We can’t say it any better than Diana Henry, the genius behind this recipe, who says, “Wow. That’s the only response to this adobo, a Mexican paste made from dried chiles, herbs, and vinegar. Once you’ve tried adobo, it will become one of the most useful things in your refrigerator–and it will change your experience of pork chops forever).” What she said.Renee Schettler Rossi

Four adobo marinated pork chops and several lime halves, some squeezed, on a wooden chopping block.

Adobo Marinated Pork Chops

4.50 / 2 votes
These adobo marinated pork chops rely on a quick and easy adobo sauce, made with two types of dried chiles, spices, sugar, and vinegar. A secret weapon in your weeknight dinner arsenal.
David Leite
CuisineTex Mex
Servings4 servings
Calories416 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes


For the adobo

  • 5 dried chipotle chiles
  • 4 dried ancho chiles
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • One (1/4-inch) piece cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 shallots, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons soft dark brown sugar, or to taste (optional)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons sherry vinegar

For the adobo-marinated pork

  • 4 to 6 bone-in, thin pork chops, (or bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces, whether thighs, wings, breasts, and/or drumsticks)
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges


Make the adobo

  • Toast the chiles in a dry skillet over medium heat. You don’t want to char them, you just want to make them more pliable as the heat softens them.
  • Discard the stems and the seeds from all the chipotles and cut the anchos in half. Toss the chiles in a small saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, remove from the heat, and let soak for 30 minutes.
  • Strain the chiles, reserving the soaking liquid.
  • Meanwhile, toss the whole spices in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 40 seconds.
  • In a food processor, combine all the ingredients for the adobo, including the drained chiles but not the chile soaking liquid, and whiz to a purée. Add just enough of the chile soaking liquid to get it to the consistency of a paste. Taste for seasoning and adjust if you think it needs it.
  • Scrape the adobo into a clean jar, screw on a lid, and refrigerate. (You should have enough to fill an 8-ounce jar. It will be fine there for up to 4 months, but trust us, you’ll have used it way before then.)

Make your dinner

  • Place the pork chops (or chicken) in a large bowl, add half the adobo paste, and use your hands to coat the meat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) if you’re making pork chops or 350°F (176°C) if you’re making chicken. Line a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan with parchment paper.
  • Place the pork or chicken on the baking sheet in a single layer. Roast the pork chops for 20 minutes or the chicken for 40 minutes. Cover with foil after 15 minutes, as the paste can burn.
  • Transfer the pork or chicken to a platter or plates and spoon the thick pan juices over the top. Serve with the wedges of lime for squeezing over the top.


*What You Need To Know About Adobo

There’s adobo and then there’s adobo. One of them is what Diana Henry mentions above—the Mexican spice paste of paprika, spices, chiles, and vinegar. The other refers to a Filipino dish that simmers meat or seafood in a garlicky, vinegary, liquidy concoction that oft includes chiles, sugar, onions, and herbs. Confusing, we know. Both are enticing as heck. This recipe is quicker and easier and vastly more versatile.
There are lots of different versions of adobo paste—some people add cloves, others use bitter orange juice instead of vinegar, and the type of chile used varies, too. This is our version, and we quite like it, but feel free to tweak it as you want. Sherry vinegar isn’t traditional but lends the paste a lovely, deep, woody flavor. Brown sugar isn’t usual, either, but again, it gives the adobo depth of flavor.
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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 416 kcalCarbohydrates: 39 gProtein: 47 gFat: 9 gSaturated Fat: 3 gMonounsaturated Fat: 3 gTrans Fat: 0.04 gCholesterol: 122 mgSodium: 1008 mgFiber: 14 gSugar: 21 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2012 Diana Henry. Photo © 2012 Laura Edwards. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I loved making this sauce. It was easy to make and extremely flavorful. I used bone-in chicken legs and thighs instead of pork chops, for this recipe. I marinated the chicken for about 40 minutes and baked it at 350°F for 50 minutes. It produced a very moist and delicious chicken. Next time there are a couple of things I’ll do differently: marinate the chicken longer—maybe even a couple of hours—and make slits in the chicken and rub the sauce in so that the flavor penetrates well.

I made this marinade for 12 chicken thighs, not pork, therefore I ended up using all of it. I left the chicken pieces in the marinade for about 3 hours prior to placing them in the oven for 40 minutes. This is very easy to make. Expect it to be spicy. Real spicy. We all love spicy food and this was at the top. But by removing the skin, the kids were able to eat the chicken without a problem. Would love to try it with pork ribs and chicken wings.

This is an easy marinade that adds a lot of flavor to meat. I used it on chunks of boneless chicken, not pork, that were grilled as brochettes. I marinated my chicken for 8 hours, but really I think a much shorter time would give the same result. While I liked this marinade/sauce as is, it did have a bit more vinegar than I think a Mexican adobo needs. I did like the use of sherry vinegar here; I just think the total amount could be reduced a bit, so I’d do that next time.

Very easy, very flavorful dish. I made the sauce in the morning, than marinated the pork chops for 8 hours, before baking them. They turned out to be a tiny bit on the dry side, so next time I will roast them for 15 or 16 minutes. And I will definitely try it with chicken thighs.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 4 stars
    Made this with pork chops and have to say they were outstanding, I’d definitely make this again. The only comment I have is that I reduced the vinegar–I started with 2 tbsp of the sherry vinegar just to see what the consistency of the paste was and it was perfect. I don’t usually bake pork chops, nor would I put them on parchment paper, but this turned out great. The juices actually collected on the paper instead of caramelizing on the pan, so that I could pour them over the chops. I baked the chops for 20 minutes and never needed to cover with foil, they were perfectly done at 160 degrees. Served with Mexican rice and Rancho Gordo pinto beans. And the best part is that I still have enough adobo paste for another go round!

    1. Thanks, Linda! We so appreciate you taking the time to share your experience with us. We can’t wait to hear what you try next.