Filipino Chicken Adobo is the national dish of the Philippines, and it’s a low-carb chicken dish that’s delicious and easy to make. I’ve made this with pieces of chicken breast in the past, but today I’m updating the recipe to use more-authentic chicken thighs; use whichever chicken parts you prefer!
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Filipino Chicken Adobo, is a recipe I’ve been making for years, first adapting it from a recipe from Mark Bittman and advice I’d gotten from a few Filipino food bloggers. Then recently I got infatuated with Chicken Adobo again, and decided that using skin-on bone-in chicken thighs really was the most authentic way to make this famous dish.
We loved this new version with chicken thighs that was delicious and easy to make, and with thighs we used a slightly different process than we did for the Chicken Adobo made with chicken breasts. (You can use that link to see the older recipe if you were a fan and prefer chicken breasts.) I’ll also give some tips for those who might prefer using breasts in this new easier recipe.
This updated easier version browns the chicken first, simmers it the soy sauce mixture, and then keeps chicken warm while the sauce is reduced. It omits the onions which I ended up feeling didn’t add much and had to be strained out of the sauce. if you’re a fan at all of Asian chicken recipes where the chicken is cooked with soy sauce, I hope you considering trying this updated version of Filipino Chicken Adobo made with chicken thighs!
What is Filipino Chicken Adobo?
Chicken Adobo is the national dish of the Philippines, and it’s traditionally made with a whole chicken or bone-in chicken legs and thighs. (Don’t confuse this with Mexican spices or dishes that are called Adobo; it is a completely different dish.) The chicken is simmered in the Adobo mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, water, garlic, bay leaves, onions, and pepper, and always broiled or pan-fried as part of the process. And of course this is the type of recipe where every Filipino grandmother will have her own recipe, but I hope my process for making Chicken Adobo is pretty close to how some cooks would make it in the Philippines.
What ingredients do you need?
(This is only a list of ingredients; please scroll down for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE link at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)
Why do I use Low-Sodium Gluten-Free Soy Sauce for Chicken Adobo?
Filipino Chicken Adobo is a dish where chicken is simmered in a mixture with lots of soy sauce. Then the sauce is reduced by cooking it down, so regular soy sauce has the potential to make you end up with overly-salty sauce. I loved San-J Low-Sodium Gluten-Free Tamari (affiliate link) for this recipe, but if you don’t find that brand there are lots of other good ones. And of course use gluten-free soy sauce if needed.
What if you don’t have white wine vinegar for the Chicken Adobo?
The most traditional vinegar for making Adobo is probably cane or coconut vinegar, but if you look around the web you’ll see cooks using apple cider vinegar, rice wine vinegar, and regular white vinegar. So use the type of vinegar you have on hand for this recipe!
What garlic should you use for Chicken Adobo?
I’m guessing most cooks would use fresh minced garlic in the Phillipines, and that’s great if you’re up for that. We used minced garlic from a jar, which was easy and gave great flavor. We did notice that the minced garlic pieces showed in the sauce when we spooned it over the cooked pieces of chicken. We didn’t mind that at all, but use crushed garlic if you prefer a smoother sauce.
Should you use whole peppercorns for Chicken Adobo?
Many Filipino cooks use whole peppercorns for the Adobo sauce mixture, but we used coarse ground black pepper so we didn’t have to worry about biting into a peppercorn!
How to Make Filipino Chicken Adobo:
(This is only a summary of the steps for the recipe; please scroll down for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE link at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)
- We tested the recipe with 5 large thighs, but there’s enough sauce for 8 thighs. (For chicken breasts, use 4 medium breasts cut in half on the diagonal.)
- Trim to remove excess skin and fat and season chicken with salt and pepper.
- Heat peanut oil in large frying pan over medium-high heat.
- Brown chicken skin side down, moving pieces a few times as needed for browning. (I’d brown chicken 5-6 minutes for thighs, and a minute or two less for chicken breasts.)
- Turn chicken over and brown other side about 4 minutes (or a bit less for chicken breasts.)
- While chicken browns, combine soy sauce (preferably low sodium and gluten-free if needed), white wine vinegar, water, minced or crushed garlic, bay leaves, coarse black pepper, and Ground Chipotle Pepper (if using) to make the sauce
- Pour sauce over chicken and cook about 10 minutes, covered and at very low simmer. (For chicken breasts I would only simmer about 5-6 minutes.)
