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…

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.

Filipino-style Braised Chicken with Cranberry Adobo Sauce

Serves 4-6. | Prep: 1 hour | Cook: 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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  1. graniet tafelblad

    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.

  2. The Duo Dishes

    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

      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 :)

  3. Monet

    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!

  4. Jennifer (Delicieux)

    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!

  5. Sara

    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!

  6. Jen Laceda @ Tartine and Apron Strings

    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…

    • liren

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

  7. Laura (Tutti Dolci)

    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. Jean

    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!

  9. Holly

    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.

  10. Brian

    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

      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 :)

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