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Easiest Chicken Adobo

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Alex Lau

Sweet, salty, tangy, garlicky—what's not to like? While many recipes for adobo call for painstakingly peeling and slicing more than a dozen garlic cloves, we found that cutting open a whole head of garlic and simmering it in the sauce achieves the same delicious effect in a fraction of the time.

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What you’ll need

Ingredients

4 servings

1

head of garlic

2

green chiles (such as serrano or jalapeño), divided

4

bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and 4 drumsticks, or 4 whole chicken legs

1

tablespoon vegetable oil

¾

cup distilled white vinegar

¾

cup soy sauce (not low sodium)

5

dried bay leaves

1

tablespoon light or dark brown sugar

Freshly ground black pepper

1

cup uncooked white rice, preferably short grain

Preparation

Step 1

Without separating or peeling the cloves, cut entire head of garlic in half through the “equator” (it’s fine if some cloves become detached). Thinly slice 1 green chile, removing seeds if desired for less heat.

Step 2

If you got whole chicken legs (if not, go to the next step), cover surface of cutting board with a double layer of plastic wrap and place legs skin side up on top (this is to protect your board from any possible contamination; if you have a cutting board that you use for raw meat, use that). You’re going to split the legs into thighs and drumsticks. Working one leg at at time, wiggle drumstick so you can see the joint connecting the thigh and drumstick. Slice down with your knife crosswise between the two, aiming for the joint, until you hit bone. Grasp leg with thigh in one hand and drumstick in the other and break the joint, then cut the rest of the way through with your knife. Repeat with remaining legs.

Step 3

Heat 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium. Add chicken skin side down and cook, lifting pieces with tongs once or twice toward the end to let hot fat flow underneath, until fat is rendered and skin is crisp and golden brown, 7–10 minutes. Transfer skin side up to a plate. Because drumsticks are covered entirely in skin, you can brown both sides, but it’s not necessary.

Step 4

Add ¾ cup vinegar, ¾ cup soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. brown sugar, 5 bay leaves, and reserved garlic and sliced chile to Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low, stirring to dissolve sugar. Season generously with pepper.

→ Wait a second, what is white vinegar, anyway?

Step 5

Return chicken to pot skin side up. Cover and cook chicken very gently, adjusting heat to maintain a bare simmer and turning pieces once, until meat is very tender and pulling away from bone (but not so tender that it’s falling apart), 35–40 minutes.

Step 6

While chicken is simmering, cook 1 cup rice in medium pot according to package directions.

Step 7

Transfer chicken to a clean plate. Increase heat to medium-high and boil braising liquid, shaking pot often, until liquid has formed a rich sauce thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat and return chicken to pot, turning to coat in sauce.

Step 8

Serve chicken and sauce over rice. Thinly slice remaining chile and scatter over, then season with more pepper.

How would you rate Easiest Chicken Adobo?

  • Easiest recipe ever. My son ate 4 pieces! Only change I’ll try next time is to skip browning the skin. It ended up getting mushy anyway so I removed it before serving. Maybe I’ll even try boneless skinless thighs. But it was delicious

    • Anonymous

    • Philadelphia

    • 2/4/2022

  • The flavor is nice, although the recipe could also be made with low sodium soy sauce for a healthier option. Made with regular soy sauce, the chicken was a little bit salty.

    • Claire

    • Bala Cynwyd, PA

    • 1/2/2022

  • This is a great recipe! I skipped the chili 🌶. My family loved this rendition of Filipino adobo. Being from the Philippines there countless ways of cooking this dish, depending on region. You all at BA are awesome.

    • Rayguns910

    • SoCal

    • 12/20/2021

  • This recipe was close. By not boiling the meat in the "braising liquid", the flavor is pretty superficial and the consistency of the meat is not a true filipino adobo. I like to start the flavor penetration early by adding the meat directly into the vinegar soy sauce mixture, then steaming it at med low, uncovered for about 40-50 minutes. When done, the strong acidic and savory flavor will be throughout the meat and it should be so tender it can be cut with a fork.

