Best Adobo Sauce Substitutes

Best Adobo Sauce Substitutes

Adobo Sauce Alternative – Problem Solved

Adobo is a famous Asian dish, especially in the Philippines. It is made from vinegar and soy sauce with some spices added to it. The most common adobo recipe uses chicken or pork as its main ingredient but you can use any meat that suits your taste buds. You may also add vegetables like potatoes onions, black pepper, garlic powder or cloves, chipotle pepper, ginger, etc. into this mixture for more flavor.

Moreover, if you are not going to use vinegar and soy sauce, you can opt to have a ready-made adobo sauce. However, if you do not have this in your spice rack in the kitchen, what will you use? Today, we will give you the best adobo seasoning substitute. We made sure that they have flavors close to the original one. Read more below. 

What Are the Best Substitute For Adobo Sauce

1. Homemade Adobo Sauce

You do not have any adobo sauce in hand? Do not worry! We will give you tips on how to make it yourself. You just have to prepare 1 cup of white vinegar, 1 1/2 cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 5 cloves of minced garlic, 2 bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon of freshly cracked black peppercorns, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add chili powder or chili peppers if you want to have a spicy and smoky flavor. 

Do you want to know how to make it something delicious like how Asians do it? Just mix all ingredients together well until everything gets dissolved. Cook it over medium heat and turn it off until it gets a little syrupy. Let it cool and pour the mixture into an airtight container and store it at room temperature. Use within 3 months. 

2. Chipotle Powder

If you want Mexican food then you must try out this amazing chipotle in adobo sauce. This is actually a popular condiment used by Mexicans and Filipinos alike. To make this, firstly, you need to cook two cans of tomatoes and drain them. Then, chop up three fresh jalapenos and put them aside. Next, combine these four items in a blender along with 4 cups of water and blend them until smooth. Pour the blended tomato paste into a large pot and let it simmer on low heat while stirring occasionally. Once boiled, bring down the heat to low and continue cooking for about 30 minutes. Afterward, remove the lid and stir again before adding the chopped jalapeños. Stir continuously so that no lumps form. When done, strain the liquid through a cheesecloth and discard the solids. Finally, transfer the strained juice back to the same pan and bring it to a boil once again.

Chipotle in adobo sauce is definitely one of the spiciest adobo sauce substitutes. So if you have kids or you do not want anything too spicy, better skip this one. 

What can I substitute for chipotles in adobo sauce?
What can I substitute for chipotles in adobo sauce?

3. Cajun Seasoning

Cajun seasoning has been around since 1856 when French settlers came to Louisiana. Since then, its popularity grew tremendously among Americans who wanted to taste authentic Louisiana foods. It is very similar to Filipino cuisine. They both share many similarities such as their unique flavors and aromas. The mix of Mexican oregano, chili powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and black pepper is perfect for every savory dish like adobo. Moreover, cajun seasoning is best used in meats, seafoods, vegetables, soups, stews, sauces, and other dishes. 

If you want to use this as an adobo seasoning substitute, simply add some crushed red peppers and ground coriander powder with it. If you want a milder flavor, remove the hot spices altogether. Also, remember to keep the amount of each ingredient consistent. 

Also, sumac could be considered.

4. Greek Seasoning

Greek seasoning is another great option for those looking for a flavorful alternative to traditional adobo. Its main components are dried basil leaves, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, etc. All these herbs can be found in most supermarkets nowadays. Greek seasonings also contain fennel seeds which give it a distinctive aroma. However, they should only be added after the rest of the ingredients get cooked because otherwise, they may burn easily. 

5. Chili Garlic Sauce

Chili garlic sauce is made from fermented soybeans, vinegar, sugar, salt, chili pepper, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and scallions. It is listed as one of the best adobo sauce alternatives because it typically has all the flavors needed when cooking adobo. But you just need to pour an additional cup of soy sauce to achieve the same consistency and flavor profile.

Know that soy sauce is a non-negotiable ingredient in the adobo recipe. So if your adobo sauce substitute does not give the same color and taste, you should add the soy sauce into the dish, especially if you are cooking chicken adobo.

6. Ranchero Sauce

Ranch dressing is usually served at barbeque parties but it is also good enough to serve over any type of meat. You will find ranch dressing everywhere including grocery stores, restaurants, and even fast-food chains. There are different types of ranch dressings available depending on what kind of meat you plan to grill.

However, if you are going to use it as a substitute for adobo seasoning, you still need to add spices and seasonings to improve the taste. Make sure to mix in soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaf, and black corn pepper. You can also pour in a teaspoon of garlic powder and a teaspoon of onion powder. 

Is adobo sauce the same as chipotle sauce?
Is adobo sauce the same as chipotle sauce?

7. Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce is a type of Chinese barbecue sauce or sweet and sour sauce. This thick and dark brownish-yellow spice blend contains hoisin, rice wine, honey, water, and various kinds of spices. Although it is considered a condiment, it is actually more suitable for grilling than dipping. It is also commonly used as an alternative to adobo seasoning because it gives off the same smoky flavor. To make it work well as an adobo sauce replacement, you have to combine it with soy sauce, oyster sauce, and/or fish sauce. 

Just remember that this may give a salty flavor so better pour it into small batches. Also, you can add water or lemon juice to reduce the saltiness. 

Chicken teriyaki – sauce substitutes

8. Achiote Paste

Achiote paste is a reddish-orange colored paste made up of annatto seed, cumin, oregano, paprika, and other spices. The name comes from its bright orange hue. In fact, it was originally called “pulque de moras” by Aztecs who believed that the color came from a pulque fermentation process.

When using Achiote paste as an alternative to adobo paste, it is commonly added with warm water or broth because its paste is too thick for the meat, especially for chicken. It can also work as a food coloring in the dish. 

Related Questions

What is adobo sauce made of?

The best adobo sauce that is usually used in Asian dishes is made of key ingredients like soy sauce, vinegar, garlic cloves, bay leaf, and black corn peppers.  

Is Adobo different from and chipotle?

Adobo refers to a traditional Filipino style of marinating while Chipotle means smoked jalapeño chilies. Both terms refer to similar ingredients like tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs. However, they differ in how they are prepared. For example, adobo uses raw ingredients, whereas chipotle requires some form of smoking.

How to Make Filipino-Style Chicken Adobo (Chicken Adobo Recipe)

You can easily prepare homemade adobo sauce without having to go through all those steps complicated cooking methods with basic ingredients. 

Servings: 6


  • 3 lbs chicken, sliced
  • 12 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 6 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 8 cloves garlic  or garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorn
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1//8 tablespoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons cooking oil


1. Marinate the chicken by combining the key ingredients such as soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and chicken. Mix and leave it for an hour. 

2. Prepare a medium-size skillet. Add in the cooking oil and let it heat. 

3. Add the chicken pieces on top of the hot pan. Cook them until golden brown. Turn over once during cooking time.

4. Pour in the remaining marinade sauce. Add water, brown sugar, and salt to taste. 

5. Let it boil and add the dry bay leaves and peppercorns. 

6. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until chicken gets tender and the sauce gets thick. Stir. 

7. Once cooked, place the cooked chicken adobo on a serving plate and serve.