Chipotles in Adobo should be a staple in every chilli lover’s house! They impart an intense smoky, tangy, sweet and mildly spicy flavour to whatever you use them in.
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Table of contents
- What are Chipotles?
- So What’s Chipotle in Adobo?
- The Ingredients
- Chipotles in Adobo Recipe
- How long will it Last?
- How to Use Chipotles in Adobo?
- Use Chipotles in Adobo in
- More Chilli Pepper Recipes
What are Chipotles?
Chipotles (or chipotle peppers), are ripened jalapeños (the red ones) that have been smoked and dried.
So they have a very strong smoky aroma and flavour, with a little heat. Chipotles rate between 5000 – 8000 Scoville units, pretty much similar to a red jalapeño.
There are 2 kinds of chipotles, morita and meco. Moritas are what most of us are familiar with, deep red, almost plum-like in colour. It is also what we’ll be using in today’s recipe.
Meco on the other hand, are a brown color, having been dried and smoked twice as long as morita.
So as long as you have access to chipotle morita, whether home smoked/dried or bought, you can very easily make chipotles in adobo!
So What’s Chipotle in Adobo?
Or some might say, chipotles in adobo sauce. That’s a bit of a redundancy, as the word adobo implies the presence of some sort of a wet base. But never mind that, let’s take a look at what chipotles in adobo is.
So we have chipotles that have been rehydrated and briefly cooked in a tangy, smoky and slightly sweet sauce. Mmm, alliteration anyone?
It is a daily staple in Mexico and used as a condiment as well as an ingredient. But we’ll take a look at that below.
Chipotles in adobo are something that Mexicans don’t actually make themselves, as a rule. This is because good quality ones are found everywhere, so there’s hardly a reason to make it.
Like mustard and mayonnaise and harissa in North Africa.
The first time I made chipotles in adobo, some 3 odd years back, all I did was take a look at the ingredients on the back of a couple of different jars that I routinely bought.
By now, I’ve probably made it well over 3 dozen times, so I’ve had the luxury of playing with it to make something that to my palate, cannot be improved.
So let’s take a look at the ingredients I use NOW to make chipotles in adobo. I also make these and a few other pastes on a very, very small scale for commercial purposes. I wish I had the time and energy to go big on that.
You’d be amazed at the number of small/new brands who’ve acknowledged using my chilli paste recipes in their business!
Given the name of the recipe, we want chipotles! We are using chipotle morita, as mentioned above, and here in the UK, you can easily get them online. Here is my affiliate link for getting chipotles on Amazon.
I’ve found that adding 1 small ancho specifically for the sauce (not left whole), enriches the adobo, lending a slightly fruity slant to the whole thing. So if you can get your hands on one, that will be awesome! Here’s my affiliate link to get anchos on Amazon.
The recipe below gives you enough to fill a small jar with a capacity of 250ml/1 cup. So if you’re doubling it, double the ancho too. Or triple, or quadruple, you get the picture.
Garlic is a must in this, as it heightens the flavour. But I’m only using a couple of medium sized garlic cloves, just enough, without overpowering.
I also like to add a small amount of shallot for just a little lift, a small one will do. You can see from the images that I’m using an echalion, you can use a regular shallot if you like. Or even a really small onion.
Adobo base has a little tomato in it, most of the time. This rather depends on the brand or, if homemade, on the cook. The traditional way would be to use 1 or two tomatoes, roasted, then puréed/blended.
I switched to using sundried tomato paste after my first few chipotles in adobo experiments. If you’ve been a longtime LinsFood follower, you’ll know how much I love sundried tomato paste, for its complexity and depth of flavour.
So that’s what I’m giving you in the recipe below.
And if you’re wondering, I use sundried tomato paste in so many recipes that call for concentrated tomato paste, like the following:
Adobo is like a pickling sauce. So we want vinegar. We’re not using that much though, just enough to aid the pickling process, as well as adding tartness to our chipotles in adobo.
I tend to use either white wine vinegar or apple cyder vinegar. This is just a matter of preference, to add just that little more of a fruity hit.
If you are a balsamic vinegar fan, you could add just a teaspoon of it to this, along with either of those I mentioned. It lends a delicious flavour, but I only do this occasionally.
