Chicken With Adobo Sauce


Chicken With Adobo Sauce is a popular Filipino recipe you should try and learn to cook! Chicken with adobo sauce is usually served with steamed rice or patatim. You can use chicken breast or drumsticks for this recipe. This chicken dish has a sweet and tangy flavor, because of the vinegar, soy sauce and bay leaves. I know you won’t regret trying this recipe.

Mexican Chicken Adobo




This flavorful Mexican Chicken Adobo is made with traditional dried chilies and seasonings to create a smoky homemade adobo sauce that you braise your chicken in, until it’s so tender it falls off the bone!

Pot of chicken adobo with cilantro.


Never tried Chicken Adobo, Pollo en Adobo, before? Now is the time to remedy that! The word Adobo comes from the Spanish word adobar, which means to marinate. It’s the ultimate Spanish chicken dinner recipe that tastes – and looks – like a million bucks. I mean, let’s talk about that beautiful burgundy sauce! Don’t you just want to dip a spoon right into it? I know I do.

Coming back to taste, the first forkful of this braised chicken is guaranteed to delight the tastebuds. The sauce has a wonderful deep smokey flavor, while the three (that’s right, three!) types of chiles add a warm spiciness to each bite. Throw in a little garlic, and this chicken dish becomes the recipe to beat as far as flavorful dinnertime favorites are concerned!

The chicken is simmered in the homemade adobo sauce until it is literally falling off the bone it is so tender. Serve this Mexican style Adobo Chicken with your favorite Spanish sides and watch it disappear!

Plate of chicken adobo with a knife and fork.


Fillipino Chicken Adobo: a traditional Filipino meal, where chicken is marinated in, and/or braised with, vinegar, soy sauce*, bay leaves, and more.

Mexican Chicken Adobo: a Mexican adobo sauce is made with three types of dried Mexican chiles, lots of spices, vinegar, garlic, onion and tomatoes and the chicken is braised/simmered in the sauce until tender. This version does NOT include soy sauce. The smoky flavor combination is truly over the top and makes any cut of chicken irresistible.

Ingredients for chicken adobo.


Let’s round up the ingredients you’ll need to get started on this chicken adobo:

  • Cooking Oil: My go-to is olive oil, but canola oil will work too.
  • Chicken: You’ll need 2 pounds of skinless chicken legs and 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
  • Tomatoes: Use Roma tomatoes, if you can, roughly chopped.
  • Onion: Grab 1 white onion, and roughly chop it up before starting.
  • Garlic: You’ll need 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled.
  • Chiles: Use 4 dried guajillo chiles, 1 dried ancho chile, and 1 dried chipotle chile, all seeded and chopped (add more or less depending on your preferred spice level).
  • Chicken Broth: Low-sodium chicken broth is just fine.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Regular vinegar and white vinegar will also work.
  • Seasonings: I like to use salt, coriander powder, ground cumin, dried thyme, Mexican oregano, ground cloves, and dried bay leaves.
Chopped tomatoes and onion in a pan.


Making chicken adobo is really simple. First you’ll combine the tomatoes and chiles into a blended sauce, then you’ll brown the chicken and let both components stew together.

Sauté Tomatoes and Onion: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the tomatoes, onion and garlic to the pan and stir and cook until the tomatoes and onions start to char.

Cook the Chiles: Add the dried chiles and 2 cups of the chicken broth and stir and cook for 10 minutes.

Sautéed vegetables with chicken broth in a pan.

Blend Chiles with Spices: Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for five minutes. Add it all to a blender along with the remaining cup of broth, vinegar, salt, coriander, cumin, thyme, oregano and cloves and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Spices and vegetables in a blender.

Cook the Chicken: Heat a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the chicken in an even layer and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, turning often to prevent burning.

Uncooked chicken drumsticks in a pot.

Combine Chicken with the Sauce: Once chicken is browned on all sides, add the sauce into the pot with the chicken and add the bay leaves.

Let Simmer: Stir to combine and let it come to a boil. Then lower the heat to low-medium, cover it with an offset lid and let it simmer for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally as needed.

Serve and Enjoy: Remove the bay leaves and serve chicken with Mexican rice and freshly chopped cilantro.

Chicken cooked in adobo sauce.


Take a look through these tips and adjustments for chicken adobo to get the best results with your dinner:

  • What Chicken to Use: I like to use thighs and legs because they cook up so juicy and tender, but chicken breasts will taste great too.
  • What Vinegar to Use: You can use regular, white, apple cider, or cane vinegar – any of them will work.
  • Add Sugar: While not traditional, if you like a classic spicy-sweet flavor combination, you can add in a little brown sugar to the sauce. My friend from southern Mexico always did this and it was divine!
  • Tender Chicken: You will know your chicken is done when you can easily pull the meat away from the bone with a fork. Keep simmering your chicken until it’s tender!
  • CHILES: It’s important to get all of the dried chiles required for this Mexican adobo sauce. I know it’s tempting to skip one, but the flavor will be lacking. Take the time to gather all the ingredients needed to get the most flavor.
Plate of chicken adobo with cilantro.


