Chicken Adobo Recipe

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Last Updated on January 2, 2024

There’s nothing better than trying a dish from an unfamiliar culture and loving it so much that it becomes part of your daily diet. The first time I ever tried Filipino chicken adobo was at a friend’s house, and ever since then, the salty-sweet adobo sauce and juicy chicken have become an all-time favorite. 

Chicken adobo on a plate with rice on the side

Filipino chicken adobo is, simply put, an explosion of flavor that brings comfort to all the enjoyers. The chicken is cooked in vinegar, which gives it a sharp, acidic taste, but the addition of sugar evens out the flavor so that it coats your tongue perfectly. 

Chicken adobo is a classic Filipino dish (just like beef lumpia) and has even been labeled as the national dish of the Philippines. It encompasses the most common flavors of the country and combines them into an easy recipe.

When the chicken cooks in the sauce, it tenderizes to the point that it melts in your mouth. The classic chicken adobo taste brings comfort like soup, but it tastes like a whole hearty meal!

Originally, adobo is made with chicken, but you can use other meats such as beef, squid, or even fish. But if you’d like a vegetarian option, you can always go for kangkong (water spinach) adobo. 

Other than being absolutely finger-licking delicious, chicken adobo is a beginner-friendly recipe with lots of room for improvisation. Its flexibility also makes it an ideal choice if you’re trying to eat healthier. 

I present to you my favorite, low-effort but thoroughly delightful chicken adobo recipe. You’ll only need a few ingredients and one pot, which means no pile of dirty dishes after you finish cooking!

Chicken adobo in a bowl

The Origin of Chicken Adobo  

Chicken adobo is an incredibly old dish that has been around for centuries. Even though it’s the Philippines’ national dish, its origin is disputed since the Spanish also have a similar recipe.  

The word itself is derived from the Spanish word “adobar,” which means a “marinade’ or “pickling sauce.” The first record of this dish was found in 1613 by Pedro de San Buenaventura. 

However, food historians believe that this dish already existed in the Philippines, and this claim somewhat makes sense since Filipinos used to preserve their food in salt or vinegar. Ingredients like these two elevate the acidity and sodium level of edible products, making it impossible for harmful bacteria to grow. 

Later, when Chinese traders visited the islands, they brought about soy sauce. Eventually, Filipinos would accept these ingredients, and they would become a staple in their households. And that remains true today too!

While Filipino adobo has a more mellow flavor, Spanish adobo uses three types of chili peppers, tomato paste, and paprika to spice up the sauce. Either way, adobo is a dish worth your while!

What Does Chicken Adobo Taste Like? 

The chicken is covered in adobo sauce that’s sweet and savory but has a distinct hint of soy sauce. The garlic gives it a very deep umami flavor, especially when the sauce is well-infused with the chicken. 

The peppercorns give it a bit of a spicy kick at the back of your throat. The longer you cook it with the whole peppercorns, the fierier your sauce gets. As for the chicken itself, after it’s tenderized by vinegar, it falls apart in your mouth like butter.

Preparation Time 

This recipe is fairly simple. It’s just a dump-and-go dish where you can throw everything in a pot and get on with your other chores. 

Cooking the chicken only takes about ten to fifteen minutes. The rest of the time is dedicated to getting the sauce to the right thickness. All in all, it takes about an hour and five minutes. 

Prep time: 5 minutes 

Cooking time: 1 hour 

Total time: 1 hour 5 minutes.   


Ingredients to make chicken adobo - chicken thighs, soy sauce, garlic, peppercorns and vinegar

Before you put on your apron, gather your ingredients. Chances are that you already have these sitting in your pantry. This Filipino chicken adobo recipe is straightforward, with only a few ingredients that are listed below. 

