Filipino Chicken Adobo may be the national dish of the Philippines, but the variations are endless. This is my beloved family recipe for authentic chicken adobo.

Filipino Chicken Adobo

Filipino Chicken Adobo may be the national dish of the Philippines, but the variations are endless. This is my beloved family recipe for authentic chicken adobo.
Filipino Chicken Adobo

Filipino Chicken Adobo may be the national dish of the Philippines, but the variations on adobo are endless. This is my beloved family recipe for authentic chicken adobo, braised in vinegar, soy sauce, and a generous portion of garlic.

Filipino Chicken Adobo may be the national dish of the Philippines, but the variations are endless. This is my beloved family recipe of chicken braised in a flavorful sauce of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and pepper. It's delicious over rice.

My daughter was rummaging through our video collection, looking for a movie we could all agree on. She called out title after title, each one getting shot down. “Nooo, too scary.” “Nah, we’ve seen that a hundred times!” “Ugh, again!?” At the rate we were going, family movie night was not quite happening.

She pulled out a nondescript case from the drawer. “Mom, what’s this one? Family movies?”

Lots of garlic makes for a delicious, authentic Filipino Chicken Adobo.

I completely forgot. My dad had sent a dvd of converted home movies, where he captured moments from the time I was six until my graduation from high school, all on one vhs tape. (Incidentally, I laugh, because autocorrect doesn’t even recognize “vhs” anymore.)

We started watching, and my life flashed before my very eyes. Dresses I haven’t seen in years, Christmas memories that were tucked away, my mother’s voice, piano duets, birthday parties, my little sister’s birth, our little house in New York where the neighborhood seemed so green, and whatever became of all the neighbor kids I used to play with?

For me, it was nostalgia overload.

Peppercorns for Filipino Chicken Adobo.

Chicken marinating in soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, garlic and pepper for Filipino Chicken Adobo.

For the kids, it was amusing…eye-opening — to see me at their age — and younger — and acting like a total goof. Exactly like them.

I guess that was eye opening for me, too.

I found myself craving the flavors of home.

Authentic Filipino Chicken Adobo - this family recipe is a taste of home. Flavorful chicken braised in soy sauce, vinegar and garlic is delicious served with rice! Utter comfort food.

For anyone who grows up in a Filipino household, I’m willing to bet that the very first Filipino dish they learn to cook is adobo, and for me, that was certainly the case. It was the first dish that reminded me of home when I left for college; the first dish I cooked for my family after my mother passed away soon after. It’s the dish I cooked when I moved to Chicago, and it’s the dish I can make with my eyes closed, to remind me of home.

I’ve shared iterations of adobo here with you before. My dad is partial to chicken and pork adobo, and I’ve shared adobo-style pulled pork and burgers, and I even shared this classic recipe with my friend Gina years ago — a slow-cooker version of this recipe even ended up in her recent cookbook.

Plate of Filipino Chicken Adobo - the ultimate comfort food. These flavors are beloved for good reason, and so simple to make.

But why haven’t I shared it with you? The one I make the most, when all I want is tender, juicy, deeply flavored chicken adobo, on a bed of rice with lots of sauce?

As many islands there are in the Philippine archipelago, there are just as many versions of adobo — the national dish of the Philippines; some have coconut milk, some have chillies. This may or may not be like yours. But this adobo is mine, as I was taught by my Tita Leah and continue to make at home, preserving it in my children’s tastebuds, for it is theirs now, too.

Filipino Chicken Adobo

Serves 4 | Prep: 10 minutes, plus marinating | Cook: 30 minutes

Filipino Chicken Adobo may be the national dish of the Philippines, but the variations are endless. This is my beloved family recipe for authentic chicken adobo, braised in vinegar, soy sauce, and a generous portion of garlic. Serve it over a bed of rice, and if you’re like me, with lots of flavorful sauce.

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken thighs on the bone (skin on or off, to taste)
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce (I prefer Silver Swan for this recipe)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small head of garlic, mashed or finely minced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 thai chili pepper (optional)

Instructions

  1. Marinate the chicken in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and pepper in a non-reactive bowl, for 30 minutes to 1 hour, rotating at least once. If you can marinate overnight, even better.
  2. Place the chicken, marinade, bay leaves and chili (if using) in a deep sided sauté pan and place over medium heat.
  3. When the sauce begins to bubble, turn the chicken and cook until the meat is nearly cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  4. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, add oil to the pan, and brown the chicken and pork on all sides, working in batches.
  5. Return the sauce to the pan, bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and the sauce a thick and deep color. If you lose track of time and/or find that the sauce has reduced too much, add a touch of water to the sauce.
  6. Serve hot over rice.

Notes

Whether or not you leave the skin on the chicken, I leave up to you. If you are trying to cut extra fat, definitely remove the skin before marinating.

This dish can also be prepared in a slow cooker or pressure cooker.

For the slow cooker: Marinate as instructed. Brown the chicken on all sides, then add all the ingredients in the slow cooker insert. Cover and set the slow cooker for 10 hours on low (if you are in a rush, you can also try 6 hours on high).

For the pressure cooker (or Instant Pot): Marinate as instructed. Brown the chicken on all sides, then add all the ingredients in the pressure cooker insert. Cover and pressure cook for 15 minutes.

Comments

  1. Mary

    Liren, just last week, as I crossed that monumental threshold of turning 60, my sister presented me with a DVD of photos she compiled from my birth through to the present. It was such a thoughtful gift and I sobbed as the years flitted past my eyes, stirring up emotions of longing mixed with homesickness and a big helping of joy. Dishes from our childhoods evoke similar nostalgic feelings. It is such a gift to be able to recreate those dishes, relive the memories embedded in them, and create new ones with our children.

    Thanks for always sharing your memories so beautifully, and for giving us delicious recipes like this Filipino Chicken Adobo. XX

    Reply
    • Liren Baker

      Mary, I can only imagine how emotional and at the same joyous you must have felt! What a special gift from your sister! As each year passes, I feel more and more of those bittersweet feelings…and thankful for each memory. I hope you had a special birthday, Mary — I think of you often!!! xo

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