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Filipino Chicken Adobo: A Taste of The Philippines in Your Kitchen

Discover the national dish of the Philippines with our delicious and authentic Filipino Chicken Adobo recipe. Immerse yourself in a world of tangy, savory, and sweet flavors!

July 30, 2023
Filipino Chicken AdoboPhoto By Canva
Difficulty Easy
Servings 6-8 people
Preparation 70 mins
Cooking 50 mins
Total 120 mins



  1. In a large bowl, marinate the chicken pieces with soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Cover and let it sit for at least 1 hour, but for best results, leave overnight in the fridge.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade (saving the marinade for later) and sear the pieces until they're brown on all sides.
  3. After browning, pour the marinade over the chicken. Add the brown sugar and water, then stir gently to dissolve the sugar.
  4. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for about 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly.
  5. Once the chicken is tender, remove the bay leaves and peppercorns.
  6. Serve this delightful Filipino Chicken Adobo over steamed jasmine rice and savor the unique blend of tangy, sweet, and salty flavors. Enjoy a journey through the heart of Filipino cuisine, right in your kitchen!
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 Filipino Chicken Adobo
Serves 6-8
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*
Protein 25 g50%
Total Fat 17 g21.8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.


  • For a richer flavor, marinate the chicken overnight. The longer the chicken soaks in the marinade, the deeper the flavor will be.
  • Use bone-in chicken thighs or legs for the most flavorful and tender results. The bones add richness to the sauce and prevent the chicken from drying out during cooking.
  • Before simmering, sear the marinated chicken in a hot pan to brown the skin. This step adds depth of flavor and gives the chicken a beautiful golden color.
  • Cook the chicken adobo on low heat to allow the flavors to meld together and the meat to become tender. Slow simmering ensures a richer and more robust taste.
  • Brown sugar can be adjusted to your preferred level of sweetness. For a healthier alternative, consider using coconut sugar or honey.
  • You can remove the skin of the chicken if you prefer a less fatty dish.
  • Allow the chicken adobo to rest for a few minutes after cooking. This allows the flavors to settle, and the sauce will thicken slightly.
  • This dish pairs well with steamed jasmine rice, but feel free to serve it with quinoa or cauliflower rice for a low-carb option.
  • Chicken Adobo can be kept in the refrigerator for up to four days or can be frozen for up to a month.
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The beautiful islands of the Philippines are not just known for their stunning landscapes, but also for their rich culinary history. One of their most popular dishes, revered as a national treasure, is Chicken Adobo. Infused with a blend of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and spices, this mouthwatering Asian dish is a testament to Filipino cuisine's unforgettable blend of flavors. Let's dive into the process of bringing this cultural delight from the streets of Manila straight to your dinner table.

What Does Filipino Adobo Taste Like?

Filipino adobo is a unique flavor experience. Its taste is a savory blend of sweet, sour, and salty, achieved through the combination of soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar. The garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns used in the dish infuse it with a deeper layer of flavor that is aromatic and slightly spicy.

The use of vinegar in adobo helps tenderize the meat, which results in a pleasingly soft texture that absorbs the marinade flavors well. The dish is traditionally simmered until the meat is very tender, allowing the sauce to thicken and intensify in flavor, making each bite rich and satisfying.

It's important to note that adobo can vary from region to region in the Philippines and even from family to family, with some versions leaning more towards a sweeter profile and others more sour or salty. Some variations may include coconut milk for a creamy flavor, or annatto seeds for a vibrant color and subtle earthiness. But no matter the variation, adobo is always a comforting, hearty, and deeply flavorful dish.

What Is The Difference Between Filipino Adobo And Mexican Adobo?

Filipino Adobo and Mexican Adobo are both marinating techniques used in cooking, but they're significantly different in flavor profile and ingredients due to the distinct culinary traditions of their respective countries.

Filipino Adobo: This dish is a cornerstone of Filipino cuisine. It's a cooking method that involves marinating meat, often chicken or pork, in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, and black peppercorns, and then slowly simmering it until tender. The resulting dish is tangy, salty, garlicky, and savory, often served with rice.

Mexican Adobo: In Mexican cuisine, adobo is a type of marinade or sauce made from ground chiles, spices (like cumin and oregano), vinegar, and often tomatoes. The chiles used can vary, but commonly include varieties like ancho or chipotle. The mixture is blended until smooth and then used to marinate meats or as a base for stews and sauces. Mexican adobo is rich, smoky, and spicy, reflecting the flavors of the chiles used.

In short, while both adobos are marinades that use vinegar, their flavors are distinctly different due to the different spices, chiles, and ingredients used in their preparation. The Filipino adobo is more about the balance of tangy and salty flavors, while the Mexican adobo focuses on the spicy and smoky flavors of dried chiles.

What Does Adobo Mean In Filipino?

