A hearty one-pot dish that is equal parts tangy, sweet, and salty, Chicken Adobo is simple to make and has endless variations, depending on the family and the part of the Philippines where it's made.
My recipe uses chicken, but Adobo chefs use a wide variety of proteins and different ingredients to make each version of this classic Filipino dish uniquely their own.
Some cooks use coconut milk and shrimp, while others insist on a certain brand of soy sauce, for example. Consider my recipe a solid base for your own mouth-watering version as you make this dish again and again.
Need to make Adobo for a larger group? Click and slide the number next to ‘servings’ on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
Where did Chicken Adobo originate?
Adobo comes from the Spanish word adobar, or marinate.
Eaten with rice, Adobo in all its forms is considered to be the unofficial dish of the Philippines. The high proportion of vinegar in Adobo helped to preserve the food and gave it a longer shelf life before refrigeration.
I’m guessing there won’t be much in terms of leftovers if you make this, though—everyone loves it too much. Adobo is often made in clay pots, but a heavy Dutch oven works just fine, too.
Can you make Chicken Adobo in a crock pot?
If you're looking for a way to make this in a crock pot, then adjust the recipe like this: once the chicken in browned on both sides in a heavy frying pan, place it in the bottom of a crock pot.
Then layer garlic cloves, black pepper, and bay leaves on top of the chicken. Pour the soy sauce and vinegar and sugar over everything and set the crock pot on 30 minutes on High, then to 8 hours Low. (Don’t forget to make the rice!)
Can you use chicken breast to make Chicken Adobo?
If you're using chicken breasts, look for breasts with skin on, bone in, but you may want to cut them in half into two smaller pieces so they fit in the pot a little better.
How do you reduce the sodium in Chicken Adobo?
If you're staying away from sodium, it’s easy to reduce the sodium in this recipe by using low sodium soy sauce, or just using less soy sauce overall.
What kind of vinegar can I use to make Chicken Adobo?
This recipe calls for common white vinegar, but you can use rice vinegar, coconut vinegar, or even apple cider vinegar. Just make sure to taste the sauce in case you have to balance out the sweet/sour flavors!
My Chicken Adobo is too sour, what can I do?
If your Adobo is a little pucker inducing, add a teaspoon of sugar to the pot at a time, allowing to blend into the sauce, then re-taste after each addition, until you get just the right balance.
Chicken Adobo Recipe
- 1 head garlic sliced in half horizontally
- 2 green chiles such as serrano or jalapeño, thinly sliced
- 8 chicken thighs and/or drumsticks, bone-in and skin-on
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ¾ cup white vinegar
- ¾ cup soy sauce or coconut aminos
- 5 dried bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar light or dark
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup cooked white rice for serving, optional
- Heat 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium. Add chicken skin side down and cook, lifting pieces with tongs once or twice toward the end to let hot fat flow underneath, until fat is rendered and skin is crisp and golden brown, 7–10 minutes. Transfer skin side up to a plate. Because drumsticks are covered entirely in skin, you can brown both sides, but it’s not necessary.
- Add ¾ cup vinegar, ¾ cup soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. brown sugar, 5 bay leaves, and reserved garlic and sliced chile to Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low, stirring to dissolve sugar. Season generously with pepper.
- Return chicken to pot skin side up. Cover and cook chicken very gently, adjusting heat to maintain a bare simmer and turning pieces once, until meat is very tender and pulling away from the bone (but not so tender that it’s falling apart), 35–40 minutes.
- While chicken is simmering, cook 1 cup rice in a medium pot according to package directions. Transfer chicken to a clean plate. Increase heat to medium-high and boil braising liquid, shaking pot often, until liquid has formed a rich sauce thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat and return chicken to pot, turning to coat in sauce.
- Serve chicken and sauce over rice. Thinly slice remaining chile and scatter over, then season with more pepper.