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Filipino Spaghetti with Sweet Meat Sauce

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“Seriously, why is this Filipino spaghetti so sweet?” My sons incredulously asked me this question as we sat at a favorite Manila restaurant, during our Asia trip a few weeks ago. We were visiting the home country and a must-do was ordering familiar items on the menu. A quick Philippine history lesson was in order I decided, for my sons who grew up in America. Our family meal discussions often end up in lively discourses over how Filipino food should be cooked. Today was one of those days.

Sweetness in Filipino food is to be expected at all times, I have told my family again and again. “Since sugar has been a major Philippine export since the 19th century (in the Philippines), the use of sugar – brown or refined—is widespread. The sweets often seen on Philippine tables, however are predominantly Spanish, “ explained the late Professor Doreen G. Fernandez in her book “Tikim”.

A look back at Philippine history shows how nearly half a century of the American influence brought to Filipino tables burgers, pasta, meatloaf and so many other “western” favorites. Today, it is not unusual to find a pasta dish on the Filipino menu.

In the mid-twentieth century, American influence entered the scene in the form of a questionable devotion to convenience foods, a vague mission to increase the healthfulness of Filipino food, and a passion for 1950s-era Betty Crocker-style desserts. At the culinary crossroads of Chinese, Spanish and American foods, the Filipinos took what they liked and made it their own,” explained Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan in the revised version of “Memories of Philippine Kitchens” cookbook.

I learned how to cook spaghetti early on, in my pre-teen years from my cousin, Mell Besa Chung. Over the years, I’ve tweaked my Filipino spaghetti recipe. In my American kitchen, I make it the way we like it. It has a rich, creamy meat sauce which is sweet. It has globules of pan-seared ground meat embedded in the sauce. To contrast the sweetness, there is a veil of saltiness, from the grated cheese, all over it. The thick noodles are coated lavishly with meat sauce, it’s hard to find a pasta corner with nothing on it. But it is definitely good.  It fills you up.  It is sublime. It is sweet Filipino spaghetti, one of the best in the world.

Filipino Spaghetti with Sweet Meat Sauce

 A platter of Filipino Spaghetti with Sweet Meat Sauce has layers of varying flavors. Do not be scared. Grab a fork and plunge it into the pasta, laden with the rich creamy tomato sauce, made even heartier by all the ground beef. This is the way Filipinos like their spaghetti. You’ll find layers upon layers of flavors embedded in just one dish. Where else in the world can you enjoy the rich, the sweet, the robust, the salty, and sometimes even the spicy in one forkful filled with spaghetti tendrils twirled around it? You’ll find it only in Filipino spaghetti. It’s sweet and it’s spectacular. This Filipino spaghetti is an AsianInAmericamag recipe and serves 4 to 6.
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Merienda
Cuisine: American, Asian, Filipino
Keyword: Filipino Sweet Spaghetti Meat Sauce
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 891kcal
Author: Elizabeth Ann Quirino


  • 16 ounces/ 1 lb or 454 gm spaghetti pasta
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 whole onion chopped
  • 2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
  • 1 can ( 6 ounces) tomato paste
  • cup banana catsup (Filipino brands, from Asian groceries)
  • 1 can (10 ¾ ounces) cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper powder
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce


  • Cook spaghetti pasta in a large stock pot of boiling water with a pinch of salt. Follow package directions and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta when cooked and set aside.
  • In a large skillet, over medium high heat, add the cooking oil. Saute the garlic and onions.
  • Add the ground beef. Sprinkle the Worcestershire sauce over the beef. Cook the beef for 10 minutes or till the pink meat turns to brown.
  • Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste and banana catsup to the meat. Blend well.
  • In a separate small bowl, blend the cream of mushroom soup with the beef broth. Mix well till there are no lumps. When it is smooth, add this to the tomato sauce and beef mixture in the skillet.
  • By then the sauce would have boiled. Lower heat to a slow simmer. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes over a low heat. Stir occasionally so the meat doesn’t stick to the bottom. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Lastly, add the sugar. Turn off the heat. Do not cook the spaghetti sauce with sugar or you might burn the sauce.
  • Arrange the pasta on a large platter. Add a few tablespoons of the sauce on the pasta, making sure to coat the spaghetti with the sauce. Pour the rest of the spaghetti sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle the top with grated cheese. Serve warm.
  • COOK'S COMMENTS: Sometimes, Filipino spaghetti meat sauce uses a combination of half ground beef and half ground pork.
  • Hello, Friends! All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos and  recipe content I wrote, on your website,books, films, television shows or videos  without my permission. If you want to republish this recipe or content on another website, video or news article,or media outlets mentioned above please ASK my permission, re-write it in your own words and simply link back to this blog to give proper attribution. It’s the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]


Serving: 1g | Calories: 891kcal | Carbohydrates: 101g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 110mg | Sodium: 1085mg | Potassium: 643mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 283IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 257mg | Iron: 4mg

Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.

Copyright Notice: Hello, Friends! Please DO NOT LIFT OR PLAGIARIZE my original recipe, stories, photos or videos. All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos, essays, stories and recipe content on your websites, books, films, television shows, videos, without my permission. If you wish to republish this recipe or content on media outlets mentioned above, please ASK MY PERMISSION, or re-write it in your own words and link back to my blog AsianInAmericaMag.com to give proper attribution. It is the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]

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  1. The sweet ingredients make a spaghetti sauce perfect. You have a different ingredient here that probably does a bit of magic to your sauce: cream of mushroom soup. Must try that. Tinned food is also an American legacy, right?

    1. Hi Adora! Yes, you’re right, canned foods were also part of the American influence, during the war years. The cream of mushroom soup was taught to me by my cousin, Mell. I think it gives a special touch. Thanks for the kind comments 🙂

  2. I love adding mushrooms to my spaghetti sauce…but I haven’t tried cooking it with cream of mushroom soup. That’s something I would love to try! I’m sure it makes the sauce thicker and even yummier!

    1. Thanks, Tina for your kind comments. What a great idea to add mushrooms to this spaghetti sauce ~ I must try that. Thanks for the inspiration and the blog-visit 🙂

  3. I always love meat sauce growing up and it’s my #1 favorite food in my childhood. I’ve tried so many kinds of meat sauce as I’m crazy about trying new recipes, but I realized I’ve never tried Filipino version YET! From looking at the picture, I already know I’ll enjoy this so much! 😀

    1. Hi Nami! I know what you mean about meat sauce as a favorite. It’s mine, too! Your kids will enjoy this Filipino spaghetti. It’s so filling, too. Thanks for taking time out from your busy schedule to stop by. Your blog is looking good & I’m glad it’s back!

  4. So interesting to see how Western influence shows up all over the world. This does sound like a flavor packed hearty meat sauce! I’ve never tried banana catsup but have been wondering what it tastes like.

    1. Hi Jeanette!This sure is a hearty meat sauce. You’ll find banana catsup in Asian groceries, search in the Philippine aisle, these are Filipino products. Banana catsup is sweeter and has a less tart flavor than tomato catsup. If you prefer not, you can skip it altogether in this recipe. Hope that helps. Thanks for the kind comments & blog visit!

  5. My son didn’t even ask me why Filipino spaghetti is sweet. He just loves it!

    Indeed, the mushroom sauce probably makes this even better.

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