Chicken Adobo (Yes, Again)


As my thousands of two regular infrequent readers may recall, I have attempted to make Chicken Adobo before.  The results from that previous attempt?  Eh, I wasn’t too pleased.  But I wasn’t disheartened either.  In fact, after making that not too satisfying dish of Chicken Adobo, I vowed to keep trying different recipes until I found something I liked.

So while partaking in the Penny-Wise Eat Local Challenge almost two weeks ago (yes, I’m behind on my blogging, I know) I purchased a couple of pounds of chicken thighs not really knowing what I was going to do with them.  As I was pushing my cart around Henry’s that day, I walked past a display of local organic  cider vinegar which triggered a flickering light bulb above my head.  As this light bulb buzzed and pulsated above my noggin, I bit my lip, cocked an eyebrow, and slowly started remembering something about chicken and vinegar.

Duh! Chicken Adobo!

After I had finally flipped the A-HA! switch, I knew I had seen a
chicken adobo recipe specifically for chicken thighs in one of the many
foodie mags I had back home.  I just had to figure out which magazine it was in.

When I returned to the Burnt Lumpia Worldwide Headquarters that day, I went over to my bed and reached under my mattress (where else would you keep food porn silly?)  Anyways, I knew immediately that I could eliminate Cook’s Illustrated from the search.  Finding a Filipino recipe in Cook’s Illustrated magazine would be like Rachael Ray giving birth to my child: possible, but highly unlikely.

That left three year’s worth of Sunset magazine (I never throw any out) and a few scattered Bon Appetits (that last word looks funny) and Gourmets.  Luckily, as I thumb through my food porn, when I find something that I like I mark the pages with something sticky… Post-It flags.  (This is getting unsavory, sorry, time to reel this post back in.)

Anyhoo, thanks to a wonderfully placed blue Post-It flag, I found the chicken adobo recipe that I was reminded of earlier that day.  It was in the March 2007 Sunset issue, yes, not that long ago, but my memory is terrible at remembering memories — and forming sentences good.

Of course, I fidgeted with the recipe a tiny bit, but the end result was… SARAP!  That means delicious for you non-Pinoys.  It was a straightforward, easy recipe with basic adobo ingredients like my mom would use: soy, vinegar, black pepper, garlic, bay leaf, and absolutely NO COCONUT MILK!  And it only took about 45 minutes to make.  My wife and I liked this recipe so much, it is now in our regular rotation.

Chicken Adobo

(adapted from March 2007 Sunset Magazine Easy Chicken Adobo recipe)

1 Tbsp. achuete oil (you can also use canola or vegetable oil, but I have lots of achuete left)
8 bone-in chicken thighs, with skin
5 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  When the oil begins to shimmer, place the chicken in the pan, skin-side down, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.  Flip the chicken over and brown the other side, another 5 minutes.

Remove the browned chicken from the saute pan and place in a large bowl.  Pour off all but 1 Tbsp of the drippings from the saute pan and return to low heat.  Add the garlic and saute until lightly brown and fragrant, about 1 minute.  Deglaze the pan with the soy and vinegar, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.  Return the chicken to the pan, along with any accumulated juices from the bowl, and bring to a gentle simmer.  After the liquid reaches a simmer, cover the saute pan and cook for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, uncover the pan and increase the heat to medium, cooking for 15 minutes more or until sauce thickens to your liking.  While the chicken cooks, occasionally stir and spoon sauce over the chicken.  Remove the bay leaves and serve over white rice.  Drizzle chicken and rice with sauce.


  • Wandering Chopsticks May 6, 2007, 9:13 pm

    OK, this version looks simple enough for me to try. I’ve only had chicken adobo once or twice and they were too salty for me. But if it’s from Sunset how “authentic” is that really?

  • Burnt Lumpia May 7, 2007, 12:11 pm

    WC, this is a pretty easy recipe to try. If anything, adobo should have a piquant vinegary flavor, rather than a salty flavor. I also questioned the authenticity of the recipe when I first saw it, but besides the use of only chicken thighs (usually a whole chicken would be used) the rest is pretty legit. Flavor-wise, it’s pretty close to my mother’s adobo.

  • Rasa Malaysia May 9, 2007, 10:09 pm

    I have read so much about Adobo…I must must must try them soon! :)

  • Burnt Lumpia May 10, 2007, 8:06 am

    Thanks for the comment Rasa. If there is one Filipino dish you should try, it would be Adobo. Well, and maybe lumpia of course;)

  • yas May 22, 2007, 9:09 pm

    This is very simular to the recipe I grew up with. I add a pinch or two of sugar. My friend actually cooks hers with one cut hot dogs, I tried it and it adds some good flavors and the pieces of hot dog are great over rice too.

