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TINOLA 101: Choosing the Best Chicken Meat

July 14, 2020 9:00 am

Every culture has its own version of chicken soup. In the Philippines, we call it Tinola . Its rich broth is made savory by the sautéed goodness of garlic, onions, papaya, chicken meat, ginger, and patis (fish sauce) giving it a bold, distinctive soothing taste that is very Pinoy.

In fact, our National Hero Jose Rizal even chose to reference Tinolang Manok, out of all Filipino dishes, in his first novel, Noli Me Tangere. This says a lot about Tinolang Manok’s role in Filipino Cuisine. It is an iconic Pinoy chicken dish that every Filipino should know how to perfect.


The Tinolang Manok recipe is said to be invented in the late 1800s, that’s around two hundred years ago! But some believe the recipe was developed way earlier. Regardless of its origin, it has evolved into a dish that we can proudly call our own. The Tinolang Manok is a signature Pinoy ulam that stood through the test of time—a chicken dish we we still love and enjoy today.


Tinolang Manok, like any other Filipino dish, is a fairly easy and affordable one-pot ulam recipe. It’s so simple that every household has given a different spin to it. Some add patola, sayote, malunggay, tanglad (lemongrass) and even dahon ng sili for a little spice surprise! Others take it to the next level and use different kinds of meat: pork, beef, even seafood! No matter the ingredients, every version of this classic Pinoy dish is a win. Check out this link to know more about different Tinola recipes:

Our National Hero Jose P. Rizal even shared his own personal Tinolang Manok recipe in his final penned work, Mi Ultimo Adios. It’s safe to say that Tinolang Manok was indeed his favorite Filipino dish.


To cook up a really delicious Tinolang Manok recipe for your family, there are a few things you have to keep in mind. First, make sure to dry your chicken before searing. Use paper towels to absorb moisture from your chicken before you proceed with the cooking process. Just tap until the chicken pieces are dry! This way, your chicken won’t stick to the pan. Saves you a lot of dishwashing time as well!

And for a thicker and richer broth, try using rice water. Plain water works fine but if you are ready to level up your Tinolang Manok recipe, rice water is definitely worth a try. It’s simple to make. Just gather the water you used to wash your rice, and set it aside. Use it once it’s time to make your Tinolang Manok broth. You can thank us later!

And last but not the least, remember that in cooking Tinolang Manok, the selection of chicken meat is crucial. You have to know your family’s preference when it comes to flavor and diet. Do you want a broth that’s packed with flavor? Is affordability the priority? Or are you leaning towards the healthier side? We got you covered! In cooking Tinolang Manok, it’s okay to be bold with the ingredients, but the trick is in the cut! Here are a few tips in selecting the best chicken meat for this ulam recipe! Let’s make your Tinolang Manok a dinner winner!

FLAVORFUL TINOLA: Go for the thigh for a flavor high

Chicken thigh is a cut that is packed with flavor and a good amount of fat. Sauté the meat, and let the fat melt in with the other ingredients. This gives the Tinolang Manok dish a bold, meaty taste. The bone—still intact—also adds flavor! So if you want that flavorful chicken goodness going, make sure to have nice cuts of chicken thigh in your Tinolang Manok !

HEALTHY TINOLA: Chicken breast knows best

Lean and juicy—there’s no doubt why the chicken breast is a popular favorite. In terms of flavor, the breast cut carries a subtler meaty taste given that it’s leaner and has lesser fat than other chicken parts, such as the thigh. This makes the chicken breast a healthier choice vs other chicken cuts—a good option for our friends on a diet! And if you want to make it more healthy, try our less-sodium Tinolang Manok recipe made with AJI-NO-MOTO® Umami Seasoning !

AFFORDABLE TINOLA: Stick to the budget with wings and drumsticks

Wings and drumsticks are more affordable chicken cuts, but its meaty flavor does not disappoint—perfect for our budgetarian moms! These chicken cuts add texture to the soup. So, if you’re on the hunt for tasty and wallet-friendly chicken cuts for your Tinolang Manok , choose wings ang drumsticks! Masarap simutin from the skin to the bone! Value for money chicken cut, it is!

And here’s a tip: try to mix in different cuts for a more balanced and full-bodied Tinolang Manok recipe! You are not limited to one cut, and make sure to keep everything small and bite-sized for easier cooking. We want our chicken to be tender and packed with flavor. Local grocery stores offer Tinola cuts of different chicken parts. Make sure to check on that!

And once your chicken meat is ready, follow our delicious tinola recipe made savory and delicious with CHICKENSAVOR™ ALL-IN-ONE SEASONING MIX ! Happy cooking!