« Ground turkey (Recipe: turkey-escarole soup) | Main | Other People's Pantries #38 »

Adobo seasoning (Recipe: turkey-chile rotini)


Where do you stand on adobo?

We're not talking politics here. No left or right, red state or blue state, alternative energy or education. No defense spending, no financial bailout, no leaving anyone behind.

I mean where do you stand -- because where you are has everything to do with adobo.

In The Philippines, adobo is the national dish, pork or chicken cooked in a sauce made of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and pepper.

In Mexico, or New Mexico, adobo is the vinegar-based, smoky-hot, tablecloth-staining sauce in which chipotle chile peppers are packed.

In The Perfect Pantry, adobo is often both the vinegar-based chicken dish and the sauce that envelops those wonderful chipotles, but it's also something else -- a dry spice blend, including garlic, onion, black pepper, Mexican oregano, cumin and cayenne red pepper, and sometimes salt.


Though I've written about Mexican oregano and how it differs from Mediterranean oregano, I find that most often when I use it, I'm combining it with other herbs and spices, especially cumin. In the Southwest US and Mexico, and in Latino markets closer to my New England pantry, you can buy adobo seasoning (Goya is the brand in most supermarkets) that already combines the spices I love to use together. And because Mexican oregano has a strong flavor that I don't always want in my cooking, I use small amounts, and the spice blend gives me just enough and not too much.

If you can't find it in your supermarket's Latino products section, order adobo seasoning online from Penzeys (salt free), The Spice House (two versions, with or without salt) or Goya (regular and low-sodium). Or make your own, and store it on your spice rack or in the refrigerator for up to one year.

Turkey-chile rotini

A slight variation one of our favorite go-to weekday recipes. Serves 6 as a main course.


1 lb Dreamfields or other rotini
2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 lb ground turkey
1 tsp ground cumin, or more to taste
1 tsp chili powder, or more to taste
1 tsp adobo
Pinch of hot red pepper flakes
1 4-oz can fire-roasted green chiles, drained
16 oz canned chopped tomato
2 cups water
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Store-bought shredded reduced-fat Mexican four-cheese blend, for topping (or other cheese of your choice)


Prepare the pasta according to package directions, until the pasta is still a bit undercooked but almost al dente. Drain and set aside.

AT THE SAME TIME, when you start the pasta water, prepare the sauce. In a large, deep sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat, and cook the onion for 2 minutes, until translucent. Add the ground turkey, and cook, breaking up the pieces, until lightly browned. Add cumin, chili powder, adobo and red pepper flakes, and stir to combine. Add green chiles, tomato, water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Add the cooked pasta -- which will almost immediately absorb any liquid in the turkey-chile sauce -- and stir to coat the pasta with the sauce. Cook until all excess liquid is absorbed into the pasta.

Either stir in the shredded cheese, or pour the pasta into a serving bowl and pass the cheese separately, for each person to add to taste.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Turkey green chile chili
Rotini with spicy meat sauce
Pasta with chunky vegetable sauce
Turkey tacos
Turkey meatloaf with fig gravy

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I know the Filipino version well. Back in Doha we had a lot of Filipinos who worked at the hotel and they would often make this at parties. I have never actually givien it a try myself. The pasta sounds perfect. I know Soeren will love this!

This looks really good, and so quick and easy to make! I have never tried adobo seasoning, just the Filipino version, so I am interested to see what this has to offer. I do love all the other ingredients, so I can imagine this is quite a tasty recipe!

I always wondered about adobo. Thanks for explaining so perfectly. I'll buy some and try the recipes.

I only know Adobe...not Adobo....;p

I agree with you about Mexican oregano--a little bit definitely goes a long way as it has such a strong citrus-y and medicinal flavor. This adobo blend sounds like the perfect solution as I find that it takes forever for me to go through a regular bag of just plain Mexican oregano.

I'm more familiar with the Fillipino Adobo but thisentry's telling to get close with the Mexican one too!

Nice bowl of warm goodness here.

My ex-boyfriend introduced me to adobo spice (about the only good thing that came from that relationship!) and I've loved it ever since.

What a great fall recipe. I really need to start using ground turkey more.

I was a bit confused as to what adobo was exactly; thanks for the info. This dish sounds pretty tasty.

