Simple Sundays | Filipino-style Braised Chicken with Cranberry Adobo Sauce

Lolo, what is your favorite dish?

Around this time last year, my daughter was working on her 2nd grade heritage report, culling memories and family history. She picked up the phone and called my dad, going down her list of questions. When she came to “favorite dish,” I confidently thought he was going to answer Nilaga. I was surprised when his voice on the speaker phone emphatically replied, Oh! Adobo. I could just hear him smiling.

Adobo? His answer took me by surprise, but I should not have been. Adobo is considered by many the National Dish of the Philippines, what I imagine is comfort food for my dad. And it makes sense. Almost anything can be cooked adobo style, but the most common version is chicken, braised in a rich sauce of vinegar and soy sauce, and lots and lots of garlic.

There’s nothing better than the rich flavor of tangy adobo sauce, especially when there are bits of sweet garlic swirling within. I always say I would be happy with rice topped with adobo sauce – that is absolute comfort for me. The more garlic the better.

The variations of adobo preparation can be astounding, and today I have a little twist that has quickly become my new favorite. My Braised Chicken with Cranberry Adobo Sauce embraces all the qualities of a traditional adobo, but uses sour cranberry juice in place of the tart vinegar. It achieves that familiar taste quite well, and even if you are an adobo aficionado, I suspect you might not know the difference. But if you look closely, you will notice a richer caramelization in the sauce, one that you will find me sipping by the spoonful.

My family agrees: they like this version best. Now, the big question is: will my dad approve? I’ll have to wait till his next visit to find out. But something tells me he’ll be reaching into the dish for seconds…with a big smile on his face.

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Filipino-style Braised Chicken with Cranberry Adobo Sauce

Yield: Serves 4-6.

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

This is a slight twist on the Philippine National Dish: Adobo. A traditional adobo can be any protein braised in a vinegar and soy sauce base, but this version harnesses the tartness that unsweetened cranberry juice can bring, along with a beautiful caramelization. I daresay, this may be my new favorite way of enjoying adobo!


8 chicken legs on the bone
1/3 cup soy sauce (I like Silver Swan for this recipe)
1/3 cup unsweetened cranberry juice
1 small head of garlic, minced
6 ground peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon canola oil
salt and pepper to taste


Marinate the chicken legs in soy sauce, cranberry juice, garlic and pepper, in a non-reactive bowl, for 30 minutes to 1 hour, rotating at least once. The chicken can also marinate overnight.

Place the chicken, bay leaves and marinade in a deep sided sauté pan and cook over medium heat. When the sauce is bubbling, turn the chicken and cook until the meat is nearly cooked through, about 15 minutes. If the sauce seems too dry, add a little water (about 1/4 cup). Transfer the sauce to a bowl, add oil, and brown the chicken on all sides. Return the sauce to the pan, bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. Adjust the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for about 20-30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and the sauce a thick and deep color.

Serve over rice.

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by Liren Baker on April 22, 2012

29 Responses to “Simple Sundays | Filipino-style Braised Chicken with Cranberry Adobo Sauce”

  1. Brian April 22, 2012 @ 5:48 am (#

    You torture me with this delicious looking chicken! It’s one of the few things that actually makes me crave meat. That adobo sauce looks magnificent. Brilliant to pair it with cranberries.

    Happy Sunday!

    • liren replied: — April 22nd, 2012 @ 9:47 am

      Brian, I don’t mean to torture you! But the good news is you can adobo so many things (using adobo as a verb here). Some of my other favorites: Adobong Pusit (Squid) and Adobong Sitaw (Long Green Beans). You could play around with it :)

  2. Belinda @zomppa April 22, 2012 @ 6:47 am (#

    Think this would definitely put a big smile on my face!!

  3. Holly April 22, 2012 @ 8:13 am (#

    I have to admit that I had no real idea what adobo was until I read your entry. Now I want to try it even more and I’m excited that I can find all these ingredients where I live. I’m totally going to suggest this to my husband for next weekend’s big meal.

  4. Jean April 22, 2012 @ 9:55 am (#

    What a tasty-looking variation on our adobo. I have been craving some for weeks but I haven’t had a chance to make it. The color on that chicken is mouthwatering–I can understand how this has become your new favorite preparation. :)

    Happy Sunday!

  5. Magic of Spice April 22, 2012 @ 10:07 am (#

    I love the twist with the cranberry juice in place of vinegar…great idea! And such a beautiful piece of chicken this is!