Wondering what to serve with your chicken adobo? Here are a couple of ideas that will soak up that delicious sauce!

  • Rice: I like to use Mexican rice or white rice, but pick your favorite! I also have an amazing recipe for Arroz Con Gandules, which is Puerto Rican yellow rice with pigeon peas.
  • Soup: Any light, broth-based soup will pair well with this chicken.
  • Vegetables: beans, plantains (while not traditional with Mexican cuisine, we love them with this dish anyways!), yuca, a light side salad, or any roasted vegetables.
Forkful of chicken adobo.


This pollo en adobo can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. You can microwave the chicken in short segments (30 seconds) until warm to reheat leftovers, or you can heat a pan on low on the stove and warm the chicken that way. If the adobo sauce is too thick, add a splash of water to it.


Absolutely. Store the chicken in an airtight container for 1-2 months, and then let it thaw overnight in the fridge before eating. The chicken usually will soak up some of the sauce as it’s frozen and thawed, but it’s still tasty!

Mexican Chicken Adobo

Play Video


YES! I do this often because it saves a lot of time. I will usually triple my adobo sauce recipe and freeze the extra sauce in freezer friendly ziplock bags. Freeze the sauce for up to 6 months and just let it thaw in the fridge for a day or two before needing it to braise your chicken in!

Chicken Adobo

  • SERVES: 6
  • PREP TIME: 5 min
  • COOK TIME: 25 min
  • CALORIES: 340
homemade chicken adobo on a serving platter topped with chopped green onions

Our chicken adobo recipe is simple as can be—a one-pot weeknight flavor party to love forever and ever.

Filipino Chicken Adobo is a One-Pot Flavor Explosion

Quick, easy, bursting with flavor, our version of the classic Filipino dish known as chicken adobo is here to give your weeknight dinner plans a serious jolt of excitement. Chicken adobo is inherently easy—even the most classic, most authentic recipes are all about ease because the dish simply is, well, simple! Salty, sweet, acidic adobo sauce is bold and basic, and all you’ll need to do is remember to get the chicken marinating at least 90 minutes before you want to eat dinner because it needs at least an hour in the marinade.

bowl of white vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, brown sugar, chicken thighs and canola oil on the counter

What Is Chicken Adobo Made Of?

You’ll want to use chicken thighs for this recipe—you really need at least a little hearty chicken fat in the mix, so ignore any temptation to use chicken breasts on this one, OK? Beyond that, though, chicken adobo is really all about that perfectly balanced adobo sauce. So, what is adobo sauce made of? We’re so glad you asked! Adobo sauce is ultra simple to me. it sort of punches all the four big tastes—salty, savory, sweet, sour—without reserve. It’s sort of like it’s hollering at the chicken thighs to become incredibly flavorful—OR ELSE! And honestly, we love it. Here’s everything you’ll need to make the best chicken adobo sauce ever:

  • White vinegar
  • Soy sauce (or tamari)
  • Fresh garlic
  • Black peppercorns
  • Bay leaves
  • Brown sugar

Filipino Chicken Adobo (Flavour Kapow!)

Filipino Chicken Adobo is the national dish of the Philippines and may well become your new favourite Asian chicken dish! Just a few everyday ingredients I can practically guarantee you already have, it’s an effortless recipe that yields juicy, tender chicken coated in a sweet savoury glaze with little pops of heat from peppercorns.

This is a chicken thigh recipe and it MUST be made with thighs – no substituting with chicken breast!

Filipino Chicken Adobo with cauliflower rice and smashed cucumbers side dish

Filipino Chicken Adobo

Filipino Chicken Adobo is one of the first chicken thigh recipes I shared way back in 2015 when I started this website. Back then, I boldly stated that this was my new favourite Asian chicken recipe even it was thoroughly disloyal of me to say that, being of Japanese background and all (Teriyaki, Karaage and Yakitori….to name a few….).

To be honest, I may have embellished a wee bit. Blinded by the excitement of discovering Chicken Adobo, how unbelievably easy it is for a dish that yields such incredible flavour,

Check out how sticky the sauce is! It truly tastes as incredible as it looks. And it’s SO EASY with just a HANDFUL of ingredients!

Filipino Chicken Adobo in a skillet, fresh off the stove

What you need

Filipino Chicken Adobo is the national dish of the Philippines and like all traditional dishes, there are many variations – including different proteins like pork and beef.

Fundamentally though, the key ingredients are the right balance of soy sauce, vinegar, black pepper and sugar that create an incredibly sticky glaze that has a depth of flavour like it’s been slow cooked – but it’s not!

What you need for Filipino Chicken Adobo
  • boneless skinless chicken thighs – cannot substitute with breast, need the fat to transform sauce into a glaze;
  • soy sauce – all purpose or light soy sauce. NOT dark soy sauce (bottle will be labelled as such if it’s dark soy sauce);
  • white vinegar – just everyday, plain white vinegar. Sub with any clear vinegar, including rice wine, apple cider, sherry vinegar;
  • onion and garlic;
  • peppercorns – or coarse cracked pepper;
  • sugar – brown best, white ok;
  • bay leaves – fresh or dried, not the end of the world if you don’t have; and
  • green onion – optional garnish

How to make Filipino Chicken Adobo

And here’s how to make it. Basically, you marinate the chicken briefly, sear the chicken, then simmer it in the pan with the marinade for 25 minutes. It will look watery right up until the last few minutes, then all of a sudden, the liquid transforms magically into a syrupy glaze!

