Chicken Tinola

By Jeri Mobley-Arias
October 15, 2023 | Updated on February 7, 2024

This chicken tinola recipe yields a fragrant and soothing soup, with chayote squash, tender chicken thighs, and fresh bok choy. Enjoy this traditional Filipino chicken soup during the fall and winter months, as delicious and nourishing comfort food.

Looking for more tasty chicken soup recipes? Try Sotanghon Soup, Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup and Thai Chicken and Rice Soup next.

plated chicken tinola with sauce and rice in the background

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If you’re from the Philippines, Chicken tinola is a household staple, but stateside, it’s an underrated soup that I can’t get enough of. Chicken thighs simmer in a broth enriched with onions, garlic, and plenty of ginger. Chayote squash adds a subtle sweetness that brightens the taste of the soup.

Tinola is tasty and filling enough to enjoy on its own, devouring each spoonful until the very last gingery drop. But you can make it even heartier by serving it with a side of white rice.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Great for Soup Season – Slurp on a comforting bowl of chicken tinola during the cooler months, or when you’re feeling under the weather. Invigorating ginger, warm broth, and fresh veggies are bound to boost your mood, as well as your immune system.
  • Customizable – This recipe includes some variations if ingredients for authentic tinola aren’t available in your area. It still stays true to the warm ginger flavor.
  • Easy to Make – This soup is ready in just 1 hour and only requires 10 minutes of prep work.
plated chicken tinola with sauce and rice in the background

What is Tinola?

Chicken tinola, also known as tinolang manok in Tagalog, is a Filipino chicken ginger soup. In the Philippines, it is commonly served for lunch or dinner, with a side of jasmine rice and dipping sauce.

Growing up, my mom often had a pot of tinola on the stove waiting for me after school. At family holiday gatherings, a ripping hot bowl would be served on the table along with Pork Lumpia Shanghai, Pancit Canton, and Pork Adobo.

Tools You’ll Need

Tinola Ingredients

Aside from the chicken thighs, ginger is a key ingredient in this recipe. That (and the fish sauce) is what makes this dish stand out from traditional chicken soup.

  • Avocado oil – Use this for the sauté.
  • Aromatics – Minced ginger and garlic, and thinly sliced onion, make for a fresh, delicious foundation of flavor.
  • Fish sauce – This imparts a distinct umami taste that lends to the unique flavor of the soup.
  • Kosher salt – I always use Diamond Crystal brand.
  • Chicken thigh – Use bone-in, skinless chicken thighs. We don’t want boneless as bone-in adds more flavor.
  • Chayote squash – This fruit has a subtle sweetness that tastes like a cross between a crisp apple and cucumber. You can find them in Mexican or Asian markets.
  • Water – This is the liquid base for your broth.
  • Baby bok choy – Be sure to remove the bottom stems.

How To Cook Tinola

You only need 10 minutes to sauté the aromatics, sear the chicken, and add additional ingredients. The remaining time involves enjoying the savory, gingery aroma of the soup as you wait for it to simmer to tender, flavorful perfection.

  1. In a dutch oven over medium high heat, add avocado oil. Add ginger and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Lower heat to medium and add onion, and fish sauce. Cook for 2 minutes.
aromatics in a pot

2. Add chicken thighs, add salt and cook for 5 minutes or until chicken are no longer pink.

sautéed ginger, onions, and garlic with chicken thighs

Add chayote and cook for 1 minute.

chayote squash and chicken thighs in a pot

3. Increase heat to medium-high then add water. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer. Cook to 45 minutes or until chayote is cooked through and fork tender. Season to taste with more fish sauce and kosher salt, if necessary.

bone in chicken thighs and chayote squash simmering in a pot with a wooden spoon inserted

4. Add bok choy and cook just until leaves are wilted and stems are tender, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately with jasmine rice.

close up view of chicken tinola

Tips and Tricks

  • Skip white meat for this tinola soup and use dark meat instead. Chicken breasts aren’t as flavorful and are more likely to dry out as they simmer with the chayote squash.
  • Whatever chicken you use, keep the bone-in. Chicken with bones, such as thighs or drumsticks, adds flavor to the broth. The bones also create a rich and hearty stock.
  • Don’t overcook the bok choy. Add it just before the soup is finished because it only takes about 2 minutes to cook.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. For longer storage, freeze for up to 3 months. You can reheat it over medium heat on the stove or in the microwave.
a bowl of tinola with white rice and dipping sauce in the background

Variations

  • Chicken – You can use chicken legs instead of chicken thighs, or use both. Whole chicken cut into pieces is also a good option.
  • Papaya – I use chayote squash as an alternative for papaya in tinola because it’s easier to find. You can use green papaya instead if you have access to it. The two fruits have comparable flavors and textures.
  • Veggies – For a more traditional tinola, use malunggay leaves (moringa) or chili leaves (they aren’t spicy) instead of bok choy. Spinach is also a great substitute for bok choy.
  • Lemongrass – Boost the aromatic quality of this dish by adding fresh lemongrass.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is chicken tinola good for you?

Tinola is a balanced meal with protein from the chicken thighs, and vitamins and minerals from the vegetables. The broth is water based so it doesn’t have as much sodium as a storebought chicken broth or veggie broth. Although we use chicken thighs, the skin is removed to save some calories.

What is tinola in Philippines?

Traditional tinola is made with chicken, malunggay leaves, hot pepper leaves, unripe papaya, fish sauce, garlic, onion, and ginger.

How do you cut chayote squash for tinola?

Start by halving the chayote and using a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Then, quarter the chayote and proceed to dice it into wedges.

close up view of a bowl of tinola

Looking for More Soup Recipes

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plated chicken tinola with sauce and rice in the background

Chicken Tinola

This chicken tinola recipe yields a refreshingly fragrant and soothing soup, with chayote squash, tender chicken thighs, and fresh bok choy. Enjoy this traditional Filipino chicken soup during the fall and winter months, as delicious and nourishing comfort food.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 3
Course Dinner, Soup
Cuisine Filipino

Equipment

  • Dutch Oven

Ingredients

  • tablespoons avocado oil
  • tablespoons ginger, minced
  • tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion halved and thinly sliced
  • tablespoons fish sauce, plus more to taste
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, Diamond Crystal brand, plus more to taste
  • 2 pounds chicken thigh skinless, bone-in
  • 3 chayote squash, cut into wedges
  • cups water
  • 3 heads baby bok choy, bottoms removed

Instructions

  • In a dutch oven over medium high heat, add avocado oil. Add ginger and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Lower heat to medium and add onion, and fish sauce. Cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add chicken thighs, add salt and cook for 5 minutes or until chicken are no longer pink. Add chayote and cook for 1 minute.
  • Increase heat to medium-high then add water. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer. Cook to 45 minutes or until chayote is cooked through and fork tender. Season to taste with more fish sauce and kosher salt, if necessary.
  • Add bok choy and cook just until leaves are wilted and stems are tender, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately with jasmine rice.
Keywords chicken tinola, chicken tinola recipe, Filipino chicken ginger soup, how to cook tinola, how to make chicken tinola, recipe of chicken tinola, tinola, tinola ingredients, tinola recipe, tinola soup, Tinolang Manok, what is tinola soup
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plated chicken tinola with sauce and rice in the background

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jeri-mobley

Hey, I'm Jeri!

At Whisper of Yum, we explore ALL cuisines - comfort foods, classics, elevated originals. If you love food like me, I invite you to settle in to this place, where swoon-worthy food is attainable + inspo for your next meal awaits.

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