Beef Nilaga Recipe

One of the simplest beef soups you can whip up!
bowl of beef nilaga in a hot pot

Updated as of April 25, 2023 by Zig Naguiat.

What Is Beef Nilaga?

Beef nilaga is a popular Filipino ulam dish that’s made by braising beef in water, along with other ingredients like potatoes, onions, cabbage, pechay, and other greens, which produces a very flavorful and savory broth. Usually the beef used are the tougher cuts like brisket or shank, cooked for a long time over a low flame. This keeps the beef moist throughout and eventually tenderizes it.

How to Serve Beef Nilaga

Nilaga is best served piping hot from the stove to the dining table. You can eat it by itself, or with some white rice, on which you can pour some of the broth and make it extra tasty to eat.

A small dash of butter or margarine on the rice gives it an extra richness, and pairs well with the potatoes. You can also serve beef nilaga with a dip made with some fresh chopped chillies, a dash of fish sauce, and a little cracked pepper: this cuts through the fatty beef and makes the meal all the more appetizing.

Beef nilaga is one of the most beloved Filipino comfort foods; it’s most popularly eaten during cold, rainy weather.

How to Cook Beef Nilaga

When cooking beef nilaga, the key is to be patient! It may take longer for beef to tenderize, but done correctly, you get a melt-in-your-mouth bite that’s hard not to ask seconds of.

In a stockpot, cover your cuts of beef in enough water to submerged them fully. Add some seasonings, bring to a boil, then simmer slowly until the beef is tender. Add the veggies, and continue until those are cooked through. Finally, serve in a bowl with a little bit of each ingredient and the soup.


Tips to Make the Best Beef Nilaga

1 Brown the beef first before you boil it.

Browning the beef is an optional extra step, but it’s one that yields fantastic results. Searing the outside over high heat will produce caramelization, which adds extra flavor and depth to the final broth. You don’t have to cook the beef through completely; it’s enough to brown the surface as the insides will get cooked as the beef is tenderized while simmering.

2 Use this method of cooking to tenderize tough cuts of beef.

Tough cuts are actually full of flavor, and slow-braising them is the best way to make them tender to eat. This means that instead of boiling over high heat the beef to tenderize it, it’s better to simmer it slowly over medium heat! This allows the beef to release its fat and flavors into the broth, and you’ll end up with a richer-tasting soup.

3 Pressure cooking will speed up the tenderizing process

Having a pressure cooker reduces the long wait for the beef to become tender, saving you time if you started cooking late! Just remember to follow your pressure cooker’s instructions so that you can tenderize your meat safely. Once the beef is tender, you can use the same pot to cook the veggies.

How to Store Beef Nilaga

1 Beef nilaga can be stored in the refrigerator.

Beef nilaga can be stored in its own broth in an airtight container for up to a week, if the veggies are still in the broth. The beef itself has a long shelf life, but this gets shorter the more veggies there are in the soup.


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2 You can freeze leftover nilaga, too.

Freezing beef nilaga is a great way to meal prep! However, it’s best to do this without the vegetables as the quality might suffer when the nilaga is thawed. Instead, you can add fresh veggies to the frozen nilaga while you’re reheatingit.

3 To reheat, you can use a microwave, or use a stockpot on a stove

It’s best to store beef nilaga in a microwavable container so that you can easily pop it in the microwave when you’re ready to eat it! If you don’t have a microwave, it only takes minutes for even frozen nilaga to heat up on a stove.

Watch: How to Cook Beef Nilaga Video

Beef Nilaga Recipe

Mira Angeles
One of the simplest beef soups you can whip up!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine Filipino
Servings 4


Beef Nilaga Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • Salt
  • 1/2 kilo Beef use beef brisket or beef cubes
  • 2 medium Onions quartered
  • 2 medium Potatoes quartered
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 4 tablespoons Fish sauce
  • 1 cabbage quartered
  • 1 bundle pechay leaves
  • Salt to season


  • In a big casserole, place beef and pour in water. The water level should be just above the meat.Bring to boil and let it simmer for 10 minutes then remove scum (frothy fat) on top while simmering.
  • Add onions, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours or until beef is tender.
  • Add more water and potatoes, continue to simmer until potatoes are cooked.
  • Add peppercorns and fish sauce.
  • Place the cabbage then the pechay just when you are about to serve. Do not overcook the vegetables. Adjust the taste with salt.


Yummy Tip: Use a pressure cooker to make the beef tender, it also cuts the cooking time by half.
Keyword Beef Nilaga Recipe, beef recipe, beef soup recipe, classic recipe, dinner, Filipino dish recipe, filipino recipe, lunch, Nilaga Recipe, refresh, ulam recipe
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