My Quick and Easy Chicken Adobo

Chicken adobo is the quintessential Filipino dish. To be honest, it wasn’t really one of my favorites until I moved away from the Philippines. Back then, my favorites were bistek, fried bangus (milkfish), and sinigang (the Philippine equivalent of tom yum). But when you are away from home for so long, you develop heightened cravings for the dishes that easily assuage pangs of homesickness. For me, adobo is one of those dishes. There is no way to prevent the aroma of this dish from filling your home. And when I make this, all of a sudden, my house smells just like the one where I grew up, almost 10,000 miles away from many, many years ago.

I used to think chicken adobo was tricky to make, and in my earliest attempts, it was definitely finicky. It was easy to go from just right to tasting like pickled chicken, and it frustrated me that my younger brother was more adept at making this dish than I was.

Apparently, my problem was that I was stressing over it too much. I was tasting the sauce and adjusting it almost every other minute, terrified that it would somehow turn either too salty or too sour while I wasn’t looking. The thing is, adobo is really very simple—almost impossibly so—and it does best the less you disturb it while it’s cooking.

And when I say simple, I do mean simple. It’s a one-pot dish in the fullest sense, in that you marinate the chicken in the same pot that you cook it in. Dump the chicken in, throw some smashed garlic cloves, peppercorns, and a touch of brown sugar. Make a marinade that’s equal parts soy sauce, vinegar, and water. Pour it over the chicken, and you’re done.

The Ivory Hut: My Quick and Easy Chicken Adobo

Marinate the chicken for at least 20 minutes and up to overnight. I find the sweet spot to be between 2 to 4 hours. (You don’t want to let the chicken sit too long in a vinegary sauce.) If I’m in a hurry, I’ll just let it sit on the stove. When ready to cook, simply fire up stove to medium to medium-high heat and let it come to a boil. It goes from this:

The Ivory Hut: My Quick and Easy Chicken Adobo

To this:

The Ivory Hut: My Quick and Easy Chicken Adobo

And finally to this in about 40 minutes:

The Ivory Hut: My Quick and Easy Chicken Adobo

Once the chicken begins cooking on the stove, I start my rice cooker and make a salad. And in less than an hour, I have dinner on the table. The chicken only needs to be flipped two or three times. There’s no added oil except whatever is released by the chicken, and you hardly even stir the sauce around. The only adjusting you make is adding water, if necessary, every time you flip the chicken.

And that’s it! Quick and easy, and I guarantee you that your kitchen will smell lovely while this is cooking. Try it the next time you need a quick, no-fuss chicken dinner!

The Ivory Hut: My Quick and Easy Chicken Adobo


Ivoryhut’s Quick and Easy Chicken Adobo
Serves 5 to 8

4 to 5 whole chicken leg quarters, divided into thighs and drumsticks, washed and cleaned, thighs skinned
6 to 8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup soy sauce (I don’t recommend using Kikkoman for this, but if you have to, use the low-sodium Kikkoman)
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce (or an additional tablespoon of brown sugar)
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, half left whole, half cracked slightly
2 bay leaves

In the same pot you’ll be using to cook the chicken in, add all the ingredients. Let the chicken marinate for at least 20 minutes, preferably 2 to 4 hours, or up to overnight.

When ready to cook, put the pot on the stovetop and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, lower the heat slightly and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes. Remove the cover. Flip the chicken pieces and continue to simmer, uncovered, to reduce the sauce, lowering the heat if necessary. If the sauce is too thick or too salty, add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of water. After about 8 minutes, flip the chicken again. Taste the sauce again and add more water if needed. Don’t worry if you accidentally add too much water—the simmering will take care of that.

Continue to simmer until chicken is fully cooked and has released its oils into the sauce, and the sauce has thickened slightly and taken on a rich, dark brown color.

Serve over jasmine rice, or, for a real Filipino treat, with garlic fried rice.

Note: I use Filipino soy sauce and cane vinegar when making this. Remember to taste the sauce after about 15 minutes or so of cooking and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Distilled vinegar tends to be sharper, which you can remedy with additional water and brown sugar. If it’s too salty, just add more water.


The Ivory Hut: My Quick and Easy Chicken Adobo

I promise you: one bite of this and you’ll instantly know why almost every Filipino I know loves adobo.


82 thoughts on “My Quick and Easy Chicken Adobo”

  1. I’m not going to use the chili sauce. So do I use 2 tablespoons of brown sugar? I’m nervous for some reason to use that much! LIke it will be too sweet? WILL I BE OK WITH 1 TABLESPOON BROWN SUGAR OR SHOULD I JUST TRUST YOUR RECIPE AND USE 2 TABLESPOONS!?

  2. Made this for the first time tonight and it was amazing! Even my non-adventurous husband loved the dish along with the cat :)
    An old roommate used to make this dish often and it was my favorite. I never made it myself and didn’t have the recipe. I came across your page a few weeks ago and planned to make this meal. It was incredibly easy to make and turned out far better than the roommates version. I did use the listed amount of chicken, but doubled the sauce for the rice. I added 2 tbsp extra brown sugar and a little extra soy sauce to sweeten it up. It turned out perfect and was a big hit. Super moist as well. Can’t wait to make this again, I think even our 4 year old would be happy eating this meal.

