooking Tips:

For a no-food-coloring option, use banana ketchup to add color and extra flavor.
Substitute garlic powder for grated garlic if preferred.
To achieve the bright red color characteristic of Tocino without food coloring, consider using Achuete (Annatto seeds).

Nutritional Information (Estimate per serving):

Calories: 372 kcal
Carbohydrates: 33g
Protein: 30g
Fat: 13g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 144mg
Sodium: 1495mg
Potassium: 443mg
Sugar: 31g


Can I use chicken breast instead of thigh fillets?
Yes, chicken breast can be used but may result in a less tender Tocino. Thigh fillets are preferred for their flavor and tenderness.

How long can I marinate the chicken?
The chicken can be marinated for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or frozen for longer storage.

Is it necessary to use food coloring?
No, food coloring is optional. It’s traditionally used to give Tocino its characteristic red color, but you can omit it or use natural alternatives like banana ketchup or Achuete.

Enjoy this budget-friendly Chicken Tocino recipe, a simple yet delicious dish that brings a taste of Filipino cuisine to your table.

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