I’ve bought so many different kinds of chipotles in adobo over the years, and have never seen lime juice as an ingredient!
But I had to do it.
What can I say? Lime juice makes everything taste better, no?
And I have to say, I’ve never looked back. The lime juice makes our chipotles in adobo that much more interesting and vibrant, I just cannot make it without now.
We use 1 medium sized lime of whatever variety. So that will give you about 2-3 tablespoons of lime juice. Start with 2, and add more if you want. We don’t want to overdo it either, the citrus aroma is meant to blend in, not stand out.
Spices, Herbs, Seasoning and Oil
A little Mexican oregano in our chipotles in adobo adds to the overall depth of this recipe. Once again, we are only using a small amount to blend in, adding to the richness of our adobo.
You can read more about Mexican oregano here. If you can’t get the Mexican variety, the more common Mediterranean oregano will suffice.
I’m adding a pinch of cumin, for just another piece of the puzzle. Over the years, I’ve tried increasing the amount and omitting it, and have finally settled with a pinch. Cumin is one of those spices that, if overdone, just takes over everything.
Like when you make chilli con carne, you want just a little of it, too much, and it starts to resemble a South Asian curry!
Salt and Sugar
There is room to play for both these seasonings. Start with what’s in the recipe, then add more if needed.
Do we really need black pepper when we’ve already got peppers in here? Yep, just a sprinkle makes all the difference. You want freshly ground black pepper, naturally, for the final piece of the fruity puzzle.
I’m using a small amount of extra virgin olive oil, first to fry the onion and garlic, then, the sauce. You can use a flavourless oil, if you prefer, but the fruity and spicy extra virgin olive oil just works so well.
Chipotles in Adobo Recipe
So the recipe itself is pretty straightforward. This is what we’ll be doing:
- Toast both chillies in a dry frying pan just to awaken the flavours – 5 minutes.
- Soak the chillies in very hot water – 15 minutes.
- Split and lose the chilli seeds – about 15 minutes. This is optional, but I prefer seedless chipotles in adobo.
- Fry the onion and garlic, then blend in a blender, along with 3 chipotles and the ancho.
- Simmer the blended stuff along with everything else (except the lime juice) for 10 minutes.
- Add lime juice, adjust consistency if necessary, cook for 2 more minutes.
- Transfer to a sterilised jar. Leave for at least a day before eating, to allow the flavours to develop. It’ll keep on getting better, the longer you keep it, up to a point.
How long will it Last?
As it is, once transferred to a sterilised jar, it will last in the fridge, for up to 6 months if left unopened. Once open, consume within a month.
Our chipotles in adobo has vinegar and lime juice, which makes it a prime candidate for long term storage. The high acid content makes preservation easier.
Just give it a water bath, and it will keep for a year if left unopened. That means it makes a great foodie gift!
You could also freeze the individual chipotle, along with some adobo, in a large ice cube tray, once opened. That way, you can drop a cube or two each time you want to use it.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling boil and place your filled and sealed jars in. There should be at least 2.5 cm (1 inch) of water above the jars.
Bring the water back to a boil, place the lid on, and process for 10 minutes for these small jars we are using.
When done, lift the jars out with heatproof tongs. Place on a cooling rack and leave to cool completely and undisturbed for 12 hours. Then store somewhere dark and cool for up to a year.
Once opened, store in the refrigerator and consume within a month.
How to Use Chipotles in Adobo?
So I mentioned right at the start that in Mexico, it’s used as a condiment as well as an ingredient, right? So here are just some ways of using it. As an ingredient, it’s a great way to add heat and a smoky depth to a dish.
- in salsa and dips
- on pizza
- stir into pasta sauce
- makes a great topping for tacos and burgers
- blend it in some barbecue sauce or ketchup (look out for my chipotle ketchup soon!)
- add it to eggs, whether as a topping or folded in omelettes and scrambled eggs
- liven up stews (a rather obvious eg: Chilli con Carne and Beef Birria), soups, curries and tagines
- perfect in refried beans
- add to marinades, blending everything up
- what about in a Bloody Mary, Bloody Maria or Michelada?
