Homemade Filipino Pork Adobo

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Ah, Filipino Pork Adobo – that sumptuous delight from the beautiful islands of the Philippines! If you’re tired of the same old, same old for dinner or just want to add some international flair to your cooking repertoire, look no further than this mouthwatering, savory dish. Trust us, one bite of this tender, flavorful pork swimming in a savory, tangy sauce with a hint of sweetness, and you’ll be transported straight to a bustling Filipino street market. Plus, this dish boasts an impressive legacy, as it’s considered the national dish of the Philippines. So, why not take a trip to Southeast Asia without leaving your kitchen?

But wait, there’s more! Not only is this pork adobo recipe absolutely delicious, but it’s also surprisingly easy to prepare – even for cooking novices. With just a handful of common ingredients like soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and bay leaves, you’ll be able to whip up a meal that will impress your family and friends alike. And hey, who doesn’t want to be known as the go-to expert on international cuisine? So go on, don your apron and unleash your inner chef as you dive into the next section to create this tantalizing homemade Filipino Pork Adobo. Your taste buds will thank you!

Yield & Servings

Serves 4-6 people


2 lbs pork belly or shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup white vinegar
1 cup water
1 head garlic, minced (about 8-10 cloves)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt, to taste

Notable Equipment & Tools

Large bowl (for marinating)
Large skillet or Dutch oven with lid
Slotted spoon

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Gather and Prep Your Ingredients

All ingredients ready? Let’s begin!

Step 2: Marinate Pork with Seasonings

In a large bowl, combine the pork, soy sauce, vinegar, half of the minced garlic, and brown sugar (if using). Mix well, ensuring the pork is coated evenly. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours for more flavor.

Step 3: Sauté Garlic and Onion in Oil

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the remaining minced garlic and chopped onion, and sauté until fragrant and the onion is translucent, about 3-4 minutes.

Step 4: Brown Marinated Pork in Skillet

Using a slotted spoon, remove the marinated pork from the bowl and add it to the skillet, reserving the marinade. Cook the pork, stirring occasionally, until it is browned on all sides, about 5-7 minutes.

Step 5: Add Marinade, Water, Bay Leaves, and Peppercorns to Pork

Pour the reserved marinade, water, bay leaves, and whole black peppercorns into the skillet with the pork. Stir to combine.

Step 6: Simmer Pork until Tender and Sauce Thickens

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for about 30-40 minutes, or until the pork is tender and the sauce has thickened slightly. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking.

Step 7: Season to Taste and Remove Bay Leaves

Taste the adobo and adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary. Remove the bay leaves and discard.

Step 8: Serve Pork Adobo Over Steamed Rice

Serve the homemade Filipino pork adobo over steamed white rice, and enjoy!

Substitutions & Alternatives

Fear not, dear reader, for the world of Filipino pork adobo is as flexible as it is delicious! We’re here to guide you through some easy and exciting substitutions and alternatives that will keep your taste buds dancing the adobo tango.

1. Meat Options: Can’t find pork belly or shoulder? Don’t worry! You can use chicken thighs or drumsticks as a tasty alternative. For a lighter, seafood-inspired twist, swap the pork for chunks of your favorite firm white fish or even shrimp (just be sure to reduce the cooking time accordingly).

2. Soy Sauce: In the mood for a gluten-free adobo? Swap regular soy sauce for a gluten-free tamari sauce. If you’re feeling adventurous, try using a combination of light and dark soy sauce to create new depths of flavor.

3. Vinegar: Is white vinegar not your cup of tea? Apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, or even coconut vinegar are all worthy contenders to bring that k tangy adobo flavor to life.

4. Sweeten the Deal: Not a fan of brown sugar? Try using white sugar, palm sugar, or even honey to add a touch of sweetness to your adobo. Remember, it’s optional, so feel free to skip it altogether if you prefer a more savory experience.

5. Spice it Up: Whole black peppercorns are a classic choice, but you can also try using crushed black pepper or even Szechuan peppercorns for a spicier, slightly numbing twist. If you’re feeling extra fiery, throw in a fresh chili pepper or two.

6. Veg Out: Want to make your adobo a bit more veggie-friendly? Add some cubed potatoes, carrots, or bell peppers to the mix, or serve your adobo over a bed of steamed vegetables instead of rice.

7. Go Green: Add a sprinkle of finely chopped green onions, cilantro, or even Thai basil as a garnish to give your adobo a fresh, herbaceous touch.

There you have it, folks! With these substitutions and alternatives in your culinary arsenal, you’re well on your way to creating your very own, uniquely delicious Filipino pork adobo. So go ahead, mix, match, and boldly experiment – the adobo world is your oyster!

