If you love ginger then this Chicken Tinola is for you. A simple everyday Filipino soup that is very healthy and flavorful. This Tinola recipe is made with chicken, ginger, garlic, onion, fish sauce, chayote, red chili leaves, and with lemongrass.
Chicken Tinola or just Tinola is 100% Pinoy dish. You will not find anything like it from our neighboring Asian countries or even around the globe. I would say that next to Adobo, Tinola is the most favorite dish in every Filipino household commonly served for lunch or dinner...with rice of course.
What is Tinola
Put simply, Tinola is a Filipino dish with chicken pieces cooked in ginger-flavored broth. It also usually has chayote or green papaya and green leaves like chili leaves or malunggay (moringa).
The addition of lemongrass is optional, but it enhances the ginger flavor of the soup and gives the dish a refreshing aroma.
It is no wonder that every time I feel that I am about to get sick or when it is getting too cold for me, I would crave for this dish. It is some kind of comfort food I guess...keeps you warm and healthy from all the good stuff in it.
The basic ingredients for Tinola are:
- chicken pieces
- fish sauce
- chayote (sayote) or unripe papaya
- chili leaves or moringa (malunggay)
How to cook Tinola
- Saute ginger, garlic, onions in hot oil until aromatic.
- Add the chicken pieces and fish sauce and render until fats and juices come out.
- Pour in water and bring to boil. Cook until meat is tender.
- Add the sayote or green papaya and cook until soft.
- Lastly, add the chili or malunggay leaves.
I was actually surprised (and feeling proud) that Armin liked Tinola the first time he tried it. He likes ginger, really like a lot! Which is good because I like it too!!! Sometimes he would actually request for it himself and, of course, I would happily oblige. But I have to put in some extra ginger or there will be war! It is like a contest on who gets to find more ginger strips from the soup bowl...or the fastest!
I was also surprised that he likes 'sayote' or chayote squash which is a typical ingredient of Tinola along with chili/pepper leaves. Unripe papaya is also commonly used instead of chayote squash.
I, personally, prefer chili leaves over malunggay for Tinola. They impart different tastes and I like the added leafy and mild peppery flavor of the chili leaves and sometimes it gives out a hint of spiciness.
I actually planted (a lot of) chili peppers just so I can have access to the leaves for cooking Tinola. That is fine as we like chili peppers too so its all good, almost nothing goes to waste from the plant then..hehe.
Other Filipino Soups to warm you!
- Sinampalukang Manok - chicken pieces in tamarind leaves soup
- Nilagang Baka - Filipino beef clear soup with vegetables
- Sinigang na Salmon - Salmon head in sour soup
- Sopas - milky chicken noodle soup
- Sotanghon - cellophane noodles in chicken broth
- Mami - egg noodles in chicken broth
Chicken Tinola (Tinolang Manok)
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 3 thumb ginger root - cut into strips
- 2 big cloves garlic - minced
- 1 medium onion - coarsely chopped
- 2 pounds chicken - cut into serving pieces
- 4-5 tablespoons fish sauce
- 6 cups water
- 2 stalks lemongrass - optional
- 1 chayote or green pap - cut into wedges
- 1 cup chili or malunggay leaves
- In a pot over medium heat, saute ginger, garlic, and onion in oil until tender.
- Add in the chicken pieces and fish sauce. Cover and let simmer for 5 minutes. Juices and some fat will usually come out from the chicken.
- Add water and lemongrass. Bring to boil. Once it starts to boil, lower heat and cover pot. Let it simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is tender.
- Add the chayote or green papaya and let it cook for 5 minutes or until it becomes soft.
- Add more fish sauce or salt if needed.
- Lastly, mix in the chili or malunggay and simmer for another minute.
- Transfer to bowls and serve while hot with rice.
This Tinola recipe was originally published in August 2015. Updated to include new photos and changed the recipe from 4 servings to 6 with the inclusion of lemongrass in the ingredients that makes the dish more flavorful.
