{Recipe} Paleo Filipino Adobo

Do you have a meal that reminds you of your childhood? A dish that whenever you eat it, even if it’s not exactly the same, reminds you of home? Filipino Adobo (or just Adobo, as we call it) is one of those dishes for me. Every Filipino household seems to have a different take on this dish, and yet every version is comfort food to me.

Now, we’re not strictly Paleo around here, but we have a lot of friends and family who are. This is kind of an homage to them. I like to cook grain free and soy free at times mostly because they’re so ubiquitous in food today. That, and I love a challenge. πŸ™‚ It just so happens that one of the main ingredients in Adobo is soy sauce. And then there’s the rice. Adobo’s tangy-salty-sweet sauce is best appreciated soaked into a pile of rice. So what does one do when you’re avoiding both soy and rice and having cravings of your childhood? Drown your sorrows in a pile of Kalua Pig (not a half bad idea, actually)?
Or you could just make this Paleo Filipino Adobo because I’ve solved all your problems for you.
When we did the Whole30 I found a lot of recipes that subbed soy sauce for coconut aminos to make dishes Paleo / Whole30 compliant. In fact, I think every recipe I found that made this substitution claimed that coconut aminos tasted eerily similar to or exactly like soy sauce. Well, I’ve got to say, it must have been a looooong time since you Paleo heads have eaten soy sauce because coconut aminos tastesΒ nothing like soy sauce. The only thing they have in common really is that they’re both brown, and even then, they’re not the same shade of brown. Don’t get me wrong, coconut aminos tastes good. It just doesn’t taste like soy sauce. Coconut aminos is sweet and slightly salty (from the added sea salt), but it doesn’t have the same level of salt and umami that soy sauce does.
And that’s what makes this recipe different than all the other coconut-aminos-instead-of-soy-sauce recipes out there – I added the umami back in for you. You’re welcome.
This recipe produces a slightly sweet but tangy Adobo because that’s how we like it around here. You can always adapt it to your specific preferences to make it taste more like home. Add potatoes or carrots…go lighter on the vinegar…I’ve even replaced the water with coconut milk before for a richer sauce. I hear that’s a regional variation, but no one I know personally makes it that way. It’s delicious, though, if you’d like to try it.
Filipino or not, Paleo or not, chicken braised in a tangy-sweet-savory sauce sounds good, no?
And if you do happen to be Filipino and Paleo, I hope I just made your day. Or life. That works, too. πŸ™‚

5.0 from 1 reviews
Paleo Filipino Chicken Adobo
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: chicken, healthy, grain free
Cuisine: Filipino
Serves: 3-4 servings
  • 3 lbs bone in chicken thighs, about 6 pieces, fat trimmed
  • ½ cup coconut aminos
  • 2 tsp fish sauce*
  • 2 tsp porcini mushroom powder*
  • 1-2 tsp salt, to taste
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 fresh bay leaves (or 3 dried)
  • 1 cup water
  1. Combine the coconut aminos, fish sauce and mushroom powder in a container large enough to hold the chicken. Mix well.
  2. Season the chicken with the salt.
  3. Place the chicken in the marinade container, taking care to submerge as much of the chicken into the liquid as possible.
  4. Refrigerate overnight.
  5. When ready to cook, drip excess marinade off the chicken and place thighs skin side down in a (room temp) pot or braising pan and turn the heat to medium low. Allow chicken to cook until the skin browns and the fat is rendered, about 10 minutes.
  6. Remove the chicken from the pan and drain the fat.
  7. Return the chicken to the pan, skin side down. Add the marinade, vinegar, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves and water.
  8. Turn the heat to medium low, cover and braise chicken for 10 minutes.
  9. Flip chicken skin side up and continue braising while lightly covered until cooked through, about 20 minutes more.
  10. Serve over rice or cauliflower rice.
* I use Red Boat fish sauce and dried porcini mushrooms that I ground with my coffee/spice grinder. I've seen porcini mushroom powder available in the spice aisle, but if you do not have access to any, you can substitute more fish sauce.

- Depending on how trimmed our chicken thighs are, they may release a lot of fat. You can skim this off before serving.