- Then turn chicken over and cook covered for 10 minutes more, or until the chicken is cooked through. (For breasts I’d only simmer chicken about 4 minutes for second side.)
- Remove chicken to a plate and cover tightly to keep warm. Increase heat and cook the sauce until it’s reduced enough to coat your spoon, about 10-15 minutes. I would taste to be sure it’s not getting too strong.
- If you don’t think the chicken is warm enough, put back in the reduced sauce and simmer a few minutes. (We didn’t need to do that.)
- Serve chicken with the reduced sauce spooned over and extra sauce on the side.
Make it a Low-Carb Meal
Of course in the Philippines this tasty chicken would be served with rice with the extra sauce spooned over the rice. But it would be very good served with Easy Cauliflower Rice with Garlic and Green Onion if you want a lower-carb option. I’d also love this Chicken Adobo with Amazing Asian Green Salad, Roasted Broccoli with Soy Sauce and Sesame Seeds, or Air Fryer Asian Green Beans for a low-carb meal.
More Tasty Asian Chicken:
- 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (see notes)
- 1 T peanut oil
- 1 cup soy sauce (see notes)
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 T minced garlic (see notes)
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
- pinch of Ground Chipotle Chiles (optional)
- I’m giving you a recipe with enough sauce for 8 chicken thighs, but use the number you prefer
- Trim the thighs to remove excess skin and pockets of fat and season with salt and pepper
- Heat peanut oil over medium-high heat in a heavy frying pan that’s large enough that chicken will fit in a single layer
- Brown chicken skin side down, rearranging the pieces during the cooking time for optimal browning if needed. (I’d brown the chicken 5-6 minutes for thighs, and a minute or two less if you use chicken breasts.
- Turn chicken thighs over and brown the other side about 4 minutes (or a bit less time for chicken breasts.
- While chicken browns, combine Low-Sodium Soy Sauce, white wine vinegar, water, minced or crushed garlic, bay leaves, coarse black pepper, and pinch of Ground Chipotle Pepper (if using) to make the sauce.
- Pour Adobe sauce mixture over the browned chicken and cook covered at the very lowest possible simmer about 10 minutes. (For chicken breasts I would lower the time to 5-6 minutes.)
- Then turn chicken over in the liquid and cook covered at very lowest simmer for 10 minutes longer, or until the chicken is cooked through. (For chicken breasts I’d lower the time to 4 minutes for the second side.)
- Remove chicken to a plate and cover tightly with foil to keep warm.
- Increase heat under the pan to medium and cook the sauce until it’s reduced enough to coat your spoon, about 10-15 minutes, but taste and make sure it’s not getting too strong.
- (This simmering time is also good to make sure there’s no bacteria from cooking the chicken in the sauce, although the danger is minimal because you don’t add the sauce until the chicken is mostly cooked.)
- If you don’t think the chicken under the foil is warm enough when the sauce has thickened, you can put chicken pieces back into the reduced sauce and simmer a couple of minutes; we didn’t need to do that.
- Serve chicken with the reduced sauce spooned over and extra sauce on the side.
To make this version of Chicken Adobo with chicken breasts, use 4 medium chicken breasts, cut in half on the diagonal and trimmed.
Low-sodium soy sauce or Tamari is best for this, since the sauce gets reduced; use gluten-free soy sauce if needed.
If you prefer a smoother sauce, use crushed or pureed garlic.
Recipe adapted from Mark Bittman’s recipe as well as advice from some food blogger friends.
Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 152Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 3562mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 13g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.
Low-Carb Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
This Filipino Chicken Adobo recipe is low in carbs and should be suitable for low-carb or Keto diet plans, which will definitely prefer the new version with higher-fat chicken thighs. Leaner chicken breasts would probably be most suitable for the original South Beach Diet, although even when it’s made with thighs this recipe isn’t terribly high in fat.
Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Chicken Recipes or Skillet Meals to find more recipes like this one. Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest, on Facebook, on Instagram, on TikTok, or on YouTube to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.
Historical Notes for this Recipe:
I first made Chicken Adobo for the blog in 2005, when the internet was a lot friendlier and I was chatting regularly with a group of Pinoy food bloggers! The photos were improved in a version that used chicken breasts in 2011. (Use this link t0 see the printer-friendly version of the recipe with chicken breasts.) This current version with more authentic chicken thighs was updated with greatly improved photos and more information in 2023.
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