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The Original Cebu Lechon Recipe

Original Cebu Lechon

The lechon skin or "balat" is best paired with  vinaigrette.

The lechon skin or "balat" is best paired with vinaigrette.

A secretly guarded recipe for many generations

Lechon is the Filipino version of the roasted pork and is a highly popular main dish during events and festivities. Especially sought for is the craving for the lechon's crispy skin and soft juicy flesh. But among many varieties, the Cebu lechon is tagged as the Philippines finest and probably the whole of Asia. It is so widely popular that even domestic airlines have accepted it as normal freight straight from the oven to various parts of the country. What makes the Cebu lechon distinct is the arousing flavor that the Cebuanos have carefully tendered for so many generations. Historically, the word lechon is literally leche, a Spanish word for milk. So called because young pigs that are not yet mature enough are cooked over low coal fire during colonial times. Thus, the colloquial for suckling pig among other popular terms. The first known recorded fact of such method was practiced by the tribes of Papua New Guinea, who hunted wild boars for offering and cooked them over deep pits of burning hot stones. Eventually, Spanish adventurists in the Pacific began to import the method back to Europe and its Spanish colonies like Puerto Rico, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. But the Filipinos actually inherited the method from its Chinese trading partners and eventually perfected the technique after World War 2, soaring into popularity by the 1980’s, a time of great political upheaval and celebration after the fall of the Marcos regime. It was during this decade that the Cebu lechon started to flourish and spread to all over parts of the country. It even gave way to festivities celebrating lechon as a tradition of rich cultural values like the Parade of Roasted Pigs in the Balayan Festival of Batangas, Philippines. But the original Cebu lechon recipe still remain the most popular to this day, still sought by Filipinos and foreigners alike. And here’s that original Cebu lechon recipe that everyone of us has been so eager to learn:

  • 1 whole native pig (live weight 18 – 20 kilos)
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • soy sauce

For the glaze:

  • 1 liter of Sprite

For the stuffing:

  • 10 bundles lemon grass (tanglad)
  • 1/4 cup star anise
  • 6 pieces of laurel or bay leaves (cut into small parts)
  • 5 cups of crushed garlic
  • 2 kilos green onion leave
  • 8 pieces of halved saba bananas. (half-cooked thru boiling)


  1. First, shave hair follicles of the pig and remove the innards. Rinse the pig and make sure there’s no more lumps of blood inside the stomach.
  2. Then rub the insides with salt and pepper including the body.
  3. Rub a little soy sauce on the inside belly of the pig.
  4. Stuff the belly with saba bananas, anise, green onion leaves, crushed garlic and laurel leaves.
  5. Next, stack the lemon grass the center stomach, and stitched the belly, making sure that no ingredients slip out.
  6. Skewer the pig with a mid-size bamboo and split roast over hot charcoal. Do not put the charcoal directly underneath the belly of the pig but over both sides, slowly churning the pig roast.
  7. While slowly roasting the pig, glaze it from time to time with sprite using a sponge. This will make the skin extra crispy.
  8. Roast for a couple of hours until the meat is tender. Do not overcooked.

The spices and the lemongrass makes the flavorful Cebu lechon aromatic aside from its rich succulent taste. When you try to visit the Philippines, try this Filipino man’s favorite dish.

Here's an amazing find! A trove of Filipino recipes

Yummy Cebu Lechon

Rows of Cebu lechon are sometimes airlifted to different parts of the Philippines for various events.

Rows of Cebu lechon are sometimes airlifted to different parts of the Philippines for various events.


Lot on November 07, 2019:

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We also use the same ingredients except saba and it taste delicious. Thanks for posting.

Sonia A Diaz on April 22, 2019:

Green onions too

Sonia Alinsug Diaz. on April 22, 2019:

I’m a native Cebuano, born and raised. I don’t think the recipe is right of what I had learned. But of course iya iya man tang recipe. What works for you might not work with me or others. You can add whatever you like as long as the main ingredients are there,( dahon not the bunga) ng saging, tanglad, salt and garlic ug gamay na suka.

brent on January 06, 2015:

ask lang po anong kinalaman sa "saba" para san po yon?

Roland P. Panares on September 03, 2013:

Hi. For your Cebu lechon needs, please give us a call---MANONG's LECHON CEBU, at 7032133 or thru our Sun mobile number 0922-2819406. We have been silently serving Manila for almost 5 years now and people who ordered from us keep coming back for more. I guess it's about time that we should make noise. Our recipe has been handed down from generations. We deliver door to door within Metro Manila.

john on July 26, 2012:

Sprite? It can make the skin crispy?

carlo_olano from Cebu City, Philippines on August 04, 2011:

If you want to have a short cut and you just wanna buy one, here is a link for some numbers:

Cebu Lechon is really the best!!! Yo can even ask Anthony Bourdain about it ;)

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