Home Cooking: Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo with Bok Choy

This easy chicken recipe has been a long time favorite of our family, discovered years ago in Cooking Light magazine. Many people know of Mexican adobo, a spicy chili base made from either chipotle or ancho chilis, but this recipe is not spicy, and is instead flavored the Filipino way with vinegar, paprika, garlic, bay leaf, and black pepper.

Adobo is a Spanish word meaning marinade, meaning to soak raw foods in a stock made from the aforementioned vinegar, along with oregano, garlic, paprika, and salt. The Spanish gave the name to a style of indigenous Filipino cooking that also included vinegar, although it was developed separately from Spanish cuisine and is still very distinct from Spanish adobo.

While traditional Philippine adobo does not contain bok choy, we like the addition of greens, and they are added at the end of the cooking period which allows them to wilt and soften without being overcooked. I have made this dish in both a slow cooker and the InstantPot, and prefer the slow cooker. When using the InstantPot the bok choy had to be added at the beginning, and the greens ended up limp and flavorless.

This adobo has everything I love in a recipe: it’s inexpensive to put together, tastes fantastic, and because it cooks all day in the slow cooker, it’s really simple! It’s also low fat, keto friendly, and gluten free. The best part of this dish, in my opinion, are the cooked onions. Because they cook on the bottom of the dish they absorb all the flavors – I never skimp on them. The original recipe calls for bone-in chicken thighs, but I’ve always used boneless, skinless thigh filets and they work well.

Place sliced onions in the bottom of the slow cooker. Top with smashed garlic and bay leaf.

Mix together the vinegar, soy sauce, and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved. Pour over the onions, then sprinkle generously with black pepper.

Lay the chicken thighs on top of the onions, and sprinkle with the paprika (in the photo I had forgotten to add the pepper to the onions, so it’s went on top of the chicken this time). Cook on low heat for 7-8 hours.

Ten minutes before serving, chop the bok choy into strips. Turn the slow cooker up to high heat.

Open the slow cooker, separate the chicken thighs and gently push them into the sauce and onions so they’re immersed in the sauce.

Place the bok choy on top, cover, and cook for an additional ten minutes until the bok choy stems are tender.


  • 2 medium onions, cut in half and sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • black pepper
  • 8 skinless bone-in chicken thighs (about 1 3/4 pounds)
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 4 heads Shanghai bok choy (small bok choy)
  • steamed rice
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced

In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the onions, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, bay leaf and 1/4 tsp pepper. Place the chicken thighs on top and sprinkle with the paprika.

Cook on low heat for 7-8 hours (or on high for 4 to 5 hours).

Ten minutes before serving, if the cooker is on the low setting, turn it up to high. Gently fold in the the bok choy and cook, covered, until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. If you are using whole lengths of bok choy, lay them on top of the chicken, cover, and let cook for an additional 10 minutes or so, or until the stems are tender. Serve with steamed rice and sprinkle with the sliced green onions.


6 thoughts on “Home Cooking: Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo with Bok Choy

  1. I’ve never made this, but I will now. It sounds easy, but it tastes complicated! Filipina co-workers often bring it for potlucks!


    1. This is a VERY easy recipe, especially since it’s done in a slow cooker. I first tasted adobo back when Brett was in the navy – Filipina wives always made this (and lumpia and pancit – yum!) for potlucks. I was thrilled to find this recipe and we all liked the addition of bok choy.


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