Chicken Adobo

This is it, kids. This has to be the last recipe I share from April Bloomfield’s new book, A Girl and Her Pig, or pretty soon I’ll look like that pig slung over her shoulder on the book’s cover (slaughtered for divulging too many cookbook recipes).

If you’ve tried any of the recipes I’ve posted (the porridge, the curry) you know that this book is a keeper. And this particular recipe isn’t just a keeper, it may become a new weeknight staple. Not only is it explosively flavorful, it’s really easy to make.

Chicken Adobo is essentially chicken cooked in vinegar. To make it you brown chicken really well, add aromatics (garlic, ginger, onion), add rice vinegar and soy sauce, return the chicken to the pot, cover it and 45 minutes later you have incredibly tender chicken and a sauce so potent, it’ll burn the fuzz off your lip (assuming you have a fuzzy lip).

Bloomfield is kind in this recipe in that she doesn’t have you peel the garlic; just put two heads worth of unpeeled cloves into a bowl:


You also don’t have to peel the ginger; just slice 1/2 a cup of it thinly:


You’ll also want 1/2 a large onion, cut into wedges, 4 fresh bay leaves (or 2 dried), and 10 black peppercorns:


As for the chicken, the hardest part for beginners will be cutting it up. You want just the legs and thighs (I made the mistake of buying a whole chicken, but I just froze the breast and the backbone and used the wings, thighs and legs as directed) which you then cut into 2-inch pieces. That means cutting through bone–a task that’s much easier if you have a cleaver. I don’t so I used my biggest chef’s knife. Still: I did pretty well.


You want 2-inch pieces because you expose more surface area and get browner, more delectable bits of chicken in the final dish.

Now the most important step is getting those chicken pieces brown. You heat oil until it’s smoking (or, in my case, almost smoking) and then brown in batches:



Taking your time with this step is the difference between a mediocre Chicken Adobo and a spectacular Chicken Adobo. The deeper the color on your browned chicken, the deeper the flavor of your finished dish.

Once your chicken’s brown, add those aromatics:


Cook until the onion’s soft, then return the chicken:


And add rice vinegar (I used a whole bottle):


And soy sauce (1/2 cup) [note: if that looks like a lot of soy sauce, that’s because I added the 1/2 a cup to the vinegar already in the measuring cup before adding it all to the pot]:


Bring to a simmer:


Cover the pot, lower the heat and cook for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, cook some rice (I used my rice cooker); without rice, you won’t be able to sop up that potent, potent sauce.

So here’s the finished plate:


For a weeknight meal, you can’t do much better. All of that ginger, all of that garlic, all of that vinegar and soy sauce and chicken combine into something that’s anything but boring. Plus, besides the oil you brown the chicken in, it’s relatively fat free (if you care about such things). Diet food that no one would recognize as diet food.

And so, April Bloomfield, it’s been an honor blogging recipes from your cookbook. I shall continue cooking from you indefinitely, but as for those recipes, people will just have to buy the book to know what I’m cooking.

Recipe: Chicken Adobo

Summary: A dazzling dinner from April Bloomfield’s “A Girl and Her Pig.”


  • 1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
  • 5 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken legs and thighs, hacked into approximately 2-inch pieces through the bone by you or your butcher
  • 2 heads garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
  • 1/2 large Spanish onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced skin-on ginger
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 4 fresh bay leaves or 2 dried
  • 1 1/2 cups unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot that has a lid over high heat until it starts to smoke. Work in batches so you don’t crowd the pot: add half the chicken skin side down to the smoking oil and cook, turning the pieces over occasionally, until golden brown all over, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer them to a plate and repeat with the second batch of chicken.
  2. Add the garlic, onion, ginger, peppercorns, and bay leaves to the pot. Cook, stirring every now and then, until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken, then the vinegar and soy. Raise the heat to bring the liquid to a boil; scrape the pot on the bottom to work up those brown bits.
  3. Cover the pot, lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is very tender (it’ll come apart with a spoon) about 45 minutes. Serve over rice.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 45 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

29 thoughts on “Chicken Adobo”

  1. So…do you eat the unpeeled garlic and unlpeeled ginger? I don’t see any garlic or ginger in the finished dish. Looks like he simply fished out the onion, chicken, and sauce?