Storage & Reheating

The fantastic thing about this scrumptious Filipino pork adobo recipe is that it tastes even better the next day! Those glorious flavors mingle together and create a symphony of savory deliciousness that your taste buds will thank you for. So, let’s talk storage and reheating, shall we?

To store your leftover adobo (if there are any leftovers, that is), simply transfer the pork and sauce into an airtight container and bid them a temporary adieu in the refrigerator. Your tasty creation can chill out in its new cold abode for up to 3-4 days. Be sure to give it a friendly wave every time you open the fridge, just to let it know you’re thinking about it.

Now, when you’re ready to rekindle the love affair with your Filipino pork adobo, you have a couple of reheating options. One option is to gently warm the adobo in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking or burning. The heat will coax those flavors back to life, and your kitchen will once again be filled with the tantalizing aroma of Filipino cuisine.

Or, if you’re more of a modern techie and prefer to use the microwave, simply transfer the desired portion of adobo into a microwave-safe dish, cover it with a microwave-safe lid or wrap (to prevent any adobo explosions, because nobody wants that), and heat on medium power for a minute or two. Give it a quick stir, and continue heating in short intervals until it reaches your desired temperature.

No matter which reheating method you choose, don’t forget to prepare a fresh batch of fluffy steamed white rice to accompany your adobo. Because let’s be honest, the rice is just as important as the star of the show!

So, next time you whip up this delightful Filipino pork adobo, rest assured that your leftovers are well taken care of and ready to be enjoyed once again. And who knows, maybe you’ll even plan to make a bigger batch just so you can savor that incredible flavor for days to come. Happy cooking, and enjoy!

Serving Ideas

Get ready to send your taste buds on an unforgettable culinary journey with these creative serving ideas for your homemade Filipino pork adobo!

1. Adobo Rice Bowl: Make a hearty rice bowl by placing a generous scoop of steamed white rice at the bottom of a bowl, then add the savory adobo on top. Complete the dish with a sprinkle of sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds for an extra layer of flavor and texture. This is the perfect way to celebrate the delicious harmony of Filipino and East Asian cuisines!

2. Adobo Tacos: Give Taco Tuesday a Filipino twist by serving your adobo inside warm corn tortillas. Top each taco with a bit of shredded cabbage, a dollop of tangy crema or sour cream, and a drizzle of spicy Sriracha sauce. This fusion of Filipino and Mexican culinary traditions is sure to be a hit with your friends and family!

3. Adobo Breakfast Hash: Start your day with a hearty Filipino-inspired breakfast by combining your adobo with crispy roasted potatoes, bell peppers, and onions. Top with a fried egg, and perhaps a dash of hot sauce if you’re feeling adventurous. Scientifically speaking, there’s no better way to get your morning dopamine levels soaring!

4. Adobo Lettuce Wraps: For a lighter and gluten-free option, serve your adobo in crisp lettuce cups. Top with julienned carrots, cucumber, and a squeeze of lime juice for a refreshing crunch. This can also be a fun, hands-on dinner experience that encourages conversation and laughter around the table!

5. Adobo-Stuffed Sandwich: Take your sandwich game to the next level by loading up a crusty baguette or soft hoagie roll with your homemade Filipino pork adobo. Add a layer of your favorite sliced cheese and a few pickled jalapeños for a spicy kick. Toast it in the oven for a melty, mouthwatering masterpiece that will have you dreaming of bustling markets in Manila.

No matter how you choose to serve your delicious homemade Filipino pork adobo, the rich, tangy, and tender flavors are sure to leave everyone impressed and craving more. So, go ahead and try one (or all) of these delightful serving ideas, and let the adobo-ment begin!

Variations & Customization 

This Filipino pork adobo recipe is a delicious and versatile dish that can be easily adapted to suit various dietary preferences and restrictions. Let’s explore some common modifications and substitutions for popular diets and lifestyles:

1. Vegan/Vegetarian: Swap out the pork with your choice of plant-based protein like tofu, tempeh, or seitan. For an even heartier and earthier flavor, consider using mushrooms like portobello, shiitake, or a mix of wild mushrooms. To add an extra layer of umami, replace the soy sauce with a vegan-friendly alternative like tamari or coconut aminos.

2. Gluten-Free: Replace soy sauce with gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos to maintain the salty, savory flavor without the gluten. Check the label on the vinegar to ensure it is gluten-free, as some brands may contain trace amounts of gluten.

3. GAPS/AIP: Use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce and apple cider vinegar in place of white vinegar. Omit black peppercorns and replace them with a pinch of ground mace for AIP compliance. You might also want to skip the brown sugar for a lower sugar content.

