Nilaga Recipe

Discover the perfect Nilaga recipe: a Filipino classic with savory beef, hearty veggies, and rich broth. Dive into comfort with our step-by-step guide!



  • Cuisine: Filipino
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Servings: 4
  • Calories: 350 calories

Nilaga is a classic Filipino comfort dish, celebrated for its simplicity and heartiness. Rooted in the country's culinary heritage, Nilaga translates to "boiled" in Filipino, aptly describing its cooking method. This traditional soup showcases a harmonious blend of ingredients, primarily featuring beef, assorted vegetables, and a flavorful broth.

The heart of Nilaga lies in the slow-cooked beef shank or bone marrow, resulting in a rich and savory broth. This process allows the meat to tenderize, infusing the soup with robust flavors. The vegetables, including potatoes, corn on the cob, green beans, and plantain bananas, contribute both texture and nutritional depth to the dish.

Meanwhile, your choice of vegetables reflects a balance of starches and fibers, making Nilaga not just a satisfying meal but also a wholesome one.

Nilaga's preparation is a culinary journey, intertwining cultural practices with the warmth of home-cooked meals. The aromatic broth, redolent of simmered beef and earthy vegetables, wafts through Filipino households during family gatherings and special occasions.

This dish in itself encapsulates the Filipino spirit of communal dining, embodying the notion that sharing a pot of Nilaga is more than a meal – it's a celebration of togetherness and the comforting embrace of home-cooked traditions.


Dive into a culinary journey with our tantalizing Nilaga recipe! Experience the rich flavors of Filipino comfort in every savory spoonful. Let's cook!


  • 1 kg beef shank, bone marrow, or a mix
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 corn on the cob, cut into halves
  • 1 large plantain banana (saba), peeled and sliced
  • 1 bundle of green beans, trimmed
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3-4 pieces of ripe saba bananas (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Fish sauce to taste
  • Water

Method Instructions

  1. In a large pot, combine the beef shank and enough water to cover it. Bring to a boil and skim off any scum that rises to the surface.
  2. Once the broth is clear, add the quartered onion and a bit of salt. Simmer for about 1.5 to 2 hours or until the beef is tender. Add more water if needed.
  3. Add the corn on the cob and cook for about 5 minutes. Then, add the sliced potatoes, plantain banana, and optional ripe saba bananas. Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender.
  4. Toss in the green beans and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes or until the vegetables are done.
  5. Season with fish sauce and salt according to your taste preference.
  6. Remove from heat and serve hot. Nilaga is best enjoyed with a side of fish sauce with crushed red pepper.

Recipe Video


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Recipe Tags: Nilaga, Nilaga Recipe, Recipe


Serving Nilaga is a straightforward yet delightful process that complements its rustic charm. Here's a simple guide to presenting this Filipino classic:

  • Serve Hot: Nilaga is best enjoyed piping hot. Ladle the steaming soup into individual bowls just before serving to preserve the comforting warmth of the dish.
  • Include Broth and Solids: Ensure each serving includes a generous portion of the flavorful broth, as well as a mix of the tender beef, vegetables, and starches like potatoes and plantain bananas. This ensures a well-rounded and satisfying dining experience.
  • Condiments on the Side: Place condiments like fish sauce with crushed red pepper on the table. This allows individuals to adjust the seasoning according to their preference, adding an extra layer of customization to the meal.
  • Accompaniments: Nilaga pairs well with plain rice, providing a perfect canvas to absorb the savory broth. Some also enjoy dipping the beef in a mixture of fish sauce and calamansi (Filipino lime) for added zing.
  • Garnish (Optional): For a touch of freshness, consider garnishing each bowl with chopped green onions or fresh cilantro. This not only adds a pop of color but also contributes a hint of herbal fragrance.


  1. Quality Ingredients: Start with fresh, high-quality ingredients, especially the beef. A good cut of beef shank or bone marrow contributes significantly to the rich flavor of the broth.
  2. Skimming the Broth: During the initial boiling of the beef, take the time to skim off any impurities that rise to the surface. This helps achieve a clear and clean broth.
  3. Low and Slow: For tender and flavorful beef, simmer it over low heat for an extended period. This slow-cooking process allows the meat to absorb the flavors of the broth.
  4. Vegetable Timing: Add vegetables in stages according to their cooking times. Start with hard vegetables like corn and potatoes, and add quicker-cooking ones like green beans towards the end to maintain their texture.
  5. Customize with Vegetables: While the traditional recipe includes specific vegetables, feel free to customize with seasonal or personal favorites. Some variations include adding bok choy, pechay, or plantain bananas.
  6. Balancing Flavors: Regularly taste the broth and adjust the seasoning with salt or fish sauce as needed. Achieving a balanced and well-seasoned broth is key to the success of Nilaga.
  7. Garnish and Freshness: Enhance the visual appeal and freshness of the dish with a sprinkle of chopped green onions or cilantro just before serving.
  8. Leftovers: Nilaga often tastes even better the next day as the flavors continue to meld. Store leftovers in the refrigerator, and reheat gently to enjoy a comforting meal on subsequent days.
  9. Dipping Sauce: Consider serving a dipping sauce on the side, such as fish sauce with calamansi or soy sauce with crushed red pepper, for those who enjoy an extra kick.

Ingredient Substitutes

While Nilaga has its traditional set of ingredients, you can still experiment with substitutes based on availability and personal preferences. Here are some ingredient substitutions you can consider:

  1. Beef: If you can't find beef shank or bone marrow, you can use other cuts like beef brisket or oxtail. Each cut brings its unique flavor and texture to the dish.
  2. Vegetables: Feel free to vary the vegetables based on what you have. Instead of plantain bananas, you could use regular bananas or skip them altogether. Swap green beans for other greens like spinach or kale.
  3. Potatoes: Substitute potatoes with sweet potatoes for a different flavor profile. You can also use yams or other root vegetables.
  4. Corn: While corn on the cob is traditional, you can use canned or frozen corn kernels as a convenient alternative.
  5. Banana Varieties: If you can't find saba bananas, you might try using regular ripe bananas for a touch of sweetness. Adjust the quantity based on your preference.
  6. Broth Enhancers: For added depth of flavor, consider adding a splash of soy sauce or a dash of Worcestershire sauce to the broth. These can provide a savory kick.
  7. Herbs and Spices: Experiment with herbs like thyme, bay leaves, or even a cinnamon stick to infuse different aromatic notes into the broth.
  8. Fish Sauce Alternatives: If you don't have fish sauce, you can substitute with soy sauce or a combination of soy sauce and a squeeze of lime for a similar umami kick.


Wrap yourself in the warmth of Filipino tradition. Our Nilaga recipe brings family together with every spoonful. Enjoy the comforting embrace of home-cooked joy!

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