Vigan Empanada

Golden & crispy, bursting with tangy papaya, savory longganisa & creamy egg – conquer the Vigan Empanada: Ilocos Sur’s iconic street food treasure. Conquered the Vigan Empanada at home! Crispy crust, tangy filling, golden perfection. Can you guess this Ilocos street food legend? #FoodieAdventure #Philippines #IlocosSur

The moment I stepped foot on the cobblestone streets of Vigan, Ilocos Sur, I knew I was in for a sensory feast. The intoxicating aroma of garlicky longganisa wafting from street vendors, the vibrant facades of Spanish colonial architecture, and the rhythmic clip-clop of calesas all painted a picture of a city steeped in history and culinary delights. But one treat, in particular, captured my heart (and stomach): the Vigan Empanada (less vibrant colour, thinner shell and crispier) or sometimes called Ilocos Empanada.

This unassuming golden marvel is more than just a snack; it’s a symphony of textures and flavors, a testament to Ilocano ingenuity, and a delicious portal to the region’s rich heritage. Let me take you on my journey to conquer the art of making this iconic dish at home, and uncover the secrets that make it so special.

The Vigan Empanada’s story is a fascinating blend of influences. The Spanish colonizers brought their love for empanadas, savory pastries with diverse fillings. But the resourceful Ilocanos didn’t simply copy – they reimagined it with local ingredients and techniques. Rice flour replaced wheat, annatto seeds painted the dough a vibrant orange, and the filling evolved into a unique masterpiece.

Tangy green papaya adds a surprising crunch, perfectly complementing the savory richness of Vigan longganisa. And then there’s the perfectly cooked egg, that is present on each bite, adding a creamy richness that ties everything together. This isn’t just a filling; it’s a celebration of Ilocano flavors, a taste of the land and its people.

Today, the Vigan Empanada isn’t just a beloved street food; it’s a cultural icon. It’s shared during festive gatherings, offered as a warm welcome to visitors, and treasured by Ilocanos across the globe. Each bite connects you to the land, the people, and the vibrant spirit of Ilocos Sur.

Armed with a recipe passed down by a friend who got ihe information from a local vendor and a healthy dose of determination, I embarked on my mission to recreate this magic in my own kitchen. Rice flour, a notoriously finicky mistress, put my patience to the test. But after much kneading, folding, and a few batches of misshapen dough, I finally held a golden-hued empanada in my hand.

The first bite was an explosion of flavor and texture. The crispy, flaky crust gave way to a soft, chewy interior, bursting with the tangy sweetness of green papaya, the savory spice of longganisa, and the richness of the egg. It was a revelation, a taste of Vigan transported to my own kitchen.

The Vigan Empanada is more than just a recipe; it’s a story, an experience, and a delicious symbol of Ilocos Sur. So, the next time you encounter this golden wonder, take a moment to savor its story and the deliciousness it holds. And if you’re feeling adventurous, give it a try yourself – you might just conquer your own culinary quest for the perfect Vigan Empanada.

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Vigan Empanada

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  • Author: Raymund
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 8 mins
  • Total Time: 28 mins
  • Category: Snack
  • Cuisine: Filipino


Golden & crispy, bursting with tangy papaya, savory longganisa & creamy egg – conquer the Vigan Empanada: Ilocos Sur’s iconic street food treasure.


Units Scale



  • 1 green unripe papaya, grated
  • 6 pcs Vigan style longaniza, removed from the casing
  • 2 stalks spring onion, chopped
  • 6 fresh eggs
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper



  1. Combine rice flour, water, salt, and annatto oil in a bowl. Knead till smooth, then divide into balls.
  2. Grab one ball of the dough, using two large square wax paper, place the dough in the middle then flatten it to a circle shape until it is thin.
  3. Place an equivalent amount of one Vigan longaniza and papaya mixture in the middle, crack a piece of fresh egg in the middle then add some chopped spring onions on top.
  4. Season with a bit of salt then fold and seal edges then deep fry immediately in a 160C preheated oil in a flat wide pan. Cook until crisp, this would take around 4 minutes per side then place in a paper towel lined plate. Serve.


To make annatto oil, combine 2 tablespoons of annatto seeds and 1/4 cup neutral flavoured oil in a saucepan then apply medium heat.  Once oil starts bubbling, turn heat off then leave the seeds to soak in oil for a couple of minutes.


2 Responses

  1. suituapui says:

    Interesting pastry, never seen that before. Now I gotta google and see what annatto powder is.

  2. mjskitchen says:

    Pastry made with rice flour … that is interesting. Love the filling even though I don’t remember the flavor of green papaya. It all looks great!

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