  • Mo May 23, 2007, 8:46 am

    This looks great! And easy. I think I’m going to give it a try this week :)

  • Burnt Lumpia May 23, 2007, 9:10 am

    Thanks for your comment yas. There are very many ways to make adobo, and I think this is the first I’ve heard of putting hot dogs in it. My mother sometimes puts cut up hot dogs in her fried rice.
    Mo, it is definitely an easy recipe worth giving a try.

  • tavo May 23, 2007, 11:02 am

    This looks great. I think it’s even more simple than Bittman’s take. Thanks for this.

  • tanya June 1, 2007, 2:46 pm

    ah adobo! the fave of all people. I think!
    I have another version i think you might like.
    Put all the ingredients in the pot.. cook it for 45 minutes. Then remove everything…
    saute tons of garlic.. put the chicken back in.. ..
    oh yeah chicken and garlic heaven! 😀

  • Janice June 3, 2007, 10:07 pm

    I’m currently in an international student exchange program in the UK and I made adobo for a potluck dinner…4.5 pounds of chicken were gone in 10 minutes. Everyone loved it! Unfortunately, I didn’t have time (or a rice cooker) to make rice on the side…
    I marinaded the chicken with all the ingredients overnight, then pre-cooked the chicken on a pan while the marinade cooked. Afterwards, the chicken was put back in the pot with the sauce.
    It’s definitely different from how my mom cooks adobo…she usually sticks everything in a pot and lets it simmer for a couple hours. She cooks it with chicken wings, which I’ve found impossible to find in the UK, along with hot dogs.

  • veron September 26, 2007, 10:50 am

    I think chicken adobo is still my favorite filipino dish, I could eat it days on end.

  • Donna L. November 20, 2007, 10:42 pm

    My sauce is about the same, but I like a combo of chicken and pork. Also, I simmer longer, then remove the meat to a platter and just reduce the sauce. Over brown jasmine rice, this stuff is heaven!

  • ray d March 13, 2008, 6:49 am

    Chicken Adobo is definetly is on the top 5 traditional filipino dishes that most filipinos (like myself) grew up eating at home. Instead of using achuete oil, I like using a couple teaspoons of paprika instead and I like adding a sliced onion just after the part “return the chicken to the pan,..” as well. I got this variation from my filipino uncle who once was a cook on a ship in the navy. He said everyone on the ship looked forward for chicken adobo on the menu.

  • Beef Recipes March 20, 2008, 11:38 pm

    wow, you’ve just made me drool. can’t wait to try this recipe myself.

  • [eatingclub] vancouver April 18, 2008, 7:50 pm

    Will have to try this adobo recipe. It’s a little different with the apple cider vinegar.
    We’re all obsessed with ADOBO. Our version of chicken adobo is here:
    And pork adobo:
    Will have to try this one though. As I suspect is the case with all Filipinos, we’re still tinkering with the perfect adobo recipe!

  • tiberius omalay October 16, 2008, 2:07 pm

    My Chicken Adobo Recipe song/music video.
    Salamat for all the cool recipes

  • tiberius omalay October 16, 2008, 2:08 pm

  • debiroth October 29, 2008, 10:29 am

    I am not Filipino, however, my godfather is, and he taught my mother to make a chicken adobo dish that we still make and eat to this day. It was about the same except instead of vinegar he used lemon juice. He put the chicken in a pot with the lemon juice and water along wtih garlic cloves and boiled it until amost done, added the soy sauce and simmered a bit. This was served over rice. It is my very favorite dish and my mom makes it for my birthday every year.

  • dodskie January 9, 2009, 10:44 pm

    I usually add a lil bit of rum on it.

  • barkley75 February 1, 2009, 12:44 pm

    I have made your chicken adobo recipe about 10 times now and my fiance keeps requesting another batch each week. Thank god it is so easy and tasty. My filipino mom thinks the recipe is walang lasa because the chicken is not marinated, but I think its perfect. Now I have to try to make adobo chicken wings based on this recipe for our superbowl get-together tonight. Thanks for the recipe – and wish me luck!

