This pressure cooker Chicken Adobo and Rice has everything going for it: it's fast, it's tasty, and everything cooks together in the same pot!
Make a salad to serve alongside while the pressure cooker does its magic, and you’ll have a complete dinner in less than an hour.
The sauce for this chicken adobo is made from a handful of pantry staples you probably have on hand: onion, garlic, white vinegar, soy sauce, peppercorns, bay leaves, and a little bit of sugar. The tangy, salty, slightly sweet sauce gives the chicken its unmistakably Filipino flavor.
Using vinegar and salty ingredients like this makes for a delicious dish, of course, and also acts as a natural preservation method. Cooks in the Philippines were preparing and preserving meat dishes this way long before the dish was given its Spanish name. In the 16th and 17th century, Spanish colonists recognized the method as cooking with an “adobo,” which means dressing or marinade.
For those of you more used to Mexican cooking and using chipotles en adobo, you might be wondering where the chiles are right now! No chiles in this dish -- just a salty, tangy sauce. The same term, adobo, is used to mean "sauce" or "marinade" in both cuisines.
When I was writing this recipe, I turned to my friend Nancy for help. Her family is from the Philippines, and her mom taught her how to make her delicious adobo.
Nancy likes to use rice vinegar in her adobo for its milder flavor. I tried it with both rice vinegar and white vinegar and decided that like the tanginess of white vinegar the best. If you like a more mild flavor, though, try it Nancy's way!
Also, it's best to use a mix of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and legs this recipe. This ensures the most tender and flavorful cooked chicken. It's ok to substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but avoid using chicken breasts, which tend to dry out too much during cooking.
I use my 6-quart Instant Pot for this recipe, and use the pot-in-pot method to cook the rice and chicken at the same time. It sounds complicated, but it’s actually very easy! You just combine the chicken and sauce ingredients in the bottom of the pot, nestle a raised metal trivet in the pot, then set a bowl of water and rice on top.
- New to the Instant Pot? Check out our post How To Use an Instant Pot: A First-Timer’s Guide.
For this method, you’ll need a raised steam rack (about 3 inches high) and a small stainless steel bowl for cooking the rice. You can also cook the rice separately on the stovetop, if you prefer; without the rice, the pot takes about 10 minutes less to come up to pressure.
One final note: The sauce for this chicken adobo is rich with rendered chicken fat. This is intentional, but if you're not accustomed to it, this dish might taste overly fatty to you. If you'd prefer, you can transfer the sauce to a fat separator to remove the rendered fat, or you can use boneless skinless chicken thighs to make the recipe.
Instant Pot Chicken Adobo and Rice
We don't recommend using chicken breasts for this recipe as they tend to become too dry.
Nancy prefers a 1:2 ratio of vinegar to soy sauce, but I like the tanginess of a 1:1 version, too. Tweak the quantities of the ingredients to suit your own tastes!
The sauce for this recipe is rich with rendered chicken fat. If you'd prefer a less fatty sauce, you can either use a fat separator to use skim off the fat, or cook the dish with boneless skinless chicken thighs.
This recipe works best in a 6-quart pressure cooker. If you are using a larger pressure cooker, double the quantities of vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar or add 2/3 cup water then reduce the sauce after cooking.
Stovetop Instructions: Simmer the chicken in the sauce in a covered soup pot or Dutch oven for 40 minutes, until tender. Cook the rice in a separate pot.
- 3 to 3 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken legs and thighs (or 1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs)
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/3 cup soy sauce (use low sodium soy sauce for less salt, or tamari for gluten-free)
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar (or rice vinegar for a milder flavor)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
- 1 1/2 cups water
- Thinly sliced green onions, to garnish the rice (optional)
Combine the chicken and sauce ingredients in the pressure cooker:
Stir or use your hands to evenly coat the chicken pieces in the sauce.
Nestle a raised steam rack in with the chicken pieces, making sure all of its legs are touching the bottom of the pot.
Rinse the rice:
Rinse the rice in a wire mesh strainer, let it drain for a minute or so, then combine it with the 1 1/2 cups of water in a small (1 1⁄2-quart) stainless steel mixing bowl.
Place the bowl of rice and water on top of the steam rack in the pot. It should just fit inside the pot, so it will not touch the lid when the pot is closed.
Cook the chicken and rice:
Place the lid on the pressure cooker. Make sure the pressure regulator is set to the “Sealing” position. If you are using an Instant Pot, select the “Poultry” or “Manual” program, then adjust the time to 15 minutes. If your pressure cooker does not have a “Poultry” program, set it manually to “High Pressure” for 15 minutes. For stovetop pressure cookers, cook for 12 minutes at high pressure.
It will take about 20 minutes for your pressure cooker to come up to pressure, and then the actual cooking will begin. Total time from the time you seal the pressure cooker to the finished dish is about 45 minutes (including a 10-minute natural pressure release).
Release the pressure:
When the cooking program ends, let the pressure release naturally for at least 10 minutes, then perform a quick pressure release by moving the pressure release knob from “Sealing” to “Venting.”
Fluff the rice:
Wearing a pair of heat-proof mitts, remove the bowl of rice and the steam rack from the pot. Fluff the rice with a fork.
Check the temperature of the chicken:
Use an instant read thermometer to take the temperature of a piece of chicken at its thickest part. It should read at least 165oF.
If the chicken isn't 165oF yet, reset the pressure cooker and select the "Poultry" or "Manual" setting for another minute or two. It will take much less time to come up to pressure the second time since the food is already hot.
Finish the sauce and serve:
Transfer the chicken to a serving dish.
If you'd like, you can reduce the sauce to concentrate the flavor using your pressure cooker’s “Sauté” setting for 15 minutes.
Strain the sauce to catch the bay leaves, peppercorns, and any bones that might have fallen from the chicken. If you prefer a less fatty sauce, use a fat separator to separate the sauce and the fat, or wait for the fat to float to the top and then skim it off.
Drizzle some of the sauce over the chicken and serve the rest alongside.