Filipino-style chicken adobo with coconut milk is truly one of the easiest and most delicious ways to cook chicken. Bone-in, skin-on pieces of chicken are simmered in a flavor-packed sauce and then left in the refrigerator to marinate for up to 24 hours.
Right before serving, simmer the sauce to thicken and sear the outside of the chicken to a deliciously caramelized golden brown. Serve the tender pieces of chicken over rice, smothered with the velvety sauce.
The English translation for the word adobo is vinegar-braised which is an excellent description of Filipino Adobo Chicken, widely considered the national dish of the Philippines.
Mexican Adobo Chicken also involves braising chicken in a sauce that includes vinegar, but that's pretty much where the similarities end. Mexican Adobo is a smoky, red chili-based sauce that includes vinegar and spices. Filipino Adobo is a vinegar-based sauce that includes soy sauce, garlic, spices, and in some regions, coconut milk and/or coconut cream.
In this recipe for Filipino Adobo Chicken with Coconut Milk, pieces of bone-in, skin-on chicken are simmered in a flavorful sauce made from coconut milk, coconut cream, vinegar, and soy sauce. The chicken is then left to soak in the sauce for up to 24 hours. This long marinade infuses the chicken with SO. MUCH. FLAVOR.
Right before serving, simmer the sauce until it thickens and reduces, and becomes rich and velvety. Sear the chicken in a hot pan, hot grill or griddle, or under the broiler.
This simple process creates incredibly flavorful chicken that's caramelized on the outside and tender on the inside. Served over rice with the rich and creamy coconut sauce, this dish is sure to become one of your new favorite meals.
Ingredients Needed to Prepare this Recipe
- Reduced-sodium soy sauce or Tamari. It's important to use soy sauce labeled as "reduced sodium" OR Tamari which is naturally lower in sodium than traditional soy sauce. Traditional, full sodium soy sauce will result in the coconut milk adobo sauce tasting too salty. Use Tamari if you or someone you are cooking for is on a gluten-free diet.
- White wine vinegar. Good alternatives include unseasoned rice vinegar or champagne vinegar.
- 6 cloves of fresh garlic.
- Dried thyme.
- Ground black pepper.
- Full-fat coconut milk, from a can or a carton.
- Coconut cream. Cans of coconut cream can usually be found in the Asian food section of most supermarkets.
- Bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces, any combination of pieces.
- Brown sugar.
- For serving: Cooked rice, toasted shredded coconut, chopped fresh cilantro, and thinly sliced scallions.
*See the recipe card for precise measurements.
Additions and Substitutions
- To reduce the amount of sodium: This dish relies on soy sauce to season the chicken from the inside out. While reduced-sodium soy sauce and Tamari are lower in sodium than traditional soy sauce, they still contain a fair amount of sodium. If you want to reduce the amount of sodium in this dish, reduce the amount of soy sauce by as much as half and increase the amount of vinegar by 50%.
- Replace the chicken with pork: To make Filipino Pork Adobo, cut pork belly, pork tenderloin, or pork shoulder into 1 or 2-inch cubes and proceed with the recipe as written.
- Instead of Rice: Instead of serving Filipino Chicken over rice, serve it with mashed potatoes, cooked quinoa, or with crispy fried potatoes. You can also serve this dish with fried rice instead of plain cooked rice.
Step-by-Step Photos and Instructions
Add the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, thyme, pepper, coconut milk, coconut cream, and water to a large saucepan and submerge the chicken.
Set everything on the stovetop to simmer for 20 minutes, let it cool slightly, then put the pot in the refrigerator and let the chicken soak for 12-24 hours.
Remove the chicken from the sauce. Stir 1 tablespoon of brown sugar into the sauce and let it simmer until it reduces to about 3 cups.
Thicken the sauce with a bit of cornstarch and then taste it and add a touch more brown sugar if you like.
While the sauce simmers, sear the chicken in a hot skillet, or on a Blackstone griddle or gas or charcoal grill. Because the chicken is fully cooked, the goal is just to reheat it while caramelizing the skin.
Serve the chicken smothered with the sauce over cooked rice, quinoa, or mashed potatoes. If you like, sprinkle it with some toasted shredded coconut, chopped fresh cilantro, and thinly sliced scallions.
Storage and Make Ahead Instructions
This is one of the easiest dishes to make for a crowd because it can easily be scaled up and most of the work is done ahead of time!
After cooking the chicken in the creamy coconut sauce, leave it in the sauce to marinate for 12-24 hours. About 30 minutes before you want to eat, remove the chicken from the sauce and set the sauce on the stovetop to simmer and reduce.
