Looking for a quick and easy weeknight dinner you can make in 30 minutes with everyday ingredients? You’re going to love filipino chicken adobo. Marinated and then cooked in a savory sauce with incredibly tender chicken.
This recipe was inspired by a friend whose family is from the Philippines. She was telling me about her mom’s chicken adobo recipe and how her kids love it. It sounded interesting so after getting some tips from her I came up with this amazing chicken recipe.
I don’t know if it’s authentic filipino chicken adobo but it’s fabulous and I’m so glad I discovered it because who doesn’t want a quick, easy, delicious, and healthy chicken dinner!
My guess is that recipes for filipino adobo are different in every house, kind of like fried chicken here in the South; everyone has their special way of making it and while all are great, you love the way your mom makes it best.
This is my Southern version that has just a hint of sweetness, not too salty and just the right amount of tanginess.
Why you’ll love it
- It’s an easy dish, and takes almost no prep work
- The chicken is incredibly tender
- The unique sauce is amazing
- You only have to make one pan dirty
- It’s on the table in 30 minutes
Most adobo sauces have the same ingredients, it’s the ratio of vinegar to soy sauce that makes each recipe unique. Someone suggested that when trying to determine the best ratio of vinegar to soy sauce, you should just taste it and adjust to what tastes right for you.
For me, 1 ½ cups of vinegar and a ½ cup of soy sauce is just the right combination and produces enough sauce to pour over the chicken and rice.
If you like crispy chicken skin, brown the chicken first and then cook it in the marinade. The skin stays crispy and you get more flavor from all the brown bits in the pan.
Regardless of the recipe everyone raves about the sauce in this filipino dish. I wanted a glaze like sauce that could be drizzled over the chicken and rice. To get a thicker glaze, add just a little brown sugar to the sauce, it not only will thicken it but it helps offset the acidity from the vinegar.
You’ll get a scrumptious glaze like sauce that coats the chicken with enough to pour over rice.
If that doesn’t sound amazing all by itself, there are two more ingredients that you’ll always find in filipino chicken adobo recipes, whole peppercorns and garlic.
If you don’t like the peppery taste you get when biting into whole black peppercorns, you can easily scrape them off or run the sauce through a sieve to remove them, but we loved them.
As to garlic, you’ll add an entire head of garlic. You might think it would have a strong garlic taste, but the flavor is so mellow, everyone will be fighting to get the garlic cloves.
PRO TIP: An easy way to remove the paper coating of a garlic glove is to just smash it with the base of a knife and the paper coating will come right off.
What you’ll need
- Chicken thighs – you need to use thighs with bones and skin for this recipe. You could use boneless skinless thighs but they won’t have as much flavor and chicken breasts will not be as tender.
- Vinegar – traditional recipes use Cane vinegar, which you can find in Asian markets or you can order it, but I use Rice vinegar which is more readily available. Both are a slightly sweeter vinegar. White vinegar will also work, it’s just stronger and you might want to increase the soy sauce.
- Soy sauce – I used full strength but if you’re watching your salt, you can use low sodium soy sauce. This is why it’s good to taste it before adding the marinade to the chicken.
- Dried bay leaves – if you have fresh, they’ll be much stronger than dried. Bay leaf trees are native to the Mediterranean area so we don’t see them in my area of the country.
- Garlic – use a whole head of garlic, just remove the paper skins and smash them.
- Black Peppercorns – you can find these in the spice section at the grocery or use what you would put in your pepper mill.
- Brown sugar – just a little bit to offset the vinegar and help thicken the sauce.
Step by step directions
Step 1: Pour all of your ingredients into a ziplock bag and refrigerate overnight, or for a couple of hours.
Step 2: Remove the chicken and save the marinade. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel.
Step 3: Add olive oil to a skillet with a lid and brown the chicken thighs skin side down until they are golden brown.
Remove to a plate and pour the marinade in the skillet scraping up all the brown bits. Bring to a boil and add the chicken back to the pan. Turn it down, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 165º.
Step 4: Remove the chicken to a plate and turn up the heat and let the sauce thicken, stirring constantly, it will only take a couple of minutes. Add the chicken back to the pan and smother it with sauce and serve.
What should you serve with chicken adobo
You’re going to want rice to soak up all that wonderful sauce.
If you find yourself cooking with chicken a lot and want to know for sure that your chicken is cooked thoroughly, head to my informational page on ways to make sure your chicken is cooked all the way but still remains juicy and delicious.
FAQs and tips
Chicken thighs with skin and bone for the best flavor. You can also use drumsticks.
Cane vinegar or Rice vinegar are not as harsh as a white vinegar.
It has a slightly salty flavor from the soy sauce. If you are concerned about whether it will be too salty, combine the vinegar and soy sauce before adding the chicken and if it tastes too salty, add more vinegar.
No, you don’t have to marinate it at all, but marinating it will keep the chicken from drying out and will add flavor. You can easily marinate this in the morning.
You’ll know when chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 165º. You can measure it with a meat thermometer – we’ve used a Thermapen for years and love it.
More easy chicken recipes
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- 1 ½ cups Rice/Cane vinegar
- 4 Chicken thighs with skin and bones
- ½ cup Soy Sauce
- 1 head garlic about 12 cloves
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Add all ingredients to a ziplock bag and marinate overnight or for a few hours.
- Remove chicken, reserving the marinade. Pat chicken dry with paper towels.
- In a skillet with a lid, heat olive oil over medium high heat. When it’s hot, add chicken skin side down and let cook for about 3-5 minutes without moving. Once the skin is browned, carefully remove to a plate.
- In the same skillet pour in marinade and bring to a boil. Add chicken back to the pan, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes until a meat thermometer reads 170º.
- Remove chicken to a plate along with the bay leaves and turn up the heat to medium high cooking the sauce until it begins to thicken, stirring constantly. Add chicken back to the pan and spoon sauce over chicken and serve.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- For the best flavor use chicken thighs with skin and bones.
- If you don’t have rice or cane vinegar, you can use white, add to the soy sauce and taste it, if it’s too strong, add more soy sauce.
- You do not have to marinate this over night, try to marinate for at least an hour.
- If you don’t like whole peppercorns, remove them before you cook down the sauce.
- To get the best combination of vinegar and soy sauce, taste it before adding the chicken, you should like the way it tastes.