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Chicken Adobo

A rich and spicy sauce pairs beautifully with falling-off-the-bone chicken. Yum!

June 26, 2017

There are many versions of Adobo, and ours is easy to put together. Cooking in the rich and spicy simmering sauce makes the chicken falling-off-the-bone tender. Make the Adobo Sauce ahead of time.

Serves four to six people. 



  • 3 to 4 pounds chicken thighs (allow 2 thighs per serving)
  • 1-and-1/4 cups Adobo Sauce
  • 3 bay leaves
  • one 13.5-ounce can coconut milk (optional)
  • cooked rice for serving


In a large nonreactive bowl or resealable plastic freezer bag, add chicken and adobo sauce and turn to coat. Refrigerate at least two hours or up to overnight. We did this right in the Dutch oven we used to cook the chicken.

In a heavy-lidded pot or Dutch oven over high heat, bring chicken, sauce and bay leaves to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and tender, around 35 minutes.

Heat broiler. Transfer chicken pieces to a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment, making sure chicken is completely coated with sauce.

Taste the sauce, and if you want to cool it down, add the can of coconut milk. Increase heat under the pot to a bubbling medium-high, and reduce the sauce until it thickens to a creamy consistency, about 10 minutes. Remove bay leaves.

While the sauce reduces, place chicken under the broiler for 5 to 7 minutes. Turn chicken, baste with more sauce if needed and broil for 5 minutes more. (You may skip the broiler, as the chicken is already cooked, although this step browns the meat and gives it a bit of crispness and depth,) Return chicken to sauce and serve over rice.

Adobo Sauce

Makes about 1-and-1/4 cups.


  • Scant 1/2 cup ancho chile powder
  • 1-and-1/4 cups boiling water
  • 8 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, Mexican oregano if you have it
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar


In a food processor or blender add the chile powder and pour in the boiling water. Pulse to create a smooth mixture. Let cool.

Place the peeled garlic cloves in a microwavable bowl, add enough water to cover, and microwave on high for 1 minute, then drain. You may also use roasted garlic cloves.

Add prepared garlic to the blender along with the spices and vinegar, and process to a smooth puree. It should be about the consistency of barbecue sauce. Cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Cook’s note: Use bone-in, skin-on thighs for best flavor, but boneless, skinless thighs work as well.


There are 6 comments

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Does anyone have a good source for the ancho chile powder?  The sources I'm looking at would require about $10 worth of spice, which seems excessive.

You can find dried chile pods at most grocery stores and certainly at any Hispanic market.  They run about $3 - 4 a bag.  Remove stems and seeds and finely grind in your food processor or spice mill. 

Try Savory Spice Shop in Alderwood Mall or by mail order.

I think if you can run your own through a spice grinder World Spice would be cheaper than that, and even cheaper would be one of the groceries that specializes in international food, off the top I'd check HK Market on Aurora if you're anywhere near North Seattle. World Spice is behind Pike Market, but I just keep a running list of spices I need and have them sent once a quarter, it's cheaper than driving/parking

If you had said where you live people might be helpful.  Also look at the Mexican sections of your regular market if you don't have a specialty store in your neighborhood.Failing that-- dried Ancho chiles can be bought in many supermarkets-- remove the seeds and stalk and put the dried chiles in a coffee grinder! 

Ancho Chile powder can be made cheaply by simply grinding up dried Ancho Chiles in a food processor or coffee/spice grinder.  You can get bags of the dried Ancho Chiles at mexican groceries, walmart or Ranch 99 for a few bucks.