You guys, there are so many things to be excited about with this Instant Pot Chicken Adobo. First off, it’s delicious. But it’s also low carb and paleo, and the most exciting of all: You can make it in just TEN MINUTES in the instant pot using FROZEN CHICKEN. I’m sorry for all the shouting, but seriously this is exciting stuff.
First off, do you have an Instant Pot yet? If you don’t, let me just encourage you to get yourself one because it makes my busy life so much easier.
One of the main things that sealed the deal for me with the Instant Pot is that you can cook meat from frozen! I know sometimes I can look put together on this blog, but let me be clear: I am a hot mess 95% of the time. I pull it together for blog posts so you guys will click and read because of the pretty pictures, but usually a solid four nights of the week it gets to be 5 pm and I realize I have nothing planned for dinner. And while I have meat, it’s all still in the freezer.
So when I heard the Instant Pot can cook meat from frozen, I was all in. We got the 8 quart model, but it’s enormous so unless you have a large family, the 6 quart model is probably adequate. The 8 quart came in handy when we had to cook two pot roasts at the same time, though! Ha. But it’s a beast to store.
The Instant Pot also makes my life easier in that it can just cook things a lot faster than other methods.
That being said, you can make this recipe in a regular pot as well. You’ll just need to use fresh/thawed chicken and it will need longer to cook.
Let’s get started!
Instant Pot Chicken Adobo
This is not the first Adobo recipe I’ve put on the blog. A few years ago (before my keto days) I shared how to make Pork Adobo on the stove. If you didn’t know, my husband and I both grew up in the Philippines, so Filipino food is close to our hearts.
After going keto, I knew I had to figure out how to eat at least some of my favorite Filipino foods while keeping my carbs low. Adobo was one of the easiest to adjust.
First off, we’re going to start by using the sauté feature on the Instant Pot. Pour in some oil– I like avocado oil, but you can definitely use coconut here as well.
Next we add garlic. Here’s my next time-saving tip: I buy the giant bag of pre-peeled garlic cloves from Costco and throw them in bags in the freezer. Then when it’s time to use them, I grate them straight from frozen into whatever I’m making using this microplane grater. You can also just use fresh garlic that you’ve minced with a knife.
I had to make some adjustments to the sauce in the original recipe.
The original recipe uses vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, salt, and water. Soy sauce generally has wheat in it, so if you’re avoiding all wheat products you’ll need to either use a wheat-free Tamari sauce or coconut aminos. The benefit of using coconut aminos is that they’re naturally sweeter so you can use them in place of both the soy sauce and brown sugar, and just increase the salt a little. That’s how I adjusted this recipe to be the most keto-friendly, but you can use Tamari or soy sauce and use brown sugar or a low carb alternative like Sukrin Gold.
One note: while the sauce will taste very similar regardless of which option you use, using soy sauce or tamari will lead to a more traditional brown hue of the sauce. Using coconut aminos will lead to a slightly lighter colored sauce.
I also lowered the amount of water in this recipe. All told, you want just 1 cup of liquid going into the pot because the frozen chicken will give off a lot of liquid on its own.
Add the liquid to the garlic and add a bay leaf and a few whole peppercorns. Keep the Instant Pot on sauté and let the liquid come to a boil.
This pack of frozen chicken thighs is something I try to keep in my freezer at all times. I get it from Trader Joe’s. It is really versatile and I can throw it straight into the Instant Pot for this recipe or shredded chicken for sandwiches, enchiladas, salads, what have you.
We like chicken thighs, but if you’re like my sister and cannot abide chicken thighs (seriously, what??) you can use the equivalent chicken breasts.
Put the frozen chicken in the pot on top of the liquid. Not all the chicken will be submerged at this point, but that’s ok. While it cooks, it’ll all meld together just fine.
So here’s where I’m going to be totally honest with you.
The chicken only takes ten minutes of cooking in the Instant Pot, but this does not include the time it takes for the pot to come up to pressure.
So any time you see an Instant Pot recipe that tells you it cooks in __x__ amount of time, just know that you’ll need to figure in more time for the pot coming to pressure.
That being said, it’s still completely hands-off time so you don’t have to be in the kitchen.
