Filipino Chicken Adobo, the national dish of the Philippines, is made with chicken simmered in a tangy and savory soy sauce-vinegar marinade. This easy recipe allows you to enjoy juicy, tender chicken adobo using common pantry staples.

Chicken adobo Filipino style in a skillet.

Filipino Style Chicken Adobo

“Adobo” can mean a variety of things around the world, typically involving a seasoning blend or marinade used for flavoring and preserving food. However, in the Philippines, Filipino adobo refers to a beloved national dish where chicken is simmered in a distinctive adobo sauce made from vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, and black pepper.

Filipino chicken adobo has a delightful combination of savory and sweet, with a subtle tang that keeps things interesting. This recipe is simple enough for anyone new to traditional Filipino cuisine. It delivers an authentic Pinoy taste—tangy and slightly salty, ideal for pairing with a big scoop of jasmin rice.

Ingredients you will need

Ingredients for Filipino chicken adobo recipe.
  • Chicken: Use bone-in chicken pieces (chicken thighs and drumsticks) for the best flavor and tender texture. You can use boneless chicken thighs or drumsticks as substitutes, but adjust the cooking time accordingly. Otherwise the sauce can dry out boneless chicken easily.
    • Avoid using boneless chicken breasts, as they don’t absorb the sauce as well.
    • In this recipe, a whole chicken is cut into small pieces for convenient cooking.

Filipino Adobo marinade

  • Soy sauce
  • Vinegar: You can use white vinegar or a combination of white and apple cider vinegar for a nuanced taste.
  • Garlic, sugar, whole peppercorn, and bay leaves

How to make Filipino Chicken Adobo

The adobo preparation is easy. You give the chicken a quick marinade, then brown it in the pan. After that, let the chicken simmer in the same marinade for around 20 minutes. It’ll seem quite soupy for the most part, but then, in the final moments, you will be surprised how braising liquid quickly thickens into a rich, syrupy coating!

Marinating the chicken

Prepare adobo sauce and marinate chicken. Mix soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, garlic, and peppercorns in a zip-top bag. Add chicken pieces and bay leaves, coating the chicken well. Marinate for at least 20 minutes or overnight in the fridge for the best flavor.

Cooking the chicken

Sear the chicken. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, allowing excess to drip off (save the marinade for later). Place the chicken skin-side down in the pan, and cook undisturbed for 2 minutes until golden brown.

Simmer with adobo marinade. Add the reserved marinade and bay leaves to the pan. Cover the chicken with water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens into a glaze, flipping the chicken once.

Tip: If the sauce is still runny and not reducing quickly enough, remove the chicken, let the sauce reduce to a glaze, and then return the chicken to coat it with the glaze.

A skillet filled with Filipino chicken adobo.

What Does Filipino Chicken Adobo Taste Like?

The glaze on Filipino Chicken Adobo is savory and sweet with a touch of tanginess and a strong soy flavor. Garlic and bay leaves form a savory foundation, and the peppercorns give little bursts with a subtle pop of heat.

The chicken itself absorbs these flavors, becoming incredibly tender and infused with the marinade. As it simmers in the glaze, the chicken picks up the savory, sweet, and tangy notes, making each bite flavorful.

Filipino chicken adobo served over rice in a bowl.

Serving Suggestions

Serving chicken adobo is best with steamed white rice or brown rice, which soaks up the flavorful sauce. Egg fried rice is another tasty option that adds a hint of garlic. You can also try with cauliflower rice for healthier option.

A side of stir-fried veggies like Choy Sum or Bean Sprout Salad can offer a crunchy contrast to the dish. For a sweet touch, try a tangy green papaya salad or a Pineapple Cucumber Salad. Simple boiled corn on the cob or corn rice also makes for a sweet and juicy addition to round out your meal.

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Filipino chicken adobo in a skillet.

Best Filipino Chicken Adobo

Filipino Chicken Adobo, the national dish of the Philippines, is made with chicken simmered in a tangy and savory soy sauce-vinegar marinade. This simple recipe allows you to enjoy juicy, tender chicken adobo using common pantry staples.
5 from 7 ratings

Ingredients

  • 2 lb (900 g) bone-in chicken pieces, or chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar, or brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp whole peppercorn
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
  • 1 green onion, chopped, optional garnish

Instructions 

  • In a large zip bag, combine soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, garlic, peppercorns, and mix well. Add chicken pieces and bay leaves, then toss to ensure they are coated with the marinade. Let the chicken marinate for at least 20 minutes or up to overnight.
  • Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or pot. Remove the chicken from the marinade, allowing most of the marinade to drip back into the bag (reserve the marinade). Place the chicken in the hot pan and cook undisturbed for 2 minutes, until it becomes slightly brown and golden. Flip the chicken and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Add the reserved marinade, including the bay leaves, to the skillet. Pour water over the chicken, and bring it to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes uncovered until the sauce reduces down to a thick glaze. Flip the chicken to the other side while simmering.
  • If the sauce isn't thick enough, remove the chicken onto a plate and let the sauce simmer on its own—it will thicken more quickly. Then, return the chicken to the skillet and coat it with the glaze.
  • Serve the adobo chicken over fluffy white rice, and garnish with chopped green onions.
Calories: 591kcal, Carbohydrates: 7g, Protein: 46g, Fat: 41g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g, Monounsaturated Fat: 19g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 170mg, Sodium: 1814mg, Potassium: 530mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 362IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 48mg, Iron: 3mg
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