4. Keto: For a keto-friendly version of this dish, use a low-carb sugar substitute like erythritol or stevia in place of brown sugar. Also, consider serving the adobo over cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles instead of white rice.

5. Paleo: Use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce and opt for coconut sugar or honey over brown sugar. For a grain-free side, serve the adobo with cauliflower rice or steamed vegetables.

Feel free to get creative with additional ingredients and flavors! Add some heat with a pinch of red pepper flakes or chopped fresh chilies. Give it an extra tang with a squeeze of lime or calamansi juice. Or incorporate more veggies like bell peppers, carrots, or baby corn for a more colorful and nutritious meal.

No matter your dietary preferences or restrictions, this Filipino pork adobo can easily be tailored to your needs. With these variations, everyone can enjoy a satisfying and flavorful homemade meal. So go ahead, experiment with different ingredients, and put your own unique spin on this classic Filipino dish!

Notes & Tips

  • Marinating Magic: While marinating for 30 minutes will still create a delicious dish, for maximum flavor infusion, give your pork a good 2-hour soak in the marinade. The longer you marinate, the deeper the flavor penetration into the meat. A little patience can bring your Filipino pork adobo to a whole new level of scrumptiousness!
  • Shoulder vs. Belly: Pork shoulder is a leaner cut compared to the belly, making it a healthier option. However, pork belly provides a tantalizing balance of meat and fat, which renders down during cooking and adds extra richness to the dish. Choose based on your personal preference or dietary needs, but don’t be afraid to live a little and give that belly a try!
  • Garlic Galore: Filipino adobo is all about the garlic, but fear not, the pungency mellows during cooking, creating a more subtle, aromatic experience. This is not the time to skimp on the garlic cloves – go big or go home, as they say!
  • Vinegar Variety: While white vinegar is most commonly used in this recipe, you can experiment with other vinegars such as apple cider or rice vinegar for a unique twist. Just keep in mind that changing the vinegar will alter the taste of the dish, so be prepared for a slightly different flavor adventure.
  • Peppercorn Power: Using whole black peppercorns adds a distinct, mildly spicy kick to the adobo. If you prefer a milder flavor, you can use cracked or coarsely ground black pepper instead. However, we highly recommend embracing the peppercorn power for an authentic Filipino experience.
  • Sweetness Savior: Brown sugar is an optional ingredient in this recipe, but it can help balance out the acidity and saltiness of the dish. If you’re uncertain, start with a small amount and adjust to your taste. Your tastebuds will thank you!
  • Rice Ratio: Adobo and rice are a match made in heaven, so when serving, aim for a 1:1 ratio of adobo to rice. This ensures that each bite of adobo is accompanied by the perfect amount of rice, creating a harmonious symphony of flavors in your mouth. Trust us, it’s a game-changer.
  • Leftover Love: Filipino pork adobo tastes even better the next day, as the flavors meld and intensify overnight. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, and reheat gently on the stovetop or in the microwave. Your future self will thank you for the delicious encore performance!

Common Mistakes

Not marinating long enough: While the marinating time is listed as optional, it’s highly recommended to let your pork soak in the flavorful concoction for at least 30 minutes, if not 2 hours. The longer marination time allows the pork to absorb more of the delicious flavors, taking your dish from good to amazing.

Overcooking the garlic: When sautéing the garlic and onions, be careful not to let the garlic burn. Burnt garlic can turn bitter, adding an off-putting flavor to your adobo. Keep an eye on the stove and stir frequently to avoid any disasters!

Skimping on the peppercorns: While it may be tempting to use ground pepper, using whole black peppercorns is an essential part of this recipe. The peppercorns slowly release their flavor during the cooking process, adding a depth and complexity to the dish that ground pepper just can’t match.

Not being patient with the simmer: It’s essential to give your adobo time to simmer and properly cook. Rushing the process may result in undercooked pork or a less flavorful sauce. So, sit back, relax, and let the magic happen – you’ll be rewarded with a mouthwatering meal!

Forgetting the bay leaves: These humble, yet powerful leaves add a subtle, earthy flavor to your adobo. While it may be tempting to skip them if you don’t have any on hand, we highly recommend making the effort to include them – your taste buds will thank you!

In summary, remember to marinate your pork, keep an eye on your garlic, use whole peppercorns, be patient with the simmer, and don’t forget the bay leaves. Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an adobo aficionado! Happy cooking!

Health Risks & Benefits

While you’re savoring every bite of this mouthwatering Filipino pork adobo, let’s take a moment to bask in the glow of some of its health benefits and a few cautionary notes.

First and foremost, the pork! Pork belly and shoulder are rich in protein, essential for maintaining and building muscle mass. It’s also a source of vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. However, it’s good to keep in mind that these cuts can be high in fat, so moderation is key.

