Beef Nilaga, or Bulalo, is a Filipino beef soup dish made with vegetables. I have a quick recipe for beef nilaga for you that only takes 30 minutes to cook using an Instant Pot. It uses ingredients that you can find in your local grocery store. This is a perfect soup for a rainy day or cold weather nights.
And if you love Filipino soup, make sure to try my Instant Pot Pork Sinigang and my Chicken Tinola. Delicious Filipino soup is often served during family gatherings, special occasions, or simply as a nourishing meal on a regular day.
What Is Nilaga
Nilaga is a traditional Filipino soup dish known for its clear broth and a variety of boiled ingredients. The term "nilaga" refers to the cooking method, which translates to "boiled" in English. The key components of Nilaga typically include meat, vegetables, and sometimes unripe bananas or plantains.
What is Bulalo
"Bulalo" is specific to the type of meat used in making Beef Nilaga, which uses Beef Shanks with Marrow Bones. And if you want to know another simple recipe using Marrow Bones, check out my fancy Roasted Marrow Bone recipe as a very decadent appetizer.
"Bulalo" means beef soup with bones like beef shanks or bone marrow.
Why Use an Instant Pot
Using an Instant Pot to make Beef Nilaga offers many great benefits.
- The Instant Pot's intelligent programming mechanism will ensure the beef nilaga is cooked in under an hour. Skip the times you'll need to bring the dish to a boil, then simmer for hours to tenderize this beef shank soup.
- The Instant Pot also helps tenderize the chunks of beef deeply and more evenly.
- Compared to a traditional pressure cooker, an Instant Pot has advanced safety features that make it safer to use and far more user-friendly.
- An Instant Pot can replace up to seven kitchen appliances. So, did I hear you say savings?! You got that right!
- And since it's a one-pot use, clean-up is a breeze when you use an Instant Pot. The pot and the cooker's various parts are dishwasher-safe.
Using an Instant Pot to make Beef Nilaga (Bulalo) will give you a satisfying soup dish and cut your cooking time to under an hour. I included stovetop and slow cooking methods (CrockPot) as options. Please refer to the recipe card below.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Protein: For this recipe, I used beef shanks and bone marrow. You can also use beef cuts like short ribs or oxtails. You may substitute other meats like pork, chicken, or fish to make Nilaga.
- Vegetables: I used potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, scallions or green onions, and onions. Other vegetables, like bok choy, Chinese cabbage, napa cabbage, or even savoy cabbage, would add more color and texture to the dish. Traditional Filipino Beef Nilaga "nilagang baka" recipe uses sweet corn on the cob.
- Liquid: Water, beef broth, water mixed with beef cube, chicken stock, or chicken bouillon.
- Seasonings: Fish sauce, salt, black pepper, or whole peppercorns.
Beef Nilaga Instant Pot Recipe
STEP 1: Prepare the Instant Pot: Add olive oil to the Instant Pot and set it to sauté for 10 minutes.
STEP 2: Caramelize the Onions: Add the onions to the Instant Pot and sauté until softened and lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes.
STEP 3: Brown the Beef Shanks: Add the chunks of beef with bone marrow and brown them on all sides. This step enhances the flavor of the broth. Then add 8 cups of water or broth into the Instant Pot and season with fish sauce, salt, and whole black peppercorns.
STEP 4: Pressure Cook the Beef: Close the lid tightly, then set the Instant Pot to high Pressure for 30 minutes. Let the Instant Pot do its magic, tenderizing and flavoring the beef.
STEP 5: Release Pressure and Add Vegetables: Once the pressure is released (you can also do a quick release if you're pressed for time), carefully open the Instant Pot. Add the vegetables to the pot in layers, starting with potatoes, cabbage, then broccoli on top. Close the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for an additional 5 minutes.
STEP 6: Serve and Enjoy: Once the Instant Pot finishes cooking, release the pressure and open the lid. Ladle the Bulalo Beef Nilaga into bowls, making sure to include a generous serving of beef, vegetables, and broth. Enjoy this Filipino beef soup with steaming white rice.
NOTE: Scroll down to the recipe card to see how to cook Beef Nilaga (Bulalo) using a Stockpot (CrockPot) or stovetop.
- The secret to making a soup with clear broth is starting with cold water. For this Beef Nilaga (Bulalo) recipe, combine beef shanks and marrow bones in a large pot, soak in cold water for 30 minutes, then discard. Use fresh, cold water as the base for the soup.
- For a more tender beef and an added healthy bonus, add 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar to the water when tenderizing the beef. This helps to break down the collagen and muscle fibers of the meat thus retaining its juices, giving you a more tender and healthier dish.