  2. oh dear lord just amazing! I halved the recipe and still fed 3 people. The flavor was amazing and a squeeze of lemon juice on the plate added the extra depth I wasn’t even expecting, but I happily welcomed. I ended up eating the sheathed garlic cloves which were nicely cooked and creamy. You cannot get Pinoy food here in France, so this was a perfect reminiscing event in my house!

  3. For those people freaking out about the strong vinegar smell/taste, let the dish gently simmer UNCOVERED for at least 15 minutes then cover. This lets the vinegar mellow out. You’ll still get the sour flavor but it won’t be as pungent. I’m Filipino and I’ve been told sooo many different variations of this dish. Every family really has their own version of it.

  4. I have been looking for a good chicken adobo recipe and i have found it. Cooked it tonight and it’s delicious, i am so happy, thanks for sharing.

  5. I tried this last night – I cut down the ratio of vinegar and soy sauce based on some of the comments from other people and also peeled and coarsely chopped up the garlic and ginger to make it an edible part of the sauce (changing the ratios somewhat). I don’t know filipino cuisine so I don’t know if that makes it an un-authentic version of chicken abodo, but it was delicious this way! my version of the recipe is here:

  6. Yum! I only used a cup of vinegar but added 2 tablespoons on honey and a teaspoon of chilli flakes. I also took the skin off the thighs before lightly browning the meat. i wonder if adding spinach and peppers would work?

  7. thanks so much for posting this. it was super delicious! it’s in my top five for sure. i actually ate some of the garlic and onions too…just slipped the garlic out of the shell…yum!

  8. Ive recently returned from the Philippines and discovered this amazing dish while I was there. They have many variants to it and most households have their own recipe but all are wonderful. I also tried binagoongh lechon. its a mouth watering pork belly dish with stewed eggplant and vegetables. Simply stunning and served with chunks of pork crackle on top. If you can have a go at making that id love to hear your thoughts

  9. This looks amazing. Just picked up the ingredients and am anxious to serve it
    as part of our Father’s Day get together tomorrow. Spicy and/or ethnic food
    is our favorite. Will check in and let you know how much we enjoyed it.

  10. yes, i’ve done it many times. its good, just tastes different. you can yeild a sort of pulled pork texture. I sometimes buy frozen and cube it up as it cooks

  11. This is a fantastic recipe. I was visiting my sister and googled it just so I could make sure I had the amounts correct and didn’t forget anything (like the peppercorns and bay leaves!) Love your blog. Will follow more posts!

  12. this is another
    wonder for lazy cook like me.
    In fact I am now
    thinking I can als make good food.
    This amazing the
    chicken adobo is what you need.
    Try it with
    cashew nut vinegar or fenny from Goa.

  13. This recipe is too vinegary for my tastes, and I love vinegar. The author must love vinegar more than me! I later compared it with other recipes and most call for much less vinegar.

    1. Arlyn Lichthardt

      The only recipes chiseled in stone are in bread-making; otherwise you’re free to make your own adjustments. Go for it! I’m sure Adam won’t mind in the least.

  14. I’ve made this before and it’s amazing. But this time I messed up – I could not get a good brown on the chicken – either the skin stuck annoyingly to the bottom, it burned, or did not get browned at all. I dried the chicken before and used the recommended amount of oil in a Le Creuset pot. Yours looks perfect. Is there a lot of splattering oil when you do it?

    1. Adam Amateur Gourmet

      Well a few other factors may have been in play: was the chicken room temperature? And did you make sure not to crowd the pan? If it’s still not browning to your liking, you can always add more oil… and control the speed of browning by adjusting the heat; if it’s browning too fast, obviously turn it down. Sorry didn’t work out this time, next time you’ll rock it!

  15. We liked this, but next time we’d use something different for the chicken – it ended up being very bony with some shards from cutting the pieces, which was unpleasant. I’m thinking either just leave the thighs whole and cook them longer, or try with boneless thighs.

  16. We liked this, but next time we’d use something different for the chicken – it ended up being very bony with some shards from cutting the pieces, which was unpleasant. I’m thinking either just leave the thighs whole and cook them longer, or try with boneless thighs.

  17. We liked this, but next time we’d use something different for the chicken – it ended up being very bony with some shards from cutting the pieces, which was unpleasant. I’m thinking either just leave the thighs whole and cook them longer, or try with boneless thighs.

  18. Remember to take out the excessive oils from the pan before u put chicken second time with vinegar and soy sauce . I almost cooked chicken with vinegar and soy sauce with the excessive oils that I used to fry the chicken in the beginning of the cooking session.

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