This easy one pot chicken adobo is so full of amazing flavour – yet it only has six ingredients (and no need to brown the chicken first)! Rich, burnished chicken pieces, saturated with flavour and falling-off-the-bone tender, are coated with a tangy sauce you’ll be fighting over. Serve it with coconut rice for a special treat. (Skip to recipe.)

 one pot chicken adobo - the most delicious way you'll ever taste chicken

I love learning things from guests in our home. In fact, it’s often a mandatory (though totally unbeknownst to them) condition of their stay with us. I chip away at unsuspecting guests, constantly steering the conversation to food and picking their brains for favourite dishes from their personal repertoires, family traditions, or culinary history. I have to be crafty. Not everyone is as interested in food as I am, but when I find one who is . . .  lucky me. I love talking food and get great pleasure learning new tips, tricks, or recipes from friends. It’s a huge score for me (and secret bonus points for them) if I can finaggle a recipe that becomes a winner in our household, too. I can’t resist doing a foodie happy dance.

This recipe is one such win. Our oldest son has been staying here with his friend, Jeff, for a few weeks, as they work on their online business from home before they head off overseas to work in Bali for the next four months. It has felt so good to have a busy household again, and Jeff has been an ideal guest because he’s let me pick his brain with food talk (and he cleans up after himself!) We got to talking about one of his favourite comfort foods; his father’s adobo. Jeff’s father is Filipino, and he makes this beautiful, basic chicken adobo several times a week, cooking it up in the morning, and eating it later in the day. The family never gets tired of it. (I can see why!)

I was keen to get the recipe.

Look at that beautifully burnished one pot chicken adobo - pieces simmered in the stunningly simple sauce until they are rich and brown and falling-off-the-bone tender

look at those richly glazed, beautifully burnished pieces of chicken – they taste as fantastic as they look

Years ago BK (Before Kids – so that was a few!) I spent Christmas in the Philippines visiting my sister who lived there for a year on a student exchange. What a fantastic trip! I stayed with her host family in Manila and experienced a wonderful Filipino family Christmas. I have fond memories of adobo, but had never been able to duplicate that tangy flavour to my memory’s satisfaction. Maybe this would be it.

Jeff says he’s watched his dad make adobo many, many (many) times and has questioned his dad about the amounts, but  always gets a response in the lines of, You put vinegar in the pot, then add enough soy sauce so it becomes this colour. Add some garlic and pepper and bay leaves. Then you add the chicken and cook it ’til it’s tender.

Well, then.

No problem.

It seems the ratio of vinegar to soy sauce must be the secret. Looking up recipes online brought up ratios all the way from 2 parts vinegar : 1 part soy sauce to the opposite extreme of 1 part vinegar : 2 parts soy sauce. I’m sure every Filipino home cook has their own personal ratio. So that was no help.

I trusted in Jeff’s instinct of his native dish, and we set about making it. After some experimentation we found that equal parts vinegar and soy sauce produced the flavour that he said was closest to his dad’s adobo. Yes!

one pot chicken adobo - chef Jeff playing in the kitchen

Jeff Consul, the adobo king

I could not believe how simple this dish is – only six ingredients – yet how full of fantastic umami flavour. The first pot of adobo we made was gobbled up in record time. That tangy, salty sauce infused into shining pieces of mahogany-coloured chicken with moist morsels of meat that fall off the bone as you eat them . . . well, it was pretty close to perfect. We scratched the bottom of the pot to spoon up the delicious sauce so we could drizzle it over the sweet coconut rice Jeff made to go with the adobo.

Yes, it seems like a lot of vinegar and soy sauce, but believe me – magic happens in that pot when the lid is closed. Trust me that it will all come together into the most amazing end result; a pot of unforgettable chicken adobo.

Once you've mastered the super-simple recipe for chicken adobo you'll be making it often

Let’s Get Making this One Pot Chicken Adobo

All you do is mix the sauce ingredients in a pot. Heat it up a bit and lay in the chicken pieces (bone in, skin on, no need to brown them first).

