Braise

Chicken Adobo

February  7, 2022
4.6 Stars
Photo by Ty Mecham
Author Notes

This garlicky, vinegary chicken adobo is a beloved dish in the Philippines—and a weeknight staple in my house. Cooking it for my family is just one of the ways I preserve my Filipino heritage and culture for my kids.

No matter how you like to cook your adobo, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Customize it: Chicken not your thing? You can use pork or beef, or really whatever you feel like; my childhood favorite was squid adobo. You can also make it vegetarian—just make sure you use a vegetable that can hold up to a braise. I like broccoli, cauliflower, onion, green beans, carrots, and lotus root for some extra texture.

Use bone-in: I always use bone-in chicken, or bone-in whatever-kind-of-meat-I’m-braising. This gives the broth a richer, heartier flavor.

Sear your chicken skin: Searing skin-side down renders the fat and deepens the flavor. It will also give your finished dish a nice color and more appetizing appearance.

Any vinegar will do: Don’t freak out if you don’t have rice vinegar; you can use whatever you have on hand. Traditionally, cane or coconut vinegar is used. For my own recipe, I chose rice vinegar because it’s a little less sharp on the palate. But truthfully, I’ve made so many last-minute adobos with white vinegar, apple cider, or a combination of whatever I have left in my pantry, and they've all turned out great.

Feel free to get brothy: My recipe says to reduce the adobo until the meat starts to look glazed, but my whole family loves the adobo broth. I always like to have a second helping of just rice and broth, so I tend to reduce my broth a little less. Whether you want it glazey or brothy, it’s entirely up to you. —Amelia Rampe

Test Kitchen Notes

This chicken adobo is well-seasoned, flavorful, and absolutely delicious. I stored the leftovers in a container with the remaining sauce from the dish, and the next day it was too salty (probably because it was bathing in it all night!) Place any leftover chicken in one container and the adobo sauce in a separate container. Reheat separately and spoon the desired amount of sauce over the chicken. —KristinaVanni

Watch This Recipe
Chicken Adobo
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup plus ¾ cup soy sauce, divided
  • 1 pinch plus 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar or demerara sugar
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced (about 15 cloves)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups steamed white rice
  • 4 scallions, green parts sliced on a diagonal
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Season the chicken with ¼ cup of the soy sauce and 1 pinch of the black pepper.
  2. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Working in batches if necessary, sear the chicken, skin side down, for about 5 minutes, until the skin starts to brown and crisp. Transfer to a plate.
  3. In the Dutch oven, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, garlic, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and the remaining ¾ cup of the soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of the black pepper; bring to a simmer. Return the chicken and accumulated juices to the pan skin side up. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Braise for about 45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, but not falling apart. At this point, the garlic will also be very tender and there will be some chicken fat on the surface.
  4. Uncover and continue to braise in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the meat is very tender and the liquid has reduced to more of a glaze. Remove from the oven and skim the surface of the liquid to remove some of the fat that has accumulated.
  5. Serve the chicken over rice. Spoon extra sauce on top, if you like, then garnish with the scallions.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Anna Fiore
    Anna Fiore
  • Alexis Petre
    Alexis Petre
  • Mary-Ann
    Mary-Ann
  • Wendy Prior
    Wendy Prior
  • marydtoombs
    marydtoombs

24 Reviews

Anna F. March 24, 2021
Hi Amelia-- thanks for sharing your family recipe! Made a great meal last night. Served over rice with a side of cucumber and tomato for some crisp freshness.

I didn't have the saltiness issue others commented about; I used low sodium soy sauce. The only problem I had was that it took quite awhile for the sauce to cook down, but I think it's a factor of my oven's temperature. I just put it back on the stovetop to reduce a bit further for 10-15mins.
 
Sternbp2 October 6, 2020
I followed this recipe to a tee. It was a failure. It was so salty it was inedible. I threw out the remainder of our dinners and the leftovers. Any suggestions on what may have gone wrong?
 
