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Humba Recipe

Humba is one of those Filipino comfort food dishes that’s so easy and delicious to prepare, but also makes for a great dinner party centerpiece.

The dish consists of chunks of meat marinated in syrup flavored with ginger, garlic, and vinegar, then fried until crispy on the outside while still juicy inside.

It has been described as both sweet and savory, and can go by many different names in other countries—from chicharron de pollo (chicken fat) in Spain to siopao (sweet bread) in China.

Humba originated in the province of Pampanga, which is now home to more than half of all Filipinos.

Pork, being an integral part of Philippine cuisine, was often used in this dish, though beef or chicken could sometimes substitute well enough.

Today, humba remains a staple at most weddings, birthdays, graduations, housewarmings, and even funerals!

How Do You Make Humba?

Humba is typically cooked outdoors, either over an open fire or in a large pot using hot oil.

This method ensures that the entire surface of the meat gets crisp and golden brown.

In modern times, however, humba makers have begun using electric fryers, grills, and deep-fryers instead.

These methods produce a similar result, making the dish more accessible to everyone.

To cook humba outdoors, first choose your cooking vessel.

A claypot traditionally known as “kalawag na bato” is ideal because it retains heat better than metal pots.

If you don’t own such a pot, use a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven instead.

Just make sure you get very close to the flame when heating up the pan, because once the liquid begins boiling, it may overflow if not properly contained.

You will need about 1 cup of water for every pound of meat.

Add salt to taste.

Pour the water into the cooking vessel and bring it to a boil.

Once the water starts bubbling, add the meat to the pot.

Allow the meat to simmer covered for 30 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Remove from heat and allow the meat to cool down completely before serving.

You can eat humba right away, or store it in the refrigerator overnight to enjoy later.

For optimal flavor, refrigerate the leftover humba within 2 days after preparation.

Humba Recipe

What Are The Ingredients In Humba?

While pork may dominate the dish, it doesn’t have to be the only ingredient!

Chicken, beef, fish, and vegetables like onion, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, and pineapple can all find their place in the mix.

When shopping for your ingredients, choose fresh, organic produce whenever possible.

If you don’t have access to local farmers markets, try to buy from smaller grocery stores where you know your produce will not sit around too long before getting eaten up.

Here are some of the basic ingredients you can use when making humba:

Pork shoulder

1 pound


3 medium onions

Ginger root

4 inches

Garlic cloves

8–10 cloves


¼ cup apple cider vinegar

Soy sauce

⅓ cup soy sauce

Brown sugar

3 tablespoons brown sugar


½ cup water


½ teaspoon salt


1 tablespoon pepper

Cooked rice

2 cups cooked white rice

Lemon juice

1 lemon

Tamarind paste

1 tablespoon tamarind paste


3 tablespoons oil

Vegetable oil

6 tablespoons vegetable oil


1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch

Coconut milk

½ cup coconut milk

Shredded green beans

1 cup shredded green beans

Green onions

5 green onions

Humba Recipe3

How Long Does It Take To Make Humba?

In my experience, the total preparation time from start to finish will depend on how much prep work needs to get done ahead of time.

I usually make a large batch of the marinade mixture, so I just need to add the meat when frying.

But if you want to make it fresh each night, you might have to plan accordingly.

It really depends on your skill level, too.

If making the marinade is a breeze, then you can probably knock out the entire process within 30 minutes, including cutting up the meat into bite-sized pieces.

If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, however, you can cut down the whole process considerably.

For example, if you buy pre-marinated boneless pork shoulder chops, they already come ready to fry.

You only have to cook them for about five minutes per side before adding the rest of the ingredients.

And since you won’t need any additional seasoning or flavoring, you can save yourself quite a bit of effort here.

But if you do decide to try cooking the meal on your own, I recommend starting with the marination step first.

Once you have everything mixed together, let it sit overnight.

Then drain off the excess liquid, pat dry, and store in airtight containers for future use.

That way, you’ll spend less time futzing around in the kitchen next time.

Another thing you may want to consider is investing in a good deep fryer.

This allows for faster cooking times because you can heat oil directly over medium heat instead of having to continually stir it throughout the entire process.

You can find pretty affordable options online these days, especially compared to what you would pay for commercial equipment like this.

Once you’ve got your fryer set up, you can begin frying the meat.

In order to keep things uniform, I highly suggest using a metal spatula rather than a wooden spoon.

Wooden spoons tend to soak up grease quickly, leaving behind unappetizing black specks across your finished product.

I also prefer not to use an open flame to heat the oil.

Instead, I use an electric burner fitted with a temperature probe.

This ensures that you don’t burn anything, plus it gives me precise control over the heat levels.

When you’re ready to put the final touches on the dish, simply pour the hot oil straight onto the meat and give it a quick toss to coat evenly.

After letting it cool slightly, transfer the cooked bits back to their original container and repeat the same steps once again with another batch of pork.

Humba Recipe2

What Is The Traditional Way To Serve Humba?

