Classic Noche Buena Dishes Recipes with a Twist

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Modern Twists to Classic Recipes

It is really comforting how the twinkling lights transform the once dull streets into a parade of dancing colors; it’s as if the spirit of joy has taken residence in every beam every December. The rhythmic play of hues creates a symphony of comfort, wrapping the surroundings in a cozy embrace.

For a nation reputed for our extended celebration of Christmas, it may be safe to say that the holiday season is a celebration that our soul craves. The sweet aroma of Bibingka and Puto Bumbong on the streets, the anticipation of a Christmas feast, the excitement we get from every gift we receive, and the festive gatherings that fill our homes with laughter and love—all contribute to the magic of the holiday season.

As the season approaches, the air is filled with the nostalgic scent of yuletide traditions and the anticipation of cherished family gatherings. The anticipation of noche buena, with its sumptuous dishes meticulously prepared, turns every dining table into a banquet of joy.

From treasured family recipes to innovative noche buena menus, the feast becomes a culinary journey, weaving together tradition and innovation. As we savor the richness of the noche buena food list, the flavors serve as a tapestry, intertwining the past and present to celebrate togetherness.

The noche buena meal itself becomes a centerpiece, symbolizing not just a feast for the body but a nourishment for the soul, embodying the essence of the Christmas spirit that our hearts eagerly embrace.

Noche Buena: More Than Just a Feast

Noche Buena, the Filipino Christmas Eve feast, is a time-honored celebration that brings loved ones together around the dinner table adorned with an array of classic dishes. It comes from the Spanish word “Nochebuena,” which translates to “Good Night” in English and holds a unique cultural and emotional significance for Filipinos.

Filipinos place great importance on family ties, and Christmas Eve is an occasion for family members, including extended relatives, to gather and celebrate in unity. More than this, Nochebuena celebrates resilience and hope, especially in the Philippines. Filipinos celebrate Christmas with joy and optimism despite challenges and hardships, emphasizing the importance of positivity and unity.

The Essence of Noche Buena

While the essence of Noche Buena remains rooted in the warmth of familial connections and the joy of sharing a bountiful meal, contemporary twists on traditional recipes inject a fresh vibrancy into this age-old celebration.

While the timeless recipes of Bibingka, Puto Bumbong, and noche buena staples like the lechon and crispy pata, remain at the forefront, contemporary twists have emerged. Families now incorporate new flavors, techniques, and presentation styles, breathing fresh life into age-old recipes.

Like how Filipinos bond through food during special occasions, such as birthdays and fiestas, having a feast during the arguably most important season in our culture is a must; however, it can be a struggle to think of ways to complete the list of the food we will serve on the table and level up classic niche buena favorites.

This article delves into a world where traditional flavors meet contemporary flair, transforming the familiar into a delightful fusion of tradition and innovation. So grab a pen as we list modern twists on classic noche buena recipes.

Queso de Bola: A ‘grate’ Feast Starter

Queso de Bola Dip with Toasted Ensaymada

Starting of strong with the crowd-favorite Queso de bola. Queso de Bola is a beloved round Edam cheese that holds a cherished place in Filipino Noche Buena. As suggested by its clever name, which means “a ball of cheese” in Spanish, this cheese was made to be the main attraction. Queso de Bola symbolizes tradition and festive abundance and can be seen on most Filipino Christmas dinner tables.

Follow this recipe to elevate this iconic cheese to new heights. Typically, Queso de Bola is served as is with biscuits or crackers on the side, but envision it as a delectable dip for a classic Pinoy bread–toasted ensaymada. Picture a luscious Queso de Bola dip, where the rich, nutty notes of the cheese mingle with the sweet, buttery goodness of ensaymada.

PHOTO BY Dairy Darilag from
Photo taken by Dairy Darilag, from


  • Two tablespoons unsalted butter

  • Two tablespoons of all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh milk

  • 2 1/2 cups Queso de bola grated, plus more to top

  • 8 to 10 ensaymada store-bought, cut into cubes

The process:

Begin by melting two tablespoons of unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and cook for 1 minute, creating a smooth roux. Slowly introduce 1 1/2 cups of fresh milk, bringing the mixture to a simmer.

Incorporate the star ingredient, 2 1/2 cups of grated Queso de bola, stirring continuously until it becomes creamy and indulgent. Meanwhile, cut 8 to 10 store-bought ensaymada into cubes and arrange them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Finish this off in a toaster or preheated oven at 350ºF until golden, for approximately five minutes. Once the queso de bola dip is velvety and ready, pour it into a serving bowl, topping it with a sprinkle of grated Queso de bola. Sometimes cheddar cheese is preferred and used. Serve this rich and savory dip alongside the toasted ensaymada cubes for a unique and unforgettable gastronomic experience.