- and if you receive my weekly chilli newsletter, you will be familiar with our homemade Chipotle Paste – that would be soooo good!
- and finally, you knew this was coming, drumroll please … jazz up the good old mayo with it. Always jazz up the mayo when you have a homemade spicy condiment!
Use Chipotles in Adobo in
More Chilli Pepper Recipes
If you enjoy the recipe, drop me a comment and let me know. And if you are feeling like a star, don’t forget that 5-star rating!
If you make this recipe, post it on Instagram and tag me @azlinbloor and hashtag it #linsfood.
Homemade Chipotles in Adobo
- 1 deep frying pan or saucepan with lid
- 1 ladle
- 2 medium bowls
- 1 colander or large sieve
- 1 Knife
- 1 Chopping board
- 1 teaspoon
- 1 Blender
- measuring spoons as needed
- 250ml/1 cup capacity jar for storing
- 20 chipotles
- 1 small ancho
- 500 ml very hot water to soak the chillies (you just need enough to soak the chillies)
- 1 medium shallot I'm using an echallion (banana shallots)
- 2 medium cloves garlic
Herbs, Spices and Seasoning
- 1 tsp Mexican oregano
- 1 pinch cumin
- ½-1 tsp salt
- 1-2 tsp white sugar
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2-3 Tbsp white wine vinegar or apple cyder vinegar
- 1 Tbsp sundried tomato paste
- 125 ml water (I use half soaking liquid and half water for the liquid as I find the soaking liquid too bitter in aroma. You can just stick with the soaking liquid if you prefer)
- 2-3 Tbsp fresh lime juice from 1 lime
Roast the Chillies. Heat a large frying pan on medium-low heat and dry roast both types of chillies for 3-5 minutes. Keep an eye on them. When you start getting a smoky and fruity aroma, take the chillies off the heat and place them in a bowl. Don't let them burn or your chipotles in adobo will be bitter.
Pour very hot water all over the chillies, cover with a plate and soak for 15 minutes. Let's move on to the chopping.
Chop the aromatics. Roughly chop the shallot and garlic, we'll be blending them later.
Deseed the Soaked Chillies (Optional)
Drain the chillies, reserving the soaking liquid.
Put some gloves on. Pull off the stems, then using a pair of scissors, cut one side of a chilli lengthwise and spread it out flat on the chopping board. Using a teaspoon, scrape out the seeds and membrane. Repeat with all the chillies, including the ancho. Discard the seeds. This is the only slightly time consuming part. You'll be surprised at how quickly this gets done once you get the hang of it. I can probably get 3-4 chillies done in a minute.
Let's get the Adobo Sauce going
Heat the oil in the same frying pan on medium heat and fry the shallot and garlic for 1 minute. Tip them into a blender, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible. So we don't want the oil in the adobo, as we want to cook the adobo in the remaining oil later.
Drop the ancho and 3 chipotles into the blender. Pour about 125ml (½ cup) of the soaking liquid in the blender and blend everything to get a smooth paste.
Let's Cook our Chipotles in Adobo
Heat the remaining oil on medium and pour in the blended sauce. Bring it to a simmer, then add the Mexican oregano, cumin, ½ tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, 2 Tbsp vinegar, sundried tomato paste and half a cup of water. Or if you don't think the soaking liquid is too strong, another half cup of soaking liquid. I prefer to use half and half. Mix everything thoroughly and bring to a simmer.
Now add the rest of the chipotles and bring back to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
At the end of 10 minutes, stir in 2 Tbsp of the lime juice. Taste it and adjust accordingly. So you could add more vinegar, more salt (you'll probably need this), maybe more sugar and perhaps the last Tbsp of lime juice. If you've never tasted chipotles in adobo, you are going for a tangy, sweet and smoky flavour. It will also be medium spicy, that and the smokiness comes from the chipotles. The tang and sweetness from everything else. Cook for 1 more minute, then take it off the heat.
Transfer to a sterilised jar, leave to cool to room temperature. Clean the sides of the jar, then seal and keep for at least a day before enjoying it. See article above about a water bath to prolong the lifespan and how to store it and how long it will last.