chicken adobo

I first became interested in chicken adobo when I saw a recipe for it using a slow cooker. It looked delicious but completely different than the adobo that I was familiar with. I thought adobo was that rich, spicy, reddish-brown mexican sauce that comes with chipotle peppers. The recipe I saw didn’t even involve any chile peppers.

So, I started doing some research. Turns out Filipino adobo is a completely different beast than Mexican or Spanish adobo. This adobo is a tangy, salty mix of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and spices that is used to marinate and stew meat.

After looking at a plethora of adobo recipes, I decided that I didn’t even need a slow cooker. Not only was it easy but it only required a few ingredients that I already had in my pantry. The result was super tender, juicy, tangy chicken that can be served over rice or cellophane noodles. YUM!

I used bone in drumsticks and thighs for this recipe but you could really use any cut of chicken you’d like (or beef or pork for that matter). I removed the skin off of the thighs but left it on the drumsticks just because I didn’t know which I’d prefer. The skin on was definitely better. It crisps up nicely in the last step and keeps the meat nice and moist.

Chicken Adobo

Chicken Adobo

5 from 10 votes

Chicken Adobo

Chicken adobo is a classic Filipino dish made with chicken marinated in soy sauce and spices, then cooked till tender.

Total Cost $9.66 recipe / $1.61 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6


  • 4 lbs. skin-on, bone-in chicken $7.96
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce $0.48
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar $0.48
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil $0.08
  • 2 Tbsp honey $0.21
  • 2 whole bay leaves $0.10
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic $0.20
  • 1 Tbsp black peppercorns $0.15


  1. Arrange the chicken pieces in a large pot in one layer. Remove the skin if desired.
  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients (soy sauce, vinegar, honey, oil, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns) in a bowl and whisk until the honey is dissolved. Partially crush the peppercorns if desired. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or over night.
  3. When you’re ready to make the chicken, add just enough water so that the liquid comes just up to the top of the chicken (about 1/2 cup). Cover the pot with a lid, place the pot over a high flame, and bring it up to a rolling boil. When it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium/low and let simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat your broiler on high. Remove the chicken from the pot and place it on a broiler pan (or a sheet pan with wire cooling racks placed on top). Place the chicken under the broiler until it is brown and crispy on top (5-10 minutes), depending on your broiler).
  5. While the chicken is broiling, turn pot with the soy/vinegar liquid up to high and bring up to a rapid boil. Allow the liquid to boil heavily until it is reduced in volume by approximately one half. You may need to boil it for 5-10 minutes longer than the chicken is in the oven to get it to this point.
  6. Use a soft brush to baste a few layers of the reduced soy/vinegar liquid onto the browned chicken. Serve over rice or noodles and spoon more of the reduced liquid over top.

Recipe Notes

Add in a few hours or over night to the prep time for this chicken to marinate.


chicken adobo

Step By Step Photos

raw chicken
I used 2 lbs. of chicken thighs and 2 lbs. of drumsticks. I guess I kind of failed here because I paid more per pound for these bone in and skin on chicken pieces than I did for my boneless, skinless chicken breasts last week. Oops. Anyway, you can use any cut of chicken that you’d like but dark meat really does well with this recipe and having the skin on keeps the meat moist and gets crispy when broiled.

add chicken
I’m going to marinate right in the cooking pot just to make things easier. You can marinate in a large ziplock bag if you want more even coverage but this worked just fine for me. Plalce the chicken in a single layer in the pot.

make marinade
In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients until the honey has dissolved (that’s soy sauce, vinegar, oil, honey, garlic, bay leaves, and black peppercorns).

Pour the marinade over the chicken, place the lid on the pot, pop it in the fridge. Let it marinate while you’re at work, over night or just for a few hours.

When you’re ready to cook, add a little bit of water so that the liquid comes a little closer to covering the chicken. You don’t want to add too much or else it will take too long for the sauce to reduce later. Cover the pot with a lid, place the pot over a high flame, and bring it up to a boil.

boiled chicken
Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium/low and let it simmer for 30 minutes. The chicken should be cooked through by this point but it’s not too pretty so we’re going to broil it. Turn the broiler on to high.

broil chicken
Boiled chicken is just so blond and sickly looking so we’re going to add color under the broiler. If you don’t have a broiler pan, you can create a make shift one by placing some wire cooling racks over a baking sheet.

boil liquid
After you pull the chicken out of the simmering liquid, turn it all the way up to high and let it boil furiously while you finish the chicken. You want it to reduce in volume and concentrate in flavor as much as possible.

broil chicken
Place the chicken under the broiler for about 5-10 minutes or until it gets a nice brown color to it. The time it takes will depend on how hot your broiler is and how close you have your rack to the heat (it should be fairly close). So, you’ll just have to keep an eye on it. You should hear crackling and popping as the skin begins to crisp.

baste chicken
Once the soy/vinegar liquid has reduced in volume by half, use a brush and baste a few layers onto the chicken. This will add moisture and tons of flavor.

serve chicken adobo
You can serve the chicken over rice or noodles. I suggest spooning more of the reduced liquid over top of the chicken and the rice or noodles.