How to make Filipino Chicken Adobo
Close up of stick Filipino Chicken Adobo sauce

What Chicken Adobo tastes like

The glaze of Filipino Chicken Adobo is savoury and sweet with a hint of tang, with a distinct soy flavour. The garlic and onion creates a savoury base along with the bay leaves, and the peppercorns add little subtle pops of heat.

Don’t be afraid of the peppercorns in this! The spiciness is tempered from both the cooking time and the strength of the flavour of the sauce so it becomes a flavour enhancer rather than fiery spiciness.

And finally, the chicken itself. It’s incredibly tender, owing to the cook time. Chicken thighs only take about 6 to 8 minutes to cook on the stove, so simmering them in sauce for 25 minutes yields thighs that are so tender inside, it’s like you’ve slow cooked them for hours.

Close up showing juicy inside of Filipino Chicken Adobo

What to serve with Chicken Adobo

Rice to soak up the sauce is essential! Though if you’re counting calories, I can highly recommend Cauliflower Rice – pictured in the first photo in the post alongside Smashed Cucumbers for a seriously delicious dinner plate clocking in at a grand total of just 415 calories.

You may not use all the sauce this Filipino Chicken Adobo recipe makes. It is quite strong, so have a taste before dousing your entire plate with it.

PS If you do have leftover sauce, don’t throw it out! That stuff is GOLD. I use it to make Filipino Chicken Adobo fried rice – just fry up cooked rice with chopped up pieces of this chicken, some chopped Asian greens and the sauce. The sauce is so flavoursome that you don’t need anything else!

Filipino Chicken Adobo (Flavour Kapow!)

 Prep: 10 mins

 Cook: 35 mins

Marinating: 20 mins

 Total: 45 mins




Recipe video above. One of the most amazing Asian chicken thigh recipes I have ever come across. Intense in flavour, but so fast and easy to prepare! Chicken is so tender, it’s like it’s been slow cooked.



  • ▢750g / 1.5 lb chicken thigh fillets , boneless and skinless (5 – 6 pieces) (Note 1)
  • ▢3 garlic cloves , minced
  • ▢1/3 cup (85ml) soy sauce , ordinary all purpose or light (not dark soy sauce, Note 2)
  • ▢1/3 cup + 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • ▢4 bay leaves (fresh) or 3 dried


  • ▢2 tbsp oil , separated (vegetable, canola or peanut)
  • ▢3 garlic cloves , minced
  • ▢1 small brown onion , diced
  • ▢1 1/2 cups (375 ml) water
  • ▢2 tbsp brown sugar
  • ▢1 tbsp whole black pepper (sub 2 tsp coarse cracked pepper)


  • ▢2 green onions/scallions , sliced (garnish)


  • Combine Chicken and Marinade ingredients in a bowl. Marinate for at least 20 minutes, or up to overnight.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet over high heat. Remove chicken from marinade (reserve marinade) and place in the pan. Sear both sides until browned – about 1 minute on each side. Do not cook the chicken all the way through.
  • Remove chicken skillet and set aside.
  • Heat the remaining oil in skillet. Add garlic and onion, cook 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Add the reserved marinade, water, sugar and black pepper. Bring it to a simmer then turn heat down to medium high. Simmer 5 minutes.
  • Add chicken smooth side down. Simmer uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes (no need to stir), turning chicken at around 15 minutes, until the sauce reduces down to a thick jam-like syrup.
  • If the sauce isn’t thick enough, remove chicken onto a plate and let the sauce simmer by itself – it will thicken much quicker – then return chicken to the skillet to coat in the glaze.
  • Coat chicken in glaze then serve over rice. Pictured in post as a healthy dinner plate (415 calories) with cauliflower rice and Ginger Smashed Cucumbers.

Recipe Notes:

1. Chicken thighs – do NOT substitute with breast. You need the fat in thighs in order for the sauce to reduce down to a glaze. Can also use bone in thighs, wings or drumsticks (add 3/4 cup water and simmer 30 minutes).

The best way to achieve the closest result with chicken breast is to add 2 tbsp of any oil to the sauce, take the chicken out once cooked and reduce the sauce right down to become jammy, then smear it on the breast.

2. Soy sauce – use all purpose or light soy sauce. Do not use dark soy sauce – bottle will be labelled as such if it is. Dark soy is too intense for this sauce once reduced.

You probably won’t need all the sauce because it is very strong in flavour. Save the leftovers and use it to make fried rice! It is perfect because it is so strong in flavour so a little bit goes a long way. I used it to make a fried rice with leftover Filipino Chicken Adobo and chopped Asian greens. No other flavourings required!

3. Nutrition per serving, chicken only and assumes all sauce consumed which is unlikely as it’s quite strong. Reduce sodium by using low sodium soy.

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