Filipino Chicken Adobo with Bacon and Bay Leaves

Rendered bacon fat and pieces deepen the savory flavors of this classic Filipino dish.

Filipino Chicken Adobo with Bacon and Bay Leaves

Frederick Hardy II / Food Styling by Melissa Gray / Prop Styling by Christina Brockman

Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 50 mins
4 servings

Chicken Adobo is a traditional Filipino stew consisting of chicken that has been marinated and cooked in a mixture of garlic, soy sauce, and vinegar. This bright and deeply savory preparation is considered the unofficial national dish of the Philippines and has roots in indigenous traditions. In the Philippines, you can use the adobo technique on any protein or vegetable; you’ll find variations of pork, beef, fish, and even squid abodo. The proteins are simmered in the soy-vinegar mixture until they are tender, and served over rice with extra broth. You’ll also find forms of adobo that are less like a stew, and similar to stir-fry.

This recipe is rich with umami from rendering bacon fat and adding the cooked bacon pieces into the broth. The bay leaves offer an earthy balance against all the savory notes of the dish. It is traditional to use cane vinegar in this dish, but you can also substitute with rice vinegar. In the Filipino diaspora, it’s not uncommon to use whatever vinegar that is available. This is a crowd-pleasing dish that is easy enough to make on a weeknight and often shared at Filipino parties and gatherings.


  • 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken pieces (drumsticks and thighs) (about 3 1/4 pounds)

  • 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup), divided

  • 1 1/4 cups soy sauce, divided (such as Silver Swan)

  • 1 1/4 cups cane vinegar, divided (such as Datu Puti)

  • 1 tablespoon black pepper, divided

  • 4 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3 slices)

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 4 fresh bay leaves

  • Thinly sliced scallions

  • Cooked jasmine rice


  1. Place chicken, 1 tablespoon of the garlic, 1/4 cup of the soy sauce, 1/4 cup of the cane vinegar, and 1 teaspoon of the black pepper in a large bowl; toss to combine. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.

  2. Cook bacon pieces in a large Dutch oven over medium until edges are crisp, about 4 minutes, turning bacon occasionally. Transfer bacon to a plate using a slotted spoon.

  3. Increase heat in Dutch oven to medium-high. Working in batches, cook chicken, skin side down, undisturbed, until skin is deep golden brown and crisp, about 8 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add water, bay leaves, and remaining 3 tablespoons garlic, 1 cup soy sauce, 1 cup cane vinegar, and 2 teaspoons black pepper to Dutch oven. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high, and nestle chicken pieces and cooked bacon into mixture.

  4. Cover and reduce heat to medium; simmer, undisturbed, until chicken is mostly tender, about 30 minutes. Remove lid, and cook, uncovered, until meat is about to fall off the bone, about 10 minutes. Skim excess fat from surface. Garnish with sliced scallions. Serve chicken over rice; drizzle with sauce in Dutch oven.

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