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This tender Filipino Chicken Adobo is super simple to make yet rich in flavor. It takes as little as 30 minutes to make and is a healthy weeknight meal. You'll have this recipe in quick rotation soon!
See that tender chicken looking all saucy and delicious? That is Filipino chicken adobo, and trust me, you want to get in on this. It's fall-off-the-bone tender and all wrapped in a tangy, garlicky sauce. And get this …
This Filipino chicken adobo recipe takes only 30 minutes to make!
Ok, truth is I've given you two different options for making this recipe. One involves marinating and then searing the chicken. It's not difficult at all, but it is a little more time-consuming. The second option is to simply throw all the ingredients in a pot and simmer it away for 25 minutes. How quick and easy is that?
I don't know about you, but after a long day, the last thing I feel like doing is spending an hour slaving away over a hot stove. I mean, I LOVE cooking, but sometimes all I want to do to is eat and curl up on the couch and watch a show. That second option is for days when that couch is just screamin' your name. Let's hear it for quick, easy and healthy dinners!?
Filipino chicken adobo is very different than Mexican adobo. The sauce is made largely from vinegar and soy sauce so the flavor is strong and has a vinegary tang to it.
Is this an authentic Filipino adobo recipe?
This recipe was shared with us by two of our close family friends, sisters Gaile Guevara and Danielle Guevara. We are forever grateful that they have chosen to share this family recipe with us – and allowed us to share it with you!
Gaile says that this is the chicken adobo recipe she grew up with, the one that her mom, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers made. She told us that her, “mom would usually prep it on Sundays and sometimes marinate it for a couple of days.” She says that “the longer the marinate the more the flavor is infused with garlic.”
One thing to know is that there are likely as many chicken adobo recipes as there are families in the Philipines and abroad. There are many regional variations as well as personal preferences. Some like it more sour, some like it sweetened, and others add coconut milk for a version called adobong manok sa gata. This recipe is the Guevara family Filipino adobo recipe.
Danielle's tips for the best chicken adobo
One thing that we gathered from the advice given to us from Gaile and Danielle Guevara is that chicken adobo is a flexible recipe and one that will turn out delicious even if you make substitutions.
- Danielle says, “I always add fresh lemon juice because that was what mom did. But what works well is definitely a mix of acid – I always add a splash of white vinegar, you can even add balsamic!”
- She says that she “always tries to use authentic Filipino soy sauce like Silver Swan.” If you don't have Filipino soy sauce in your pantry, opt for a dark, Chinese soy sauce instead.
- Danielle says “what is tricky is not burning the chicken when browning – you want as much fond as possible.” In recipe testing, we found that browning the chicken over medium heat worked best to ensure that it didn't burn.
What to serve with chicken adobo
Both Gaile and Danielle told us that steamed green beans. We think that our sauteed green beans with garlic go really well with chicken adobo!
And Danielle tells us that if you want to get fancy, garnish your chicken adobo with garlic chips! Yum!
Filipino chicken adobo is made with mostly common kitchen staples. The two unique ingredients are Filipino soy sauce and cane vinegar – but both of these can be substituted with alternatives that you likely have on hand.
Soy sauce: Silver Swan is a Filipino soy sauce that is commonly used to make chicken adobo. But if you don't have any, replace it with dark, Chinese soy sauce. In a pinch you could use lighter-tasting Japanese soy sauce, but it's not ideal.
Cane vinegar: The best substitute for cane vinegar is rice vinegar. Another alternative is apple cider vinegar.
Lemon juice: Danielle Guevara told us that here in Canada her mom would always make adobo with lemon juice. But in the Philippines, Gaile tells us that her mom and aunties often use calamansi juice. So if you're lucky enough to find calamansi where you live, try that! Lime juice is another good substitute.
Chicken: Both Gaile and Danielle swear by bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Gaile says that her mom “would brown the chicken thighs with skin on for flavor.” If chicken thighs are not your thing, you can use chicken breast. Just know that breasts are never quite as juicy as thighs.
Additions: You can also add more to the pot. Gaile says, “some of our aunts would add green beans as well as chicken hearts.”
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Easy Chicken Dinner Recipes:
- The Best Grilled Chicken Breast
- Sheet Pan Tzatziki Chicken
- Cilantro Lime Chicken
- Perfect Baked Chicken Breasts
- Honey Garlic Chicken
- 1 cup soy sauce (see notes)
- ½ cup cane vinegar (or rice vinegar)
- ¼ cup brown sugar (optional)
- ¼ cup lemon juice (fresh is best)
- 16 cloves garlic (smashed with the side of your knife – see notes)
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns (or 1 teaspoon ground pepper)
- 2 lb bone-in chicken thighs (see notes)
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- Mix the soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar if using, lemon juice juice, garlic, bay leaves, and black pepper in a baking dish. Add the chicken pieces and mix them around so that the chicken is well coated with the marinade. Cover the dish and put it into your fridge for 30 minutes to 24 hours to marinate.¼ cup lemon juice, 1 cup soy sauce, ½ cup cane vinegar, 16 cloves garlic, 4 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, 2 lb bone-in chicken thighs, ¼ cup brown sugar
- Remove the chicken from the marinade (save the marinade!) and pat it dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and sear the chicken for 5-6 minutes on each side, until it is nicely browned. The chicken won't be cooked at this point.2 tablespoons cooking oil
- Turn the chicken so that it is skin side facing up and then pour the reserved marinade into the pan.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover the pot and continue to simmer the chicken for another 5-10 minutes, until the chicken is tender and the sauce has reduced by half, stirring occasionally.
- Serve the chicken with some rice and lightly steamed greens on the side.
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.