Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo

October 17, 2018



I’m not kidding when I say that Colorado has a mean streak in the fall. Saturday was absolutely glorious here, and the leaves were strutting their colored stuff with pride. Miss D. and I ran errands in the early afternoon, and as we drove by an apple orchard, she sighed and said, “Everything’s so pretty. I wish the trees looked like this all year.”

“Maybe we wouldn’t appreciate them so much if they were like this all year,” I said.

“You’re probably right,” she grumbled. “But fall seems so short here.”

“It does seem too short,” I said. “In fact, it’s supposed to snow tonight.”

She looked at me like I was nuts. “No way. It’s like, 65 degrees right now.”

I laughed. “And? Your point is?”


Sure enough, by 7pm the winds were howling through said trees and there was a deep chill in the air. I tried to take Mozz-man for his evening constitutional and he hi-tailed it back in the house, wanting no part of it.

We woke to 4 inches of fresh snow Sunday, and it continued to fall through the morning.

Both of the girls were nursing cold viruses, and so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make a pot of soup, brew many cups of tea and cuddle in. Around noon I decided to rummage through the refrigerator and figure out what to make for dinner. I wasn’t in the mood to leave the warm and cozy house, so I knew it had to be a meal that I could cobble together with ingredients I had on hand.

I settled on chicken adobo, a dish classic to the Philippines. Adobo is a perfect meal for those times when you have to go pantry surfing for ingredients, because most of the components of the dish are things I readily have on-hand. I always have several types of vinegar in the house, and vinegar is a key flavoring in adobo. I always have soy sauce, garlic and ginger loafing around, too (Asian food addict, here). Rice, check. Onions, check.

I always, always have some type of chicken parts in the freezer, usually both breasts and thighs. In fact, I kind of feel panicked if I don’t have chicken of some sort in the freezer during the colder months; what if I wake up with the sniffles and don’t have any chicken for soup? That’s not something I’m willing to let happen on my watch.

To those of you who haven’t eaten chicken adobo–or any kind of adobo, for that matter–I realize that at first blush, it sounds a little weird. A sauce made with nearly a cup of vinegar and half a cup of soy sauce? Yowza. Those are some aggressive flavors. Won’t they overpower everything?

This is where the slow cooker is your friend. Cooking the chicken low and slow in those flavors turns the dish into something quite mellow. It won’t smack you in the face when you sit down to dinner, I swear. It’s tangy, salty, aromatic and a little sweet. It pairs perfectly with rice, and if you’ve got lettuce wrap fans in your house, the dish lends itself well to that preparation. We’re almost always on Team Lettuce Wrap at this house, but ahem…aforementioned laziness and yucky weather had us settling for a bed of basmati rice, which soaks up that sassy sauce in a lovely way.

The snow is nearly gone in my front yard now, but the leaves on our trees were (alas) a sad casualty. They’re sitting on the lawn like a forlorn carpet. It’s a little melancholy to let them go, but then again, nothing gold can stay. Right, Ponyboy?



Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo

serves 4-6


3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed

salt and pepper

1 large yellow onion, sliced

6 cloves garlic, smashed

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 4 slices

2 star anise pods

1 cinnamon stick, snapped into 2 pieces

3/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thinly

sliced scallions, for serving

sesame seeds, for serving

cooked rice and/or romaine lettuce leaves, for serving


Spread the onion slices evenly over the bottom of the slow cooker. Top with the ginger slices and the smashed garlic cloves. Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper. Lay the chicken on top of the onion slices.

In a small bowl, whisk the rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce and sugar together. Pour over the chicken.

Nestle the star anise and the cinnamon stick in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours*, or until chicken is meltingly tender and shreds easily.

Remove the chicken and shred. Cover to keep warm.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the ginger and the garlic cloves. Skim any excess fat off the surface of liquid. Stir in the red pepper, put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on HI for about half an hour (or if you are in a hurry, you can just microwave the red pepper in a covered bowl for about a minute or two until tender).

To serve, warm the chicken through in the cooking liquid and place with the onion and the red pepper on a large platter. Spoon about half the cooking liquid over the chicken; serve remaining sauce on the side for those who want extra. Top with scallions and sesame seeds.

Serve over rice or you can make lettuce wraps outta the whole shebang. If you want to try something a little different, layer the chicken and rice in the lettuce wrap and top with mango salsa–that’s how I like to roll!


*All slow cookers run differently, so keep watch at the 4 hour mark but be willing to add some time on. My slow cooker runs on the hot side, so my chicken took 4 hours. You probably have an idea how your own slow cooker runs, so just use a little good judgement.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie October 17, 2018 at 5:54 am

This sounds like exactly what I need for our crew! After school activities have finally invaded our lives and anything that I can make ahead is gold. Plus I find myself trying to stay home as much as possible to offset being dragged around to aforementioned activities! Lol.


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me October 17, 2018 at 8:09 am

This is beautiful. With kid constantly on the go and husband working later hours, this is just what I need. Thanks!


Arnebya October 17, 2018 at 11:34 am

We’re in this weird space of overnights in the 40s with midday hitting high 50s/low 60s. And sunny. But then in under an hour it’s all bam! No more sun for you! You will have chill and a 10-degree dip and ha ha here’s a reminder that your dumb ass Goodwilled your coat last year before you remembered to buy another one.


Dana Talusani October 21, 2018 at 9:19 am


I have a coat addiction. Seriously. I own about six and that’s using restraint. I need help.


Kel October 23, 2018 at 6:59 am

Holy chicken, this was delicious. I swapped fennel for star anise because I was out, but otherwise doubling was the only edit.

It was sublime. We all loved it, and the second half went right into the freezer for a meal this weekend when I am sick and do not feel like messing with food.


Dana Talusani October 23, 2018 at 8:16 am

Kel, I’m glad you liked it! I imagine it didn’t taste much different without the star anise. In a pinch I have substituted cardamom pods for the anise and it turned out fine. Did you eat it with the mango salsa in lettuce wraps or on rice? Are you coming down with something? Seems to be the season. :(


Kel October 23, 2018 at 9:00 am

We had it over rice. I was too lazy to mess with making salsa. And yeah, I’d been home from work Friday, miserable on the rainy Saturday, was still sick so I skipped Pride on Sunday. Blech. I think everyone I know is getting hit with some bug.

I’m thinking of doing this again for an office potluck next month, but pondered incorporating the IP to maybe mostly cook the chicken first to save time. (My crock pot needed the full 6 hrs, and I won’t have that much time before the lunch.)


elizabeth October 24, 2018 at 6:57 am

I don’t know if I could take snow in October–it would be way too depressing. (I’m still wearing sandals/flip-flops but I do that basically until my feet would otherwise freeze.) But this is totally putting me in the mindset of making something super-cozy this weekend because Saturday is supposed to be absolutely rainy and grey and miserable thanks to the n’oreaster headed our way. (At least it’s not snow, I guess!)


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