Adobo Chicken

Adobo chicken is tangy, garlicky Filipino comfort food. Chicken thighs and drumsticks are smothered with a finger-licking sauce that’s full of ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil. And the leftovers are even better than the first time around.

A white serving bowl filled with pieces of adobo chicken and garnished with cilantro.

This adobo chicken just became a staple in our weeknight dinner rotation. Not only does this garlicky, vinegary braised chicken taste magnificent and pretty darn near authentic, it’s also inexpensive, feeds plenty, and requires only one pot. (Yeah. We sorta figured you’d like that as much as we do.)–Angie Zoobkoff

Can I make adobo chicken ahead of time?

Absolutely. The chicken and sauce keep extraordinarily well in the fridge and, as with so many simmered or stewed dishes, they taste better the second day, so consider making the recipe in advance and simply rewarming it for dinner.

☞ Contents

Adobo Chicken

A white serving bowl filled with pieces of adobo chicken and garnished with cilantro.
Adobo chicken is tangy, garlicky Filipino comfort food. Chicken thighs and drumsticks are smothered with a finger-licking sauce that’s full of ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil. And the leftovers are even better than the first time around.

Prep 15 minutes
Cook 1 hour
Total 1 hour 15 minutes
4 to 6 servings
667 kcal
5 from 1 vote
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For the adobo chicken

  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 6 (3 to 4 pounds total) bone-in chicken legs or 12 drumsticks and thighs skinned if desired
  • One (3 1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger peeled and julienned
  • 10 garlic cloves peeled
  • 3 medium (about 1 1/4 lbs) onions cut in small wedges
  • 1/2 cup light soy sauce (or substitute tamari for gluten-free)
  • 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red chile flakes

To serve

  • Steamed rice
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Sliced scallions


Make the adobo chicken

  • In a large, heavy skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the sesame oil. Working in batches, add the chicken pieces in an even layer without crowding them and cook until browned, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Move the chicken to a plate.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the ginger and whole garlic cloves to the skillet or Dutch oven, and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Stir in the onion, soy, vinegar, sugar, and chile flakes. Bring to a simmer and arrange the chicken pieces in the onion mixture. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Uncover and continue to cook, spooning the sauce over the chicken occasionally, until the sauce is reduced somewhat and the chicken is fully cooked, 15 to 25 minutes more.

    TESTER TIP: The sauce will still be sorta thin after reducing. Fear not, it will be flavorful.

  • Serve the chicken with steamed rice and a sprinkling of cilantro and scallions.
Print RecipeBuy the My Asian Kitchen cookbook

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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 667kcal (33%)Carbohydrates: 19g (6%)Protein: 40g (80%)Fat: 47g (72%)Saturated Fat: 11g (69%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 12gMonounsaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 212mg (71%)Sodium: 1330mg (58%)Potassium: 761mg (22%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 10g (11%)Vitamin A: 320IU (6%)Vitamin C: 8mg (10%)Calcium: 65mg (7%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Where has this adobo chicken been all my life?! Sweet onion and a nip of sugar buffer salty and sour tastes, and in case that bores you, the garlic-ginger-chile combo creates a braise that’s both bold and comforting.

Since I was only cooking for two, I bought 2 leg quarters (connected thigh & drum) at the market weighing just over a pound each, but I kept the sauce quantities as written. I’ll admit I didn’t find light soy sauce, so I used regular Kikkoman. This adobo recipe differs in that there’s no marinade time, but I wanted the flavors to really get there, so after searing the chicken on both sides, I discarded the skin while the garlic and ginger browned.

Unsure whether the relatively short braise time would penetrate the unseparated legs, I gave myself plenty of extra time before dinner, and ended up leaving the finished dish covered on low for an additional 20 minutes before serving. Though it tested done after the 15 minute simmer, I felt it was even tastier after a little longer time in the sauce.

Before serving with white rice, I turned the chicken in the sauce, sprinkled with the green stuff, and we positively gobbled this up, going back for seconds of rice smothered in oniony sauce. I’m in love!

I was nervous to add 1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes so I added 1/2 teaspoon but wanted more heat. I’ll use 1 teaspoon next time.

When a sauce is this tasty, I want to eat it with a spoon! This was perfectly flavorful without tasting slick.

Stunning flavors and easy to pull together. The recipe ticks all the boxes for me—tang, ginger, translucent onions, and tender chicken. The surprise to me was how much my not-so-vinegar-loving spouse liked this. It was even better the second and third day (this definitely serves 6) and, when gently reheated, was so comforting to look forward to.

I recommend a very thorough searing of the chicken. If you don’t have a huge Dutch oven, it might be easier to do in batches. Rice can cook while this is cooking stovetop (using an oven method, it went into the oven the same time I started searing the chicken). The sauce was great with rice. Already on the “please make again” list.

To get the chicken to an internal temperature of 165℉, I added an extra 10 minutes at the end. I did ladle the sauce over the chicken as it cooked during the last phase with the lid off and turned the pieces to keep it as submerged as possible.

