I was introduced to this Chicken Adobo recipe by the Lucky Peach cookbook, 101 Easy Asian Recipes. I’d never tried chicken adobo before, but it seemed too easy to pass up. And you know what? It’s so delicious I’ve added it to my regular rotation.
Note: This post was originally published in January 2016, and updated and republished in June 2019.
What is Chicken Adobo?
Chicken Adobo is a Filipino dish that features chicken braised in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and black peppercorns.
It initially seemed very similar to a soy sauce braised chicken that I grew up eating, kind of like this soy sauce braised recipe my mom posted in the early days of the blog.
What sets it apart, however, is that liberal use of vinegar. It gives the dish a really tangy quality that I love.
A Note On Coconut Milk
The Lucky Peach version of the recipe also includes coconut milk (you can find the original recipe republished on Goop.com).
I’ve done some research, and while there are a lot of chicken adobo recipes out there that don’t include coconut milk at all, I think it really rounds out all the flavors––the saltiness of the soy sauce and the tang of the vinegar.
Developing Our Recipe
I did make some changes to the recipe, however. I add more coconut milk than called for, and less soy sauce and vinegar. I initially found the dish a little too salty and sour, but that could definitely be due to the brand of soy sauce I was using (which is why I recommend using low sodium soy sauce. Definitely avoid using “light soy sauce” for this dish, as it is way too salty).
You can adjust the amount of soy sauce you add to your liking. I recommend starting with 1/2 cup, and adding more if needed after the sauce has reduced.
But that’s the great thing about this recipe. It’s very forgiving. You can make substitutions according to your own taste preferences, and you guys can feel free change my version up however you like! If you can’t get whole dried red chilies, just add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
If you don’t have whole peppercorns, replace them with ground black pepper. And using regular old distilled white vinegar––almost everyone has a bottle in their house––works perfectly.
One thing that you can’t do, however, is eat Chicken Adobo without lots of steamed rice. You’ll need it to soak up all that lovely sauce.
If you would rather have something else other than chicken, then check out our Pork Adobo recipe!
Chicken Adobo: Recipe Instructions
Rinse the chicken pieces and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat and add the oil. Brown the chicken on all sides until crisp.
Add in the coconut milk, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, pepper/peppercorns, bay leaves, garlic, and chili.
Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low.
Cover the pan and allow to simmer for 1 hour (add a bit of hot water if you need more liquid).
In the last 10 minutes of cooking, crank up the heat to medium high to thicken the sauce slightly.
Serve your Chicken adobo over rice, and garnish with cilantro, if using.
- 4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
- 5 chicken drumsticks
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 14 oz. can coconut milk (400 ml)
- 1/2 to 2/3 cup low sodium soy sauce (115-155 ml, We DO NOT recommend using light soy sauce for this dish, as it is too salty)
- 1/4-1/3 cup distilled white or cane vinegar (60-80 ml)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns (or 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper)
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cloves garlic (smashed)
- 1 dried red chili (optional)
- 2 tablespoons cilantro (chopped, optional)
- Rinse the chicken pieces and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat and add the oil. Brown the chicken on all sides until crisp.
- Add in the coconut milk, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, pepper/peppercorns, bay leaves, garlic, and chili. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan and allow to simmer for 1 hour (add a bit of hot water if you need more liquid).
- In the last 10 minutes of cooking, turn up the heat to medium high to thicken the sauce slightly. Be careful not to heat the sauce too aggressively or too long, or the sauce may "split," and transform from sticky/creamy to oily! Serve over steamed rice, garnished with the cilantro.