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
- Prep time 5 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes
- Serves 4 to 6
skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
plus ¾ cup soy sauce, divided
plus 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
unseasoned rice vinegar
raw sugar or demerara sugar
head of garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced (about 15 cloves)
crushed red pepper flakes
steamed white rice
scallions, green parts sliced on a diagonal
- Heat the oven to 350°F. Season the chicken with ¼ cup of the soy sauce and 1 pinch of the black pepper.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Serve the chicken over rice. Spoon extra sauce on top, if you like, then garnish with the scallions.