The Ivory Hut: Filipino Chicken Barbecue (Inihaw na Manok)

Filipino Chicken Barbecue (Inihaw na Manok)

I recently joined the Kulinarya Cooking Club, which consists of a group of bloggers who share a love of Filipino cuisine. What started in Sydney, Australia grew into a truly international bloggerhood, and I’m thrilled to be part of it. A monthly theme is chosen, and for June, it was (appropriately so) barbecue.

When I think of Filipino barbecue, my mind first turns to our wonderful street food classic: barbecued pork in skewers. It’s the kind of food you can’t get enough of, no matter how sticky everything gets: your fingers, lips, mouth, cheeks … then you run out of clean napkins and try to sneakily wipe your grubby hands on your jeans. (Or, if you’re subtle enough, on the jeans of the person standing next to you.)

Unfortunately, Tom doesn’t eat pork. So I decided on another Filipino classic on the grill: chicken barbecue. And if you’re Filipino, you know the words “chicken barbecue” never fail to bring to mind the landmark restaurant Aristocrat, where an order of their popular chicken barbecue comes with a serving of Java rice and achara. I wasn’t ambitious enough to attempt Java rice because it’s been years since I last had it, but I did make achara (pickled green papaya) to go with my chicken.

The Ivory Hut: Filipino Chicken Barbecue (Inihaw na Manok)

Filipino barbecue is often marinated in a mixture that includes 7-Up or Sprite, likely for its tenderizing effect. But that was pretty much all I knew. So I started out by going online and looking at all the different recipes for Aristocrat-style chicken barbecue. I bookmarked a few, noticed the common elements in many of them, then sat down to draft my plan of attack. Then it dawned on me. Why search the internet when I can get the family recipe directly from the source?

So I called my mom, who rattled off the recipe over the phone. I had to scribble furiously, because she was in a rush: she was home watching the NBA finals and didn’t want to miss any of the action. (Yes, that’s my mom.) I noticed her recipe didn’t include catsup (banana catsup or regular tomato catsup), which was often mentioned in online recipes as either part of the marinade or a component of the basting mixture. My mom was adamant: the family recipe for chicken barbecue contains absolutely no catsup. For good measure, she sent a message to our family cooks back home to verify the recipe she gave me.

This chicken is incredibly moist and flavorful, and the reduced marinade has just the right balance of sweet and savory, having cooked off the tartness of the vinegar. Paired with achara and plain jasmine rice, it is a combination that instantly recalls our weekly family reunions from long ago, when all that we kids had to worry about was how much we could eat before it became impossible to go right back outside and play hide-and-seek in the yard. And I’m so glad I remembered to get the family recipe instead of relying on internet versions, because for me, this is the taste that brings me back home.

The Ivory Hut: Filipino Chicken Barbecue (Inihaw na Manok)


Filipino Chicken Barbecue (Inihaw na Manok)
Serves 4

If you have concerns about boiling the used marinade, double the measurements for the marinade and set half aside for the basting mixture.


1 1/2 cups cane vinegar, or 1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
3 bay leaves, torn or crushed
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 tablespoon finely ground black pepper
12 oz. 7-Up or Sprite
5 pounds chicken leg quarters or your preferred chicken pieces, preferably dark meat, cleaned and trimmed of excess fat

In a large container that can hold the chicken pieces, combine all ingredients except chicken. Mix until sugar is dissolved. Marinate chicken in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or up to 8 hours.

Take the chicken out and transfer the pieces to a large plate. While waiting for the chicken to come to room temperature, pour the marinade into a small sauce pan (or discard the marinade and pour the additional reserved marinade into a sauce pan) and boil over medium to high heat until the marinade is reduced to a sticky syrup.

Heat your grill to 350 degrees or medium heat. Grill chicken pieces, bone side down, for about 8 minutes, then reduce the grill temperature to 275 degrees. Continue grilling bone side down for about 20 minutes, basting once. Flip the pieces over and grill for another 20 minutes, basting occasionally. Continue grilling, flipping, and basting until chicken is fully cooked. Check for doneness by piercing the joint to ensure juices run clear, or until chicken reaches 163F internal temperature.

Take chicken off the grill, tent with foil, and let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

The Ivory Hut: Filipino Chicken Barbecue (Inihaw na Manok)

Filipino chicken barbecue. Perfect for summer cookouts and for fueling up before you spend hours chasing your cousins all over the yard. The only caveat is that one serving of this can cause an acute attack of homesickness.

P.S. Stop back in tomorrow, when I share our family recipe for achara. It’s incredibly easy to make, and the perfect condiment for all kinds of grilled meat.


42 thoughts on “Filipino Chicken Barbecue (Inihaw na Manok)”

  1. Oh yay, a pinoy bbq recipe that doesn’t include ketchup! I think the ketchup was an eventual concession to all of the white men that the pinas married. It’s hard to find the correct recipe for pinoy bbq and my mother had a cook when she lived in the PI so she has no idea how to cook most everything. We can make sinigong (have to use the tamarind packet tough), pancit, and lumpia. It’s a good thing too because those 3 are the most important. Thanks so much for the bbq recipe!