First off, if your family doesn’t have a humba recipe book, don’t worry!

You can find out how to cook humba from scratch here.

There are two ways to eat humba: with rice or without.

Rice is the quintessential accompaniment, although many people prefer to dip their humba into a bowl of plain water before eating.

Topping humba with steamed sticky rice would give it extra texture and flavor.

If you want to skip the rice altogether, just cut up a slice of fresh pineapple and lay it atop your plate of humba instead.

This will add another layer of sweetness to the dish.

If you’re not sure what to pair humba with, try serving it alongside grilled fish or grilled meats like steak or chicken.

Serving Humba

Traditional humba is served in large platters, usually rectangular-shaped.

On each end of the humba is a piece of brown paper baguette, folded over diagonally, along with a small container filled with crushed ice cubes.

These are the perfect vessels for dipping your fingers into and scooping up bits of humba when they come out of the fryer.

Some variations include slices of banana, cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, mango, and jicama, placed strategically across the top of the dish.

A generous amount of chili flakes sprinkled liberally throughout the entire dish completes the visual presentation.

Serving Humba With Rice

For those who prefer to use rice as an accompaniment to humba, the same steps apply.

However, since rice takes longer to cook, humba should be served last, after everyone else has finished eating.

You can either place your humba directly onto a warm serving tray, or arrange it carefully on a bed of white rice.

In between the layers of humba should be pieces of sliced bananas, bell peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Sprinkle shredded lettuce leaves, chopped peanuts, and green onions overtop to finish off the presentation.

Is There A Vegetarian Version Of Humba?


Humba is traditionally made from pork, but if you like, you can use any type of protein instead.

You can buy ground turkey or beef at your local grocery store, or try using cubes of tofu.

If you want to add another layer of flavor, you may want to include some fresh herbs such as basil, cilantro, or parsley in the mix.

You can find recipes online for vegan versions of this classic Filipino dish, too.

For example, here’s one simple recipe made without animal products, and here’s another one where the main ingredient is shredded cabbage.

If you really want to make sure your humba is completely free of meat, consider making your own “fake meat” out of vegetables.

Here’s how to do it.

Ingredients for humba

  • 1 pound cubed pork shoulder
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

Instructions for humba

Combine all ingredients except the cornstarch mixture in a large pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until thickened.

Stir in the dissolved cornstarch mixture, stir constantly until clear, and cook for another 5 minutes before serving.

Can Humba Be Made In A Slow Cooker?

Yes, you can make humba using your slow cooker. Follow these steps:

  • Set up your slow cooker bowl with a rack insert or metal colander.
  • In a small bowl or cup, mix together 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water.
  • Pour into the bottom of the bowl or colander and set aside.
  • Cut the desired amount of cooked pork into bite-sized pieces and put them in the bowl.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients except for the oil and stir gently to combine.
  • Cover and cook on high heat setting for 3 hours, stirring halfway through cooking.
  • When the liquid starts bubbling around the edges, pour about 1 inch of oil over the top, cover again, and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.
  • Serve warm.

Tips for making humba

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can use any pot large enough to hold the pork without crowding.

Just make sure to keep the temperature low so the mixture doesn’t burn.

You’ll need to add extra time if you’re not using a pressure cooker.

What Is The Best Way To Reheat Humba?

If you have leftover humba from your next cookout, you can either heat it up again straight away or place it into the fridge to cool down.

You will want to bring it back out once it’s cooled completely.

To reheat humba, pour 2 cups of water into a pot large enough to hold the serving size of humba without overcrowding.

Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce the heat to low.

Add 1 tablespoon of honey, stir, and let simmer for three minutes before adding your cooked humba pieces.

Cook for another five minutes and remove from heat.

Serve warm.

What Should You Do With Leftovers?

If you aren’t quite ready to eat your humba right away, don’t throw out any leftover bits and pieces of meat.

Leftover pork is perfect for making sausages or empanadas!

Leftover rice isn’t going to get much better after sitting around for hours on end, either.

If you have some cooked white rice, heat it up in a pot, add a little bit of water, and toss in whatever vegetables you need to use up that day.

You can top it off with a drizzle of olive oil if you want to give it some flavor, too.

And no matter how good your humba tastes once it’s fully prepared, odds are pretty high that you won’t actually finish every last bite before nightfall.

So consider freezing what you don’t plan on eating immediately.

You might think that frozen humba would taste like cardboard.

But trust us, it will still taste amazing when you cook it from scratch later!

What Are Some Common Side Dishes Served With Humba?

Huma may sound like a strange word, but it means “to eat together.”

In fact, it’s exactly what the name suggests: everyone eats their own portion of humba before passing around the platter to share among family members or friends.

This tradition dates back hundreds of years, and is usually reserved for special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays.

Aside from humba itself, side dishes are always served alongside any type of meal.

These include rice, noodles, vegetables, salads, and desserts.

Here are some of the most common sides that accompany humba.

Bicol Express Rice (Noodles)

This is typically eaten as a breakfast dish, especially when paired with eggs.

