Mexican Chicken Adobo

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 40 mins

This flavorful Mexican Chicken Adobo is made with traditional dried chilies and seasonings to create a smoky homemade adobo sauce that you braise your chicken in, until it’s so tender it falls off the bone!

Pot of chicken adobo with cilantro.

Mexican Chicken Adobo

Never tried Chicken Adobo, Pollo en Adobo, before? Now is the time to remedy that! The word Adobo comes from the Spanish word adobar, which means to marinate. It’s the ultimate Spanish chicken dinner recipe that tastes – and looks – like a million bucks. I mean, let’s talk about that beautiful burgundy sauce! Don’t you just want to dip a spoon right into it? I know I do.

Coming back to taste, the first forkful of this braised chicken is guaranteed to delight the tastebuds. The sauce has a wonderful deep smokey flavor, while the three (that’s right, three!) types of chiles add a warm spiciness to each bite. Throw in a little garlic, and this chicken dish becomes the recipe to beat as far as flavorful dinnertime favorites are concerned!

The chicken is simmered in the homemade adobo sauce until it is literally falling off the bone it is so tender. Serve this Mexican style Adobo Chicken with your favorite Spanish sides and watch it disappear!

Plate of chicken adobo with a knife and fork.

What is Chicken Adobo?

Fillipino Chicken Adobo: a traditional Filipino meal, where chicken is marinated in, and/or braised with, vinegar, soy sauce*, bay leaves, and more.

Mexican Chicken Adobo: a Mexican adobo sauce is made with three types of dried Mexican chiles, lots of spices, vinegar, garlic, onion and tomatoes and the chicken is braised/simmered in the sauce until tender. This version does NOT include soy sauce. The smoky flavor combination is truly over the top and makes any cut of chicken irresistible.

Ingredients for chicken adobo.

What You’ll Need

Let’s round up the ingredients you’ll need to get started on this chicken adobo:

  • Cooking Oil: My go-to is olive oil, but canola oil will work too.
  • Chicken: You’ll need 2 pounds of skinless chicken legs and 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
  • Tomatoes: Use Roma tomatoes, if you can, roughly chopped.
  • Onion: Grab 1 white onion, and roughly chop it up before starting.
  • Garlic: You’ll need 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled.
  • Chiles: Use 4 dried guajillo chiles, 1 dried ancho chile, and 1 dried chipotle chile, all seeded and chopped (add more or less depending on your preferred spice level).
  • Chicken Broth: Low-sodium chicken broth is just fine.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Regular vinegar and white vinegar will also work.
  • Seasonings: I like to use salt, coriander powder, ground cumin, dried thyme, Mexican oregano, ground cloves, and dried bay leaves.

How to Make Chicken Adobo

Making chicken adobo is really simple. First you’ll combine the tomatoes and chiles into a blended sauce, then you’ll brown the chicken and let both components stew together.

Sauté Tomatoes and Onion: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the tomatoes, onion and garlic to the pan and stir and cook until the tomatoes and onions start to char.

Cook the Chiles: Add the dried chiles and 2 cups of the chicken broth and stir and cook for 10 minutes.

Blend Chiles with Spices: Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for five minutes. Add it all to a blender along with the remaining cup of broth, vinegar, salt, coriander, cumin, thyme, oregano and cloves and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Spices and vegetables in a blender.

Cook the Chicken: Heat a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the chicken in an even layer and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, turning often to prevent burning.

Combine Chicken with the Sauce: Once chicken is browned on all sides, add the sauce into the pot with the chicken and add the bay leaves.

Let Simmer: Stir to combine and let it come to a boil. Then lower the heat to low-medium, cover it with an offset lid and let it simmer for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally as needed.

Serve and Enjoy: Remove the bay leaves and serve chicken with Mexican rice and freshly chopped cilantro.

Chicken cooked in adobo sauce.

Tips for Success

Take a look through these tips and adjustments for chicken adobo to get the best results with your dinner:

  • What Chicken to Use: I like to use thighs and legs because they cook up so juicy and tender, but chicken breasts will taste great too.
  • What Vinegar to Use: You can use regular, white, apple cider, or cane vinegar – any of them will work.
  • Add Sugar: While not traditional, if you like a classic spicy-sweet flavor combination, you can add in a little brown sugar to the sauce. My friend from southern Mexico always did this and it was divine!
  • Tender Chicken: You will know your chicken is done when you can easily pull the meat away from the bone with a fork. Keep simmering your chicken until it’s tender!
  • CHILES: It’s important to get all of the dried chiles required for this Mexican adobo sauce. I know it’s tempting to skip one, but the flavor will be lacking. Take the time to gather all the ingredients needed to get the most flavor.
Plate of chicken adobo with cilantro.

Serving Suggestions

Wondering what to serve with your chicken adobo? Here are a couple of ideas that will soak up that delicious sauce!

  • Rice: I like to use Mexican rice or white rice, but pick your favorite! I also have an amazing recipe for Arroz Con Gandules, which is Puerto Rican yellow rice with pigeon peas.
  • Soup: Any light, broth-based soup will pair well with this chicken.
  • Vegetables: beans, plantains (while not traditional with Mexican cuisine, we love them with this dish anyways!), yuca, a light side salad, or any roasted vegetables.
Forkful of chicken adobo.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

This pollo en adobo can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. You can microwave the chicken in short segments (30 seconds) until warm to reheat leftovers, or you can heat a pan on low on the stove and warm the chicken that way. If the adobo sauce is too thick, add a splash of water to it.

Can I Freeze Chicken Adobo?

Absolutely. Store the chicken in an airtight container for 1-2 months, and then let it thaw overnight in the fridge before eating. The chicken usually will soak up some of the sauce as it’s frozen and thawed, but it’s still tasty!

Can I make the Mexican Adobo Sauce ahead?

YES! I do this often because it saves a lot of time. I will usually triple my adobo sauce recipe and freeze the extra sauce in freezer friendly ziplock bags. Freeze the sauce for up to 6 months and just let it thaw in the fridge for a day or two before needing it to braise your chicken in!

Bowl of garnished chicken adobo.
Yield: 6-7 servings

Mexican Chicken Adobo

Pot of chicken adobo with cilantro.

This flavorful Mexican Chicken Adobo is made with traditional dried chilies and seasonings to create a smoky adobo sauce that we braise our chicken in until it's so tender it falls off the bone!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds skinless chicken legs
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 white onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 dried guajillo chiles, seeded and chopped
  • 1 dried ancho chile, seeded and chopped
  • 1 dried chipotle chile, seeded and chopped (add more or less depending on preferred spice level)
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 dried bay leaves

Instructions

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the tomatoes, onion and garlic to the pan and stir and cook until the tomatoes and onions start to char.

Diced tomatoes, onions, and garlic in a skillet

2. Add the dried chiles and 2 cups of the chicken broth and stir and cook for 10 minutes.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for five minutes. Add it all to a blender along with the remaining cup of broth, vinegar, salt, coriander, cumin, thyme, oregano and cloves and blend until smooth. Set aside.

4. Heat a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the chicken in an even layer and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, turning often to prevent burning.

5. Once chicken is browned on all sides, add the sauce into the pot with the chicken and add the bay leaves.

6. Stir to combine and let it come to a boil. Then lower the heat to low-medium, cover it with an offset lid and let it simmer for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally as needed.

Chicken with adobo sauce simmering in a dutch oven

7. Remove the bay leaves and serve chicken with Mexican rice and freshly chopped cilantro.

Notes

This pollo en adobo can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 491Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 286mgSodium: 1034mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 59g

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Jessica
I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.
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