Classic Noche Buena Entrés

Bacon Wrapped Embutido

Noche Buena Menu: Bacon-wrapped Embutido | Photo source:
Bacon-wrapped Embutido | Photo source:

Indulge in the festive spirit with Bacon Wrapped Embutido, a flavorful twist on the classic Filipino meatloaf. Embracing the essence of a traditional embutido, this recipe enhances the traditional dish by adding chopped chorizo sausages and a touch of wine for an extra burst of flavor. You can either use pork or chicken for the main embutido mix.

The incorporation of streaky smoked bacon imparts a special festive flair and elevates the dish to a new level of savory delight. This easy-to-make dish is perfect for the holiday season as it can be prepared ahead and frozen.

The combination of minced pork, sausages, chorizos, and a medley of seasonings ensures each bite is a symphony of taste. Simply wrap the flavorful mixture in bacon, bake it to perfection, and savor the mouthwatering result.


  • One onion (about 3/4 c.)

  • 2 tbsps. butter plus extra for greasing

  • 1/3 c. grated processed cheese

  • 500 gms. minced pork

  • Three fresh sausages, 225 gms.

  • 3/4 c. chopped chorizos

  • Two eggs

  • 1/2 c. fresh breadcrumbs

  • 1 tbsp. sherry (alternative: wine)

  • 1 tsp. fine salt

  • 1 tbsp. sugar

  • 2 tbsps. sweet pickle relish

  • 1/2 c. sultanas or raisins

  • 16 rashers of smoked streaky bacon

The Process:

Begin by microwaving chopped onions with butter until they turn soft and translucent. Add grated processed cheese, creating a luscious base for the meaty goodness to come. Combine minced pork or chicken, English sausages, chopped chorizos, eggs, fresh breadcrumbs, sherry, salt, sugar, sweet pickle relish, and sultanas or raisins in a mixing bowl.

After a thorough mix, refrigerate the concoction for an hour, allowing the flavors to meld. When ready, wrap portions of the savory mixture with smoked streaky bacon, creating flavorful logs encased in a buttered foil. Bake these savory rolls on a rack, infusing them with richness and tenderness.

Unveil the aromatic masterpiece, let it rest, and slice it into perfection. Serve these bacon-wrapped delights with ketchup, and relish in the festive symphony of flavors that Bacon Wrapped Embutido brings to your table.

Vegan Lumpiang Shanghai

Lumpiang Shanghai, the exemplary Filipino spring roll, holds a special place in Filipino parties, serving as a beloved appetizer that brings people together.

Traditionally made with a savory mixture of ground pork, minced vegetables, and seasonings, these crispy delights are a staple at celebrations, offering a delightful combination of textures and flavors.

Recognizing the evolving preferences of a diverse audience, there’s a rising trend to put a creative twist on this classic by making it vegan. This innovative adaptation replaces the meat with plant-based alternatives while retaining the signature crispiness and savory taste.

The vegan Lumpiang Shanghai caters to a broader range of dietary choices and adds a fresh and contemporary flair to the traditional Filipino noche buena spread, showcasing the adaptability and creativity inherent in Filipino cuisine. It can be taken as snacks or as part of meals. Whichever way you go, it is a yummy dish!


  • Flax eggs

  • Water chestnuts

  • Green onions and garlic

  • Carrot

  • Nori

  • Plant-based ground pork

  • Soy sauce

  • Lumpia wrappers

  • Oil

Vegan Lumpia (Lumpiang Shanghai) - Eat Figs, Not Pigs | Photo from:
Photo from:

The Process:

Prepare your spring roll wrappers, then flax eggs for a plant-based binding agent. Finely chopped water chestnuts, green onions, carrots, nori, and fresh garlic create a vibrant mix of textures in a food processor. Combine these with vegan ground beef crumbles, soy sauce, salt, pepper, and the flax egg mixture to craft a flavorful filling.

Assemble your vegan spring rolls by placing a generous portion of the filling onto each wrapper, rolling them into a tight cigar shape, and sealing the ends with water. Fry these delights until golden brown in preheated oil. Make sure to drain excess oil on a paper towel-lined plate.

Serve the Vigan Lumpiang Shanghai immediately, paired with a dipping sauce of your choice topped with chopped spring onions.

The Star of the Show: Pinoy Christmas Ham


  • Pineapple slices

  • Pineapple Juice

  • Soy sauce

  • Brown Sugar

  • Dijon Mustard

  • Optional: beer or rum for an added boost of flavor

Christmas Ham | Photo from:
Christmas Ham | Photo from:

In a true Filipino Noche Buena tradition, the Pinoy Hamon takes center stage as a festive and flavorful centerpiece. Holiday hams are often glazed with a sweet and tangy mixture of pineapple and brown sugar and hold a special place on the Christmas table.

To elevate your Pinoy Hamon experience, consider a simple yet impactful sauce. Create a delectable glaze by combining pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, and a touch of Dijon mustard in a saucepan. Simmer the mixture until it thickens, and generously brush it over the ham during the last leg of baking.