Adobo in the Filipino language originates from the Spanish word "adobar", which means marinade or pickling sauce. When the Spanish colonized the Philippines in the late 16th century, they encountered an indigenous cooking process that involved marinating meat in vinegar and salt to preserve it. The Spanish referred to this cooking method as "adobo" due to its similarity to their own method of preservation using a marinade, and the name stuck.

In the context of Filipino cuisine today, adobo refers to a popular dish and cooking method that typically involves meat, seafood, or vegetables marinated in a sauce of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, and black peppercorns, then browned in oil, and simmered in the marinade. It has a characteristic flavor that's tangy, salty, and garlicky, often with a hint of sweetness. Each Filipino family tends to have its own adobo recipe, passed down through generations, making it a truly iconic and cherished part of Filipino culinary tradition.

What Does Filipino Adobo Consist Of?

Filipino adobo is a classic dish in the Philippines, widely recognized as the country's national dish. The essential ingredients for Filipino adobo are:

Protein:Chicken and pork are the most common, but seafood, tofu, or vegetables can also be used.

Soy Sauce: This is a key ingredient that adds a rich, salty, umami flavor.

Vinegar: Traditionally, Filipino cane vinegar is used, but other types of vinegar such as apple cider or white vinegar can also be used. The vinegar gives the dish its distinctive tang.

Garlic: A generous amount of garlic is used, providing a robust flavor.

Bay Leaves and Peppercorns: These are added for additional flavor. Some recipes may also include other spices like star anise or cinnamon.

Sugar: A small amount of sugar balances out the salty and sour flavors. Some recipes use coconut milk for a creamier version.

The protein is marinated in the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and spices, then it's browned in oil and simmered until tender. The resulting dish has a characteristic flavor that's tangy, salty, and garlicky, with a hint of sweetness. Adobo is typically served with steamed rice, which helps to balance the strong, savory flavors of the dish.

What To Serve with Filipino Chicken Adobo?

Filipino Chicken Adobo is a flavorful and hearty dish that pairs well with various sides and accompaniments to create a complete and satisfying meal. Here are some delicious options to serve with Filipino Chicken Adobo:

Steamed Rice: Traditional Filipino Chicken Adobo is typically served with steamed white rice. The rice helps balance the bold flavors of the adobo sauce and complements the tender chicken.

Pickled Vegetables (Atchara): Add a tangy and crunchy element to your meal with pickled vegetables. Atchara, a popular Filipino condiment made from shredded green papaya, carrots, and bell peppers, is a delightful accompaniment to Chicken Adobo.

Roasted Vegetables: Serve Chicken Adobo with a side of roasted vegetables like broccoli, bok choy, or green beans. The fresh and vibrant flavors complement the rich and savory chicken.

Filipino Pancit: Complete your meal with a serving of Pancit, a Filipino noodle dish. Pancit Canton or Pancit Bihon, stir-fried with vegetables and meat, pairs well with Chicken Adobo.

Mango Salsa: Create a tropical twist with a fresh Mango Salsa. Diced ripe mangoes, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and lime juice provide a sweet and zesty complement to the savory adobo.

Lumpia: Serve Filipino-style spring rolls, known as Lumpia, as an appetizer or side dish. These crispy rolls filled with ground meat and vegetables are a delightful addition to your meal.

Filipino Fruit Salad: Finish off the meal with a classic Filipino Fruit Salad. A medley of canned fruit cocktail, cream, and condensed milk create a sweet and creamy treat.

Origin of Filipino Adobo

Adobo in the Philippines traces its origins back to pre-colonial times in the 16th century, before the islands were colonized by the Spanish. The early Filipinos cooked their food with vinegar and salt to keep it from spoiling in the tropical climate. When the Spanish arrived in the Philippines in the late 16th century, they encountered this cooking process and labeled it "adobo," which is derived from the Spanish word "adobar" meaning marinade or seasoning.

Despite the name's Spanish origins, the dish itself is authentically Filipino. The use of soy sauce, a later addition, shows the influence of Chinese traders on the local cuisine. Over the centuries, adobo has evolved into numerous regional variations across the Philippines, with each region or even each household putting their own spin on the classic recipe.

Adobo's Significance in Filipino Culture

Adobo holds a special place in Filipino culture. It's more than just a dish—it's a beloved symbol of Filipino identity and heritage. In fact, adobo is often at the center of family gatherings and fiestas. It's also a favorite comfort food for many Filipinos, reminding them of home. The dish's versatility and simplicity, along with its unique blend of flavors, have made it a staple in Filipino households worldwide.

Adobo in Today's Global Culinary Scene

Today, Filipino adobo has gained international recognition, thanks in part to the global popularity of Filipino cuisine. Chefs around the world have embraced and reimagined adobo, incorporating elements from other culinary traditions. Yet, at its core, the dish remains true to its roots, with its characteristic blend of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and spices.

Despite its centuries-old origin, adobo continues to inspire and excite the palate. It embodies the rich history and cultural diversity of the Philippines. Whether you're trying it for the first time or it's a dish you grew up with, Filipino adobo offers a delicious taste of Filipino heritage and cuisine.

Recipe byPetite Gourmets

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