With this Quick Instant Pot Beef Nilaga Recipe for Bulalo Beef Nilaga, you can enjoy the comforting taste of Filipino cuisine without sacrificing time or flavor. The Instant Pot simplifies the cooking process, allowing you to indulge in a bowl of rich and savory Bulalo Beef Nilaga whenever the craving strikes. Try this recipe and elevate your home-cooking game with minimal effort and maximum satisfaction. Happy cooking!
Frequently Asked Questions
While the cooking method is the same, the cut of meat used is different! Nilaga uses any cuts of beef, pork, or chicken, while Bulalo uses beef shanks or marrow bones.
The best cuts of meat for the Nilaga recipe are chucks, rounds, or shanks. These cuts have a high concentration of collagen-rich connective tissues and some fat marbling for flavor. Go here for a great resource on different cuts of beef.
Yes! Nilaga can be kept in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Leftover Nilaga will last up to 3 days in the fridge.
YES! Bulalo is marrow bone in Tagalog. The compounds in (bulalo) marrow bones have been linked to decreased inflammation, better skin health, and improved joint function. Check out my blog about the health benefits of marrow bones.
Other Soup Recipes To Try
Great Instant Pot Recipes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium-sized onion sliced
- 2 pounds Beef Shank
- 1 tablespoons fish sauce
- Salt + Peppercorns
- 4 cups of water
- 1 cup Potatoes
- ½ Green Cabbage quartered
- 1 head of Broccoli cut into florets
- 2 Green Onions sliced 3" length
How to Cook Beef Nilaga (Bulalo) in Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot
- Add olive oil to the Instant Pot and set it to sauté for 10 minutes.2 tablespoons olive oil
- Add the onions to the Instant Pot and sauté until softened and lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes.1 medium-sized onion
- Add the chunks of beef with bone marrow and brown them on all sides. This step enhances the flavor of the broth. Then add 8 cups of water or broth into the Instant Pot and season with fish sauce, salt, and whole black peppercorns.2 pounds Beef Shank, 1 tablespoons fish sauce, 4 cups of water, Salt + Peppercorns
- Close the lid tightly, then set the Instant Pot to high Pressure for 30 minutes. Let the Instant Pot do its magic, tenderizing and flavoring the beef.
- Once the pressure is released (you can also do a quick release if you're pressed for time), carefully open the Instant Pot. Add the vegetables to the pot in layers, starting with potatoes, cabbage, then broccoli on top. Close the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for an additional 5 minutes.1 cup Potatoes, ½ Green Cabbage, 1 head of Broccoli, 2 Green Onions
- Once the Instant Pot finishes cooking, release the pressure and open the lid. Ladle the Bulalo Beef Nilaga into bowls, making sure to include a generous serving of beef, vegetables, and broth. Enjoy this Filipino beef soup with steaming white rice.
How to Cook Beef Nilaga (Bulalo) Stovetop
- In a Dutch oven or another stockpot, over medium heat, add olive oil and sauté onions until translucent, about 2 minutes
- Add salt, peppercorns, and fish sauce, then sear the beef for 4 minutes on each side.
- Add water, bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low, and continue to simmer the beef. This process takes anywhere from 2 to 3 hours. This is when you will skim the scum from the broth.
- When the meat is tender, add the vegetables in the order as written giving them 3 minutes each to cook.
How to Cook Beef Nilaga (Bulalo) in a Slow-Cooker / Crockpot
- Add oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, saute the onions until translucent, about 2 minutes.
- Add salt, peppercorns, and fish sauce, then sear the beef for 4 minutes on each side. Add water and scrape the bits off the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat off.
- Meanwhile, layer, the potatoes on the bottom of the crockpot, followed by cabbage, then broccoli.
- Transfer the meat mixture to the crockpot; layering the meat on top of the vegetables.
- Cover and cook on a high setting for 4-5 hours or on low for 8-9 hours.
- Safety first! Read and follow your Instant Pot instructions manual, especially if you're using it for the first time.
- Soak the beef! Soaking the meat prior to cooking and using fresh, cold water as your base for the soup will give you a tastier and clearer broth.
- Soak the onions! Did you know that a simple iced water soak before you slice onions helps to neutralize the sulfuric compounds that bring about an almost bitter taste and instead reward you with a more mellow and subtle sweetness from the allium?
- Tasty + Healthy: If there's too much fat on the broth, use a fat separator (affiliate link)
- Want Umami?! Sauté the meat with aromatics, like onions and fish sauce; this will give the meat a more succulent and savory flavor, and no fail, you will get that "give-me-some-more" umami flavor you crave.
- Serve Beef Nilaga with steamed white rice.