So you’ll use the “Manual” button and then the “+” button to change the time to ten minutes. Make sure the cover is locked in place and the knob is set to the “sealing” position.
Please make sure you read all the safety instructions on your Instant Pot. If you’re using a different brand of pressure cooker, you may need to adjust for your machine.
I timed my Instant Pot and it took just under 20 minutes to come to pressure and start the countdown.
Once it’s finished, allow it to naturally de-pressurize for at least 5 minutes (10 is better) and then flip the knob to the “vent” position. Make sure you’re wearing an oven mitt to do this so you don’t burn your hand with steam.
It’s not going to look super pretty right now, but the chicken should be extremely tender and falling apart. Remove the chicken from the pot and switch back to the sauté function.
Now it’s time to thicken the sauce. You have two options here: Xanthan Gum or an egg yolk.
Xanthan gum is really simple. You just sprinkle it in to the pot and whisk it as it comes to a boil until it thickens to your liking.
The texture of the sauce thickened with xanthan gum is similar to one thickened with cornstarch. It’s a little more gel-like than one thickened with flour.
Thickening with an egg yolk is a little more complicated, but not too bad.
You need to whisk an egg yolk in a bowl. Then you ladle out some of the hot liquid from the pot and slowly drizzle it into the yolk while you whisk vigorously. I tried taking a picture but it’s tricky to do with only two hands. Lol. This tempers the egg so it won’t scramble when you pour it into the hot liquid in the pot.
Once you’ve tempered the egg, whisk it into the pot and keep whisking while the pot comes to a boil and thickens.
The texture of the sauce with the egg is more similar to one thickened with flour, but it lends a yellow hue to the sauce and the sauce will stay a little thinner overall.
Either technique will work well here, but I wanted to give you options in case you don’t want to buy xanthan gum or are sensitive to it.
Once the sauce it thickened, pour it over the chicken.
I serve this over cauliflower rice to keep the carbs low. I just buy the frozen kind to keep on hand and then sauté it on the stove while the chicken cooks. Once it’s cooked to my liking, I sprinkle with salt and drizzle with toasted sesame oil.
Garnish the adobo with sliced green onion, if desired.
Gosh, isn’t it just so pretty?
I seriously love that I can throw this together any night of the week with no planning and almost no prep at all. If you don’t have an Instant Pot yet, get one ASAP! It’ll change your life.
Instant Pot Chicken Adobo
2.5 lbs (1.1kilos) frozen chicken thighs
2 Tbsp avocado or coconut oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup (120 mL) white vinegar
2 Tbsp coconut aminos (or 2 Tbsp tamari plus 2 tsp Sukrin Gold)
1 tsp. salt (use half if using tamari)
1 bay leaf
3 whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp xanthan gum OR 1 egg yolk
sliced green onion (optional)
Set the Instant Pot to sauté and add oil. Measure out vinegar and coconut aminos and add enough water to make 1 cup of liquid. Add garlic to the pot and stir for a minute. Add water mixture, salt, bay leaf, and peppercorns and allow to come to a boil.
Add frozen chicken to the pot and lock the cover. Make sure knob is set to “sealing” and set the Instant Pot to “Manual” and use “+” button to set cook time to 10 minutes. Instant pot will come to pressure and then start counting down. After the ten minutes are up, allow the pot to naturally depressurize for 10 minutes, then switch the knob to “venting” (use an oven mitt) and allow all the steam to escape before removing cover.
Remove chicken from the Instant Pot, leaving liquid in the pot. Turn function to sauté. To thicken with xanthan gum, sprinkle into the liquid and whisk until thickened. To thicken with egg yolk, whisk egg yolk in a separate bowl. Ladle about 1 cup of hot liquid from the pot in a slow stream while whisking egg vigorously to temper the egg. Once whisked together, pour egg back into the pot and whisk to combine. Continue whisking until thickened.
Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve. Garnish with sliced green onion if desired. Serve with cauliflower rice for low-carb option.
Nutrition (made with coconut aminos and egg yolk, does not include cauliflower rice): Calories: 284 kcal; Total carbs: 0.8g; Fiber: 0g; Net Carbs: 0.8g; Fat: 13.2g; Protein: 37.7g