    • Marissa

    • Utah

    • 7/21/2021

  • I’m from Manila & I learned to make this Filipino dish early in my life. This tasty dish is truly easy to make. Let me make it less complicated because after reading the BA recipe, I almost sliced my finger. Crush the garlic cloves w/ skin on - after the crushing, the skin will slip off the clove & you can chop w/ abandon! Sauté the minced garlic in olive oil until golden brown & remove from pan. Chicken can be bought in parts. Don’t exhaust yourself on this ez dish. Remove the skin, you don’t need the extra saturated fat. Or keep skin on. We make our choices! Brown/ sear these chicken parts & You can use white breast meat along w/ dark. White meat dries up faster during the cook process; just remove it a little earlier, then return to pan at the end. I’ve tried white vinegar it wrecks the taste balance. It’s harsh. Try a combo of apple cider vinegar and/or balsamic vinegar. I never add sugar(?) or jalapeños (?). Yes, use salt & pepper & add pepper corns too. The bay leaf is key, but the soy sauce is a splash & it’s not necessary to even add. Low sodium soy sauce is super OK. I add enough water to cover the chicken pieces, then start the simmering process. As in the comments below, simmer until the meat is soft, but not falling apart. The sauce reduction is very important, this is not soup, it’s closer to a stew. If you lose that sauce, the joy of this dish diminishes. You want to add it to your rice and yum, how tasty! Filipino food is regional & many people will add coconut milk or pineapple but I don’t. It’s unfortunate I can’t give you measured amounts of spices & ingredients. But if you’re on bonappétit.com, you’re all mostly accomplished cooks and can adjust the original published recipe. And give the chef applause for introducing you to a basically Easiest Chicken Adobo Recipe. For further authenticity, pork is also added to this dish. Bon appétit!

    • Mercedes

    • New York, NY

    • 6/14/2021

  • As a non deranged fan of cooking, thank you for the recipe. I dont care about the colour of the person because I'm not insane. Thanks for the good eats.

    • Mr cook

    • Canada

    • 2/2/2021

  • This is not an authentic adobo recipe. You should have had a Filipino chef make this, instead of a white chef. Sad to say this is nothing new for Bon Appetit. Stop culturally appropriating dishes and if you're going to post recipes, tap chefs and cooks who are actually from these cultures. shame on you!!!

    • SLR

    • New York

    • 1/20/2021

  • just...no. letting a white chef author an adobo recipe -- wow. rectify this, and let a brilliant filipinx chef tell us how it's really done. classic BA move 🙄

    • ria

    • brooklyn, ny

    • 1/18/2021

  • "If you still have your doubts, take some (not ancient) bay leaves and boil them in a bit of water." Nonsense! It taste like water. Nothing more, nothing less. Try it! At best if you have recently consumed a sugar drink, it might leave a 'different' taste in your mouth. Bay leaves convert triglycerides into to monounsaturated fat that may reduce heartburn. A National Institutes of Health study found bay leaves reduced serum glucose, total cholesterol and triglycerides in people with Type II Diabetes, but researchers recommended additional studies. The American Pregnancy Association urges pregnant women to avoid all herbs. Although they're natural, they contain substances that can cause miscarriage, premature birth, uterine contractions or injury to the unborn baby.

    • CatInDeCap

    • 98052

    • 12/4/2020

  • This is the first recipe I made in my new mini Dutch oven and we loved it! Mom taught me, [RIP] ""first time on a new recipe, make it as stated, then make your adjustments on following occasions". Even with the caveat swirling in my little "foodie" head, the soy sauce quantity seemed a bit high, plus we only have the low sodium type in the house. I cut the soy sauce to 1/4 cup and salt level was perfect. I was surprised at how easy it was to dial the stove top adjustment to get those perfect teeny simmer bubbles. We make this frequently with the following subs; 1/4 low sodium soy sauce, homemade chicken bone broth for the white vinegar and lastly the jalapeños are roasted till the skin is burned, then de-seeded. Thank you Bon Appetit for posting this deliciousness!

    • Steve S

    • Chandler, AZ

    • 11/13/2020

  • No, no, no! I feel like who ever ‘created’ this recipe never had adobo before. Discovering my fave childhood dish represented in BA was curious and upon looking at the ingredients I can just tell that it’s just not right. Don’t get me wrong Filipino food is mix of so many different cultures and I love when each individual do their own take on it and adding a little fare. But frankly calling this ‘easiest chicken adobo’ recipe is misleading... soy sauce and vinegar should NEVER be equal parts. Vinegar should always be more the soy (usually 1:1/2 ratio but I like mine 1:2) and why is there SUGAR in this? I feel offended when this will be someone’s first time making adobo and won’t get to taste the true deliciousness of this dish! Do better BA!!!!!!!!!!

    • Anonymous

    • Brooklyn

    • 11/3/2020

  • I have to agree with the comments. It's way too salty. I even used less soy sauce than recommended. I would eat this again because overall it has a great taste but I'd use waaay less soy sauce.

    • Anonymous

    • New York, NY

    • 10/5/2020

  • I also cooled the head of garlic and mashed into the sauce for a better garlic taste.

    • Anonymous

    • 9/27/2020

  • Way too salty. I've been spending my time cutting the salt down with water and more vinegar. Also adding Thai chilis for a little more heat than what a jalapeno provides.

    • Donna0330

    • Reno, NV.

    • 9/27/2020

  • Again as others have said way too salty mix that with the acidity of the vinegar and it was almost not edible ... Disappointed in this one. Left overs will not be eaten .

    • Anonymous

    • Texas

    • 9/2/2020