real life test kitchen: chicken adobo under pressure


In my recent post about pressure cookers, I mentioned my favorite quick dinner — chicken adobo. I learned my version of what is traditionally a Filipino dish by way of Mark Bittman‘s classic tome “How To Cook Everything.” It was one of the first recipes I tried and fell in love with as a budding 19-year-old culinarian, and I’ve been having fun with it ever since. Bittman’s version is a super simple braise of chicken (pork is amazing, too, honestly) cooked in one part vinegar to two parts soy sauce, with plenty of garlic and some bay leaf for some je ne sais quoi. I’ve kinda added a few things and changed the cooking technique over the years to suit the tastes in my household, but it’s a great formula to improvise with. Sometimes I just do the bare bones adobo, but I often deviate depending on my mood and what’s in the fridge, adding a touch of orange juice, a splash of mirin, or some ginger. Here, I present it to you the way I make it most often: with ginger and green onion added, served fall-off-the-bone tender over brown rice with peas. And have I mentioned all of this can be yours in about 20 minutes, start to finish? — Megan B. Click for chicken adobo!
chicken adobo under pressure
(serves 4-6, depending on size of bird)
adapted from Mark Bittman

1 whole chicken, cut into parts and skinned, or 2-3 lbs bone in chicken thighs
1 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup vinegar (I fluctuate between white and rice — either work great)
1 c water
2 bay leaves
1tbs chopped garlic
1 tbs freshly grated ginger
1 green onion, sliced (save a bit for garnishing, if you like)
1tsp honey

Combine all the ingredients except for honey in your pressure cooker (or dutch oven). Bring to a boil and set to full pressure, and cook: 8 min. for firmer chicken, 12 min. for uber-tender. If using a dutch oven, reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook 30-50 minutes, or until done to your preferred tenderness. Take the pot off the heat, remove the chicken from the sauce and let it rest, pulling it off the bone if you wish. Add the honey and boil the liquid down until about a cup remains. Serve over steamed rice and veggies with the sauce on the side.

From our partners

Sounds amazing, Megan – now I want to go buy a pressure cooker!


This looks yummy! Pressure cookers are THE BEST!

Just bear in mind, aluminum can react with the acidic vinegar and make things taste funny (or at least different). I started out with a cheap aluminum pressure cooker, and once I determined I’d use it enough I upgraded to an anodized one. Stainless steel is nice too, and you don’t have to worry about scratching it like you do with anodized aluminum, but those were even pricier and I don’t use mine *that* much.

Yay! Thanks for posting this – I’ll be trying it out soon!

Is there some sort of a trick to getting the reduction to happen quickly? Tried it out last night and it was delicious, but it took well over an hour at a fast boil on my gas stove to reduce the sauce…

Megan B.

wow! an hour? It doesn’t have to be *exactly* down to a cup, but I don’t think it took me more that 20 minutes at a high boil (and I’ve got electric which is not as hot) to get the reduction right. But I’m glad you liked it otherwise… :)

I’m with Shannon: I gave up on reduction after half an hour at a high boil. I’d guess maybe it’s a difference in pressure cookers and mine lost less during cooking… except that my pressure valve wasn’t seated and it took me I-dunno-how-long to realize that hey, the thing was just merrily venting steam through it and it was never gonna rock. (Unlike my old one, the valve cover doesn’t fall off when you invert the lid, which is cool. But that also means it can get hung up, which is not so cool.)

Regardless, it was yummy, except daaaaaaang even Kikkoman’s low-sodium soy is salty. Must range farther afield and (a) find a different brand and (b) hasn’t run out of fresh ginger.

kletia garies

Megs… your posts always look so amazing! your photos always have a great composition and the food looks so appealing! you should submit your stuff to a magazine! seriously

Mike Johnson

When you need to reduce sauce in a hurry, put it in the widest pan you’ve got. More surface area means a faster reduction.


The chicken thighs were tender when used on the lower pressure. Used half cup regular soy sauce (didn’t have low sodium), rice wine vinegar instead of white, splash of mirin, one Thai chili left whole (for hint of spice), didn’t have real ginger, but powder using half teaspoon instead. It took 10 mins to boil off the sauce in a large frying pan with the Thai chili and honey.
Will definitely make this again!