The ultimate guide to making the best Filipino Chicken Adobo. Here you will learn how to make the chicken flavorful and tender, the adobo sauce rich, fatty, garlicky, and less salty. Tips, techniques, and different adobo variations are also included.
Chicken Adobo is my one kid's favorite Filipino food. They eat this on a bi-weekly basis without a hitch. They love it with rice. My daughter specifically can't get enough of the sauce. She's absolutely obsessed with it!
That's why I'm so excited that I'm finally sharing my version with all of you. I hope this becomes your favorite adobo recipe too!
How to make the best Filipino Chicken Adobo
A perfect Chicken adobo should have the perfect balance of salt, sour with a hint of sweetness. The chicken must be tender but not overcook and the sauce should be rich, fatty (yep!), and thick yet saucy enough to be poured over rice
- Marinate chicken in the adobo marinade. Use equal parts of soy sauce and vinegar. At the minimum, I use ¼ cup for every 1 pound of meat then I add more only when I feel like it's necessary. I recommend using a measuring cup to get the balance of both ingredients right.
- Brown the chicken in hot oil, skin side down first. This step is the key to making a rich and flavorful adobo.
- Cover the pot with a lid until the chicken is 80% done and only remove it to reduce the sauce to the desired consistency. Cooking with lid on, cooks the meat evenly without dispersing the liquid.
- Add sugar to balance the salt and enhance the overall flavor. A couple of teaspoons will do. Of course, if you like it sweeter, just add more 🙂
- Remember the sauce gets saltier as the sauce reduces i.e. water evaporates. Do a taste test before adding more salt or soy sauce BEFORE your adobo finishes cooking. If you end up adding too much soy, balance it with more sugar or add a small amount of water.
Best part of chicken for Adobo
Chicken thighs, legs, and wings are a crowd favorite of Adobo lovers. My daughter loves the wings, while I love the thighs. It's meaty, moist, and has a smooth texture.
My husband, on the other hand, loves the breast part.
So to make everyone happy, I often use 1 whole chicken. Cut in 12 pieces and you'll have 2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 breasts, and 2 bonus chicken legs!
What to serve with chicken adobo?
Adobo is best served with warm rice. I love pairing it with boiled eggs and often atchara (Filipino pickled papaya).
Now onto the best parts! And they are......the skin and the bones!
Why leave them on?
The skin protects the meat so it doesn’t dry out in high heat while searing. The fat is rendered and makes the sauce rich and silky (and fatty). The bones add flavor while the chicken slowly cooks. This is one of the secrets to the best stews you'll ever make.
- Classic adobo uses dried laurel leaves or bay leaves. I don't usually use it because I find its aroma too strong for adobo. Use it if preferred.
- Adobo extenders: Add chunks of potatoes or eggs. I love pairing adobo with eggs!
- Adobo toppings: fried onions, garlic, and fresh green onions.
- Add ginger! My husband's Ilocano relatives love adding ginger to their adobo.
- Make it spicy by adding chopped bird's eye chili or siling labuyo.
Commonly asked questions
I recommend using the classic Filipino soy sauce to get that authentic adobo flavor. You can substitute with regular soy sauce, just experiment with the amount because the saltiness varies.
What I don't recommend is light soy sauce–not enough flavor and color, and premium dark soy sauce–too dark, thick, and less salty.
For the vinegar, I personally love using white rice vinegar (not seasoned). It's less acidic and mild in flavor.
It can be substituted with cane vinegar, coconut vinegar, and apple cider vinegar.
Sukang Iloko is also a favorite of many Ilocanos when making adobo. It is made of sugar cane and has a unique strong acidic scent.
To make adobo saucy and not too salty, add water. Having enough liquid will allow you to cook the chicken or pork until it's tender. Don't add any more soy sauce unless absolutely necessary. If sauce evaporates too quickly, just add more water and reduce it just before it finishes cooking.
More Filipino recipes for your weekly menu!
- Sweet and Sour Whole Fish
- Sayote Guisado (Stir-fried Chayote)
- Chicken Kare Kare
- Pork Pinakbet
- Binagoongang Manok
- Poqui Poqui
- Pesang Manok
- Chicken Puchero
- Stir-fried Mung Bean Sprouts with Tofu (Togue Guisado)
Watch the Chicken Adobo Recipe Video
Filipino Chicken Adobo
- 900 grams / 2 lbs chicken (cut into pieces, bone-in, and skin-on)
- 1 bulb garlic (chopped, divided)
- ⅓ cup soy sauce (see notes 1 and 2)
- ⅓ cup vinegar (I used rice vinegar, see note 3)
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used canola)
- 1 cup water (add more as needed)
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorn
- 2 teaspoon sugar (white or brown)
- 1 onion
- hard-boiled eggs (optional)
- Place chicken pieces in a bowl. Add soy sauce, vinegar and half of the chopped garlic. Toss until each piece is coated with the marinade. Marinate for 30mins to 1 hour.
- Heat oil in a large pot. Brown the chicken on both sides. Do this in batches if the pot is not big enough. I did mine in two batches. Transfer to a large plate.
- Saute the remaining chopped garlic and onion until fragrant. Add back the chicken. Pour the marinade, water, oyster sauce, black pepper, and sugar. Cover with lid and cook for 20 to 30mins until chicken is tender. Use a fork to check the doneness. Add hard-boiled eggs half-way through.
- Remove the lid and let the sauce reduce for 10mins. Taste, adjust sugar/ pepper. Serve with rice, add your favorite toppings and enjoy!
Recipe Notes and Tips:
- Soy sauce: Use Filipino soy sauce to get that authentic adobo flavor. It can be substituted with any regular soy sauce but you will need to experiment with the amount because the saltiness does vary.
- Not recommended: Light soy sauce/ low sodium and premium dark soy sauce. The former is doesn’t have enough flavor and color, while the latter is too dark and thick and less salty.
- Vinegar: white rice vinegar (not seasoned), cane vinegar, coconut vinegar, and apple cider vinegar are good options.
- Cooking time may vary depending on the size of the chicken pieces. Adjust accordingly.
- Variations: add dried laurel or bay leaves, red bell pepper, or ginger.
- Extenders: add chunks of potatoes and carrots and cooked with the chicken.
- Remember the sauce gets saltier as the sauce reduces i.e. water evaporates. Do a taste test before adding more salt or soy sauce BEFORE your adobo finishes cooking. If you end up adding too much soy, balance it with more sugar, or add a small amount of water.