Chicken Adobo

Nothing satisfies like a steaming pot of Filipino chicken adobo. It’s tart, salty, loaded with garlic, and begs for steamed white rice to sop up the sauce. Make this chicken adobo recipe for a taste of the Philippines right in your home.

Chicken Adobo in a Bowl With a Spoon, and Under the Bowl, a Kitchen Towel

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

Adobo is the unofficial national dish of the Philippines, with countless versions throughout our over 7,100 islands. The beauty of the adobo is that one can cook this dish anywhere. Its ingredients are commonly available.

The classic Filipino chicken adobo is a stew that is cooked either by braising or simmering. Its tangy flavors come from the basic ingredients of garlic, vinegar, crushed peppercorns, soy sauce, broth, bay leaves, and a dash of salt. Sometimes, pork belly chunks can be added with the chicken, which elevates the dish to an even more superb level.

Mom always said that the classic adobo, however it was cooked, is a dish one could make anywhere in the world. It was no wonder my grandmother Nena found it easy to cook adobo while traveling in Paris in the 1920s, using the basic ingredients of garlic and vinegar.

Chicken Adobo in a Bowl With a Spoon, Surrounded by a Table Setting With a Bowl of Rice, a Glass of Water, and More Utensils on the Counter

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

Many Adobos, One Concept

Adobo is a cooking technique. The term comes from the Spanish word ‘adobar’, meaning to marinate, according to Filipino chef Claude Tayag in The Adobo Chronicles cookbook.

Adobo focuses on its protein ingredients, often a combination of chicken and pork, braised in a mixture of salty-savory and souring agents, flavored with strong aromatics. 

There are many versions of adobo, depending on each province in the Philippines. There is adobo that is swirling in thick, soupy gravy, while there’s adobo that’s crisp, dry, and crunchy. There is adobo that is cooked with coconut milk. There is adobo cooked with annatto (achuete), or turmeric, or else tomatoes. There is adobo that is colorless, yet flavorful with only vinegar and garlic. There is also the most recognizable adobo, the one splashed with soy sauce, to give it that golden, roast appeal. I’ve tasted adobo cooked in seven kinds of vinegars, or even with pineapple or bananas. 

I am sharing the very first adobo recipe I learned, when I was practically still a child.

How I Make My Adobo

Some adobos start with browning the meat in oil for a few minutes, then continuing cooking it in a long, slow simmer.  I was taught a simpler method. I marinate and then simmer a whole chicken, cut-up, in the basic ingredients, until the meat is tender and the sauce has reduced to a thick gravy. Then, I pan-fry the chicken to a crisp, and pour the sauce over it. 

The Best Adobo Is Mom’s Adobo

And then there is Mom’s. No one can argue that your mother’s adobo is the best. It’s the one that’s been taught to you, the recipe that’s been passed around your family for generations, and the one you grew up enjoying every Sunday dinner. Mom’s adobo is the one that reminds you of a snapshot of home, which evokes the memories of family meals embedded in one’s heart.

Spoonful of Sauce Poured onto Chicken Adobo in a Bowl of Rice

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

My family’s recipe goes back to my grandmother’s time, and her own mother from the turn of the century. It became my Mom’s recipe, which she cooked every week, using solely vinegar and garlic. Later on, this recipe evolved to the addition of a few tablespoons of toyo (soy sauce), and this version was always in the care package Mom sent me by the time I was in college. I did the same for my sons. Nowadays, this is the timeless recipe I cook for our family supper.

At the end of the day, wherever you are, once the adobo is cooked, and you inhale the robust garlic-vinegar aromas that float around, you know you are home.

Choosing Vinegar for Adobo

A good adobo tastes better even days after. Vinegar is one of the key ingredients. I used cider vinegar, which has the similar tartness as palm vinegar, or white distilled vinegar, which are also good options. To Filipinos, the vinegar depends on geographical location. It can range from cane vinegar, palm vinegar, or white vinegar.

Adobo needs to be refrigerated, though it was originally created as a vinegar-based dish, centuries ago, to withstand non-refrigeration. My Mom said that this was a dish that traveled well, and did not spoil easily, and thus, adobo was often our family picnic fare at the beach, or came with us on our long car trips from our home in the province to the city.

