This Chicken Adobo draws inspiration from the famed national dish of the Philippines. Chicken drumsticks are marinated in a tangy, sweet, and garlicky sauce and are cooked until tender. The result is amazingly tasty and remarkably simple to make.
Easy Chicken Adobo Recipe
Chicken Adobo is a dish found in many cuisines worldwide. My favorite rendition is from the Philippines. This is my take on this flavorful entree. It’s become a go-to recipe in my household, and I cannot wait for you to try it.
If chicken adobo sounds intimidating to you, please let me assure you that this is actually a super simple recipe. All you have to do is marinate succulent chicken drumsticks in a flavorful sauce that is sweet, savory, tangy, garlicky, and just downright delicious all at the same time. Once the chicken is marinated, it is simmered in that very same marinade until tender.
Finally, the chicken is tossed under the broiler to crisp up while the cooking juices are boiled down into a silky smooth, flavor-packed reduction. The sauce is spooned over the chicken, and voila! You’ve got one of the best chicken dishes you will ever taste.
What is Adobo?
Adobo is a wet marinade in some cultures, but it can be a dry rub for others. To others still, adobo is a protein-packed stew. The Filipino version inspires this particular adobo. Although it varies from region to region and from household to household, in the Philippines, the term “adobo” refers to a protein (usually chicken or pork) marinated in a flavorful mixture involving vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and simple herbs and spices. The protein is simmered in the marinade until tender.
What Is Adobo Chicken Made Of?
Here’s a list of ingredients needed to make these simple chicken adobo drumsticks.
- Chicken drumsticks – Other chicken cuts are okay to use, preferably bone-in and skin-on for best flavor absorption. Thighs or legs make great drumstick substitutes. Using chicken breasts or boneless, skinless cuts may yield a less tender, flavorful result.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Low sodium soy sauce – You can use liquid aminos instead if you would like.
- Light brown sugar
- Whole black peppercorns
- Crushed red pepper
- Bay leaves
- Green onions
- Cooked rice – For serving.
How to Make Chicken Adobo
If chicken adobo sounds foreign, fancy, and unapproachable to you, think again. This recipe is gloriously simple. Here’s a quick rundown on how to make it. Don’t forget to scroll to the recipe card below for more detailed instructions.
- Marinate the chicken. Mix the chicken, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, light brown sugar, peppercorns, red pepper, and bay leaves in a large zip-top bag. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Cook the chicken. Heat a large non-stick pan over high heat. Pour the chicken and the marinade into the pan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Turn the drumsticks halfway through cooking.
- Broil. Preheat the broiler in your oven and line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange the drumsticks in a single layer on a baking sheet and broil for 4 minutes.
- Reduce the sauce. While the chicken is broiling, cook the remaining sauce over high heat until reduced to a maple syrup consistency.
- Put it all together. Transfer the chicken to a serving plate and brush with the prepared sauce.
- Serve over cooked rice and garnish with green onions.
Tips for Success
Want to go the extra mile to help this adobo chicken live up to its full potential? Follow these simple tips and tricks and you’ll be on your way.
- Be careful with the vinegar. An overly acidic marinade can cause the meat to toughen and become rubbery. So measure carefully here. Too much vinegar can yield an unpleasant texture.
- Don’t skimp on marinade time. Give the chicken plenty of time to absorb the marinade. Anything less than 2 hours will end you with a far less flavorful dish.
- Use bone-in skin-on chicken. While you can use boneless, skinless cuts, you will find a more deeply flavorful entree if you opt for bone-in, skin-on. Trust me. 🙃
- Don’t forget to flip the chicken. Halfway through its time in the pan, flip the chicken. This will ensure that it cooks evenly and that every inch of chicken is steeped in delicious marinade.
- Watch that broiler. Broilers are powerful. They can crisp up the chicken very quickly. I recommend 4 minutes under the broiler for this recipe but keep an eye on the drumsticks; if they start to get too brown, pull them out.
- Make it ahead. Make a double or triple batch of this flavorful chicken adobo. Before cooking, store the extras in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you are ready to enjoy, allow the marinated chicken to thaw in the refrigerator before proceeding with the recipe as you normally would.
What to Serve With Chicken Adobo Drumsticks
You may want to tear the meat off of these chicken adobo drumsticks and enjoy them on their own. There’s nothing wrong with that, but they are even better when served with a side dish or two. Here are some ideas for you.
- Grains. I often choose to serve chicken adobo with white rice. Brown rice would work beautifully, though, too. Not a rice person? Try quinoa or even barley. Grains are a great way to go because they soak up the delicious sauce from the chicken.
- Potatoes. Enjoy this protein-packed entree with potatoes. Cook them any way you’d like. Good old-fashioned Garlic Rosemary Mashed Potatoes or these Crispy Smashed Potatoes in the Air Fryer would be a great choice. My Crispy Sweet Potato Wedges would also do the trick.
- Salad. I love serving this rich chicken dish with a light salad. Try my Green Goddess Salad or this Refreshing Watermelon Salad.
- Grilled or roasted veggies. Get your veggies in with my Roasted Artichokes, Crispy Air Fryer Roasted Broccoli, Honey Garlic Butter Roasted Carrots Recipe, or this Perfect Grilled Zucchini.
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
- Cool the chicken fully, and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- To reheat, place the chicken in a foil-covered baking dish and reheat at 350°F for 20 minutes.
- Freezing the Chicken: Cool it, seal it in an airtight container, and freeze it for up to 3 months.
- Thaw in the fridge before reheating as above.
More Easy Chicken Recipes
Chicken is such a flexible protein. Almost every culture seems to have countless ways to cook it up. Here are some of my favorite easy chicken recipes from around the world. I hope you like them!
- 30-Minute Cashew Chicken
- Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
- Chicken Bulgogi
- Moroccan Chicken Tagine
- Chicken Puttanesca
- Chicken in a Pot with Lemon Orzo
Easy Chicken Adobo Recipe
- 8 chicken drumsticks
- ⅔ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish
- cooked rice, for serving
- Combine the chicken, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, light brown sugar, peppercorns, red pepper, and bay leaves in a large Ziploc bag; refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Pour contents of the bag into a large nonstick pan or a Dutch oven; set over high heat and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer, cover with a lid, and continue to cook for 30 minutes, turning the drumsticks halfway through cooking.
- Preheat the broiler.
- Line a baking sheet with foil; transfer the drumsticks to the baking sheet and broil the chicken for 4 minutes or until the chicken is browned.
- In the meantime, increase the heat to high and bring the remaining liquid in the pan to a boil.
- Continue to cook for about 8 minutes or until reduced to a maple syrup consistency.
- Remove the chicken from the broiler and transfer it to a serving plate. Pour the prepared sauce over the chicken.
- Serve the chicken over cooked rice and garnish with green onions.
- Don’t use more vinegar than stated to avoid tough, rubbery meat.
- Marinate the chicken for at least 2 hours for flavor.
- Use bone-in, skin-on chicken for a tastier dish.
- Flip chicken halfway for even cooking.
- Keep an eye on the broiler to avoid over-cooking.
- Consider making extra, freeze it uncooked, and thaw it in the fridge before cooking.
- Nutritional Analysis does not include rice.
- Inspired by: Food Network
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.