  • 1.5 lbs. bone-in chicken thighs 
  • 20 whole peppercorns 
  • 6 crushed cloves of garlic 
  • ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 cup of water 
  • ¼ cup of coconut aminos (soy or tamari)
  • ¼ teaspoons of black pepper 

How to Make Chicken Adobo

With all your ingredients ready, let’s make the most flavorful chicken adobo you’ll ever come across! 

Ingredients in a medium pot with bowls on the side of it
  1. First, put all of your ingredients into a pan, and stir them. Then put your pan or pot on the stovetop on medium heat.
  2. Once the water starts to boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for an hour. 
  3. Plate it with some cooked rice, mashed potatoes, or even quinoa. And don’t forget to share!
There's nothing better than trying a dish from an unfamiliar culture and loving it so much that it becomes part of your daily diet. The first time I ever tried Filipino chicken adobo was at a friend's house, and ever since then, the salty-sweet adobo sauce and juicy chicken have become an all-time favorite. 

How Long Can You Store Chicken Adobo?

The dish has tons of acidic ingredients, so even if you leave the pot unrefrigerated, it should be fine for two to three days. 

To extend its life, put it in an airtight container and refrigerate it for about a week. If you think you’ve made too much, then portion it out and freeze it. It can last up to 6 months in the freezer. 

Tips to Make Your Chicken Adobo Better 

With a dish so simple, you really can’t do much to mess it up. In fact, a simple dish brings the possibility of variations. But anyway, here are a few cooking tips to make your adobo dish exceptional.

  • If you want to elevate your recipe to the next step, try marinating the chicken in soy sauce and some garlic beforehand. This way, your chicken becomes more infused with flavor. You can also marinate extra portions of chicken and freeze it for later use. 
  • With only two ingredients at hand, you can switch it up at any time. The adobo sauce is what truly transforms the recipe. Once you’ve nailed the sauce, you can combine it with vegetables such as okra, eggplant, carrots, spinach, chard, kale, or even sweet potato leaves. 
  • To keep the authentic taste and benefit from the nutrients, go for a reduced tamari soy sauce. A tamari is made from fermented soybeans, but all the wheat, gluten, and high sodium content have been extracted from it. You can also use dark soy sauce, but be careful as it has a strong flavor and only gets more intense as you cook it. 
  • For a nice garnish and a textural element, saute or fry some onions. Then, top the dish off with some bright green cilantro and raw green onions. 
  • To truly step up the flavors, you can use coke or lemon-lime soda as a source of sugar in the recipe. It sounds unusual, but when it reduces to a thicker sauce, it tastes wonderful. 
  • You can use boneless skinless chicken thighs or bone-in thighs. But if you decide to use chicken breasts, you’ll need to adjust how long you cook them. That’s because a chicken breast cooks faster than a chicken thigh, and you might end up with rubbery meat if you overcook it. You can also use a combination of chicken thighs and chicken drumsticks! 
  • To get the best results with breast pieces, add two tablespoons of cooking oil to the sauce and take the chicken out when it’s cooked. When the sauce has reduced to your liking, add the chicken back and coat it thoroughly. 
  • Traditionally, cane vinegar is used for the sauce. However, if that’s not available for you, rice vinegar works well too. If you’re not using cane vinegar, then a few teaspoons of sugar are necessary to cut through the acidity. 


Is Chicken Adobo Healthy? 

Chicken adobo is incredibly healthy as it contains mainly proteins and only some carbs. You can throw in vegetables such as carrots and eggplant to make it a well-rounded dish. As for the sodium levels, you can replace regular soy sauce with low-sodium soy sauce or light soy sauce. 

Can You Make Chicken Adobo in an Instant Pot? 

Yes! Chicken adobo doesn’t require constant checking or supervision, so you can throw all the ingredients into your instant pot and set the timer. If you want, you can sear the chicken beforehand to get that crispy brown chicken skin. It’ll ensure that the meat is cooked through well.  

What Can I Serve Chicken Adobo With?