Let’s Hear It for Leftover Adobo

We love adobo leftovers. I shred the meat to tiny slivers, deep fry in hot oil till crisp, and serve it with sinangag (garlic fried rice). Or else, as sandwich filling, in between hoagies, dinner rolls, or the Filipino pan de sal, nestled between cucumber and tomato slices. The latter is a favorite at cocktail parties.

Chicken Adobo in a Bowl With a Spoon, and Under the Bowl, a Kitchen Towel

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

Savory Chicken Stews 

Chicken Adobo

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 90 mins
Marinating Time 24 hrs
Total Time 25 hrs 40 mins
Servings 4 servings

Marinating time can range from 6 to 24 hours.

For a less greasy version, the adobo is ready to be served straight to the table after the slow simmer of 1 hour and 20 minutes. You can omit the deep-frying.


  • 1 (3 to 4 pound) whole chicken, bone-in, skin-on, cut into 8 pieces

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar (I like Heinz)

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (I like the Filipino brand Silver Swan, or use Chinese soy sauce)

  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed

  • 2 bay leaves

  • Cloves from 1 whole head of garlic (about 10 to 12), halved if large

  • 2 cups chicken broth or water

  • Salt to taste

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying

  • Steamed rice, for serving


  1. Marinate the chicken: 

    In a large bowl, combine the chicken pieces with the vinegar, soy sauce, peppercorns, bay leaves, and garlic. Keep marinated chicken and liquid in a resealable plastic bag or a non-reactive covered container. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight.

    Simple Tip!

    You can also make the chicken without marinating it, if you don’t have time. You’ll still have delicious adobo.

    Bowl of Chicken Marinating in Soy Sauce, Vinegar, Black Pepper, and Bay Leaves for Adobo Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

  2. Begin cooking the adobo:

    Combine the chicken and its marinade with the broth or water in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Add a pinch of salt. Do not stir and do not cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

    Chicken Adobo Boiling in a Dutch Oven

    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

  3. Lower the heat and simmer: 

    When the liquid boils, lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. You can now stir the ingredients, if needed. Simmer uncovered until the liquid is reduced by half and the chicken registers at least 165° F on an instant-read thermometer. Keep an eye on the adobo so that the meat doesn’t burn and the liquid does not totally evaporate. Lower heat if the pot has become too hot.

    Cooked Chicken Adobo Recipe in a Dutch Oven

    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

  4. Remove the chicken from the pot:

    Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken pieces and drain well on paper towels. Remove the garlic and pat dry as well. If you like, discard the bay leaves and whole peppercorns from the sauce (don’t worry about it too much). Set the sauce aside, off the heat.

    Simple Tip!

    If you keep the sauce on low heat as you finish the rest of the recipe, the sauce will continue to evaporate. Add more water as needed if your sauce evaporates too much.

    Chicken Adobo and Garlic on a Paper Towel

    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

  5. Fry the chicken: 

    In a wide saucepan or deep skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When oil ripples (about 350 F if using a thermometer), add the garlic and fry for 1-2 minutes. Do not let the garlic burn or it affects the outcome of the adobo flavor. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

    Then, to the same oil, add the chicken pieces one at a time and fry the chicken until the skin is crisp and dark brown, about 5 minutes per side. If your pan is too small to fit all the chicken at once without crowding, do this in two batches.

    Drain the chicken briefly on paper towels to absorb the excess grease.

    Simple Tip!

    If you like, you can skip the frying step and serve the adobo straight after it’s finished braising.

    Garlic Fried in a Pot of Hot Oil for Filipino Chicken Adobo Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

    Chicken Pieces Fried in the Same Pot of Hot Oil for Filipino Adobo Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

  6. Serve:

    Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with more salt, if needed.

    Place the chicken on a rimmed serving platter. Sprinkle the fried garlic all over. Pour the remaining adobo sauce over the fried pieces.

    Serve warm with steamed rice.

    This chicken adobo can be cooked ahead, and actually tastes better a day or two after. Frozen, adobo can last up to 2 months.

    Did you love the recipe? Leave us stars below!

    Chicken Adobo in a Bowl

    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
791 Calories
56g Fat
5g Carbs
60g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 791
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 56g 72%
Saturated Fat 15g 76%
Cholesterol 292mg 97%
Sodium 1265mg 55%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 60g
Vitamin C 11mg 55%
Calcium 67mg 5%
Iron 5mg 29%
Potassium 825mg 18%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.