The roots of the Philippines’ most well-known dish are not easy to trace, but we do know a few things about the origins of adobo, and how it’s evolved into the dish Filipinos love today. Read on to uncover the many versions of adobo, and why it inspires such devotion in its fans.

Homemade Filipino Adobo Pork photo via DepositPhotos
Homemade Filipino Adobo Pork photo via DepositPhotos

Few subjects in the Philippines raise as many differing opinions as the right way to make adobo. It’s a topic everyone feels passionately about, whether they cook or not. The reason is that a good adobo is a life-changing dish. Everyone wants everyone else to experience the epiphany, but the devil – as they say – is in the details, and the details can be squabbled about endlessly.

In English, adobo means “vinegar-braised.” Evenly-cut chunks of meat are first seared in hot fat or oil until they brown. Braising liquids, such as vinegar and soy sauce, are then added, and the mixture is left to simmer over low heat. The moist heat gently penetrates the meat to break down the collagen and tough fibers, resulting in a fork-tender texture with a thick, flavorful sauce. It’s a cooking method that’s time-consuming but undeniably rewarding.

Chicken and pork adobo, popular filipino food photo via DepoistPhotos
Chicken and pork adobo, popular Filipino food photo via Depositphotos

Other Pinoy Pork Adobo recipes include potato, bay leaves, onions, sugar, coconut milk, and even pineapple. Filipino Pork Adobo recipe varies depending on the region, and here are some of them:

The Classic Pork Adobo Recipe:

Classic Filipino Pork Adobo Recipe photo via Depositphotos
Classic Filipino Pork Adobo Recipe photo via Depositphotos

This adobo is the simplest of all to cook and is the go-to recipe of any mother, dormer, or those who are now experienced in cooking. PS. We listed the ingredients and cooking instructions below.

Chicken Adobo in Coconut Milk:

This version of adobo goes well with chicken. Just combine the chicken meat with the usual ingredients of the Classic Adobo, but this time, add some coconut milk with a little bit of sugar.

This version will give you a lighter flavor that’s a bit earthy and sweet!

The Yellow Adobo (Adobong Dilaw):

Turmeric is the key ingredient for this version, where it is braised along with the meat. This incarnation of the adobo is best cooked using pork. Soy sauce is stripped off the main ingredients and substituted with turmeric, thus explaining the yellowish color of this deliciously light and peppery flavored adobo.

The White Adobo (Original):

From South Luzon, let’s now go to the Visayas, which has its version of this yummy viand, and yes, it is stripped off of soy sauce, too! It is cooked like the Classic Adobo, but there is no soy sauce, and vinegar is exclusively used.

Squid Adobo (Adobong Pusit):

Now, this version is unique. It uses all the main ingredients, but with the squid’s ink, the stew becomes black, leaving the ravenous eater with black-tainted teeth! Nevertheless, the aroma and unique twist will not stop anyone from eating this version!


How to Cook Pork Adobo photo via Depositphotos
How to Cook Pork Adobo photo via Depositphotos

Classic Pork Adobo Recipe

There are many versions of pork adobo, and my version may or may not be like yours. But this Filipino Pork Adobo is mine, as I was taught by my aunt, loved by my family, and the dish I continue to make at home.

I like to cook it low and slow on the stove to allow the pork shoulder to braise to perfection, but it can easily be done in a slow cooker or pressure cooker (e.g. Instant Pot), and I include those instructions in the Pork Adobo recipe card below.


  • 1kg pork belly, cut into large cubes 
  • 1 onion, cut into strips
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup Filipino soy sauce 
  • ¼ cup Filipino cane vinegar
  • 1 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Cilantro or green onions for garnish, optional

Cooking Instructions

  • Start by marinating the pork in the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and pepper for 30 minutes, or ideally, overnight. The longer, the better.
  • Place the pork and the marinade, along with the bay leaves, in a pot over medium heat and cook until nearly cooked through about 10 minutes.
  • Reserve the sauce to a bowl and brown the pork on all sides.
  • Return the sauce to the pan, add the water, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 1 hour, or until the pork is tender. Uncover the pot and allow to cook a little more until the sauce has thickened.
  • Serve over rice and enjoy.

With simple ingredients and easy to follow cooking instructions, I hope you can cook this popular Pinoy dish at home using our Filipino Pork Adobo recipe!

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