Leah Bahar says
Hello pu, Atsing Bebs. Thank you for posting! Manyaman tinolang manok mu, Atché.
Ay dacal pung salamat at aburi ye...
Easy and quick meal.Thank you❤️
Is the chilli leaves or moringa an important part of the dish? Can I skip these leaves since I can't find any where I am?
Actually, we just use what is available, like chayote, green papaya, bottle gourd. You can also use spinach or bokchoi if that is all you can get.
Love this thankyou ! Comfort food my mother & grandmother used to make for me ! 👍 I'm signing up lol
so tasty. so good.
Thank you! Happy that you like it.
Hello Bebs, I live in northern California. I have never heard of chili leaves. Do you think that is something I can find in an Asian market?
Hi Kathleen, you could try but if you have some chili or even bell pepper or other peppers growing in your garden, that is it.
Jaydon Thorp says
Adobo, sinigang and tinola are my fave "sabaw" recipes from the PH. And this one looks delicious!
We are mix family. My wife is Filipina and I'm from Europe. I get amazed how easy is to prepare Pinoy dishes. I'm cooking by my self and almost everytime my wife think that I order food from Filipino restaurant hehehhe... Keep it up good work. I love your receipts as is easy to follow.. Much love from UAE..
Hi Vahid, glad you are enjoying Filipino dishes and your wife is very lucky to have you!
Judy Lopez says
Omg! I cooked it for the first time here in America and my husband loved it! Didn't find any chili leaves or moringa so I used bok choy instead. I also didn't use fish sauce and onion as I'm pregnant and those stuff are stinky. I also didn't use any msg or bouillon cubes. I did simmer my chicken for 35 mins.
Armin cannot stand the smell of fish sauce either and he is not pregnant 😉. Glad you like it still and thanks so much for the 5 stars. By the way, if you plan to breastfeed, this is a great lactation soup especially if you can get moringga.
Agnes Ayong says
Why do my tinola soup is dark in color..how do I make the soup looks clear?
This sometimes happens if you boil meat at high temperature. The fats emulsify and make the soup cloudy and create scum. Once the water starts to boil, lower your temperature and cover the pot, and just let it simmer. If scums come out, use a strainer or spoon to scoop them out.
Can i use drumstick(munanga) leaves instead of chilli leaves?
Do you mean moringa leaves? Yes, we often use it too as an alternative or as additional to chili leaves.
Where's the magic sarap?
I try not to use it because other people has aversion to MSG (I don't) so feel free to add some 😉
Hi Bebs! I'd love to try this, do you have an alternative for fish sauce? for some reason we avoid putting fish sauce in our dishes.
Sea salt or table salt should be fine. Not as flavorful as fish sauce though.
Hi I like your recipe easy to follow and understand, I want to make pandesal ( I don't cook or. bake) did look website for recipe OMG my husband can't believe it he said you can bake !!! Pandesal was so good , perfect soft fluffy then I did cook Chicken Tinola so good so inspire me to cook or bake more because all your recipes TY so much do you have recipe books I can buy I would like to buy please
Hi Minkou, glad you liked the recipes. I will let you know when I have a recipe book out. But if you sign-up to my newsletter you will receive a link to download a free eCookbook...
Can you substitute oyster sauce for the fish sauce?
They do not taste the same. If you do not have fish sauce then just use salt.
Another great Filipino comfort food. I like your recipe because it keeps it simple. Braising the chicken pieces on the sauteed ginger, onion, garlic and fish sauce is what makes the chicken aromatic and the broth flavorful. Most Filipinos eat this with a fish sauce and chili dipping. I think that is the best way of eating it. However in our family, each one of us makes our own dipping sauce. My Dad makes a paste of Coleman English mustard and dabs the chicken, I make a coarse sea salt and sesame oil mix and drip the chicken with the oil and put a grain or two of the salt, my wife dips it in prepared ginger oil, and my brother just put fish sauce and tabasco. I guess it is to each his own when it comes to savoring the food you're eating.
Wow! Sounds like you and your family knows how to enjoy your food! I love that!