Meeta, Jason, Peter: The Filipino version is something I make in the slow cooker now. It's delicious, but completely different than the spice profile of adobo seasoning.

Mae, you're welcome. I hope you'll try it. Buy the smallest size and start with that.

Tigerfish, I'm giggling.

Lisa, I found a bag of Mexican oregano in my freezer that's been in there for at least two years, so I know I don't use it often enough. The adobo seasoning gives me everything I want, in smaller doses.

Robin, exes always seem to leave something good behind, don't they?!

Kevin, this is one of our comfort foods, so I hope you like it.

I tried making the Phillipine version of adobo a few times, but I don't feel like I've mastered it yet. The other one is a mixture I haven't used much. Hmm, maybe I need to make a Penzeys order! The rotini sounds delicious.

Great recipe, I have a daughter who lives in Arizona, and I am going to forward her this post. I know both she and my grandson would love this dish. Thanks, Lydia!

I've never had the Filipino version of adobo yet (and it confused me for the longest time) but I love using the Mexican version. I have a small jar of an adobo paste that just wakes up whatever you mix it with. I love to use it as a rub on whole chickens before I roast them. I really like the sound of the rotini--it sounds very flavorful! I also enjoy it since turkey is so underused outside of Thanksgiving dinner.

What a great way to "slip" ground turkey past my husband!

Also check out "badia" brand spices - They are excellent and packaged in small economical "one-time-use" packs as well as larger versions. They are usually in their own section in supermarkets with a heavy latino population. also www.badia-spices.com

I guess I stand with the Mexican one.
I think maybe you've just made my dinner tonight. I'll just be adding garlic and baby spinach!

Kalyn, the best recipe I've tried for the Filipino adobo actually came in a little brochure with my slow cooker. It was a bit salty for me, so I'm adjusting and will post the recipe when I've got it right.

Kim, I do hope they enjoy it!

Mike, is your adobo paste a chipotle-based one? You might try this as a rub on chicken -- gives an instant "Mexican" flavor.

Carol, thanks. I love to discover new spices!

MyKitchen, adding spinach to this would be great. It's the kind of thing I'd do.

I am only familiar with the sauce in the chipotle tins. I like it. I will have to keep an eye out for the dry seasoning. We don't see as much Latin foodstuffs in Canada.
(I try to stay publicly neutral to political debate and the like - but feel confident in my pro-adobo stance.)

I'm Filipino, but I also know of the Mexican definition of adobo. I wasn't aware of a third meaning for it, though. Thanks for the informative post!

Natashya, perhaps we can form a pro-adobo party.... I do think you'll find lots of uses for this spice blend. I'm always happy to send some.

Jude, I think the whole adobo thing really confuses people -- I know it confused me for the longest time. I love this spice blend for my Latino cooking. Have you shared a great recipe for Filipino adobo?

adobo adobo... I've been trying to find the name of a mystery 'a' marinade for Filipino pork that we tried before (the store that my hub used to takeaway from was closed, and he only remembered it started with the letter 'a') ... hehe thanks to your article, I have something to work on! does it have a tangy taste to it?

Noobcook, it does have a bit of a tang from the vinegar. I will post a recipe some day soon, but you can also use Food Blog Search to find others.

Bought several bottles of adobo (as a sauce) and a container of it as a dry powder (more chili than yours, it looks like) in Gran Canaria - clearly there are lots of variations - and lots of different levels of quality. But many of them are very good.

I just found your blog and love it:-) I dunno why I haven't found it sooner. I've always been fascinated by the different interpretations of "adobo" depending on who you're talking to. I made a Filipino style adobo the other night, but then I used chipotle chiles in adobo sauce last week. Definitely confusing

I absolutely love that Penzey's Adobo seasoning. I used it on fish fillets to make fish tacos. I even confess to sprinkling it on my kettle potato chips when I'm having a late-night snack attack.

Paul, agreed, many different formulations of both the dry spice mix and the vinegar sauces. Fun to try several and compare.

Marc, it's truly confusing. Maybe we need to come up with new names to differentiate?

Nate, fish tacos sound pretty good right now. Must stop reading food blogs and comments before dinner....

I usually prefer using ground turkey over beef because it really showcases the flavors of the spices so much better than beef. This looks delicious!

This turkey-chile rotini sounds delicious. I will definitely have to try it once hot dish season rolls around again.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.