How To Cook The Best Authentic Chicken Adobo

The Eternal Chicken Adobo: Meant to Last.  

“If it’s meant to be, it will be.” This famous quote came from J.M Barrie, A Scottish author and a dramatist, and this quote fits very well on Filipino’s classic dish: the chicken adobo. Throughout the Philippines’ long history, a lot of things have certainly come and have gone. 

The things that have once become part of every Filipino’s life is now a complete history, but chicken adobo has smoothly sailed throughout generations and hasn’t gone into extinction since it was first introduced.

Maybe it’s not really meant to go away, and perhaps, who knows, this is what J.M Barrie is really describing in his famous quote all this time, the eternal chicken adobo. Who knows … who knows. 

Dive into the Philippine Chicken Adobo

There’s more to Filipino Chicken Adobo than its oh so rich heaven-in-a-bowl wonder. Its history is as rich as its iconic taste, which is the reason why it has become a staple dish on every Filipino household’s’ dining table.

Do you want to know what lies behind this rich, black and tasty dish? Then, let us dive and find out. 

Aside from having a rich taste, one more notable thing about Adobo is its name. A lot of people often ask what does the term ‘Adobo’ really means. Some say that it’s actually the name of the cooking technique, but some argue that it’s the actual name of the dish, but it turns out that it is both. 

‘Adobo,’ to settle the dispute once and for all, is both the name of a dish and a cooking technique. 

Thus, how does someone make ‘Adobo’? First, marinade must be made using soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns. These ingredients, as you might have noticed, can be found in everyone’s pantry cabinets, right?

marinated chicken in a bowl with soy sauce and laurel leaves

The chicken is marinated in that mixture overnight. Then, the magic begins when the chicken is simmered in the sauce until it brings forth adobo on the cook’s pan. 

Chicken adobo was born on a pre-refrigerator age, and its use of vinegar and salt, as one of its main ingredients, was actually a mere way of preserving meat – while giving it an iconic taste. Though the salt was now replaced by soy sauce, it still helps in prolonging the quality and taste of meat while giving it a distinct flavor. 

With all the wonderful things flowing around adobo (together with its bay leaves), it’s no wonder why Filipinos have preserved this dish for many generations. From the ‘pre-fridge’ days, it gave Filipinos an opportunity to cook something that could last longer than usual dishes, and, oh boy, its ingredients are so easy to find, but even with these important reasons for chicken adobo’s present-day existence, it seems that one reason may trump it all: its taste.

The ingredients used in Adobo, when mixed and simmered together, creates a unique and loveable taste that Filipinos have loved all this time. Even if this particular dish has achieved the preservation and easy-to-find ingredients threshold, if it doesn’t taste good, then extinction is what only awaits this. 

sauce of chicken adobo with garlic and laurel leaves

Want to Count Some Chicken Adobo Calories? 

Before proceeding into the numbers of how much calories chicken adobo contains, it might be better if we iron out some misconceptions about the word ‘calorie’ and define it accurately. Let’s have a short Science 101 class, shall we? 

Most people cringe when they hear the word ‘calorie’ because of the misconception that it is bad for our body. ‘Calorie’ is actually a unit of energy. It describes how much energy can your body gain from a food or a drink. 

Again, calories are not bad stuff for our body; the reason why it negatively impacts us is how most of us use it. Oh, wait, most of the people are not using it! That’s why calories are becoming one of their worst enemies.

Every intake must be partnered with physical exercises to burn calories properly. If not burned well, these calories will turn into fats, which may turn into more serious problems in the future. 

Class ends. It’s now time to take a look at how much calorie runs on a chicken adobo. Here’s a chart on how much calories there is on each serving of this iconic dish: 

Chicken Adobo Ingredients and Seasoning You Need to Buy

It appears that you don’t need to buy one. The seasoning and ingredients that you’ll be needing like vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns can be found right inside your pantry cabinets.

chicken adobo ingredients and seasoning

There’s no need to set your foot on Spice Island just to have these ingredients. Just flip open your pantry cabinets, and the chances are high that you have most (if not all) of the needed ingredients. 

When Chicken Adobo Goes Wrong 

Even with its simple procedures, some people find it challenging to get the right taste that chicken adobo requires, but the good news is when someone’s adobo goes wrong (sometimes, awfully wrong), there are ways to ‘fine-tune’ the dish and still take center stage at anyone’s dining table.

One of the slips that people make in cooking chicken adobo is in the area of seasoning (and a whole lot more), So we’ve made a list of these mistakes and ways on how to turn around these messy situations. 

a. Going Saltless 

Some people go to the extreme by taking out salt completely to their chicken adobo dish. That is why their adobo turns out different and tastes bland, compared to an adobo with salt in it.

People have become so afraid of salt mainly because of the current health issues they’re experiencing. 

The real problem, really, is not the salt, but the over intake of it which they might have gained from salty snacks or food they’ve enjoyed for many years. 

Salt must not be removed completely from the dish because it enhances the flavors of the food it touches.

How? At low concentrations, it drives down bitterness but increases the sweet, sour and umami tastes, but at higher concentrations, it hijacks sweetness and enhances umami. The things that it can make on various food seems magical; it should be on everyone’s side. 

But take note, everyone’s sensitivity to saltness is on different levels. What might be slightly salty for some people might be too salty for others. 

That’s why you hear and read the phrase ‘salt to taste on cooking TV shows and cookbooks. There are times that they don’t recommend a specific amount of it because again, it depends on your taste.

People should do their own diligence and find someone who can taste their dish to know other people’s side in it. 

b. Going salt crazy 

It is really awful to taste something too salty. If you find out that your Chicken Adobo is saltier than it should be, don’t just throw all of it right away. You can use sliced potatoes to help absorb and significantly lessen the saltiness in your Chicken Adobo.

