Go Back

Classic Chicken Adobo

Chicken slowly braised in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and bay leaves until fall-off-the-bone tender. This classic chicken adobo is totally delicious!
Course Dinner, Main
Cuisine Asian Cuisine, Filipino, Southeast Asia
Keyword authentic filipino chicken adobo recipe, best filipino chicken adobo recipe, braised chicken recipe filipino style, chicken adobo dinner, classic chicken adobo recipe, easy recipe for chicken adobo, how to cook chicken adobo without marinating, simple chicken adobo recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings 6
Author Manila Spoon


  • 3 lbs (1.5 kilos) pieces of chicken or one whole chicken, cut-up
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • cup water
  • (up to 1/2) cup soy sauce
  • 1 whole garlic, cloves separated, crushed, but left unpeeled (see notes)
  • 2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 3 by 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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

Recipe Notes


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.