Our chicken tinola recipe featuring juicy chicken, al dente chayote, and a ginger-flavored broth is the ultimate guide to a delicious comfort soup. It’s the perfect choice for those rainy days when you feel like curling up under a blanket.
This simple, hearty Filipino soup imparts an abundance of Asian flavors to keep you warm and soothe those cold bones. With the refreshing aroma of lemongrass, the best time to put this hearty soup on the table is during the humid rainy season.
What Is Tinola?
Tinola is a Filipino dish of chunks of juicy chicken cooked in a meaty broth flavored with ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and other herbs of choice.
Despite having countless variations across many regions and countries in Asia, a bowl of chicken tinola usually includes some common must-have ingredients: chayote, green papaya, chili leaves, or malunggay leaves (moringa).
Chicken tinola is best enjoyed with a dipping sauce and a bowl of steaming hot rice. Since it is easily portioned out, you can enjoy it either as a fulfilling main dish or a simple side soup.
Is This Recipe Healthy?
Yes, it is.
Chicken tinola is a light soup with warm and comforting qualities and is often served as a food remedy to ease cold and flu and soothe sore throats. For those restless days when you feel like relaxing the body and mind, chicken tinola surely is the perfect choice.
Besides the chicken, unsalted meat stock, and natural fragrant spices, another important ingredient in this soup is chayote squash, which has also been proven to have beneficial health properties, such as improving liver health, heart health, and blood sugar control.
This chicken tinola is loaded with familiar Asian flavors. The broth is flavored with ginger, garlic, lemongrass, onions, fish sauce, and packs just a hint of spiciness delivered by the chili leaves.
The soft and earthy chayote perfectly compliments the juicy and savory chicken thighs. The combination imparts a beautiful but balanced contrast of flavors.
For most chicken tinola recipes, chayote and green papaya can be used interchangeably. If you can’t find chayote, potatoes or taro can also provide a similar texture.
Chicken tinola is traditionally made with malunggay leaves (also known as moringa leaves), a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine. Although they can be found at many Asian markets, we have chosen chili leaves for our recipe to make it simpler for you.
Besides chili leaves, there are other healthy alternatives, such as pepper leaves or watercress for a leafy, mild, peppery flavor. Even finely chopped spinach or bok choy will do for this recipe — go for any type of green that suits your taste.
Tips for Making
In our chicken tinola recipe, the chicken is braised and cooked together with the ginger-flavored broth. We brown the chicken quickly then combine it with the remaining ingredients for a slow stewing of 30 minutes.
Slow stewing over a low heat is a key trait of a chicken tinola recipe. It ensures the chicken is cooked evenly from the inside out, neither dry nor underdone.
A long period of simmering allows the flavors to be released and infused together while the chicken is cooked thoroughly until tender. You can also consider marinating the chicken with a spice mix of choice before cooking to give it even more flavor.
Seasoning can be adjusted accordingly; add more salt and fish sauce if the soup lacks flavor or more water to thin it out and lighten the taste.
How Long Does It Last?
Chicken tinola lasts up to 3 days if refrigerated properly in an air-tight container. It also freezes well for up to 2 months.
After thawing, this soup can be easily warmed up in a microwave or reheated in a saucepan over a medium heat.
What to Serve with
Chicken tinola makes the ultimate comfort meal especially when served with hot steamed rice. Traditionally, a small bowl of fish sauce is prepared as a condiment for this soup in case the table companions desire a bolder taste.
If you like to keep things simple, chicken tinola easily stands on its own as a side soup for a bigger meal (lunch and dinner). In this way, it can be made in advance and stored for later to be added to any meal you wish.
For a tangy and wonderfully spicy twist, try our Thai chicken coconut soup. It's just mushrooms and chicken shreds cooked together in a lemongrass-y, coconut-y broth bursting with Asian aromatics. It's delicious with rice or on its own.
Today's chicken tinola recipe will introduce you to a heart-warming Filipino soup full of unique Asian flavors and fragrances. It's the ultimate comfort soup, specially made for chilly days when all you crave is to curl up under a warm blanket and treat yourself to a steamy hearty meal.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Lizzie Streit is a Minneapolis-based dietitian and founder of It’s a Veg World After All. She completed her MS in Human Nutrition from Drexel University, and is an expert in culinary nutrition, recipe development, and nutrition communications. Lizzie’s philosophy is centered around making nutrition recommendations, and especially the advice to eat more vegetables, approachable and realistic. She is excited to be working with the team at Healthy Recipes 101 to ensure that their recipes are both nutritious and delicious.
This soup is so good! I used a little more fish sauce. It turned out great!