Chicken adobo with coconut milk combines tender, juicy chicken thighs with a zesty, slightly sweet sauce creating a weeknight dinner the whole family will love.
If you're looking for a delicious new chicken recipe, then you've found it here. I've been making this dish for a few years, and it's a big hit every time.
With its combination of creamy coconut milk, sweet and tangy flavors like soy sauce and apple cider vinegar, and crispy skin, these chicken thighs are always crowd-pleasers.
If you love flavorful chicken dishes, you're going to love these Thai curry wings recipe or homemade chicken fried rice.
Why You Will Love this Recipe
- The delicious Filipino adobo marinade infuses the chicken with so much flavor.
- The creamy richness of the coconut milk balances out the salty, sweet, and sour flavors in the dish.
- It's quick and easy chicken recipe that's perfect for any night of the week.
What is Adobo Chicken?
Adobo chicken is a traditional Filipino dish made with meat and vegetables cooked in a sweet and sour soy sauce based sauce.
The use of vinegar in cooking is essential to the cuisine in the Philippines. It started out as a way to preserve food but also gives the food a distinct flavor.
This version also contains coconut milk which adds creamy and richer flavor to the sauce that cooks up the chicken.
You'll only need a handful of simple ingredients to make this Filipino chicken recipe. All are easy to find and available at your local grocery store.
- Chicken thighs: Use bone-in and skin-on chicken thighs for the best flavor.
- Soy sauce: Adds umami and salty flavor to the adobo marinade.
- Coconut milk: Gives the sauce a bit of sweetness that perfectly balances the other flavors.
- Apple cider vinegar: I like the flavors of cooking with apple cider vinegar but others work fine too.
- Garlic and green onions: Used to add more depth of flavor to the sauce.
Be sure to check out the recipe card at the end of the post for exact amounts.
Substitutions and Variations
- Don't have bone-in chicken thighs? You can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead.
- Prefer chicken breast: Swap the thighs for breasts but you will need to cook longer since the breasts are usually larger.
- Make it vegetarian: Swap the chicken for tofu, tempeh, or mushrooms.
- Soy sauce: The best substitute for soy sauce is coconut aminos which also is gluten-free or tamari.
- Coconut milk: The coconut milk brings a unique flavor to the dish that you won't get from these substitutes. For creaminess you can use evaporated milk. You also can use chicken or vegetable broth instead but lose all the creaminess. When making this swap you may find you need to add some sugar or honey.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Use white wine or red wine vinegar instead.
How to Make Coconut Milk Chicken Adobo
This simple chicken adobo recipe is ready in under an hour! Here's an overview of the steps involved.
The highlights are below, but you'll find the complete instructions in the recipe card at the end of the post.
- Place the chicken thighs in a bowl and add the soy sauce. Allow the chicken to marinate for up to an hour.
- Cook the chicken until the skin is crisp and brown.
- Add the coconut milk, bay leaves, garlic, and pepper to the leftover soy marinade and mix together.
PRO TIP: Cook the chicken skin side down to brown it and give it a crispier texture. Then brown the other side before adding in the other ingredients.
- Add the sauce to the chicken and bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer the chicken until cooked through.
- Remove the bay leaves and chicken and cook the sauce until it thickens. Return the chicken to the sauce and garnish with green onions.
Refrigerator: Store for up to four days in an air-tight container.
Freezer: Store for up to three months in an air-tight, freezer-safe container.
Reheat: Place the chicken and sauce in a pan, cover with a lid, and cook over medium-low heat until heated through.
- Marinate the chicken overnight for a richer and more flavorful dish.
- Don’t discard the soy sauce marinade. We will be adding it in later on to make the adobo sauce.
- Stir together the adobo sauce ingredients before adding them to the skillet so that everything is evenly distributed.
- Simmer uncovered once you remove the cooked chicken so that some of the liquid evaporates and leaves you with a thicker sauce consistency
- Boil off any excess liquid after removing your cooked chicken from its bath to create an even thicker saucy coating for serving up.
No! It is made with soy sauce which contains gluten. To make it gluten-free you will need to use a gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos instead.
Yes! Just adjust cooking time as needed so that they do not overcook or dry out during simmering time since they will cook much faster than bone-in skin-on thighs. Additionally, reduce cooking time further if using pre-cooked or leftover boneless chicken breasts when making this recipe.
Swap the chicken thighs for pork shoulder or sausage slices. You can also use a mixture of meats. Additionally, you could also use shrimp or fish instead of chicken for the dish if you want. Just be sure to adjust cooking times accordingly so that your chosen protein does not overcook or become dry during the simmering time.
More Chicken Thigh Recipes
Ready to get cooking? Remember that you can print this recipe if you would like.
Easy Chicken Adobo with Coconut Milk
- wooden spoon end
- 8 chicken thighs bone in, skin on
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 1 can (13 ½ oz) coconut milk
- ¾ cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tblsp garlic minced
- 8 leaves bay leaves
- 2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 green onion thinly sliced
- In a large bowl marinate chicken in refrigerator for at least an hour, in the soy sauce, covered.
- Prepare a large skillet on medium high heat.
- Remove chicken from soy sauce and transfer chicken, skin side down, into the skillet. Do not discard the soy sauce. Leave it in the bowl. Set aside. Cook chicken until the skin is nicely browned, about 10 minutes.
- While chicken is browning, add coconut milk, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, and pepper into the soy sauce and stir until combined.
- Add coconut milk mixture to the skillet, and bring to boil with the chicken. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Flip chicken over to have the skin side up and continue to cook, uncovered for about 20 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaves and chicken and return the skillet to medium-high heat and cook until sauce is thickened. This will take about 10 minutes.
- Pour sauce over chicken and sprinkle some green onions on top. Serve immediately.
This post was originally published February 2016. It's been updated with new images and content.
Thanks for this healing, healthy meal. The Adobo is not too hard on my stomach and the coconut is really soothing as well. I love it with extra cilantro. Terrific!
Karin and Ken
Thank you for your kind words. We love this recipe too. It’s been in our rotation for years. Thank you for taking the time to comment and let me know. All the best. Karin