Aug 17, 2013

Classic Chicken Adobo

If there is a dish that the Philippines is known for it's got to be Adobo. While the word "Adobo"  certainly has Spanish origins (the Philippines has been colonized by Spain for nearly 400 years), this particular cooking method and dish is indigenous to the Philippines.

The word "Adobo" means marinade, sauce or seasoning in Spanish. Since the Filipino Adobo requires stewing/braising the meat in Vinegar (like marinating), the term adobo eventually became the household name for the dish or this style of cooking.

Naturally, everyone has their own version of Adobo. I have mine, too. My husband loves this version of classic adobo. I prefer the sweeter Adobo, he prefers the more savory kind of adobo. Feel free to adjust the measurements to your taste. This is how we like it exactly (see measurements below) but you can add more vinegar or soy sauce to accommodate your taste preference. If  one day you want a darker sauce, then add more soy sauce. If you wish to make it completely gluten-free then make sure that the soy sauce you are using is wheat-free.

You can also choose to make the adobo with a lot of sauce or turn it into a drier adobo - either way it's truly flavorful. As you can see in the photo below, the chicken pieces are quite golden brown. I do fry my adobo after they have been cooked - just a little oil (and a bit of the sauce) and not deep-fried - to give it a little color and extra flavor. But this last step is optional. The extra sauce that's left on the pan I use to drizzle on my rice.

And if you don't know yet, Adobo tastes even better the next day or days (if you can prevent yourself from gobbling it up the first day.). Of course, you can also marinate the Adobo in its sauce the night before and cook it the next day to ensure that the chicken has fully absorbed all the flavor.

By the way, I have to mention that the technique of cooking the vinegar first was something I learned from my friend Monette. I have failed so many times in making adobo but thanks to her teaching me how to do it properly, I have become confident in making my adobo and many who have tasted it have loved the dish. Try this Classic Chicken Adobo which made the Philippines famous in the culinary world! Enjoy!


3 lbs /1.5 kilos pieces of Chicken (or one whole chicken, cut-up) or a combo of Chicken and Pork
1/2 cup white Vinegar
1/3 cup Water
1/3 (up to 1/2) cup Soy Sauce
1 Whole Garlic, cloves separated, crushed, but left unpeeled
2 teaspoons whole Black Peppercorns
3 Bay leaves
1 Tablespoon brown Sugar (optional)


Place the meat and the rest of the ingredients in a large pan like a Dutch oven. You can also marinate the meat overnight prior to cooking.

Using medium heat, bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to the lowest setting and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. This helps mellow the taste of the vinegar.

Cover and then continue to simmer on low until the chicken (and pork) pieces are tender about 30-40 minutes. When the meat is already tender, sprinkle the brown sugar on top. Gently stir to allow sugar to be absorbed by the meat. Cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes. This will not really sweeten the adobo but just help enhance the flavor and add a little caramel glaze to the meat. The adobo is already yummy at this time but its taste improves as it ages. And don't forget the rice - lots of rice as this is a particulary more-ish dish.

For a "dry adobo" you can simply reduce the sauce until it has almost evaporated. The chicken and pork pieces will then begin to fry on their own fat left in the pan. My family in the Philippines like it this way. Or, you can just take out the cooked adobo meat and fry them separately in another pan with a little oil and some of fat from the sauce and then use the remaining sauce (which you can reduce to thicken it slightly) to drizzle on your rice. The sauce is also great for making fried rice so don't throw it away. Anyway, enjoy!

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Love to see more Filipino recipes? Try some of these!



 Kaldereta (Beef Stew in Coconut Milk)



  1. I love chicken adobo! I get to eat it a lot as many of my students are Filipino. Yum! And I didn't realize the word means 'marinade' but that makes total sense!

    1. Glad you like Adobo, Tiffany! That's wonderful to know. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Thanks for posting this one.. I tried making adobo too but I always miss something in it.... and my husband don't like I stopped making this recipe.... I hope that by following your recipe it will be a success this time....

    Greetings from Holland!


    Maricel Canete
    The Netherlands

  3. Chicken Adobo is one of the world's most simple — and delicious — dishes. Yours looks fantastic!

  4. Replies
    1. Hi Bintu, I get hungry whenever I see these photos, too. :-) Thanks for stopping by.

  5. My Chicken Adobo version is with abundant sauce! and sometimes I make it with pork too! Love this!

  6. Chicken adobe is one of my favorite dishes. Where do you find fresh bay lead?

    1. Thanks, our grocery store carries fresh bay leaf. This is in Michigan not Manila.

  7. Thanks for this recipe! I'm curious though, would it make a difference if you peeled the garlic?

    1. I think if you leave the garlic unpeeled, it tastes sweeter whereas if you leave it peeled it becomes pungent. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. This looks fantastic! I love all your recipes, so versatile and delicious!

  9. My absolute favorite... I love a good adobo, and I didn't know until now how simple it was!

  10. I am SO excited to come across your blog!!! I found you from the Yummly Savers bloggers thread on Facebook. My husband and children are Filipino. My MIL is an amazing cook, but has a very difficult time explaining her recipes, and she is unable to write them out for me. Anyways, I'm looking forward to experimenting with your recipes (I have to tweak them to accommodate for our allergies). Your site just completely made my day! ;)

    1. Hi Megan! I am so delighted you discovered us and hope you enjoy the recipes. :)

  11. Thank you for your chicken adobo recipe. I have a question about what should I do to make a little more sauce for the side? I would like to make more sauce to the chicken and rice on the side. Should I double the amount of soy sauce and vinegar or will that over power the chicken?

    1. I think it makes enough sauce for drizzling on the rice - the photo just doesn't show it. You can certainly adjust the amount of sauce (vinegar and soy) to taste but I will do it in tablespoons rather than by cups (or less) so it won't be too strong. Thanks for asking Jane!


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