Adobo is the name for a lot of dishes and sauces – that’s because it translates simply to “sauce,” dressing or marinade. Over time various regions have developed their own regional versions of this classic Spanish sauce. In Houston, the more common version is the Mexican sauce that includes tomatoes and chili peppers, but today we’re going to make the Filipino version of adobo. 

Adobo chicken is a dish made from pantry staples that you may already have on hand. In this version, we’re opting for low-sodium soy sauce, light coconut milk, and excluding the usual sugar to cut down on the calories. Many restaurant adobos will include sugar, which adds sweetness to cut the tanginess provided by the vinegar and chilis, but also adds calories. Be warned ahead of time, without that sugar you’re in for some intense flavors! Whoever said weight loss recipes were bland has not tried this chicken adobo.  

Chicken adobo is made with chicken thighs which are cheap and easy to find. You can use either whole bone-in chicken thighs with skin or boneless skinless thighs. Just be sure to adjust the calories. We’re using two chicken thighs per serving in this dish for a total of 125g cooked chicken. See the nutrition breakdown below and make sure to adjust your calories as needed.

You’ll need to marinate the chicken for at least 6 hours so that the flavors have time to meld and to give time for the vinegar to tenderize the chicken. Chicken thighs are already pretty tender, but with this marinade you might just in for the most tender chicken you’d ever had. We recommend making the marinade the night before and leaving the thighs in the fridge. 

Thai chilis are also called Birdseye chilis sometimes, and they’re so small that they often don’t weigh enough to even register on the checkout scale. When we went to the store to get them the cashier just shrugged and put them in the bag. I guess .01 ounces is less than one cent! If you can’t find them, substitute one serrano pepper. 

We’re using tamari soy sauce in this recipe which has less sugar than your average soy sauce. Be careful and remember to read nutrition labels as some soy sauces can have unexpectedly high sugar content. 


  • 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 cups rice vinegar
  • 1 can (14oz) Light Coconut Milk
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 3 Thai chilis, halved lengthwise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of Canola oil
  • ½ cup brown rice
  • 2-3 large carrots
  • 1 cucumber

Total time: 8 hours | Active time: 45 minutes | Servings: 4


  1. Peel and crush the garlic cloves with the broad side of a knife (we like to crush them first with the skin still on, it makes it easier to remove). Cut chilis in half, if you have not already. 
  2. Place chicken thighs along with rice vinegar, coconut milk, soy sauce, Thai chilis, bay leaves, and garlic into a large Zip-loc bag or a stainless-steel bowl. Place in the refrigerator (cover with plastic wrap if using a bowl) and leave for at least 6 hours (preferably overnight). 
  3. Cook brown rice according to package instructions.
  4. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp of oil and cook the first 4 chicken thighs. They should take about 3-4 minutes per side, and develop a nice brownish crust. Set the thighs aside on a plate and use the remaining tbsp of oil to cool the last four thighs. 
  5. Add the remainder of the marinade to the pot. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for about 20 minutes. Bring to a boil and let boil for an additional 10 minutes. The sauce should be reduced by about half. 
  6. While the sauce is simmering, using a peeler or spiralizer to thinly slice  strips of carrots. Slice the cucumber into thin slices as well. 
  7. Once the sauce is reduced, plate chicken along with rice and vegetables. Spoon 2 tbsp sauce over chicken thighs. You should have about half the sauce left over. 
  8. Sprinkle on black pepper and serve!

Nutrition Breakdown

Makes 4 servings (some sauce will be left over and can be used again). 

Calories 398 Protein 34g Carbs 16.8g Fat 20.5g, Sodium 584.5mg

 CaloriesProtein (g)
Carbs (g) Fat (g)Sodium (mg)
Chicken Thighs (2, total 125g)26133
Coconut Milk310
Soy Sauce50
Carrot (25g)100
Cucumber (50g)70
Canola oil300
1/4 Cup Brown rice541

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Healthy Weight Loss Recipes: Chicken Adobo
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