Chicken slowly braised in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and bay leaves until fall-off-the-bone tender. This classic chicken adobo is totally delicious!
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 a 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 (boiling it initially so adobo doesn’t get too sour) 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!
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NOTES ON INGREDIENTS
- Chicken pieces (or one whole chicken, cut-up) – a combo of chicken and pork, or mainly pork may be used too.
- White Vinegar – rice vinegar or cider vinegar may be used, too.
- Soy Sauce – the amount may be adjusted to taste (I usually just use about 1/3 cup).
- Whole Garlic – the garlic adds a lot of flavor but doesn’t overwhelm so don;’t be afraid to use the entire bulb
- Peppercorns – whole peppercorns may be used or crushed if preferred.
- Bay leaves – fresh or dried may be used
- Brown Sugar – this enhances and balances the flavor (not sweeten it) so don’t omit unless you wish to make it completely sugar-free
Love to see more Filipino recipes? Try some of these!
Pansit (Filipino Noodle Stir-Fry)
Classic Chicken Adobo
- 3 lbs (1.5 kilos) pieces of chicken or one whole chicken, cut-up
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ⅓ cup water
- ⅓ (up to 1/2) cup soy sauce
- 1 whole garlic, cloves separated, crushed, but left unpeeled (see notes)
- 2 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp brown sugar optional especially if you are doing low-carb – if not, add the sugar because it enhances the flavor and doesn't really sweeten it.
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!
TIPS & TRICKS
You may use a combo of chicken and pork if you like. That works well, too.
If you can wait, make this ahead as chicken adobo tastes even better the next day. So yummy!
If you prefer to fully peel the garlic, that’s perfectly fine, too.
Whole black peppercorns are traditionally used in making chicken adobo but feel free to crush them ahead if preferred. Adjust to taste, it shouldn’t be too peppery.
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!
Glad you like Adobo, Tiffany! That's wonderful to know. Thanks for stopping by.
Thanks for posting this one.. I tried making adobo too but I always miss something in it…. and my husband don't like it….so I stopped making this recipe…. I hope that by following your recipe it will be a success this time….
Greetings from Holland!
I sure hope so too Chrystelle! Enjoy!
Chicken Adobo is one of the world's most simple — and delicious — dishes. Yours looks fantastic!
Thanks, Adam. So very kind of you.
Hey, You have made me hungry.
Hi Bintu, I get hungry whenever I see these photos, too. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.
My Chicken Adobo version is with abundant sauce! and sometimes I make it with pork too! Love this!
Chicken adobe is one of my favorite dishes. Where do you find fresh bay lead?
Thanks, our grocery store carries fresh bay leaf. This is in Michigan not Manila.
Thanks for this recipe! I'm curious though, would it make a difference if you peeled the garlic?
I think if you leave the garlic unpeeled, it tastes sweeter whereas if you leave it peeled it becomes pungent. Thanks for stopping by.
This looks fantastic! I love all your recipes, so versatile and delicious!
My absolute favorite… I love a good adobo, and I didn't know until now how simple it was!
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! 😉
Hi Megan! I am so delighted you discovered us and hope you enjoy the recipes. 🙂
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?
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!
Thank you for your wonderful recipes. I make lumpia, adobo & pancit. I prefer my adobo without frying but that is the way my great and still friend from Iloilo first made it for me. Now, however, I sometimes add coconut milk after the chicken wings and the pork are finished cooking down to a thick sauce. I make my lumpia using 1/2 mild italian sausage and 1/2 veggies. I also make mine thinner and we dip in sweet chilli sauce. I dip mine in patis. I've never been to the Philippines but I've managed a great amount of Ilongo and some Tagalog. I'm now 76 years old and not healthy enough these days to travel. You're too young to know Kundiman but it's my favorite Filipino music. Keep up the super and kind sharing of your great recipes.
Thank you for stopping by! I am glad you did and thanks for the tips as well, I may have to try those one of these days. Take care and keep on cooking!
This is by far the best adobo that I've tried. I have yet to try your other recipes but I'm confident they should be as good as this. Kudos!
What do you mean by “cooking the vinegar first” ?
Cooking the vinegar allows it to mellow down so it’s not overly sour and overwhelming.
how and when do you cook the vinegar? Do you explain it and I’m missing it?
You cook the vinegar by boiling it first. That’s included in the instruction – so the dish doesn’t end up too vinegary in taste. Thanks for asking. Enjoy!
40 years ago I was stationed in the Philippines this is one of my favorites. I had been making my version of it for decades and this is by far the BEST I have had since I left. Thank you
So glad to know this! Thank you so much for letting us know.
Thank you for the recipe. I just made it for the second time. Very Delicious. I don’t add salt at the end, however, as it is salty enough for me with the soy sauce.
So glad you enjoyed this! Thanks for stopping by.
I made mine using 50/50 vinegar/soy sauce and its way too sour. I did add some sugar and a little lemon juice, neither helped. This recipe has even MORE vinegar. How do you make it so it’s not sour?
That’s why you boil/cook the vinegar first so it doesn’t get sour or taste like paksiw. Adding extra lemon juice will make it more tart. Please see instructions for the recipe. Thanks and hope this works for you.
I love your chicken adobo recipe. My father is Filipino and we ate it frequently growing up. We lived in the Philippines for 2 years when I was young and traveled back many times over the years. Miss not being back for so long as well as the Filipino food. I want to make this for a potluck dinner and make it the day before. How would you suggest reheating. Can I keep it warm in a crockpot. Thank you for your wonderful recipes!
You can make it a day ahead and that shouldn’t be a problem because it has a natural preservative – the vinegar in it. Refrigerate then simply reheat either on the stovetop or if you have enough time then use the crockpot.