Olive Magazine
A black pot filled with cooked chicken thighs and onions, set against a green background

Chicken adobo

Published: August 16, 2021 at 9:48 pm
  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Total time
  • Easy
  • Serves 4

Lee Johnson, co-founder of Bong Bong’s Manila Kanteen, shares his late gran's version of the Philippines' unofficial national dish

  • Low calorie
low inkcal393

Try this recipe for chicken adobo, then check out our Filipino fried pork, Filipino garlic-fried rice, Filipino boodle fightleche flan and discover Lee's 10 things he loves about Filipino cuisine.

Lee Johnson, co-founder of Bong Bong’s Manila Kanteen and author of this chicken adobo recipe, says, "This is a family staple that reminds me of my childhood – and it was the first Filipino dish that my partner Sinead tried. It’s known as the unofficial national dish but every single Filipino family has their own recipe, so there are hundreds of variations. Our favourite is the wet version made with coconut vinegar, light soy sauce, onion, plenty of garlic and bay."

For this recipe, you’ll need a casserole and a non-metal spatula. ‘Lola’ means ‘grandmother’ in Tagalog – the name Lee affectionately called his late gran, Marina.


  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1kg whole chicken legs and thighs
  • 6-7 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 125ml light soy sauce
  • 170ml coconut vinegar
  • 4 large dried bay leaves
  • ½ tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • steamed rice, to serve


  • STEP 1
    Heat the oil in a casserole over a medium-high heat and brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Remove to a plate. Turn down the heat to medium and lightly fry the garlic until just brown. Return the chicken to the dish and add the soy, vinegar, bay and peppercorns. Turn the heat back up to medium-high. 
  • STEP 2
    Using a non-metal spatula, scrape up any garlic from the bottom of the casserole. Lay the onion slices over the chicken and bring the liquid to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium so it maintains a simmer and cover. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the onions have softened. 
  • STEP 3
    Remove the lid and continue to cook for another 10 minutes to reduce the liquid slightly. Serve with steamed rice. 

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