Tinola Paella Recipe

This dish is cooked slowly, with stock added in batches, similar to how risotto is made.
tinola paella recipe image closeup
This paella is made with all the flavorings you'll find in a tinola.| Photo by Majoy Siason | Styling By Lady Badoy

What Is Tinola Paella?

A tinola is a Filipino ulam dish that is made from simmering chicken pieces in a ginger-infused soup. It’s common to find this chicken soup swimming with chunks of either green papaya or sayote, whichever is most available to you, plus leaves from either the sili plant or malunggay tree. Some even use other green leafy vegetables, too. 

It’s our version of the comforting chicken noodle soup of the West. 

This tinola paella recipe, however, takes this traditional ulam dish and transforms it into a paella. A paella is a Spanish dish that is similar to the Italian risotto but without the tedious and continue stirring that needs to happen to create the creamy rice mixture. Instead, paella is cooked over a roaring fire in a wide but shallow pan. This kind of pan ensures that not only will the rice be cooked, but so will the ingredients commonly piled on top. The roaring flame also ensures there’s a good chance that the bottom of the rice will create that coveted soccarat, the crispy toasted bottom that gives paella a distinctive roasted flavor. 

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How to Serve Tinola Paella

This paella needs no other accompaniment other than tall glasses of something ice-cold since it’s basically an all-in-one dish. You have the rice, the chicken, and even have veggies to complete your meal! 

If you do however want to give this a boost in flavor as well as presentation, you can make a malunggay pesto or either a pesto or garlic mayo (aka aioli) to serve on the side of this complete dish. 


How To Cook Tinola Paella 

This tinola paella is long process and can take you the whole day to complete. However, the result is a stunning dish that will taste fantastic and satisfy your craving for this comfort dish.

You need to start with the chicken and you need to use a whole chicken cut up into serving pieces. If you know how to butcher a whole chicken, this is easily done. (You can ask the butcher to do this for you at the supermarket or palengke as well.) The back and wing tips of the chicken will be perfect for the homemade stock that you will make. (You can save and scrape these for meat to use in a chicken sopas or macaroni salad!) The chicken pieces meanwhile will be marinated for a couple of hours so it’s flavorful when ready to cook. 

The rice used here is Japanese rice so it better keeps its shape when simmered in this way. This is rinsed so the second and succeeding washes can be used for the stock you’ll make. Set the rice aside until ready to use. 

Once you have your stock made, chicken marinated, and your other ingredients prepared, time to cook the paella! You can use a smaller 10- or 12-inch paella pan if you don’t have the right size. Just reduce the amount of rice you’ll cook in it. 

Start the paella by browning the chicken then sautéing the onions, garlic, and ginger. This develops your initial flavor. Add the rice to coat it in the flavorful oil and mix with the onion mixture. You’ll use the stock now to cook the rice. No need to continuously stir since we want to develop the browned bottom or soccarat


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Once the rice is almost cooked through, top it off with chicken and your veggies, cover with foil, and place in a preheated oven. The paella will steam  which will continue cook the rice, the chicken, and the veggies you added on top. you’ll want to serve this immediately for best results. 

Tips To Make The Best Tinola Paella 

1 Cook it low and slow. 

This paella dish is cooked slowly, with stock added in batches, similar to how risotto is made. For the best flavor, use native chicken and good quality fish sauce (patis). 

2 Make a smaller paella with leftover tinola

Food doesn’t need to go to waste, and this is one instance where your sabaw can be used beyond mere ulam. Should you ever have leftover tinola, you can use it to make this dish on a smaller scale. 

3 Add malunggay leaves. 

We use dahon ng sili but you can also use malunggay leaves or even other kinds of talbos if that’s what you have. Just remember to finely come through the malunggay and remove those tiny little stems that can scratch your throat. 

tinola paella recipe image
| Photo by Majoy Siason | Styling By Lady Badoy

Tinola Paella Storage Tips

1 This paella is best refrigerated, not frozen. 

While you can freeze the chicken and veggies, it’s not recommended to freeze the rice. Rice has a tendency to be mushy once thawed and can even become grainy from being frozen. For this recipe, we highly recommend it be refrigerated and consumed within two to three day for best results. 


Watch: How to Make Tinola Paella Recipe Video

tinola paella recipe image

Tinola Paella Recipe

Jun Jun de Guzman
This dish is cooked slowly, with stock added in batches, similar to how risotto is made.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Resting Time 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 20 minutes
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Filipino
Servings 10


Tinola Paella Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 1 (2-inch) piece ginger sliced thinly
  • 2 medium white onion quartered
  • 300 grams chicken back bones chopped into 3-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (patis)
  • 1/2 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 2 liters rice washing (hugas bigas)
  • 1 (1.2) kilo chicken chopped into serving pieces
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (patis)
  • 1/4 cup garlic divided
  • 1 tablespoon ginger (minced), plus 3 tablespoons sliced ginger
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup white onion sliced
  • 3 cups Japanese rice
  • 1 sayote (chayote) sliced into 8 to 10 wedges and blanched
  • 1/2 cup pepper leaves (dahon ng sili) washed and soaked in water until ready to use


  • Make the stock: Place all ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil then lower heat to simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Skim surface to remove impurities. Strain stock and set aside.
  • Marinate chicken in fish sauce, tablespoons garlic, and minced ginger for 1 to 2 hours, covered, in the refrigerator.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Heat oil in a 15-inch paellera over medium-high heat. Sear chicken in batches until brown. Set aside.
  • In the same pan, sauté onions, remaining garlic, and sliced ginger until tender and fragrant. Add 1/4 cup stock to loosen the brown bits on the pan.
  • Add rice and toss to coat grains. Add 1/2 to 2/3 cup stock and mix well. Once stock is absorbed by the grains, add another 1/2 to 2/3 cup stock. Repeat, cooking rice for 20 minutes.
  • Add chicken to pan. Continue mixing and adding the rest of the stock.
  • When rice is almost tender, add sayote and drained dahon ng sili. Add stock again, if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Cover with foil and finish cooking in the oven for 20 minutes.
  • Remove foil and check if the rice is tender but not mushy. Serve hot.


No paellera? Use the biggest sauté or frying pan you have to make paella
Once covered with foil, you can keep the paellera on your stove over low heat instead of placing it in the oven. It will still gently simmer, evaporating any remaining stock, so its steam can fully cook the chicken, sayote, and rice. 
Keyword Tinola, Multiply
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