This addition enhances the ham’s succulence and introduces a delightful layer of complexity to the traditional holiday flavor. Elevating the Pinoy Hamon with this simple sauce infuses it with a harmonious blend of sweet and savory notes, making it an unforgettable highlight of the Noche Buena feast.

Noche Buena Desserts For Your Sweet Tooth

Ube Leche flan Cake

Elevate your Noche Buena celebration by crafting a show-stopping dessert that speaks to the heart of Filipino flavors – the Ube Leche Flan Cake. Cakes have long been synonymous with joyous celebrations, and what better way to make your Noche Buena memorable than with a creation of your own?

This unique masterpiece blends two beloved Filipino classics, the vibrant Ube and the velvety Leche Flan, into a single decadent cake. The process involves skillfully combining two distinct batters – the lusciously purple Ube batter and the caramel-infused Leche Flan batter.

This Ube Leche Flan Cake not only elevates your Noche Buena spread but also adds a personal touch, making the celebration truly Filipino.


  • Three tbsp sugar

  • 354 ml of evaporated milk

  • 300 ml of condensed milk

  • Six egg yolks

  • Three egg yolks

  • 1/4 cup milk

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup canola oil

  • 2 tsp liquid ube flavoring

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder

  • ½ tsp salt

  • Three egg whites

  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

  • 1/4 cup sugar

Ube Leche flan cake | photo from
Ube Leche flan cake | photo from

The Process:

Begin by crafting a caramel layer in a 9-inch round baking pan, turning sugar into a golden mixture over low heat. Stir continuousl. Meanwhile, prepare a silky flan layer by combining egg yolks, evaporated milk, and condensed milk, straining the custard over the cooled caramel. For the chiffon cake layer, beat together yolks, sugar, oil, and ube flavoring before gradually folding in a mixture of cake flour, salt, and baking powder.

Whip egg whites to stiff peaks in a separate bowl and delicately fold them into the yolk batter. Pour this exquisite cake batter over the flan layer and bake at 350°F for 60-75 minutes until the cake is set and springy.

Unmold the Ube Leche Flan Cake onto a serving plate, revealing a three-layered masterpiece that encapsulates the sweet essence of Filipino desserts. Enjoy the unique blend of ube and leche flan in every delightful slice, a testament to the joy of crafting your own Noche Buena centerpiece.

Maja Jubilee

Filipino Noche Buenas is incomplete without the iconic presence of fruit salads. However, have you ever wondered what other recipes to make with fruit cocktails? In this recipe, you will get to meet a strong contender for being the showstopper for your noche buena this year.

Imagine the harmonious union of fruit cocktails and another Filipino delight, Maja Blanca. Picture a delectable fusion where the vibrant medley of fruits seamlessly blends with the velvety goodness of Maja Blanca, creating a tantalizing duo that marries the sweetness of fruits with the creamy elegance of coconut milk.

This unique concoction revitalizes the classic fruit salad and introduces a delightful twist that pays homage to the rich spread of Filipino desserts.


  • Two cans (13.5 ounces each) of coconut milk

  • One can (12 ounces) evaporated milk

  • One can (14 ounces) condensed milk

  • ¾ cup sugar

  • 2 ½ cups fruit cocktail, drained well

  • One cup cornstarch

  • ½ cup water

  • ½ cup shredded cheese

Fruit Cocktail Maja Blanca
Fruit Cocktail Maja Blanca | Image credit:

The Process:

Begin by brushing the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9 baking dish with the richness of coconut oil or melted butter, setting the stage for a flavorful creation. In a large pot, amalgamate the creamy goodness of coconut, evaporated, condensed, and sugar, bringing this velvety concoction to a gentle boil.

Introduce 2 cups of the vibrant fruit cocktail, infusing the mixture with fruity sweetness. In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in water, ensuring a smooth texture, then stir and whisk it into the milk blend, cooking until the amalgamation thickens into a sumptuous paste.

Transfer this delectable mixture into the prepared dish, smoothing the top with a lightly oiled spatula or knife. While still warm, adorn the creation with the remaining ½ cup of fruit cocktail.

Allow it to cool, cover, and set it in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours until perfect consistency is achieved. As a finishing touch, sprinkle the top with shredded cheese, and with that, your Fruit Cocktail Maja Blanca is ready to be sliced into servings, a symphony of flavors that embodies the spirit of Filipino sweetness and celebration.

Come Home This Holiday

Whether you choose to infuse a surprising twist to a recipe passed down by your ancestors or delve into the roots of tradition, the heart of Noche Buena resides not only in the food but also in the shared moments that make this celebration truly special.

At Camella, we recognize that the memories crafted within the walls of a home are parallel to precious gems, treasured and eternally cherished. In the spirit of Noche Buena, where homes become the heart of festive gatherings, may these spaces not only be a shelter but a haven where the warmth of tradition and the spirit of innovation converge, creating lasting memories for generations to come.

From our kitchen to yours, Merry Christmas and a joyous Noche Buena!

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