May 4, 2005

Chicken Adobo Recipe

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Chicken Adobo RecipeThis Chicken Adobo recipe comes from my mother, a fabulous cook renowned in her rather extensive circle of friends for her parties. As she was Filipino, parties always meant food.

Adobo is the Filipino national dish, a little like a non-sweet teriyaki with sauce to flavor the accompanying rice. I've served adobo to artists and society kids, computer gurus, visiting Internet marketers and health food folk — anyone who happened to be there when the mood struck. It's always been a hit because it's one of those can't-get-enough-of dishes.

With chicken or pork, the sequence is: simmer, fry, boil. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. The sauce is to die for; if you're reheating it on a subsequent day, add a little water but don't dilute the sauce too much.

A word about soy sauce: my favorite is Yamasa with Less Salt, which is less spicy than, say, Chinese soy sauce.

Chicken Adobo

1 chicken, cut up
soy sauce
white vinegar
handful of black peppercorns
garlic cloves, peeled (5-15)
1 large bay leaf
cooking oil (something bland like canola oil)

Simmer: Put chicken, peppercorns and bay leaf in a large pot (dutch oven or large high-walled frying pan). Peel garlic cloves, cut a slice into them, and add to pot. (You can use less garlic, but note that garlic powder does not give the same taste or quality.)

Add soy sauce and vinegar to pot: 5 parts soy sauce to 3 part vinegar. (I just tip the bottle and count "glops" as it pours.) Add some water so the pot is about half full; if you're cooking more, then adjust. Important: the liquid should be pretty brown from the soy sauce, rather than very watered down.

Cover; simmer on medium heat for 15-20 minutes, then remove from heat.

Fry: Pour liquid into a bowl and set it aside. (I do this by slightly opening the top of the pot, tipping and pouring into the bowl.)

Pour some cooking oil into the bottom of the pot and brown the chicken at a high heat. (Cover the pot to keep from splattering.) You may have to take some of the chicken out of the pot to do this easily. You can also brown the garlic lightly.

Remove from heat and let the pot cool. This is important — otherwise, the soy sauce can end up with a burnt taste. You may also want to pour out any residual oil, if you are big on fat-free diets.

Boil: When pot has cooled down, pour the sauce back in. Cover, and boil at medium heat for 45 minutes to an hour. Adobo is done when the chicken is cooked and tender.


Serve with steamed rice (fresh, cut-up tomatoes are also a nice side dish, as are sliced bananas). I like white rice or Basmati brown (not the California-grown stuff). Typical for Filipino dishes, though, is white pearl rice.

As rice takes a while to cook, it should be started along with the adobo. Wash rice before cooking; this means to rinse the rice quickly in water. The water from a second rinse can be used in place of the water in the adobe recipe. The theory is that the starch from the rice water thickens the sauce.

I could give you the "real" way to cook rice — in all its pot-watching, precise-timing glory — but many of us have opted for the wonderful modern electric rice steamer. <grin>

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91 Comments for "Chicken Adobo Recipe"

  1. Diane Vigil says:

    Hi Susan. I'd say remove it — give it a try. Why eat something you don't care for?

    Comment posted on 10/12/2009 @ 1:58 pm
  2. Ashley says:

    My boyfriend is filipino and he always makes adobo for me. so tonight i decided to try to make it for him as a surprise. thanks for the recipe. Hope he likes it.

    Comment posted on 11/10/2009 @ 7:36 pm
  3. Diane Vigil says:

    Excellent. Hope you like it!

    Comment posted on 11/10/2009 @ 9:29 pm
  4. Mary says:

    I am Japanese, but I grew up eating chicken adobo. My mom learned how to make it from a Filipino friend. Hers is good, but your is fantastic!! I agree, your method makes the chicken taste excellent! Thank you SO MUCH….I first cooked this about 2 months ago, and now I can\'t stop eating adobo! You rock!!