You can also beat the saltiness in your adobo by increasing the amount of the ingredients you usually use and lowering the ratio of salt. 

c. Didn’t Read the Recipe Guide Completel

A lot of first-timers think that cooking Chicken Adobo is so easy that they don’t have to read those recipes and procedures – until they scramble for it. Without familiarizing yourself with its procedures, your whole cooking process will not go haywire.

Do you want to see your poor meat on the heated pan while you scramble it’s taking you forever to find the soy sauce and the garlic you thought were ‘just there.’ 

d. Pouring Oil and Putting Ingredients on a Cold Pan 

A lot of first-timers don’t realize that when cooking Chicken Adobo, starting with a cold pan is a big no-no. This is just one of the results of not familiarizing oneself about cooking the adobo dish.

Since the pan is cold, your ingredients and meat will soak up the oil, and it’ll get soggy, and that’s just one of the imperfect ways to start cooking adobo.

It pays to read, and if one would just read the procedures, they’d surely notice the words “heat your pan before anything else,” and that would save them from a lot of hassles. 

e. Improper Way of Preparing the Meat 

If the meat you use comes straight from the freezer, NEVER EVER cook it right away. The middle of your meat’s protein may still be frozen, and never assume that the inner part of your meat is cooked when you see the well-cooked outer part. If it came from the freezer, it would not work that way. 

f. Having a Steamed food, Instead of Fried and Sautéed Ones 

Beginners tend to stuff their pans with a lot of ingredients. They’re overcrowding their pans, thinking it is the right thing to do, but what they don’t realize is when the pan is too stuffed. What they are doing is basically steaming, not frying, nor sautéing. 

To get the desired Chicken Adobo taste, what they need to learn is to cook in batches using two pans to save and manage your time in cooking. 

Importance of Making Chicken Adobo Sauce Perfectly

Most people think that by just throwing out the vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves and peppercorns in the pan, they can instantly make a great chicken adobo sauce. The sauce is what makes the adobo delicious, and whatever quality it has, has something to do about its cook.

sauce of chicken adobo with laurel leaves

The Adobo sauce is what almost makes your entire dish, so the moment you miss something on the sauce, it creates an impact on your Chicken Adobo. 

Some cooks go above the usual by adding ingredients to their adobo, which makes its sauce richer in flavor. They add garlic chips and even oregano to create a different experience for diners (and for themselves). 

We have said earlier that salt is a vital ingredient in making an excellent chicken adobo, but using it in the wrong segment of the cooking process can possibly ruin your dish. 


Salt should only be added towards the end of the cooking process. This is to prevent your dish from becoming too salty because of the reduced sauce during the cooking process.

Chicken Adobo Marinade: Tips and Tricks 

Be a Garlic Crusher 2.0 

Everybody knows that making chicken adobo involves putting the soy sauce and garlic, but many don’t realize that they forget something important in this step – and it’s in the garlic.

To achieve the best flavor your chicken can have, garlic must be well crushed to get the best result.

1 hour marinating? It’s Actually 3!

Most people marinate their meat for just an hour, though it might still taste good, it’s full potential is not achieved. The optimal length of time for marinating meat when cooking Chicken Adobo is 3 hours, to get the best result you can achieve.

This step is so important because this is where the chicken absorbs the flavors of the soy sauce and garlic, and these two ingredients are the top two flavors that dominate this dish, so it’s crucial to give them enough time to seep through inside the chicken. 

Perfect Dishes Deserve Perfect Partners 

Your Chicken Adobo deserves the center stage, but of course, it needs some company from the best side dishes that can perfectly go with it. We’re sure that you’ve been thinking about this all day, so here are our top suggestions to help you pick the best side dishes that can be paired with your Chicken Adobo: 

a. Rice (brown or white)

b. Spicy Dip (Preferably Fish sauce with chilies)

b. A cup of coffee (in the morning)

c. Soup (preferably sour, like Sinampalukang Manok soup)

d. Soft Drinks

 Authentic Filipino Chicken Adobo Recipe?

Authentic Pinoy Chicken Adobo speaks so much of how innovative Filipinos are. From a simple vinegar salt marinade and sauce to the now well loved soy sauce based one. Although there are different versions of Filipino Style Chicken Adobo, they all boil down to having soy sauce as the main agent for the salty flavor.

For more delicious recipes, visit Eat Like Pinoy!

chicken adobo with a bowl
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5 from 1 vote

Best Chicken Adobo Recipe

Try this authentic chicken adobo recipe for an authentic pinoy eating experience.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Filipino
Keyword Best Filipino Chicken Adobo Recipe, Chicken Adobo, Chicken Recipes, How to cook Chicken Adobo
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 4 Persons
Calories 282kcal
Author Eat Like Pinoy
Cost $15 – $20


  • Ladle
  • Hot Pot
  • Plates
  • Bowl
  • Cups
  • Tablespoon, teaspoon
  • Stove


  • 2 lbs Chicken Legs
  • 1 Piece Onion Optional, Thinly Sliced
  • 1 Clove Garlic Peeled and Minced
  • 2 Pieces Bay Leaves Dried
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Cup Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 1-2 Cups Water


  • In a bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, garlic, and pepper. Mix well and marinate chicken legs for at least 1 hour.
  • After 1 hour, heat the pot and put in the chicken legs with the marinade sauce.
  • Add the bay leaves and onions. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until chicken is tender already.
    TIP: You can add more water if the pork is not yet tender.
  • Set aside the chicken when tender.
  • Heat oil in another pan, medium fry the chicken. Then, set aside when fried.
  • Remove some oil from the pan before pouring the sauce & chicken into it.
  • Simmer for another 2 minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy!


Calories: 282kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 1702mg | Potassium: 317mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 183IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 2mg
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