Cook it all for an hour. Then remove the lid and cook some more until the sauce is glistening and reduced to your liking. Serve with hot cooked rice (or the delicious coconut rice below) or set it aside and reheat it gently later when it’s dinner time (cover the pot with an old tea towel so nobody realizes what’s in there and sneaks by for little tastes).

one pot chicken adobo with coconut rice - a plate of deliciousness

tender, savoury chicken adobo. the coconut rice is divine with a drizzle of the adobo sauce – finger lickin’ good

Jeff tells me he has inherited the Filipino superpower of knowing just how much water to add to make perfect rice. (I wish I had it.) He just rinses the rice and drains it. Puts it in a pot and adds enough water so that if you touch the top of the rice with the tip of your finger, the water comes up to the crease where your first knuckle ends. Voilà – perfect rice every time! Since I don’t have that superpower, I need to measure my water, but I’m going to practice and see if I can acquire it, too.

We all need a superpower, right?

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: In the Philippines it is common to use either chicken or pork for adobo. Try this recipe with large chunks of pork.

Use a medium or light soy sauce or a tamari soy sauce for this recipe; not the really dark soy sauce or it may get too salty after being reduced for so long.

*JUST A NOTE – when the adobo first starts cooking, you’ll notice a strong smell of vinegar permeate your kitchen. Try to ignore it, because the finished dish is so worth it; the vinegar smell will eventually dissipate as the vinegar cooks off, and you’ll be left with the unique, irresistible flavour of Filipino adobo.

*I’ve made a double batch of chicken adobo in the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker. It worked well, but there was a lot of sauce and the chicken wasn’t as beautifully browned (though it was tender and flavourful) as when it’s made on the stovetop. I put all the ingredients into the Instant Pot and cooked it on high for 25 minutes, with a 15 minute natural release. When it was done, I removed the chicken pieces to keep warm and cooked the sauce down until it was reduced by at least half, then poured some over the chicken and passed the rest in a sauce pitcher.

I will try it in the slow cooker soon and report back with the results.

one pot chicken adobo - so simple and such fantastic flavour - you'll want to scoop up every last bit of that irresistible sauce!

One Pot Chicken Adobo

~ try this recipe with chunks of pork, too (also traditional in Filipino cookery)

~ if you have a large enough saucepan, it is worth doubling this recipe while you are at it – you won’t regret it!

  • ½ cup (120ml) white vinegar
  • ½ cup (120ml) soy sauce, gluten-free if necessary, (not the heavy, dark kind)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 lbs (900gms – 1 kg) chicken pieces; bone in, skin on (drumsticks, thighs, wings, or a mixture)

In a heavy bottomed saucepan or small dutch oven that looks big enough to just hold the chicken pieces in one layer, heat the vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and peppercorns until they just reach a simmer.

Add the chicken pieces, arranging them so they are wedged into the pot in one layer. Tuck the bay leaves among them. Cook until the sauce reaches a simmer again.

Then cover the pot with a lid and simmer the chicken for about 1 hour, turning the pieces halfway through. Remove the lid, and continue to simmer the chicken, uncovered, for an additional 30 minutes to 1 hour, until the sauce has reduced to a thin layer on the bottom of the pan and is looking shiny and glaze-like. The time to reduce the sauce will depend on the size of pot you are using and the heat of your burner. (A wider pot will take less time for the sauce to reduce, while a double batch will take closer to one hour.)

Serve the one pot chicken adobo with hot cooked rice. The recipe for coconut rice which follows is especially tasty. Try not to eat too much of the chicken as it is cooking (in the name of taste-testing, you know), or your table companions will be whining for more!

Serves 4 (But you might want to just make a double batch while you’re at it – the chicken tastes fantastic the next day, too!)

lunch is served: one pot chicken adobo with coconut rice on a blue plate

Coconut Rice

  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 1 can (14 oz/400gms) full fat coconut milk
  • 1½ cups water (or enough to come up to your first knuckle if you touch the tip of your finger to the top of the rice in the pot)

Rinse the rice and strain it, then put it into a saucepan. Add the coconut milk (stirred first if it has settled) and the water (try the knuckle measurement if you feel adventurous).

Bring the rice to a boil, stir it, then reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Cook for 20 minutes without lifting the lid. Remove the pot from the burner and leave it sit for five more minutes, covered, to steam and dry out.

Serves 4.

Guten Appetit! (or Mabuting Gana!)


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Easy One-Pot Chicken Adobo only uses 6 ingredients and tastes so fantastic you'll be scraping the pot. No messy browning of chicken needed for this stunning, beautiful, finger-licken' chicken dish!

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