    Comment posted on 12/7/2009 @ 6:29 pm
  5. Diane Vigil says:

    Thanks, Mary. I'm glad you find it to your liking.

    I think the difference with mine is that I don't hold back on the sauce (and Yamasa is absolutely delicious soy sauce) — none of this loads of chicken with a tiny bit of weak water-down sauce for me! We want nice sauce, and lots of it!

    Japanese, eh? I'll bet you have some great recipes … tempura and terriyaki. Now, that's heaven!

    Comment posted on 12/7/2009 @ 6:43 pm
  6. Janet Brown says:

    I am cooking this for a large group (100) I bought boneless, skinless thighs, can I use them? Any suggestions!!

    Comment posted on 12/12/2009 @ 11:43 am
  7. Diane Vigil says:

    Hi Janet. Sure, why not … give it a try. I would suggest that it might not take as long to cook, but you'll just have to eyeball it … and poke it with a fork to tell when it's done.

    Comment posted on 12/12/2009 @ 8:45 pm
  8. Susan N says:

    I have not been able to find the Yamasu soy sauce. Can anyone tell me where to find it?

    Comment posted on 12/15/2009 @ 7:58 pm
  9. Diane Vigil says:

    Well, foolish me. It's spelled "Yamasa" (with an "a" on the end … I'd originally spelled it with a "u").

    At any rate, I don't know where you are located but, amazingly, I did find it at (which seems to be my second home lately …).

    Here's a search for Yamasa at

    Comment posted on 12/16/2009 @ 1:17 am
  10. Chuls says:

    OMGEE! A million thanks for your adobo recipe..^_^ I'm a Filipina living in Shanghai with my Chinese husband for almost a year and I miss adobo so much, which my mom usually cooks for me. Now thanks to your recipe, i can start to cook tomorrow.:D Hope you will post more filipino food recipes.:D

    Comment posted on 12/27/2009 @ 6:34 am
  11. Mae says:

    Thanks for the recipe. I could never cook this kind of adobo before. One time I wanted to surprise my bf with a hot adobo meal waiting for him after his trip, but i totally ruined it and we had to throw it out because it really tasted burnt and salty!

    I tried this recipe and now I finally got it. Thanks.

    Comment posted on 1/4/2010 @ 7:50 pm
  12. Diane Vigil says:

    Hi Mae. Yep; soy sauce is salty, and it's easy to overdo it (and easy to give the soy sauce a burnt taste if you pour it back into the pan or pot without giving the pan/pot time to cool down a bit).

    I would say that we happen to love the adobe sauce, so I probably rather overdo it with the soy sauce and vinegar mix … but anyone could cut down on those a bit when making adobo.

    Glad this worked for you.

    Comment posted on 1/4/2010 @ 8:38 pm
  13. Janice says:

    Hi Diane. I serve my chicken adobo with thinly sliced salted fried potatoes (sometimes skin on when I'm in the mood to scrub the potatoes clean) as a side dish. Since my typical adobo is less oily than the typical, the combination of a stewed dish with a fry-up is always very tasty!

    Comment posted on 1/25/2010 @ 9:25 am
  14. Diane Vigil says:

    Hi Janice. That sounds pretty interesting!

    I'll admit that I use an awful lot of soy sauce, so I go with sliced tomatoes and/or bananas. But yours sounds pretty tasty! Do you do rice, too?

    Comment posted on 1/25/2010 @ 9:47 am
  15. Janice says:

    Hi Diane. Yes I do rice, too. I'm Filipino – I cannot survive a day without it :) The past years I've actually been away from home – I've developed a liking for American long grain (particularly Uncle Ben's)!

    Comment posted on 1/25/2010 @ 10:05 am
  16. Diane Vigil says:

    Ah, okay. I'm half Filipino. And I'm liking Basmatic brown rice (also like long grain). Unfortunately, my husband does not understand that you can eat rice with fried eggs. <grin>

    Comment posted on 1/25/2010 @ 10:07 am
  17. Birdie says:

    Sounds delicious. What vinegar do you use? And how much water do you put in?

