Filipino Chicken Adobo

A good Filipino adobo is all about the proper vinegar/soy sauce ratio. Follow my tips to make this throw-it-all-in-the-pot recipe a winner.

Course Main Course
Keyword chicken adobo, filipino adobo
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4
Author Jean | Lemons + Anchovies


  • 4 1/2 pounds whole chicken, cut up (or just thighs or legs)
  • 2/3 cup vinegar (preferably Filipino but distilled or cider is fine)
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated, peeled; 1/3 crushed, 2/3 left whole
  • 1 tablespoon whole black pepper
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • Serrano chilies (optional)
  • Fish Sauce for serving (optional)
  • oil, for browning meat (optional)


  1. Add the ingredients from the chicken to the dried bay leaves in a large pot. Bring the contents to a boil, leaving the pot uncovered. Don't stir the liquid until it has come to a rolling boil. Cover, reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the chicken is tender, 40-45 minutes. If using the chilies add them to the adobo 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time. You can also leave the pot uncovered during the last 10 minutes of cooking to reduce the sauce a little. Serve with rice. 

Marinate the Meat (Optional; see note)

  1. If you choose to marinate the meat before cooking, simply combine the ingredients from the chicken to the bay leaves (same as above) and let sit for at least one hour before cooking. 

Brown the Meat (Optional; see note)

  1. Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and brown the chicken pieces, skin side down first, in batches. Brown three minutes each side. Add the chicken pieces back to the pot along with the vinegar, soy sauce, water, garlic, black pepper and bay leaves and cook as in original instructions above. 

Recipe Notes

Marinating and browning the meat before cooking: 

Marinating and/or browning the chicken before cooking it adds color and  additional flavor but are not absolutely necessary. The chicken absorbs a lot of flavor as it braises in the vinegar/soy sauce even without these steps. Also, this is a dish that improves over time so reheated leftovers have more complex, concentrated flavor. 

For Larger Quantities of Meat:

For over five pounds of chicken you can use 1 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup soy sauce.