Mary-Ann October 6, 2020
1 cup soy sauce for 8 pieces of chicken is a lot. Not all soy sauce are equal in salt concentration. But the vinegar is 1 cup. Suggest you cut the soy sauce by half and go from there.
 
cpc October 7, 2020
I always buy reduced salt soy sauce or tamari so I've never noticed this being too salty. Since that's the only salty ingredient here, maybe try it next time with a lower sodium soy sauce. Some palates are more sensitive to salt so you may find that you could use 3/4 cup total of soy and use 1/4 cup water or chicken stock to make up the difference in liquid while reducing the sodium.
 
Sternbp2 October 6, 2020
I followed this recipe to a tee. It was a dismal failure. We threw out the remaining chicken. It was so salty it was inedible. Any suggestions on where this went wrong? I was surprised by all the positive reviews based on my experience.
 
Alexis P. October 1, 2020
Was blown away by the flavors developed in this recipe. My dinner guests still talk about this dish
 
Mary-Ann September 13, 2020
Although the Filipino adobo is ubiquitous in just about every Filipino household, it’s also highly regional. In other regions, instead of soy sauce, the salting agent used is fish sauce, although it’s not a straight substitution. The fish sauce adds another dimension of umami to the dish. In another region, a small amount of coconut milk is added towards the end of the simmer for a new level of taste and flavor.

I agree with the writer that braising in the oven as opposed to stovetop cooking results in a far more tender, juicy, and flavorful dish.
 
Angela H. September 6, 2020
I've made this four times now and absolutely love it! The only changes I make is I use boneless skinless thighs. So far I haven't figured out how to get my sauce to thicken much, but it's so good I don't care.
 
Wendy P. August 24, 2020
I’ve made this two times previously and the family LOVED it! Today I am putting in the crock pot and hope for another great outcome- too hot to use the oven! The sauce never becomes a glaze so I’ll try to figure that out too..
 
Fiona B. April 21, 2021
I'm interested in how this worked in the crockpot. Please share times, temps, etc.!
 
marydtoombs July 1, 2020
Made this tonight by following the directions to a T and we all (including my picky teen) loved it! Is there a vegetable side that’s typically served with Adobo?
 
Sara L. July 5, 2020
Raw tomatoes (cherry tomatoes are a personal favourite) are typically paired with adobo. It neutralises the strong flavours of the soy and vinegar. Enjoy!
 
marydtoombs July 5, 2020
Thank you! Makes sense to have something fresh with it!
 
Rochelle September 15, 2020
Thank your for this suggestion Sara L. I used cherry tomatoes with finely diced shallot and it really was the perfect accompaniment.....and rice of course.
 
Nancy G. June 27, 2020
So while this was easy and good, my sauce never became a glaze
 
Steven1 February 17, 2020
Good recipe and easy. I didn’t care for the fat from the skin though. Second time around I took the skin off and tossed the thighs in some flour. The sauce was thick and less greasy. I also used palm sugar. Have made thus several times. It’s an easy recipe and always good. Thanks Amelia.
 
Leah C. April 26, 2019
My adobo recipe is one-pot and takes about 30 minutes to cook. Just dump all the ingredients in a skillet. I do add a bit of oyster sauce for umami and don't add sugar or oil. I let everything braise until the sauce thickens and coats the chicken. I continue cooking until the chicken fat renders and the sauce caramelizes. You may have to adjust the heat so it doesn't burn. If you want a 'dry' adobo, this can be served immediately. If you want a 'saucy adobo' add some water and scrape all the fond until you get a thick sauce. Enjoy!
 
Austin B. March 21, 2019
Only swap was Cane Vinegar instead of rice vinegar. Very good.
 
Barbara January 10, 2019
Really good, works with chicken breast as well.
 
lexa January 8, 2019
amazing!!!! extremely juicy, flavorful, and easy!!!
 
cpc December 5, 2018
I made this last night and loved it. It's easy and fairly hands off once you've got everything prepped. The only change I made was to mince the garlic instead of slicing it. The sauce is wonderful, especially when it's soaked up by the rice.
 
Sharda O. November 19, 2018
3 stars, I tried to make this but my chicken skin would not get crispy in my dutch oven ... when it did it stuck to the bottom of the pan and ugh, Im so frustrated, i even put in oil so it wouldn't stick.
 
Sharda O. November 20, 2018
Just kidding, it was incredible. make this!!!!
 
Eve October 15, 2018
My 3 star rating is a mistake (accidental click). I haven't made the recipe yet. Sorry!