Now let’s talk garlic. Not only does it add a punch of flavor to this dish, but garlic is also known for its immune-boosting properties and potential heart health benefits. It’s like having a little culinary bodyguard watching your back as you eat.

Onions, our pungent friends, are full of antioxidants and can help reduce inflammation. That’s right, these tear-jerkers are actually doing you a favor in the long run!

The soy sauce and white vinegar in this recipe not only give the adobo its signature tanginess but also come with some benefits of their own. Soy sauce contains some antioxidants, while vinegar has acetic acid, which may help lower blood sugar levels. But remember, soy sauce can be high in sodium, so be mindful of your intake.

Now, let’s not forget our optional player—brown sugar. Adding a touch of sweetness can enhance the dish’s flavor, but be cautious about going overboard, as too much sugar can have adverse health effects.

In conclusion, this homemade Filipino pork adobo is a delicious and satisfying meal with some fantastic health benefits, but be mindful of the fat and sodium content. With moderation and balance in mind, you can enjoy this flavorful culinary gem guilt-free!

Recipe History & Context

Ah, Filipino Pork Adobo! This delectable dish has a rich history and has cemented its place as a beloved comfort food in the hearts of Filipinos far and wide. But did you know that adobo, as we know it today, is a beautiful fusion of indigenous Filipino culinary techniques and the influences of foreign traders and colonizers?

The term adobo is derived from the Spanish word adobar, which means to marinate. The Spanish, during their 333-year colonization of the Philippines, found the natives stewing their meats in vinegar, soy sauce, and spices. The Spaniards then named this cooking technique adobo, which was already a familiar term in their culinary lexicon. However, the Filipinos were already onto something great even before the Spanish came, as the use of vinegar and salt in their dishes not only added flavor but also acted as a natural preservative for their food in the tropical climate.

The Chinese traders, who frequented the islands, introduced soy sauce to the mix, which eventually replaced salt as the primary seasoning. This flavorful addition created the delectable harmony of salty, tangy, and sweet that we know and love today.

With a nod to Filipino culinary ingenuity and a sprinkle of international influence, this Filipino Pork Adobo recipe is an homage to the resilience and creativity of Filipino culture. So, as you simmer your pork to tender perfection, you’re not just preparing a meal, you’re participating in a delicious, centuries-old tradition. Relish in the knowledge that you’re cooking something with a story as rich and flavorful as the dish itself. Now, grab your skillet, and let’s get cooking!

Common Questions

Can I use a different type of meat for this recipe?

Absolutely! While pork is the traditional choice for Filipino adobo, you can easily substitute it with chicken, beef, or even tofu. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly, as different proteins may require more or less time to cook to their proper tenderness.

Do I have to marinate the pork?

While marinating the pork for at least 30 minutes is highly recommended to infuse it with flavor, it is not a strict requirement. If you’re pressed for time, you can simply combine the ingredients in the skillet and proceed with cooking. However, keep in mind that marinating the meat will provide a deeper, more complex flavor profile.

I don’t have whole black peppercorns, can I use ground black pepper instead?

If you find yourself without whole black peppercorns, fear not! Ground black pepper can be used as a substitute. Start with 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper and adjust to taste after the dish has simmered. Just remember, whole peppercorns give a slightly different flavor and texture, so using ground pepper may slightly alter the final result.

Can I make this dish vegetarian/vegan?

Certainly! Swap out the pork for your favorite vegetables or tofu, and replace the soy sauce with a vegetarian/vegan-friendly alternative like tamari or coconut aminos. The result will be a delicious plant-based adobo that everyone can enjoy!

Is Filipino adobo gluten-free?

While the main ingredients in adobo are naturally gluten-free, some soy sauce brands may contain wheat. To ensure a gluten-free dish, simply use a certified gluten-free soy sauce or opt for tamari, which is typically made without any wheat.

Filipino Pork Adobo

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Marinating time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 866kcal


  • 2 lbs pork belly/shoulder 1-inch cubes
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 head garlic minced
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar optional
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste


  • Combine pork, soy sauce, vinegar, half garlic, and brown sugar in a bowl. Marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  • Heat oil in a skillet/Dutch oven. Sauté remaining garlic and onion for 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove pork from marinade and add to skillet. Cook until browned, 5-7 minutes.
  • Add reserved marinade, water, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Stir.
  • Boil, then simmer on low for 30-40 minutes until pork is tender and sauce thickens. Stir occasionally.
  • Adjust seasoning with salt. Remove and discard bay leaves.
  • Serve over steamed white rice.



Calories: 866kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 85g | Saturated Fat: 30g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Monounsaturated Fat: 38g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 1140mg | Potassium: 393mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 46IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 2mg

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