    Comment posted on 2/8/2010 @ 9:33 pm
  18. Diane Vigil says:

    Hi Birdie. I just use a good white vinegar … and, as to the amount of water, I use enough to bring it near the top of the chicken. In other words, without some amount of water, the soy sauce/vinegar will be a little too strong. Play with it and see what you think.

    Comment posted on 2/9/2010 @ 6:00 am
  19. Organic Chicken Adobo says:

    […] the carefree exuberance borne of ownership, I've "borrowed" my Chicken Adobo recipe from our website, as we've decided to bring discussion of food here. Now that […]

    Pingback posted on 2/20/2010 @ 5:17 am
  20. mudkaw says:

    Someone suggested pork, what part of pork is best? Also, what part of the chicken works best? i need to server pork adobo at a gathering but have a tight budget so may be a pork & chicken adobo won't be too bad? help!

    Comment posted on 5/21/2010 @ 11:22 pm
  21. Diane Vigil says:

    I just use the whole chicken (cut up), including the liver, which gives it flavor. You can do as you choose, though, but I suspect that some of the fattier parts of the chicken (the dark meat) help with the flavor.

    As to pork, you can use pork shoulder or pork butt, cut up into 1 1/2 in cubes.

    Comment posted on 5/22/2010 @ 8:10 am

    My adobo consist of freshly squeeze lemons (plenty of them) which is used as my vinegar. Then I use a simple soy sauce, nothing serious salty. One thing about adobo, there is no real measurement of spices. It's all about taste. You can tell if you put too much soy sauce or not. But you definately need the garlic, onions, bay leaves, lemons (vinegar–if you want the quick and lazy way), soy sauce and whatever meat you want.

    On occasions, I would do it the kapampangan style and add pototes too it, slice up like you would in pot roast and add it. MASARAP TALAGA!

    Comment posted on 5/29/2010 @ 11:54 pm
  23. Masarap Adobo says:

    I normally use liempo baboy and I prefer the legs and thighs for the chicken. Sometimes I mix it up and it turns out quite masarap.

    Comment posted on 5/30/2010 @ 12:10 am
  24. Lyn says:

    We're now working on an adobo cookbook. Can I reprint your adobo recipe? We're adding adobo trivia so I hope the rest of the readers here can also send me their adobo stories. you can email it to

    Comment posted on 7/28/2010 @ 12:29 am
  25. Diane Vigil says:

    Sorry for the delay. Yes, you have my permission to reprint my adobo recipe.

    Good luck with your cookbook!

    Comment posted on 8/13/2010 @ 3:11 am
  26. Andru B says:

    I Cooked this dish for the first time ever, based on your recipe. It couldn't have come out any better, it was litteraly amazing. My girlfriend has never eaten filipino food and it was a great dish to introduce her to the culture.

    Comment posted on 11/9/2010 @ 6:22 pm
  27. Diane Vigil says:

    I'm glad you enjoyed it, Andru. :)

    Comment posted on 11/10/2010 @ 10:09 am
  28. teresa says:

    Hello My name is Teresa

    I tried Chicken Adobo years ago for the first time ever by a young lady that had just arrived from the Phillipines. The sauce was a pretty color ultimately and she used cut up chicken breasts and I remember dipping into the sauce all day long and not caring but occasionally eating a piece of chicken but the sauce was Phenomenal !! Last night for the first time I tried Chicken Adobo and it was a friends recipe whos husband is Phillipino and so it appeared strange to me that the recipe required both Vinegar and Lemon Juice….since they serve the same purpose but have different tastes I had never heard of such a thing but so I did as instructed and it was so very salty it was inedible and since I don't normally work with vinegar I did not know how to fix it and my other half has high blood pressure and the salt would have been UGLY….lol I vowed not to give up and to try again but It was an expensive flop!! lol I am going to try your recipe next and wonder if it would be ok to try a low salt soy?

