Chicken adobo, or adobong manok, is a popular pinoy braised chicken dish, cooked slowly in vinegar, soy sauce, and spices until the meat is super tender, juicy, and flavorful. The adobo sauce is savory, tangy, and a little peppery to keep your mouth watering the entire time!
We've been testing our chicken adobo recipe for quite a few weeks now, and we are so excited to share it with you! To ensure that our adobong manok is as authentic as possible and cooked properly, we've tasted the dish from several filipino restaurants and even had Kyong's filipino cousin taste test for us.
Our chicken adobo does note require marinating, but if you have the time, you can marinate it over night to shorten the cook time. Either way, this chicken adobo will taste amazing and have you wanting more!
What is chicken adobo?
Chicken adobo, also known as adobong manok, is a quintessential filipino braised chicken, marinated and stewed with vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, black peppercorns.
The word adobo actually came from the spanish word "adobar," meaning to marinate or pickle. So adobo is a style of cooking that involves marinating meat or veggies in an acidic and/or salty liquid as part of the cooking process.
This cooking process helps to preserve the food, which was super beneficial in the past when refrigeration wasn't available. The high acid and salt content of the marinating/braising liquid prevents bacteria from growing. So families would make a large amount of adobong manok and let it sit out to be enjoyed throughout the day.
What to eat with chicken adobo?
Chicken adobo tastes great just over some plain white rice, here are some more pairing suggestions:
- Fresh cucumbers - We recommend english or Persian cucumbers.
- Pancit - A filipino quick stir fried noodle dish
- Lumpia - Filipino style fried spring rolls
- Garlic fried rice - A favorite with chicken adobo. The greasiness of the rice and the garlic flavor helps balance the strong flavors of the adobo.
Please scroll down to the recipe card for the ingredient quantities!
- Chicken thighs - Use skin on, bone-in chicken thighs for the juiciest chicken and best flavors.
- Vinegar - If you don't mind adding another vinegar to your collection, we recommend Datu Puti's dark cane vinegar because the flavor has more depth with a bit of molasses flavor. You can also use their white cane vinegar as well. It's more more mellow than distilled white vinegar. If those two vinegars are not available to you, you can also use just distilled white vinegar or palm vinegar.
- Soy sauce - We recommend using light sodium soy sauce.
- Water or stock - Chicken stock would provide more flavor and nutrition, but water will work just fine.
- Bay leaves - A must in adobo! Bay leaves are aromatic and adds a subtle minty, bitter flavor that adds complexity to this filipino braised chicken. Personally, we love the smell and flavor of subtle spices bay leaves add.
- Black peppercorns - Another must in adobo! Black peppercorn adds the subtle spiciness in adobo. We like to put the black peppercorns into spice pouches so that we don't get peppery surprises when we eat our adobo chicken.
- Yellow onion - To add flavor and natural sweetness to the braise.
- Garlic - Fresh garlic is a must in adobo! It adds flavor and extra savory aroma to the braised chicken. After the braise the garlic because melt in your mouth and super yummy!
- Sugar - Just a small amount to help round out the flavor and mellow out the acidity of the vinegar. You can use plain white sugar, brown sugar, or palm sugar.
- Chicken bouillon powder (optional) - We highly recommend some chicken bouillon powder, especially if you're making this chicken adobo recipe with water. It's a flavor bomb and asian pantry must have!
- Jalapeño pepper (optional) - If you want some extra spicy, add some fresh jalapeño peppers to your adobo. You can also use bird eye chili or your preferred hot peppers as well.
- Green onion or cilantro (optional for garnish)
- Oil for cooking - Any high smoke point neutral oil is fine.
How to make our chicken adobo
1. In a deep pan or dutch oven over medium high heat, add a small amount of oil to lightly grease the bottom of the pan. When the pan is hot, sear both sides of the chicken thighs, skin side first, until golden brown. Remove from the pan.
2. Add the sliced onions along with the smashed garlic into the pot. Sauté briefly until aromatic. If you need, add a little more oil and make sure to scrape up all the brown bits left on the pot!
3. Add the seared chicken thighs back into the pot, skin side down, and add the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT green onion/cilantro (vinegar, soy sauce, water, bay leaves, peppercorn, jalapeño, sugar, and chicken bouillon powder). Bring everything to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
🌟 Pro tip: If you don't like having surprise bites of peppercorn in your adobo, we recommend putting the black peppercorns into spice bags when braising. You can easy discard the pouch and peppercorn after braising.
4. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and flip the chicken thighs. Let the chicken simmer for another 25 to 30 minutes or until the liquid reduces by about ⅔ and the chicken is super tender. Occasionally, spoon the braising liquid over the chicken keep the skin moist.
5. Once the chicken adobo is done, remove from heat and garnish with sliced green onions and/or cilantro. Enjoy while hot with rice!