  3. Hi

    I recently relocated in manila from cebu and its my first time to be living alone. I always loved chicks adobo but always had mom or household help to cook it. Now i cant believe i did it on my own. Thanks to your simple recipe. “just like what mom used to make” more power. To you

  4. I tried your recipe. I’ll give it 5/5. Love the hint of chili in the adobo. At last i found the right recipe for making a delicious adobo.. Definitely going to be in my recipe folder. Thanks to you

  5. Just a question. Is there anyway of making this without sugar, my partners diabetic! But adobo is lovely. I want him to try it. I not want him missing out! Help..

  6. Mandy, I can sympathize—my husband is diabetic too. Feel free to make the recipe and omit the sugar. The sugar helps round out the flavors and cut the acidity of the vinegar (and slightly, slightly thicken the sauce), but it isn’t essential and many adobo recipes don’t even include it. What I would do is reduce the vinegar slightly and taste it toward the end. If it still tastes too acidic, add the tiniest pinch (and I mean tiny) of baking soda to cut the acidity. If you want to thicken the sauce slightly, add a bit of cornstarch dissolved in cold water and simmer for a few minutes to thicken the sauce.

    Hope that helps! Let me know how it turns out.

    (Note: Some regional versions use coconut milk to mellow out the flavors. You can try that too, though it will change the flavor of this particular adobo.)

  7. Hi! I loved this so much, I’m posting on my blog. It was the closest thing to my granma’s recipe! I’m totally giving you credit by naming it COPYCAT Chicken Adobo, with your link attached.

    Thanks for spreading the love. Salamat!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I made this tonight and it was absolutely delicious.

    Like you, this is one of the dishes I crave for when I feel homesick. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn how to cook it before I moved from the Philippines several months ago. Smelling the aroma of the chicken simmering in the pot was such bliss. It brought me home, even for a short while. :-)

    Maraming salamat!

  9. Thanks for sharing this recipe. It was simple and the adobo came out great. I used La Choy soy sauce, took your advice on not using Kikkoman. Hopefully my husband will enjoy the chicken when he comes home from work. My son and I did. :)

  10. This is now my all-time favorite chicken adodo recipe. It is SO simple to prepare (we need simple, these days!) and comes out SO delicious. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it tasted. The best part: my entire family – from my picky husband down to my even pickier kids all the way to my 8-month-old baby – ate that delicious chicken. It was just divine. We’ve tried other recipes that were similar but didn’t deliver the same convenience and intense flavor this one did. I will also say: I didn’t add bay leaves, and I didn’t bother adding any water, either – I didn’t think it needed it, as I left all the chicken fat in to add to the gravy. Maybe not the healthiest, but I’ll have a salad tomorrow to make up for it. :) I served it over plain white rice, and even filled a small tupperware the the bits of sauce that were leftover (the chicken was totally gone, of course), so that I could make more rice tomorrow to pour the sauce on. My mouth is watering, just thinking about it. Thank you for a wonderful recipe!

  11. This is definitely the best and quickest adobo recipe.
    I have tried many……some had to pan fry chicken 1st. What a mess and time consuming.
    Never knew about the Brown sugar
    Anyways, I’m making it again tonight
    I’m already drooling just thinking about dinner
    Thank you so much!

  12. Love your adobo recipe! It’s delicious every time! My husband however, prefers more of a gravy for the sauce (I know not traditional). How would you recommend we thicken it? I tried corn starch, but I don’t think it works because of the vinegar.

  13. Hi there! Thanks for this recipe! Super easy and delicious! I do want to ask if you have any tips for adding vegetables, like carrots and potatoes. Should I add them in at the beginning with the chicken so they can all cook together?

    1. Hi Allyn! Glad you enjoyed the recipe. I like to add vegetables sometimes too, but typically don’t like letting the vegetables cook with the chicken. The adobo flavor is quite distinct and I prefer it when the vegetables taste more like the vegetables and less than the sauce, which is what will happen if you add them in the beginning. It also depends on what vegetable you are adding, but generally, for carrots and potatoes, I would pre-cook them in a pan (you can do it in a bit of oil skimmed from the top of the adobo while it’s cooking) and then add them at the final minutes of cooking, or even just spoon the adobo over them when serving. The exception I make is when adding hardboiled eggs (or even quail eggs)—those I simmer along with the adobo, to infuse that flavor into the otherwise flavorless egg white.

      A simple rule of thumb is that if a vegetable has an inherently fresh flavor that you enjoy, pre-cook it and then either let it briefly cook with the adobo in the final minutes, or leave it out of the adobo pan and just serve the adobo over the vegetables. If the vegetable or added ingredient is fairly bland and can use an infusion of flavor, then do let it cook along with the adobo, making sure you time it right so that it doesn’t overcook.

      Hope that helps!

  14. The first time I made it, I followed the advice and used some low salt sowy sauce and it was good, but i noticed everyone was using the salt shaker. The second time I made it I added salt and it was way better and less people were looking for the salt shaker. So, the third time I used Kikkoman soy sauce instead and it was superb and restaurant quality. We all just ate less of it to compensate. Next time I will try using Ajinimoto (msg), and I bet it will achieve perfection.

  15. Hi – just found your website! My daughter-in-law is Filipina and I can’t wait to make this for her! She is soooo homesick! I hope she likes it!

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