  • neekoh February 15, 2009, 10:20 pm

    First time reader/commenter. I like my adobo less salty and more vinegary, so I use about a 3:1 ratio of vinegar to soy sauce. I also add onions to the mix, then sautee with more onions at the end. Some regions of the Philippines make their adobo saucy and some make them dry. I particularly like it dry (to the point where bits of the chicken/pork and garlic and onions crust the bottom and you scrape it and mix it with your rice.)

  • Moodee July 18, 2009, 1:38 am

    I Love your Chicken Adobo. Thank You !

  • paddedroom February 1, 2010, 2:37 am

    This recipe is a bit different than what I am used to but I’m sure going to ty it your way!

  • Cynthia March 4, 2010, 10:27 pm

    this recipe is almost exactly what i do for adobo except i think i’ll try sauteing the garlic and deglazing with the other ingredients first while the chicken is put aside. i usually put it all in together after browning the chicken. i tinkered w/ the Reynaldo (Philippine Recipes?) Book recipe and found your almost exact measurements to fit the bill for the way i like it! how funny

  • PJ April 26, 2010, 9:48 am

    I made this the other night. It was a success, thanks! I used grapeseed oil instead of the achuette. Other than that, I kept close to the recipe. Photo:

  • Christine October 24, 2010, 11:22 pm

    I really enjoyed this recipe. Growing up, my family always used white vinegar, but the cider vinegar was a nice touch. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lisa April 1, 2011, 10:18 am

    Hi I love your blog! We have a great restaurant here in union city ca called tribe or tribu grill. Oh!! I found your blog cuz I was trying to figure out one of their dishes. This is so great. Any way my best pal Nel is pilipina and guamanian and she makes her chicken adobo with lemon juice also. Beef is with vinegar. And she just uses American Heinz. But for the delicate stuff like the raw fish marinade she uses the palm vinegar. I have a recipe for mochiko rice cake that is similar but never the same as any other I’ve seen. AKA bibinka. Which I love more than anything ! It’s a very simple bibinka no cheese eggs and u would love to know more about the history of this cake. I also got this recipe from a friend from the philipines. So I know it’s authentic tosomeone!

  • Raven August 6, 2012, 3:54 pm

    Wow, looks very good. Will compare to my own chicken adobo recipe and let you know how it turns out!

  • Emily Chapman September 9, 2012, 9:18 am

    Looks like the recipe I use except I season the chicken with onion and garlic powder for extra flavor. :)

  • Josephine Martin November 27, 2012, 7:44 pm

    Oh! Chicken Adobo! I’ve been experimenting my Chicken adobo since last year because it’s my boyfriend’s favorite. He always keep on requesting me to cook chicken adobo every time we are having a date either in his place or mine.

  • notthatmrt February 1, 2013, 4:54 am

    I’m going to have to give this a try!

  • Jennifer April 22, 2013, 8:41 pm

    Just in case you don’t already know, America’s Test Kitchen did a chicken adobo recipe this season. I was so shocked to see it! They do use gata because they thought the vinegar was too harsh. It doesn’t taste right to me if there’s coconut milk in my adobo, but that recipe looked ok. You should check it out.

  • marybeth May 30, 2013, 11:50 am

    So I am going to throw this question out there and hope I am not met with a whole bunch of FLACK. What are your thoughts on skinless thighs for this recipe – or any adobo recipe. I LOVE vinegar and all the other ingredients in these recipes – but have never prepared adobo. The skin on the thighs is so thick and “nasty” – I dont want it anywhere near the prepared dish – plus it is so easy to remove. Do you think the “sauce” would be too absorbed and strong with out the skin to block some of it?

  • Lance April 21, 2016, 6:44 pm

    The first time I ever had chicken adobo was from the Manila Machine food truck “back in the day”. It looked good in the photo. I got it back to my desk and opened it up. Wow! I thought this is really good! Slight vinegar fragrance with the garlic undertones. Needless to say I always got it when they were in the area. It was a sad day when they hung it all up. So I looked all over for a suitable replacement. Nothing could compare. I came here and did a search on Adobo and found this recipe. Seamed easy enough and I had all the ingredients. Actually I didn’t have the bay leaves, which I thought I had, but it turned out great even without the bay leaves. Got them for the second time I made it. Anyway when I made it and was as close to what I remember from the MM truck. I make it every few weeks. You can make it with boneless, skinless thighs. I just browned and simmered for less time, but I kept the last 15 minutes to reduce the sauce unchanged. You have to just play around with it. To me boneless, skinless chicken thighs are forgiving if you happen to cook them longer than normal. For me the soy sauce to vinegar ratio (1:2) is good.


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