    Thanks again
    Epic Fail in California

    Comment posted on 12/14/2010 @ 11:45 am
  29. Diane Vigil says:

    Hi Teresa. I know what you mean about the sauce — very tasty!

    I've used low salt soy sauce (my favorite is Yamasa) and it's just fine. We pretty much balance the amount of soy sauce to the amount of vinegar (more or less) … but you can also water it down with water. If you're making rice, you can pre-rinse the rice in water, then rinse a second time and use that water in the adobo … or just add water while you're cooking the adobo to dilute it as much as you'd like. Remember: it's all about how you like it!

    There may be other recipes or ingredients; these are just the ones we've used.

    Comment posted on 12/14/2010 @ 4:07 pm
  30. Leena says:

    I cooked Chicken Adobo for the very first time over the weekend for my friend’s graduation party and it turned out great!!! I’m Indian and I’ve never cooked Filipino food, even his mom and other Filipinos were impressed!! Thank you!!!

    Comment posted on 5/24/2011 @ 7:11 am
  31. Diane Vigil says:

    Excellent, Leena. Glad it turned out well!

    Comment posted on 5/24/2011 @ 7:15 am
  32. Nhat says:

    Hi Diane,

    I had a question on the last step…Are you using a gas stove or electric stove? When I let it boil for 45 minutes on medium the sauce had completely evaporated and whatever was left solidified and burned. Everything was fine up until then. What do you suggest if I use a gas stove? When my stove is set to medium the flame is still quite strong.

    Thanks a bunch!

    Comment posted on 5/25/2011 @ 2:16 am
  33. Diane Vigil says:

    Hi Nhat. I've cooked on both gas and electric stoves (and sorry to hear your adobo burned!).

    The pot should have enough liquid in it to mostly cover the chicken (about half full or more), and then let it boil … but not a full boil where all the liquid boils away, just a medium sort of boil so that it cooks the chicken but doesn't totally disappear.

    If you find that your liquid is boiling away too fast, turn the heat down — and you can also add more soy sauce, water, vinegar, etc., if you've let it boil away.

    Lastly, about the 45 minutes: keep poking the chicken with a fork — when it's tender enough, it's done. That may be more or less than 45 minutes.

    I hope these tips help!

    Comment posted on 5/25/2011 @ 2:24 am
  34. bryan says:

    Thanks to your blog, i was able to cook adobo for my wife. :) I never tried cooking before but it turned out well thanks to you.

    Comment posted on 11/8/2011 @ 9:31 pm
  35. Diane Vigil says:

    Glad to hear it, Bryan. And glad my recipe was intelligible enough to follow. :)

    Comment posted on 11/8/2011 @ 9:35 pm
  36. Shelly says:

    The first time cook chicken adobo was in the 80 and still cook it now in the present The way I was told to cook it was toput the soy sauce and the vinger and the oil and cut up some ginger root the chicken pro boil in a dutch oven for a hour or until it falls off the bone Now I cook in a slow cooker which does the same as the dutch oven and my family enjoy it

    Comment posted on 7/13/2012 @ 11:19 pm
  37. Diane Vigil says:

    Thank you for your tips, Shelly.

    Comment posted on 7/13/2012 @ 11:34 pm
  38. Cali Girl in Jersey says:

    Being raised in California, alot of my friends were filipino. I love adobo, ponsit, lumpia I'm making this recipe tonight! Thanks

    Comment posted on 7/16/2012 @ 11:42 am
  39. Diane Vigil says:

    Mmm. Pansit. Enjoy!

    Comment posted on 7/16/2012 @ 11:45 am
  40. Nick says:

    I have just started cooking it now, just a little worried if i put too much water, vinegar, and soy sauce. Smells really good though! Thanks for your help ;)

    Comment posted on 11/20/2012 @ 3:52 am
  41. Diane Vigil says:

    Well, I love the extra sauce. Nothing like adobo sauce. And you're very welcome. :)

    Comment posted on 11/20/2012 @ 4:06 am

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