This recipe has a flavor that takes over side dishes like simple steamed rice or fried rice. You can also serve the chicken pieces with a green salad, mango avocado salsa, or Thai coconut rice. 

chicken adobo on a plate with rice
Yield: 4

Chicken Adobo

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

This authentic Filipino Chicken Adobo is worth every bite!



  1. Put the chicken pieces, garlic, water, apple cider vinegar, coconut aminos, peppercorn and black pepper in medium pan over medium heat.
  2. When the water comes to a boil lower the heat and simmer for one hour.
  3. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 415Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 218mgSodium: 570mgCarbohydrates: 12gNet Carbohydrates: 0gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gSugar Alcohols: 0gProtein: 41g

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34 thoughts on “Chicken Adobo Recipe”

  1. This recipe sounds delish! My mom used to make a chicken adobo, but I never got the recipe before she passed away. I had a recipe book that was from her grandmother, all handwritten in Spanish and when my mom passed away, her sister stole the book from my mom’s closet. I lost all of my moms family recipes in that book. I’m trying to cook traditional Mexican food for my family once in awhile, but my boys don’t like the spice aspect.

  2. Wow – I’d never think to cook with vinegar but apple cider vinegar shouldn’t be too harsh, right? Will have to try this – I love cooking with chicken thighs & legs.

  3. If you eat soy, what is your interpretation of a paleo diet? A gluten free diet? I’m just browsing through chowstalker and I’m finding a lot of recipes under the whole30 category with surprising ingredients.

    • I think at the core, the Paleo diet is a no grain diet that emphasizes meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits and nuts/seed. I think that most people who are paleo aim for this as a goal but find that, like with most diets, you have to find a balance that works for you. I admittedly am more Primal than Paleo. I can live without sugar, grains and legumes but I have a crutch for heavy whipping cream and raw dairy. It’s a fat bomb of happiness for my brain that I’m not going to give up. Most people who follow the lifestyle are going to much healthier and happier than they were in their SAD days and are content with that.

      I really try to avoid soy as much as possible but, hey, sometimes I want this dish so I eat it ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, my recipes are safe for people who are gluten-free. I don’t follow a gluten-free diet which allows for low gluten grains so I can’t comment on it.

      You can make this recipe with coconut aminos and avoid the soy if you like.

  4. This sounds like the one I grew up with. Are you Filipino? I make this too, I use coconut aminos to replace the soy. I’m paleo as well. I’m looking into making soy sauce substitutes because the coconut aminos are so expensive.

    • Yep! My Mother is Filipino ๐Ÿ™‚ I haven’t tried coconut aminos yet. Is the taste similar to soy? Please share when you come up with a substitute!

      • Oh that’s great! Yeah adobo, well now that I saw your post now I want some. I grew up eating that with white rice. The coconut aminos taste very similar to soy but it’s like 7.99 for a small bottle! I’m going to experiment with using molasses(not really paleo isn’t it) and some apple cider vinegar as a soy sauce substitute. Maybe I should post all our Filipino recipes that can be turned into a paleo recipe :).

        • Hrmm. .. please let me know if the taste is similar. I’ve made three filipino recipes that I grew up eating and shared them on my site. It’s crazy how many are Paleo. I can’t wait to see what you share!

          • I just got a bottle of coconut aminos. It’s like lite soy sauce but sweet. I’ll be making adobo tonight with it. My family and I are trying to go on a low fat, low sodium and low sugar diet so I’m cureentry experimenting on low sodium substitute for soy sauce.

  5. Sounds amazing! We love filipino food. What do you make as a side for this, and your ginger chicken? We are new to paleo, but have no choice but to stick to it as my husband and youngest daughter have celiac and she has a major dairy allergy. I am so new to this, sides dishes are what I am struggling with as we obviously can’t get pansit with this, or my traditional pasta with anything.

  6. Just made this tonight because I needed something really easy after a long day. The chicken was falling off the bone and super tender. I love all the flavorful juice and the vinegar wasn’t overpowering at all. Definitely a keeper!


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