chicken adobo

May 9th, 2014

chicken adobo recipe on elsie marley

The title of this post could have been, “Chicken loves vinegar.” Chicken and vinegar really do go so well together. My go-to quick dinner is boneless chicken thighs sautéed in butter and a sauce made from simply deglazing the pan with apple cider vinegar. The sauce is buttery and tangy and so, so good. So I knew chicken loved vinegar, but I didn’t really know the extend of the love affair until I made chicken adobo.

chicken adobo recipe on elsie marley

Adobo is a traditional Philippine stew made with palm vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, and garlic. It is usually made with pork or chicken , though I’ve seen vegetarian versions too. The amount of vinegar is shocking–cups! cups of vinegar! But simmering the stew transforms the vinegar from something shockingly acidic to something smooth and sweet.

I’ve made very traditional pork adobo, but I keep coming back to this chicken version from the book How to Eat Supper  by Lynne Rossetto Casper and Sally Swift (amazon affiliate link). The recipe calls for one big can of tomatoes and the sauce ends up so incredibly delicious I have to double it each time I make this for dinner.

chicken adobo recipe on elsie marley

Even though tomatoes are not traditional, they work perfectly. A quick search on google for Philippine + adobo + tomatoes reveals that everyone who puts tomatoes in their adobo #1 thinks it was their idea and #2 thinks they are a genius. They might as well be right. In the recipe, you cook chicken thighs in the tomatoes and vinegar until they’re done, then boil the sauce down until it is thick, syurp-y, vinegar-y, tomato-y goodness.

chicken adobo recipe on elsie marley

While the sauce is reducing–and your house smells like you are the best cook on the block–I pop the chicken thighs under the broiler to crisp up the skin a bit. Nestle the crispy chicken in that gorgeous sauce and be prepared to wow the socks off anyone who comes to the dinner table.

It might seem as though chicken adobo takes all day on the stove or at the very least half a day in the oven, but actually it’s no more than an hour start to finish. Some recipes tell you to marinate the chicken and you can, but it’s really not necessary. And you can make this days ahead of time and it just gets better and better in the fridge. The only thing you really must to do is make rice to go with this dish. All that sauce needs a vehicle to get to your mouth! My favorite is slightly sticky, medium grain white rice. A green salad with cucumbers or avocados, dressed with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon rounds out a pretty damn good dinner.

chicken adobo recipe on elsie marley



adapted from the Filipino-Style Chicken Adobo recipe in How to Eat Supper


  • 1 28-oz can whole or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups vinegar (apple cider is my favorite, palm vinegar is more traditional, and rice vinegar is good too. White vinegar will do in a pinch, but I don’t really like to cook with the same stuff I use to clean my toilets.)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 lbs bone in, skin on, chicken thighs
  • 2 big handfuls spinach (completely optional, but sometimes I sneak it in)


  1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large stainless steel pot (you can then leave them in the fridge to marinate overnight if you like)
  2. Bring the mixture to a strong simmer, cover, and cook for about 25 minutes, or until the chicken is done (165-170).
  3. Remove the chicken to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  4. Increase the heat to high and reduce the sauce at least by half (until it is thick and syrup-y). This takes a good 10-15 minutes.
  5. While the sauce is reducing, stick the chicken thighs under the broiler for 5 or so minutes until the skin is nice and crispy.
  6. If you want to add spinach, add it now, and let it wilt in the sauce.
  7. Pour the sauce in a large, shallow bowl and nestle the chicken pieces in it.
  8. Eat! Enjoy!


Posted in food/recipes.

9 Responses to chicken adobo

  1. Jill says:

    This looks amazing! Thanks!

  2. jennifer says:

    Sounds good! Wondering, how much soy sauce – 1/4 CUP?

  3. erin says:

    oh, i think this will be a great addition to our dinner rotation. sounds delicious!

  4. Sarah Helene says:

    WOW! Your “Chicken Adobo” recipe looks delicious . . . thanks for sharing. I REALLY PLAN to prepare this entree with white rice for my family next Monday as I’m retired from teaching and have plenty of time. I don’t recall enjoying Filipino recipes, so this entree will be something new! Sarah in Minneapolis

  5. Shino says:

    This must be good. We, Japanese stew chicken with (a lot of) vinegar too. I love chicken drumettes stewed with vinegar, soy sauce and sugar. It’s super easy and delicious. I have to give this adobo try (and I’ve been wondering what is “adobo” for years, thanks for letting me know).

  6. This looks so good! Wonder if my hubby would realise there’s vinegar in there?

  7. Cristina says:

    Thanks! This chicken was a huge hit at our house tonight. I served it with baked sweet potato and steamed asparagus.