Although the sauce did concentrate (and more so when reheating portions the next 2 days), I never felt it was thick, but it made a gorgeous broth. Because we saved 4 servings, I got to see how perfectly the sauce jelled when I reheated leftovers. Stovetop reheating seemed a little aggressive, so we tried a covered dish in the oven and liked that better.

Adobo is completely new to us, so I do not have any baseline to compare, but this was a remarkably delicious recipe.

This dish was seriously awesome and everything I love about finding a new recipe.

Limited ingredients? Check.

Use of pantry staples? Check. (Granted, I’m Asian, so garlic, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, scallions, and rice are always available and on hand in my kitchen.)

Relatively inexpensive? Check.

No need for any specialized equipment? Check.

Easy to follow? Check.

Came together rather quickly? Check.

This dish is definitely for vinegar lovers. Nice and acidic but not overly so. It’s the perfect combo of salt, acid, and fat. My husband commented that it tasted like something you’d get at a restaurant, which I agree with. Definitely not a flavor that I would have been able to put together on my own.

Since becoming pregnant, really fatty/indulgent meat dishes have been a turn-off for me, so this dish was bright and perfect. You can turn the heat up or down by adding more or less chile flakes.

Midway through peeling each garlic clove, I realized I should have just thrown them in a jar and shaken vigorously until the peels came off on their own.

This adobo chicken recipe was missing 2 ingredients that I always thought belonged in adobo chicken—bay leaves and peppercorns. I was sure that I was going to be disappointed in the end result because of this but I wasn’t—it was definitely delicious. I do think that the omission of bay leaves and pepper meant there wasn’t as much of the depth of flavor that I would have preferred, especially in such a vinegar heavy dish.

I used 2 pounds of chicken thighs and drumsticks (6 each). I found these amounts were perfect and made enough for 4 servings. One of the highlights of this dish was the whole garlic cloves sauteed in the sesame oil. They were sweet and absolutely tasty.

The timing was perfect for cooking the chicken and after the 15 minutes of uncovered cooking, the sauce was well thickened. I served it with fresh cilantro and scallions, as suggested, and I found that they were a great complement to the dish.

I think that the recipe was surprisingly easy and was also encouraged to learn that bay leaves and peppercorns aren’t really necessary for an appealing dinner.

Spicy and rich without being heavy! This dish tastes complex but is simple to execute—just brown the chicken and then add a few ingredients and the sauce makes itself.

Roughly chopped veggies and minimal ingredients made this super quick to put together but our guests were very impressed. I browned the chicken for 3 minutes, turned it, and browned it for 3 more, for a total of 6 minutes (more if you need to do 2 batches to not overcrowd pan). Timing to brown the garlic seemed correct.

Chicken was tender after the allotted cooking time, but the sauce was still thin. I removed the chicken and turned the heat up. The sauce hard-simmered for another 10 minutes and then was perfect.

If tasty and succulent falling-off-the-bone-tender chicken appeals to you, this recipe definitely ticks both of those boxes. The ingredients are easily sourced at your neighborhood grocery store and won’t break the bank. When the sesame oil mingles with the garlic, ginger, and vinegar, it produces a wonderful aroma and a superb flavor.

I made this with a combination of drumsticks and thighs. Even with my large Dutch oven, it was necessary to brown the chicken in batches in order not to crowd the pan. My garlic cloves were huge so I reduced the number to 6 and sliced them in half.

If you’ve never made this Filipino treat, I encourage you to try this recipe. Be sure to bring out plenty of napkins.

After removing the lid, the sauce didn’t thicken much as I anticipated, but was still delicious while thin. Spooning the sauce over the chicken helped some of the pieces which weren’t as brown look more appealing. I also pushed some of the pieces which were on top to the bottom of the pot in order to cover them in cooking liquid. Chicken was very tender and succulent at the end of cooking.

I was drawn to this chicken adobo because of my love for the dish, the ease of preparation, and the availability of ingredients. My supermarket didn’t have leg or thigh quarters, so I used thighs which I skinned. These were browned in the sesame oil. I was worried the sesame oil might burn if I heated it past medium-high.

I used 1 very large onion, nearly 1 pound, instead of the 3 specified.

The sauce was delicious and the chicken was very tender. I can see this becoming a regular rotation recipe here at home as it was easy and mostly hands off. And let’s not forget, delicious.

This was a solid recipe. It wasn’t a WOW THIS IS AMAZING but it was good and I would make it again. The flavors were almost better for the leftovers after it sat overnight. The vinegar sauce was good but didn’t get overly thick (not really sure what texture it was supposed to get to). The sauce did get concentrated but not thick and I spooned some over during cooking for good measure.


#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


  1. What would you think about moving it to a 350* oven, after covering it in step #3, for 45 minutes or so? I was just thinking of how to make it a bit more hands-off. And, truthfully, I feel that my oven is more reliable. I can never get the flame of my gas range burners low enough….even with my flame-tamer…and stuff just boils away.

    1. Sandy, we haven’t tested this recipe in the oven, but it should still be successful. If you are more comfortable cooking with your oven, I would just watch your timing to ensure your chicken is fully cooked. If you try it, please do let us know how it turns out.

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