- Prefer your chicken skinless? In step 5, heat your pan on medium heat with 1 Tbs oil. Brown chicken on all sides before continuing with the recipe.

- Like your Adobo saucy? Just double the liquid ingredients!
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1-2 pieces


Have you tried Filipino Adobo? If you happen to be Filipino and Paleo, what other foods do you miss?

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Looking for twists on traditional Filipino dishes?

Savory, lemon ginger oat porridge replaces the rice in traditional lugaw (Filipino rice porridge) with steel cut oats for a satisfying chew.Β  Β Slow cooked, peanut butter based beef stew inspired by the Filipino dish Kare Kare.


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  1. This looks simply delicious!!

  2. looks delish! totally pinning for later πŸ™‚ xo, jess @ dreamingofleaving.com

  3. This sounds super yummy!!! Will definitely need to give this a try! Thanks for sharing ❀❀❀

  4. I am awful at cooking chicken myself…. THIS LOOKS PHENOMENAL! I really hope when I try it, I don’t mess it up!!!

    • There was a time where I would only cook chicken at home, so cooking times became a reflex. I don’t even think about it anymore! Hope this one works out for you!

  5. This looks so delicious! Thanks for the recipe. =)

  6. This looks like such an interesting recipe! I have never tried Coconut aminos before, looks like time I gave it a try!

    • Coconut aminos really has an interesting flavor. I keep trying to find different ways to use it. If you don’t have a problem with soy, you can substitute the coconut aminos in this recipe for low sodium soy sauce. Just eliminate the salt and fish sauce.

  7. This recipe looks really good. Coconut aminos are really good for you, so I love more excuses to use them!

  8. THIS LOOKS SO GOOD! I’m pinning to my paleo board now and hoping to try it next week! πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for the pin! I’d love to know what you think if you try it. πŸ™‚

  9. Pinned! This looks great! We are moving to the Philippines next May and I’m trying to start gathering some good Filipino recipes! Can’t wait to try this. (before we move, of course!)

    • How fun! Traditionally the dish is made using soy sauce instead of coconut aminos + fish sauce and mushroom powder, so you can try it that way as well. The recipe works the same.

      And can I say that your blog is so fun? I can’t wait to see your Philippine adventures!

  10. Fish sauce plus dried porcini sounds like a wonderful idea and full of flavor! I normally add dried shiitake mushroom into chicken dish, but the powder idea is better, more like a hidden secret ingredient πŸ™‚ Will try this combination soon!

    • You’re right! It’s like a hidden umami booster. I used to add the water from soaking dried mushrooms to dishes, but I’ve discovered the powder from grinding the dried mushrooms is so much more potent. I’d love to see what you come up with!

  11. We used to have Adobo all the time when I was growing up, it was my brothers favorite dish! I make it frequently now because my husband and daughter love it too. I’m planning on posting it sometime soon. Yours looks so delicious and I love your pictures πŸ™‚

    • Thank you! Adobo was my little brother’s favorite, too. For a long time it was all he would eat, so we had it frequently. πŸ˜› I’d love to see your version of Adobo. I think the fact that every region and individual has a different take on it is what makes this dish so interesting.

  12. Oh wow this looks awesome!!! Thank you so much for linking with us at #foodiefridays!!! Great to see ya there!

  13. At first I was like — Paleo Filipino?! OMG no way. But hey, whatever works and is healthy right? Another thing you might want to try instead of coconut aminos is to use salt. Traditional recipes before the introduction of soy sauce just used salt and vinegar πŸ™‚ Might want to check it out as that’s also totally paleo and may be a bit more accessible since not everyone may want to get coconut aminos.

    • Haha, I know right? I have family members who are both Filipino and Paleo, so this was inspired by them. The salt idea is something to try, though I think it would lack the umami that the soy brings to the table. Perhaps salt + fish sauce could be another alternative.

  14. I can’t thank you enough. I tried cooking this for my mom on her 70th birthday last weekend. She’s not the type who would eat home-cooked meals, but since adobo is one of her all-time favorites, she gave this a try and absolutely loved it.

    Looking forward to read more of your posts. Thank you so much again! πŸ™‚

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