Filipino Adobo Chicken

Adobo Chicken, Filipino Style

UPDATE 4/10/12:  I made this in the Crockpot and it worked very well, with one exception -- I let it get slightly overcooked, so it was beginning to fall off the bones, making it difficult to remove, fry, serve and eat. It was also just starting to get a little mush texture. I had put it in on low and then left the house. When I came home, it had been cooking for about 4 1/2 - 5 hours and was just about perfect. Unfortunately, before I was able to remove it from the slow cooker, I had to feed and change the baby, so by the time I got to it, it had been in for 5 1/2 hours and about too done, so make sure to try to remove it when the chicken is tender but still intact.

Plate of Adobo Chicken topped with fried onions.
One of my favorite foods is Filipino style Adobo Chicken, which is chicken marinated and then simmered in a seasoned soy sauce and vinegar mixture, which tastes something like the dipping sauce for Chinese potstickers/dumplings. This method can also be used for other types of meat, but chicken is very popular and my favorite, though pork is also very common.

Like many recipes, the variety of adobo recipes is as varied as there are number of cooks. Each puts their own spin on it as their family likes, much like spaghetti sauce or chili.

With jasmine rice topped with sauce and broccoli.
Don't worry about cooking the chicken in the same sauce you've marinated it in -- it will be brought to a boil and then simmered as the chicken cooks. The warnings about using marinade on cooked food pertains to marinades that have not been boiled and have been used on raw meats and then brushed over the food as it cooks or afterward.

You can use either white vinegar or cider vinegar for this recipe -- from my research, it seems that both are authentic. I have tried both, and I prefer either all white or a combination of white and cider vinegar (1/2 C. white and 1/4 C. cider). Using all cider vinegar just makes it too strong for me, but adding some cider vinegar to the mix makes the flavor a little fuller and I need to add less sugar.

I use 2 T. of sugar if adding the cider vinegar, and 3 T. if only white, but you can adjust to taste. Some people like it very tart and vinegary with just a touch of sugar to balance it out without making it sweet. Other people enjoy it more like a sweet and sour dish with plenty of sugar. I like mine somewhere in the middle, still a bit tangy but not really sweet either.

I've been asked what sort of soy sauce I prefer. I am sure there are lots of really good quality soy sauces out there, especially in the ethnic grocery stores, that may be better, but I pretty much just choose from what is available at the regular American mainstream grocers, which is usually either La Choy or Kikkoman. I will use either, but of those two readily available sauces, I prefer La Choy, as it's a bit richer and makes the chicken a darker color, while Kikkoman makes for a little lighter colored dish.

1 Whole Chicken, cut in pieces (or substitute other chicken parts)
3/4 C. Soy Sauce
3/4 C. Vinegar
2-3 T. Brown Sugar
4 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
2 Bay Leaves
1/4 tsp. Course Ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
1-2 Onions, Sliced, Optional

  • Mix the soy sauce, vinegar and brown sugar in a large bowl until sugar dissolves.
  • Crush the garlic cloves lightly (leaving mostly whole) and add to the soy sauce mixture with other herbs and spices.
  • Add the chicken pieces (skin on) and toss to coat.
  • Marinate for at least one hour, two is better, and you can leave it longer.
  • Add the chicken and marinating liquid to the pot and bring to a boil.
  • Lower to a simmer and simmer for about 45 minutes or until chicken is done, but still intact, you don't want the pieces of chicken falling off the bones.
  • Remove the chicken and set aside, then raise the temperature of the sauce and let it cook down until reduced a bit.
  • Meanwhile, heat a large skillet with a small amount of oil. Brown the chicken in oil until dark golden brown and skin is getting crispy.
  • Turn the chicken pieces and repeat on the other side.
  • Remove the chicken to a serving plate and add the onions, then cook until starting to brown and become soft. Place the onions over the chicken. 
  • Serve the reduced sauce on the side to put over the rice.
1. Serve with rice. Use the reduced sauce as a condiment for the rice with the chicken. I prefer Jasmine rice with this, as I learned from my Filipino neighbor.

2. Some people serve this with fried potatoes or fried potatoes and onions. I don't usually like potatoes with my rice, so I just make it with fried onions, which is optional but really delicious. To me, this is one of the best parts of the dish. If not, it's nice to add sliced green onions to the sauce before serving.

3. When frying the chicken, use just a small amount of oil in the pan -- you don't want to deep fry it, just brown it and crisp it nicely. After cooking in the sauce, it will caramelize nicely when fried. The onions will help deglaze the pan and get up all the extra delicious crispy bits.

4. Using bone-in chicken adds chicken flavor and broth to the sauce as it cooks. If using boneless, skinless chicken pieces instead, add about 1/2 C. of broth to the sauce when simmering the chicken.
Adobo Chicken in the Crockpot.

Cooked chicken pieces frying in oil. It's not burnt, I swear,
it's just a weird trick of photography!  It looked a lovely golden color in the pan,
but all three pictures I took made it look burnt!

Adobo sauce reduction.


  1. WOW! That looks and sound amazing! I can't wait to try this recipe. I hope you post many more recipes duriing the challenge. You're one of the five blogs after me, so I'm looking forward to it. :-)

  2. Thanks! I'm trying it in the Crockpot right now, I've never done it that way before, but it looks and smells great, so I'm going to add more pics and update the Crockpot results. This may be my new way to make it.


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