  2. Your inasal looks so juicy and delicious it does look like the Aristocrats. I have a similar version on the marinade but put a mixture of catsup and soy sauce for basting. Good job on making an extra mile to make your own atchara…i so miss them=;)

  3. I have to admit that I am not very familiar with Filipino cuisine, and so I love it when you post about a particular dish–I learn so much! This looks delicious, and I’m so glad that it doesn’t use ketchup. :)

  4. We made this the other night. And though I was sick with the flu and had little appetite, I ate it and thought it was one of the tastiest BBQ’ed chickens I had ever had. So I can’t imagine how much I would love it if I were well!

  5. I was raised eating Aristocrat, THE barbecue chicken and have never cooked it myself so I’m glad you shared your Mom’s recipe with us. And the achara recipe, too! All very good, a welcome addition to my family’s summer grilling! :)

  6. hello erika!

    Great to see this post. after your tweet, i skipped over here and voila… i see this chicken bbq. yeah im taking my marinated chicken bbq ala “aristocrat” to my friends’ 4th bbq!

    i was not able to join KCC for last month’s posting but hmmm maybe i could still make pahabol! i actually followed my old recipe (one of my earliest postings) and yeah it had ketchup on it .. but hihihi i used sprite too… would that be ok to re-post something i’ve posted before then? hmmm…

  7. How does the marinade become sticky? I’ve been boiling it for more than 15 mins and it still has the same loose consistency. Do I have to add cornstarch or flour?

    1. Nope, no cornstarch. Just boil it on high heat. The sugar, soy, and the sugar (again) in the soda will be enough to make it sticky once it reduces. I had the same problem the first time I tried it, then I realized I was reducing it on my simmer burner, which was taking forever. I took it outside and put it on the burner next to the grill over high heat, and it reduced in a matter of minutes. Hope that helps!

      1. I have been boiling this on high for over 20 minutes and although the quantity has reduced…it’s not any thicker. What gives?

        1. Hi Susie! Just reduce it to about half or less, and it doesn’t have to be very thick like syrup. (Did you by chance use diet soda? Diet soda doesn’t have the sugar content of regular soda, so that can impede the process. It will stil thicken but it’ll take much longer.) Once you notice the sauce/marinade just slightly thick enough for basting, you can take it off heat. It continues thickening some more off heat. Then, while you’re basting the chicken, if you’d like to have some reserved sauce for serving, you can continue reducing a portion of it to your desired consistency. Keep an eye on it though! Once it starts to thicken, it can quickly go from perfect to burned. Hope that helps!

  8. you know what i will be starting my small business venture on chicken barbecue here on our village in las pinas,thanks for sharing ur family customed chicken bbq and i can add some of ur sangkaps in my own bbq recipe and hopefully with Gods grace my business will click and satisfy the taste of every customer in the village.i didnt use soy sauce coz i remember my mum said when she was still with us that it will burn the skin and make the chicken bbq black.

  9. My husband and I just made this, and it took me straight back to Subic Bay, beach barbecues and playing hide and seek until sunset! I actually teared up a little. Thank you so much for this stellar recipe!

  10. I tried this recipe once with ginger ale (I’m caribbean,so it’s a given) and it was absolutely wonderful. The ginger added to the wonderful aroma, and was a great balance to the apple cider vinegar. I will try this recipe on party wings for the Super Bowl. And I was considering making this low carb-friendly. I’m all about the carbs, but I have friends who don’t have diverse palates because of dietary restraints. I want to get the same stickiness one would normally get with sugar, but what would be a great alternative? I was considering xylitol.

  11. I just love this recipe. The boiled marinade was a fantastic baste; it gave the chicken that subtle sweet twist that makes filipino BBQ unique. This is a keeper. Thank you!

  12. for this month of fasting for us muslims, foods served should be extra special..m gonna try this one and send you a feedback on how it went..thank you, you’ve of great help!

  13. thank you so much for the tips. its very helpful. I’ll try to cook this dish and i can’t wait to let my husband taste it. Again, thank you and God bless.

  14. Super delicious! Been looking for a barbecue recipe without the catsup. I tried it and my family loved it! Thank you! Great job!

  15. Thank you for posting this! I was in the Philippines during college and this was one of my favorite foods. A friend taught me how to make it before I left, but I haven’t been able to get it quite right. Since returning to the USA.

  16. thanks for posting your recipe. am cooking one tonight for the 2nd time. my husband and daughter loved it the first time i tried it. i did it without the soda and still taste great!!! thanks again.

  17. What a great surprise to see this recipe online! My parents used this basic marinade recipe for everything… chicken, pork… even our Thanksgiving Turkey! We use this marinade and the turkey is always a hit. Everyone fights over the turkey gravy that comes from the same drippings of the marinade. I recommend everyone try it this Thanksgiving. You get a beautiful brown turkey. You just need to make sure to tent the bird during the final cooking…

  18. I will be having an out of town trip with my in-laws this coming friday (holy friday) and I am going to use this recipe, is this right though? Only 1/4 cup of soy sauce but a lot of soda??pls reply asap..

    1. Hi Angelene! Yes, the recipe is correct. I use Filipino soy sauce, and too much of it will make the dish too salty. You want a nice balance of salt and sweet here. I suggest making it with the 1/4 cup soy sauce and then adding salt later on if you find it still needs it. Hope it turns out well, and enjoy your time with the family!

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