Sear the chicken for a couple of minutes in a hot skillet, Blackstone Griddle, grill, or under the broiler and serve!
Leftover adobo chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Or, remove the meat from the bones, pile it into a container or a ziptop bag, and freeze for up to 3 months.
I always try to make more of this chicken than I think we'll eat in one meal. The meat is so flavorful that it's a wonderful thing to have in the freezer.
Ways to use leftover chicken adobo:
- Use it to make this super easy 30-minute chicken soup.
- Use it to make a classic double-crust chicken pot pie or a biscuit topped dutch oven pot pie
- Chop it into small pieces for chicken lettuce wraps
- Use it in the filling for chicken enchiladas verdes
- Add it to creamy chicken noodle soup with garlic and mushrooms or this quick and easy chicken tortilla soup
- Toss it into 20-minute garlic chipotle pasta
Coconut Milk Chicken Adobo Makes a Great Camping Recipe!
This is one of the best camping recipes!
- Because the chicken is cooked in advance most of the work is already done on the day you want to eat. Cook the chicken at home before you leave for your camping trip, or cook it on any hot surface: a stovetop, camping stove, Blackstone griddle, or campfire. If you're RV camping, marinate the chicken in your refrigerator. If you're tent camping, marinate the chicken in a cooler that's been packed with enough ice to keep the internal temperature at 40 degrees F or lower.
- The sauce can be thickened and reduced on any hot surface: a stovetop, a camping stove, a campfire, or a Blackstone griddle. If cooking over an open fire, use a cast iron pot. If cooking on a Blackstone griddle set any saucepan directly on the griddle, using it exactly as you would a stovetop burner.
- Sear the outside of the chicken right before serving on a Blackstone Griddle, in a cast iron skillet over an open flame, or on any kind of grill.
- If possible, cook more chicken than you need so you can save the leftover meat for easy meals later in the week.
Love Coconut? Try these popular recipes:
Also if you really want to impress people with a super easy but unique and colorful dessert, check out these bright purple ube mochi! There are two different kinds of mochi - Japanese mochi and a Hawaiian treat that's popular in the Philippines. Ube mochi is the Hawaiian version and it's the perfect dessert for Filipino Style Chicken Adobo.
- 1 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce or Tamari
- ½ cup white wine vinegar
- 1 heaping tablespoon of roughly chopped garlic (about 6 cloves)
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 1 cup water
- 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (any kind or combination)
- 1 -2 tablespoons brown sugar, to taste
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- For serving: toasted shredded coconut, chopped fresh cilantro, and thinly sliced scallions
- Add the soy sauce or Tamari, vinegar, garlic, thyme, ground black pepper, coconut milk, coconut cream, and water to a large saucepan. Add the chicken. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, cover the pan, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook for 20 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool slightly. Refrigerate the chicken in the cooking liquid for 12 - 24 hours.
- Remove the chicken from the liquid. Stir 1 tablespoon of brown sugar into the liquid and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce reduces to about 3 cups. Add the cornstarch to a small bowl and slowly stir in about ¼ cup of the sauce. Stir the cornstarch slurry into the rest of the sauce and cook, stirring, until it thickens slightly. Taste and add more brown sugar if you like
- Right before you’re ready to eat, sear the chicken in a very hot non-stick skillet, on a Blackstone griddle, or on a gas or charcoal grill. Or, lay the chicken out on a baking sheet and place it under the broiler for 5 - 8 minutes, turning them over halfway through. The chicken is fully cooked, so just sear the outside of the pieces until golden.
- Serve the chicken with the sauce. I like to serve this with rice and grilled or sautéed veggies. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, fresh cilantro, and sliced scallions.
- It's important to use soy sauce labeled as "reduced sodium" OR Tamari which is naturally lower in sodium than traditional soy sauce. Traditional, full sodium soy sauce will result in the coconut milk adobo sauce tasting too salty.
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Lodge 10-¼-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet
Lodge Cast Iron Serving Pot Dutch Oven with Dual Handles, Pre-Seasoned, 7-Quart
Cuisinart Nonstick-Hard-Anodized, 12-Inch, Skillet w/Glass Cover
Blackstone Cooking Station with Two Burners, 28", Black
Cuisinart Chef's Classic 8-Quart Stockpot with Cover, Stainless Steel
Serving Size:2 pieces of chicken
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 626Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 213mgSodium: 1318mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 0gSugar: 11gProtein: 58g