Taste Test: The Best Ensaymadas in Metro Manila (and Cavite)

A list of the best, fluffiest, cheesiest ensaymadas in Metro Manila for every budget.

Before the internet, we relied on our titas for our best-of lists. You don't even need to ask—Filipino aunties are more than happy to tell you the best place to go for narrowly specific things. Examples: The best hair colorist for brown highlights. The best supplier for knockoff luxury handbags. The bakeshop with the best ensaymada.

The list of best ensaymadas online are, more or less, a compilation of our tita’s recommendations, ranging from bakery chains like Mary Grace to institutions like Cunanan Bakery and Dolphy-approved Hizon’s. They’re all good, for sure. But which ensaymada is the right one for you?

We tasted more than 12 ensaymadas around Metro Manila (and Cavite!) so Tita Pepper can tell you what’s what. Read on to find the best ensaymada for every budget, plus some bonus non-sweet picks for the sugar-conscious.

What is Ensaymada?
Filipino ensaymada, a sweet adaptation of Spain’s Mallorcan ensaïmada, is a sweet bread (often brioche) with a salty-sweet topping of grated cheese and white sugar. It has many variations: ensaymada can be bready or soft; glazed with margarine, melted butter, or buttercream; topped with cheeses like cheddar or quezo de bola (Edam).

What makes a good ensaymada?

You know what to expect from ensaymada: bread, sugar, cheese. Every brand will balance those three things differently, and what you'll enjoy depends on your preference. Do you like your ensaymada soft and fluffy, or bready with a bit of chew? Mild or salty cheese? Plenty of sugar or none at all?

To help you decide, we evaluated each brand on this list by their flavor, texture, price, and amount of cheese.

How we tested

We held a blind taste test with Acceler8, a co-working space based in Makati. We sliced each ensaymada into small pieces, then asked taste testers to sample and evaluate each one. To avoid biases, brands were revealed only after the taste test.

We didn’t tell the testers that the ensaymada brands were divided on purpose into three groups, from least to most expensive: Low-Cost, Mid-Range, and Premium Ensaymadas:

Price Range Per Group
Low-Cost Ensaymadaless than ₱100 per piece
Mid-Range Ensaymada₱100–₱149 per piece
Premium Ensaymada₱150+ per piece

The brands in this article reflect the testers’ favorites per group.

We added a bonus category to this list: our Not-Sweet Picks. These brands don’t conform to the popular idea of an ensaymada, but are excellent in their own right, and were too good to leave out.

Thanks to Ludwig, Mafrena, Dhes, Claire, Hillary, Hannah, Noelle, Derek, Christian, Evangeline, MG, Elrin, Shiela, Sam, Sev, and Colleen for joining us at Acceler8!

Low-Cost Ensaymada

These are the ensaymadas you grew up with, from the panaderia-style coils of dense bread and margarine to the commercially produced treats at the mall, slathered in cream and stringy cheese. The latter usually includes extenders in their bread to prolong shelf life. Extenders can affect the ensaymada’s texture and flavor, but is not a bad thing per se—it registers as a nostalgic flavor, at best. Their price makes it easy to buy in bulk as pasalubong or pabaon.

Our pick: Mylene’s Classic Ensaymada

In exchange for a longer shelf life, commercial ensaymadas tend to have a dry crumb. Mylene’s ensaymada stands out at this price range with cloud-like bread topped with a gracious heap of cheese—all for just 60 pesos! Testers were quick to notice the superior texture, describing it as “surprisingly soft”, “moist”, and “fluffy”. This ensaymada is sweet, cheesy, and sure to please any crowd.

Mylene's Ensaymada & Banana Cake: Classic Ensaymada
FlavorSweet, cheesy
TextureFluffy, moist
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