Tinola is every Filipino's favorite chicken soup! Healthy, nourishing, and comforting. Simple to make and very versatile–use papaya or chayote and your choice of green vegetables. Enjoy it for lunch or dinner, with rice of course!
Also known as tinolang manok in Filipino is a soup primarily made of chicken, ginger, garlic, and vegetables. It is considered one of the healthiest Filipino dish because:
- Ginger and garlic, in particular, one of the main ingredients that make up the broth contains a lot of anti-inflammatory and medicinal properties that are good for our body. Follow the links to learn more!
- The broth contains a lot of vitamins, minerals and not to mention collagen derived from the meat and the bones of the chicken.
- One of the best and most delicious breastfeeding food–by adding papaya and dark-green vegetables like malunggay (moringa) leaves or spinach, you can make tinola a super superfood to help increase your breastmilk supply.
Here's what you need to make chicken tinola:
- Chicken - the best cut of chicken for tinola are chicken pieces with bone-in. I often times use whole chicken that has been cut into pieces. You can leave the skin on or off if you prefer a low fat soup/broth.
- Broth (use water or rice wash alternatively) - to make the distinct tinola flavor, you will need garlic, onion, ginger, and chili leaves (dahon ng siling labuyo). Mild green chili peppers or banana pepper can also be used as a substitute.
- Fish sauce (patis) - is the main seasoning ingredient that brings the entire dish together.
- Green Papaya or Chayote - can be used interchangeably. If you're breastfeeding, I highly recommend using papaya as it is known to help with milk production.
- Green Vegetables - malunggay/moringa leaves are a favorite due to their many health benefits. See the list below for other vegetables you can use:
Bok choy/pechay, nai bai, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, and romaine lettuce will go so well with tinola due to their neutral flavor.
And here's how to make it. It's so easy! The first 3 are essential steps in making the best and flavorful tinola broth.
- Saute garlic, onions, and ginger in warm oil until fragrant. This process brings out the flavor of the spices which will later be infused with the other ingredients.
- Cook the chicken until the natural juices come out. This will add more flavor to the broth.
- Pour the fish sauce and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. This enhances the umami flavor coating each piece of the chicken.
- Add water and cook until the chicken is fork-tender. This could take 20-25 minutes depending on the size of the meat.
- Add sliced papaya or chayote and cook until fork tender. If you're using banana peppers or mild green peppers, add them as well to infuse their flavor well into the broth. At this point, taste the broth and adjust salt/pepper as needed.
- Lastly, add your favorite greens. Cook malunggay leaves for less than a minute and longer for other greens such as bok choi.
These are some of the variations I've made with tinola. They're an equally good and good alternative to the traditional
Tinola with lemongrass or tanglad
This is a popular variation in the Visayas and Mindanao region. It's in fact, the tinola my mama loves making, and thus I grew up eating.
Preparation and cooking: One to two stalks of lemongrass should be enough for one pot of tinola. Remove the outer leaves of the lemongrass. Bruised with the back of your knife or a meat tenderizer then cut into two pieces. Add it to the water and cook with the chicken.
Tinolang Manok for Breastfeeding Mama's
Basically, just add more garlic and ginger and use green papaya or any dark green vegetables and turn it into a special concoction to help increase your breastmilk supply. Check out my recipe here!
Chicken Tinola with Patola
This is a simple version of tinola with patola or luffa gourd as the only vegetable.
- Choose a patola that is at a young and immature stage. It should be available in most Asian markets.
- Add the patola/luffa gourd towards the end of the cooking process–once the chicken is fully cooked. Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes until it becomes soft.
- Add a sprinkle of fried garlic and green onions (scallions) for variation of flavor.
Watch how I make it by following this link.
Chicken Tinola with semi-ripe papaya and ampalaya leaves
Using semi-ripe papaya and ampalaya leaves gives the tinolang manok a different flavor profile–a hint of sweetness with a touch of bitterness.
I've never had ampalaya leaves with tinola before; that was until my last vacation in the Philippines when my mother-in-law introduced me to it. Essentially, it is what Ilocanos use apart from malunggay leaves. I have only used ampalaya leaves when cooking Monggo but never in a tinola. Try it and see if you liked it as much as I did 🙂
Watch how I make it by following this link
Serve and Shelf-life
Chicken Tinola is best served freshly cooked with a warm plate of rice. It can be eaten on its own if preferred.
Store leftovers in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 to 4 days. Re-heat before serving and consume right away. Any leftovers from the re-heated tinola should be disposed of for health and safety reasons.
Watch how to make it
More Filipino Soup Recipes
- Nilagang Baka (Beef Nilaga Pressure Cooker)
- Easy Chicken Arroz Caldo
- Nilagang Baboy
- Pesang Manok (Chicken Ginger Soup)
- Nilagang Manok sa Patis
- Chicken Sinigang with Gabi
Main dishes for lunch or dinner
- Pork adobo
- Chicken Afritada
- Sweet and Sour Chicken with Pineapple
- Pork Bicol Express
- Easy Chicken and Mushroom Salpicao
- Chicken Menudo
- Pininyahang Manok with Evaporated Milk
- Creamy Chicken Kare-Kare
- Pork Giniling with Potatoes
- Chicken Binagoongan
Chicken Tinola (Tinolang Manok)
- 5 cloves garlic (peeled, crushed)
- 1 med onion (sliced)
- 1 ½ inches ginger (peeled then pressed)
- 1 kg / 35 oz whole chicken cut into pieces ( bone-in, skin-on, see note 1)
- 2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 4-5 cups water or rice wash (see note 2)
- 1 medium size raw papaya or chayote (peeled, sliced into wedges)
- 2 pcs banana peppers or mild green chili
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- bunch nai bai or choice of green vegetables (see note 4 for alternatives)
- In a pot with warm oil over medium heat, saute garlic, onions, and ginger until translucent and fragrant.
- Add chicken. Stir and cook until no longer pink. Pour fish sauce. Let it simmer for 2 minutes until juices come out.
- Pour water. Cover with a lid and cook until chicken is fork-tender, about 20 to 25 minutes (see note 3). Remove scum as it arises to the top.
- Add papaya and green chili. Cook for another 5 to 10 mins until fork-tender (don't overcook). Taste and season with salt and ground black pepper, to taste.
- Add choice of green vegetable. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes with the lid on. Turn off the heat and remove the lid to avoid overcooking the leaves. Note that cooking time may vary depending on the vegetable you're going to use. Serve with rice and enjoy!
Recipe Notes and Tips:
- Chicken - use fresh chicken. Trim off excess fat sticking to the flesh and blood stuck under the bones.
- Water or rice wash - use alternatively. Add more if you prefer a soupy tinola.
- Cooking time: adjust based on the size of the chicken. Longer cooking time is needed for large pieces.
- Vegetable options: malunggay leaves (moringa), bok choi/pechay, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, and romaine lettuce. If using malunggay leaves, cook for 20 seconds only.
- Storage and shelf-life: Store leftovers in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 to 4 days. Re-heat before serving and consume right away. Any leftovers from the re-heated tinola should be disposed of for safety reasons.