  6. carolineadobo April 22, 2012 @ 12:44 pm (#

    There’s no need for me to say how I adore adobo ;) I will have to try your recipe, love your use of cranberry juice.

    • liren replied: — April 28th, 2012 @ 11:39 am

      If anyone will be a good judge, it will surely be you, Caroline!

  7. Laura (Tutti Dolci) April 22, 2012 @ 1:15 pm (#

    I have to confess that I’ve never tried adobo, but I love all the flavors you used here, so I’m sure I’d like it! Love your pretty napkins, too.

  8. Gwen @SimplyHealthyFamily April 22, 2012 @ 1:23 pm (#

    This is very interesting. I love cranberry and always have some on hand in my freezer. I wonder if whole frozen cranberries would work as well?

    • liren replied: — April 22nd, 2012 @ 3:51 pm

      Hmm, frozen cranberries? Possibly, if you are able to juice them? I am curious if that will work!

  9. Sandra's Easy Cooking April 22, 2012 @ 5:06 pm (#

    Totally drooling over this, Liren! Wow…amazing!

  10. Jen Laceda @ Tartine and Apron Strings April 22, 2012 @ 6:16 pm (#

    yes, i am Filipino and i’m not ashamed to say, that like many from the Philippines, I am obsessed with adobo anything! like you, i can eat just the adobo sauce and rice!

    my father-in-law is a wonderful cook, but like most old-schoolers, he doesn’t follow a recipe. he cooks by “feel” or “touch”. i’ve been bugging him to teach me his way, but alas, mine doesn’t turn out as delicious as his! i’m pretty sure he is withholding info from me! LOL!! next time, i will try it with cranberry juice…

  11. Suzanne April 22, 2012 @ 11:07 pm (#

    Looks so delicious and satisfying, putting this on the list to make soon. xoxox

  12. Joann April 23, 2012 @ 10:14 am (#

    This looks really yummy! I will have to try it.

  13. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts April 23, 2012 @ 11:58 am (#

    This sounds wonderful! I love adobo, but have never paired it with cranberry, what an interesting combination!

  14. Sara April 23, 2012 @ 1:24 pm (#

    I think I have had Adobo sauce chicken at my closest friend’s house, who’s family is from Philippines! Love how easy the recipe looks, I must try!

  15. Jennifer (Delicieux) April 23, 2012 @ 3:57 pm (#

    Your chicken looks so full of flavour Liren. Definitely one for my to file away and cook for my fiance one day.

    I’m sure your Dad would approve too :) Stunning photos as always!

  16. Monet April 25, 2012 @ 6:40 am (#

    I couldn’t see how anyone wouldn’t approve. This looks so packed with flavor…I’m drooling just looking at the pictures! Thank you for sharing. I’m glad I visited your blog this morning. I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday!

  17. Platanos, Mangoes and Me! April 25, 2012 @ 9:50 am (#

    Yes Adobo…my daughter-in-law is half Philippino and I look forward when her family gets together and I am invited over….

    • liren replied: — April 28th, 2012 @ 11:40 am

      I think your daughter in law would approve of this one, Norma :)

  18. cookingrookie April 26, 2012 @ 9:53 pm (#

    This chicken sounds absolutely delicious! I must try this recipe :-). Pinned, so I don’t forget

    • liren replied: — April 28th, 2012 @ 11:38 am

      Thank you, hope you do give it a try! And thanks for the pin, too :)

  19. Denise Browning@frombraziltoyou April 28, 2012 @ 7:20 am (#

    This recipe sounds so delicious, Liren! Thanks for sharing it here. I am looking forward to make it…Have a great weekend! x

  20. The Duo Dishes May 1, 2012 @ 1:22 pm (#

    Is Silver Swan a filipino soy sauce? We found a great filipino brand at at local market. Those little ingredients make all the difference. Just one dish can take you back to a place full of memories or a place you’d love to go.

    • liren replied: — May 4th, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

      Yes, Silver Swan is a Filipino brand. I’m glad you found a good one at your local market – it really can make all the difference in the world :)

  21. Dhanya Samuel August 14, 2014 @ 6:32 pm (#

    Bookmarked! This is such a delish recipe, thanks for the share.

  22. graniet tafelblad December 1, 2015 @ 11:27 am (#

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    • Liren Baker replied: — December 5th, 2015 @ 9:06 am

      Welcome!! So glad you said hello!

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