However, Bicol Express Rice (noodles) is also enjoyed with humba for lunch or supper.

The dish is prepared with white rice, coconut milk, and shrimp paste.

Coconut Milk Rice (Noodle Soup)

Similar to Bicol Express Rice (noodles), Coconut Milk Rice (noodle soup) is another dish traditionally eaten as a morning meal.

The dish is prepared with either short-grain or medium-grain rice cooked in coconut milk along with shredded cabbage and sliced tomatoes.

Pork Adobo (Vegetables)

A favorite accompaniment to humba, Pork Adobo (vegetables) is a dish that utilizes tender pieces of pork simmered in adobo sauce.

The dish is commonly accompanied with boiled potatoes, lettuce leaves, beansprouts, carrots, squash, and peas.

You can also add hard-boiled egg slices to your plate if desired.

Chunky Eggplant Salad (Salad)

Another classic side dish for humba is Chunky Eggplant Salad (salad).

Prepared with chopped eggplants, onion, green bell pepper, cucumber, tomato, celery, and cilantro, this salad is perfect for adding flavor to meats.

Kare Kare (Rice Cake)

Known as a snack food during childhood days, Kare Kare (rice cake) is a very fluffy and light cake made with glutinous rice flour.

The cake is topped with grated cheese, raisins, peanuts, and ketchup.

If you don’t have time to cook a big batch of humba, try these recipes for quick meals.

Easy Humba Recipe

We love this simple recipe for homemade humba because it takes less than 10 minutes to prep.

If you want something fancier, you might consider making this recipe using boneless skinless lean pork chops instead of shoulder cutlets, or simply use store-bought humba mix instead.


  • 1 pound boneless pork loin shoulder cutlet
  • ½ cup pineapple juice
  • ¾ cup water
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 teaspoon cold water
  • 1 large red chili pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • ½ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Cooking oil, for frying


  • Thickly sliced fresh pineapple wedges
  • Fresh basil sprigs

Slow Cooker Humba Recipe

This humba recipe uses a slow cooker, which saves you time since it cooks overnight without having to spend hours simmering away.

Slow cooking allows you to enjoy humba right after preparing it.


  • 4 pounds trimmed pork shoulder, cubed
  • 6 cloves peeled garlic
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sliced green onions or scallions
  • Chopped parsley
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, optional

Indonesian Style Humba Recipe

For people who aren’t familiar with Indonesian cuisine, this humba is a good place to start learning about its flavors and textures.

While the original recipe calls for dried anchovies, we suggest substituting them with canned fish sticks.

They work just fine!


  • 10 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
  • 8 ounces extra firm tofu, drained and crumbled into bite size bits
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter (or sunflower seed butter)
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ cup unsalted cashews
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • ⅓ cup lime juice
  • ⅓ cup orange juice
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped lemongrass
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground mace
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup vegetable stock powder
  • ⅓ cup unsalted roasted peanuts
  • ⅓ cup unsalted raw cashews

Is There A Dessert Version Of Humba?

In addition to its main course status, humba can act as a dessert when paired with rice cakes called pandesal.

Some people prefer to use banana-flavored ice cream instead of jelly, but both options work just fine.

If you choose to use bananas, cut them into small pieces before freezing them so they don’t get too mushy after thawing.

To round out your meal, consider serving fresh fruit like mangoes, papayas, pineapples, oranges, kiwis, and watermelon alongside humba.

A simple salad would be perfect here, since these fruits tend to have lots of natural sugars from their juices.

If you want something heartier, try pairing humba with roasted vegetables.

You can roast potatoes, carrots, green beans, eggplant, zucchini, squash, and winter squashes such as acorn or delicata varieties.

Roast the veggies first, then add them to the frying pan along with the slices of pork belly.

Heat up the oil over medium heat and fry everything together, stirring occasionally, until the pork gets nice and crisp.

Humba Recipe3

Humba Recipe

Humba is one of those Filipino comfort food dishes that’s so easy and delicious to prepare, but also makes for a great dinner party centerpiece
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: Humba
Servings: 3 people
Calories: 283kcal


  • 1 Slow Cooker
  • 1 Small bowl


  • 4 pounds trimmed pork shoulder cubed
  • 6 cloves peeled garlic
  • 5 cups water
  • teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • ½ cups apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • onions
  • Chopped parsley


  • Set up your slow cooker bowl with a rack insert or metal colander.
  • In a small bowl or cup, mix together 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water.
  • Pour into the bottom of the bowl or colander and set aside.
  • Cut the desired amount of cooked pork into bite-sized pieces and put them in the bowl.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients except for the oil and stir gently to combine.
  • Cover and cook on high heat setting for 3 hours, stirring halfway through cooking.
  • When the liquid starts bubbling around the edges, pour about 1 inch of oil over the top, cover again, and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.
  • Serve warm.



Calories: 283kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 2278mg | Potassium: 145mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 40g | Vitamin A: 202IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 2mg
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