Chicken Tinola – Filipino food for Comfort

Chicken Tinola – Filipino food for Comfort

Chicken Tinola is a Filipino stew or soup dish. Made of chicken pieces and Green papaya wedges or chayote in a gingery broth (or other vegetables like green beans). Malunggay (moringa leaves) or chilli leaves are added at the end making it the traditional Filipino soup dish. This is often served during cold weather and the perfect antidote for someone who is having a dull moment.

This chicken soup recipe is very common in every Filipino household because of its easiness and simplicity of ingredients. It is similar to any chicken soup that feels good for the soul. It’s steamy, warm, and full of flavor comes from the gentle simmering of chicken pieces, ginger, garlic, onions, and vegetables.

Every part of the Philippines has its own way of making this chicken soup. The process of cooking comes in different versions. I for one adopted my recipe of this soup based on our childhood memories. We were taught to kill our live chickens and cook them using wooden fire. We gently kept turning until all the feathers are gone burnt, the skin was slightly blackened and smells amazing. After that fraction it into pieces, throw it into the pot, add water and simmer for at least an hour with added salted pork that was hanging over the ceiling where we cook our food using a wooden fire. Who knows how many months it was hanging and getting smoked up there, but the burning of the chicken feather and the long curing of pork, both create that unique flavor and taste that even though the last time that I had it was 10 years ago, I can still taste the flavor and smell the aroma in my dreams.

What makes this Filipino chicken soup?

The ingredients for this recipe are very minimal, very healthy, and mostly available in any grocery store except for one, the malunggay or moringa leaves or even chilli leaves. This is if you’re looking for a very traditional one, but there are also alternatives that you can use.

  • Chunky sliced green papaya
  • chunky sliced chayote in a strainer
  • whole chicken, 3 medium chayote, 1 large green papaya, 2 lemongrass stem, 1 onion, garlic bulb and ginger
  • Chicken, Either you want to use 1 whole chicken or chicken pieces.
  • Papaya, I treat it as vegetable when it is green and eat it as a fruit if they’re soft and ripe.
  • Chayote, has a watery flesh with impressive health benefits.

Ginger – The number that gives a soothing effect and a soulful aroma as soon as you start savoring the soup

Lemongrass – Aside from its main chemical components such as antimicrobial and antifungal it provides the subtle citrus taste and aroma of lemongrass that perfectly complement ginger and garlic.

Garlic – Renowned as both pervasive seasoning and a potent medicinal resource that is only beginning to be tapped

Onion – Both a vegetable and seasoning. Sharp tasting when eatin’ raw. However, they’re sweet and mellow when browned. Rich in Phytonutrients called polyphenols.

Parsley – Added as a vegetable not just for garnishing. Parsley has antioxidant properties that make it effective against joint pains while its essential oils qualify as a chemo-protective food.

Complete guide to herbs and spices- National geographic

How to make chicken tinola

There is no way you’ll find a living chicken and Malunggay or chili leaves to cook for dinner unless you live in some parts of Asia or in the Philippines. To get the nice and smokey flavor of chicken, we use the blow torch. It is not perfect but it works. Guess who enjoyed torching the already dead chicken, my kids. For them, even if it’s only a very faint aroma that arises from blackening the chicken, It brings back beautiful memories that they enjoy the most.

Torching chicken on a bamboo chopping bord
Creating another level of umami flavor.
  1. Using a torch to slightly burn the whole chicken provides another layer of flavor giving you a more unique umami flavor. Make sure that it is all dry before turning on the torch.
  2. Using chicken pieces such as the chicken thigh or chicken breast, Sear the chicken pieces until nicely brown before adding the aromatics. Browning the chicken provides a more profound and delicious flavor.

A detailed recipe instruction down the recipe inbox.

Why is tinola one of the most loved soupy Filipino food?

  • It is very easy to cook.
  • It is awesome and comforting.
  • Each ingredient provides health benefits.
Cooked chicken pieces, Green papaya, chayote and parsley in a gingery broth garnished with a slice of lime in a blue bowl.

Filipino Tinolang Manok (Chicken Tinola)

This is one of the most comforting gingery and flavourful soup that can rival American chicken soup that both helps to heal and gives warmth when we needed the most.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 38 mins
Total Time 48 mins


  • Medium stockpot, Torch (optional)


  • Tablespoon Canola oil
  • 1 ½ Ounces Fresh ginger, 2 thumb size
  • 1 Small Cooking onion
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Stem Lemongrass, Cut into 2 inches long and pound using the back of your knife.
  • 3.5 Pounds whole Chicken or Chicken pieces
  • 2 Teaspoon Fish sauce(optional)
  • 1 Small Green Papaya (optional)
  • 3 Chayote (optional)
  • 1 Bunch Parsley
  • 6 Cups Water
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper

Lime slices to serve


    • >Wash and peel the ginger then crush using the back of your knife.
      >Peel and thinly slice the onion.
      >Peel and mince the garlic.
      >Cut the lemongrass into two inches long and pound using the back of your knife.
      >Coarsley chop the parsley including the stems

    Method one, using a whole chicken and blow torch.

    • Turn on the blow torch against the chicken until slightly blacked then fraction into serving pieces.
    • Add the oil to a medium stockpot and turn the heat to medium-high heat. Add the ginger and onion and cook until it smells fragrant for about 2 minutes. Add the lemongrass, garlic, and chicken pieces and saute for another 3 minutes. Add water into the pot and turn the heat high to boil. Put the lid on slightly ajar and lower the heat to medium-low, continue simmering for another 30 minutes.
    • When the chicken pieces are nicely tender but not falling apart, add the chunky papaya and or chayote, and fish sauce. Turn the heat to medium-high and let it simmer for another 8-10 minutes or when the vegetables are soft with a little bite at the middles (aldente). Turn off the heat and add parsley, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve while hot with a squeeze of lime juice and rice on the side.

    Method two using chicken pieces

    • Add oil in the pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add the chicken pieces and sear to brown all the sides. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate.
    • Using the same pot, add the ginger and onions and cook for 2 minutes until it smells fragrant. Add the lemongrass, garlic, and the browned chicken, and continue sauteing for another 2 minutes. Add water and bring to boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, put the lid on slightly ajar, and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Add the chunky papaya and or chayote if both using and fish sauce. Bring back to simmer and continue cooking for another 8 to 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and add parsley.
    • Serve while still hot with a squeeze of lime juice and rice on the side.


    *Green papaya and chayote are interchangeable or use two if both are available.
    *Parsley are treated as vegetables not garnish, you can also use spinach, malunggay if available, or bokchoy instead if preferred.


    Calories : 312kcal (16%) | Carbohydrates : 9g (3%) | Protein : 25g (50%) | Fat : 19g (29%) | Saturated Fat : 6g (38%) | Trans Fat : 1g | Cholesterol : 95mg (32%) | Sodium : 462mg (20%) | Potassium : 475mg (14%) | Fiber : 2g (8%) | Sugar : 3g (3%) | Vitamin A : 1221IU (24%) | Vitamin C : 35mg (42%) | Calcium : 57mg (6%) | Iron : 2mg (11%)
    CATEGORY: Main Course
    CUISINE: Filipino
    KEYWORDS: ChayoteGingerypapayaTinola
    DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Tag @cookmejoyathome on instagram so we can admire your masterpiece!!
    Chicken Tinola
    Filipino Tinolang Manok (Chicken Tinola)
    Amount per Serving
    % Daily Value*
    Saturated Fat
    Trans Fat
    Vitamin A
    Vitamin C
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.