If you're marinating the chicken thighs
Our chicken adobo recipe doesn't require marinating, however, you could marinate the chicken thighs if you wish.
If you're marinating the chicken thighs before braising, place the chicken thighs into a large glass bowl or gallon Ziploc bag and add the vinegar, soy sauce, smashed garlic, and enough water to cover the chicken completely. Save the remaining water for later. Let the chicken thighs marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
When ready to braise, make sure to shake the chicken thighs to remove as much excess marinade off the chicken as possible for a better sear. And for the braising liquid, just use all the marinade and add the remaining water as well.
- Trim off excess fat on the chicken thighs to prevent the adobo to become too greasy.
- Although marinating the chicken isn't required, it shorten the cooking time and make the chicken more juicy and and flavorful. We recommend marinating overnight the best result.
- Use more garlic if you wish. Garlic makes this dish super tasty.
- There are 2 popular chicken adobo versions: dry or saucy. Our recipe is made to have a decent amount of sauce remaining because the chicken tastes even better dipped in the braising liquid.
As most braised dishes, chicken adobo tastes even better as leftovers! Once the chicken has completely cooled, store the chicken adobo in an airtight container, in the fridge for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 2 to 3 months.
If you want to make the chicken in large batches, you can have the chicken marinating overnight, cook however much you want to, then freeze the rest of the chicken with the marinade to cook for later.
You can easily reheat the leftover chicken adobo, covered, in the microwave until heated through, or on the stovetop over medium heat with some braising liquid.
What to do with leftovers
Leftover chicken adobo will taste great over rice just like freshly braised ones. However, if you want to make something out of the leftover chicken adobo, here are some of our favorites:
- Quesadilla - The fattiness of the cheese will balance out the flavorful chicken perfectly!
- Fried rice - Because the chicken is so seasoned, it's taste great in a simple fried rice.
- Burrito - All the fillings inside the burrito will help balance the flavorful chicken.
- Tacos - Some crunch and freshness will go really well with leftover chicken adobo!
If you wish to not use soy sauce, you could substitute it with coconut amino or tamari, but you may need to supplement with some salt. So adjust as you see fit.
We highly recommend using Datu Puti's dark cane vinegar. You can usually find it at your local asian market. If not, regular distilled vinegar or palm vinegar will work too.
Every household makes their chicken adobo different, just as every Korean household makes their kimchi differently. Our ratio of vinegar to soy sauce is 1 to 1 ratio.
If you’ve made this recipe or any recipes from our blog, please tag us on Instagram using #twoplaidaprons! You can also tag us in your Instagram stories using @two_plaid_aprons. We would love to see your creations! It absolutely makes our day! 🥰
Chicken Adobo Recipe (Adobong Manok)
- 2 pounds chicken thigh skin on and bone-in (about 5 to 6 thighs)
- 1 medium yellow onion sliced
- 6 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
- ¾ cup dark cane vinegar (or white distilled and palm vinegar is fine too
- ¾ cup soy sauce light sodium
- 2½ cups water (or chicken stock)
- 6 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorn
- 1 jalapeño pepper sliced (optional)
- 2 teaspoon granulated sugar (or brown sugar)
- 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder (optional)
- 1 stalk green onion thinly sliced for garnish (optional; or use cilantro)
- Oil for cooking (any high smoke point oil)
- In a deep pan or dutch oven over medium high heat, add a small amount of oil to lightly grease the bottom of the pan. When the pan is hot, sear both sides of the chicken thighs, skin side first, until golden brown. Remove from the pan.
- Add the sliced onions along with the smashed garlic into the pot. Sauté briefly until aromatic. If you need, add a little more oil and make sure to scrape up all the brown bits left on the pot!
- Add the seared chicken thighs back into the pot, skin side down, and add the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT green onion/cilantro (vinegar, soy sauce, water, bay leaves, peppercorn, jalapeño, sugar, and chicken bouillon powder). Bring everything to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove the lid and flip the chicken thighs. Let the chicken simmer for another 25 to 30 minutes or until the liquid reduces by about ⅔ and the chicken is super tender. Occasionally, spoon the braising liquid over the chicken keep the skin moist.
- Once the chicken adobo is done, remove from heat and garnish with sliced green onions and/or cilantro. Enjoy while hot with rice!
- Optional marinating - Although our recipe doesn't require marinating, you could marinate the chicken thighs if you'd like. Just add the vinegar, soy sauce, and smashed garlic in a bowl or Ziploc bag with the chicken. Then, add enough water/stock to cover the chicken entirely. Save the rest of the water/stock for braising later. Let the chicken marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- When searing the marinated chicken thighs, make sure to shake off the excess marinade so the chicken can sear well. Also, fish out the smashed garlic to sauté with the onion.
- For the braising liquid, just pour all of the marinade into the pot, along with the rest of the water/stock.