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Chipotles in Adobo Sauce

Chipotles in Adobo Sauce are slightly sweet, tangy, and spicy, perfect for any kind of Mexican cuisine or whatever dish you want to add heat to. With some chipotle chiles, fresh tomato puree, chili powder, and a few other spices, you can have this sauce ready for your next recipe in minutes. 

Make this along with some of our easy and creamy Chipotle Sauce so you have two deliciously spicy flavors to choose from. 

The secret ingredients in this recipe are Mexican oregano and apple cider vinegar. These two blend so well with the chiles, tomato, garlic, and onion with just a bit of brown sugar for a sweetness you may not have expected.

And with this hot stuff, a little goes a long way so you can store the rest in the fridge for fewer trips to the grocery store. Check out some of our great tips at the bottom of the page. 

Top these Chicken Tacos with a spoonful of your adobo sauce for an extra kick or try it with our Chipotle Chicken Copycat recipe. 

Ingredients needed:

To get the exact right amount of each of these ingredients, scroll down to our handy recipe card. But here are the basic things you will need:

  • Chipotle chiles: We used Morita chilies because they are softer and more flavorful.
  • Chili powder: Store-bought or homemade.
  • Vinegar: Apple cider is best. 
  • Water: For soaking chiles.
  • Tomatoes: We used Roma tomatoes.
  • Garlic cloves: Two whole and two minced.
  • Onion: Just a half.
  • Mexican oregano: Or use regular oregano with a pinch of cayenne pepper.
  • Olive oil: Extra virgin is best. 
  • Brown sugar: Light or dark. 
  • Salt: We used kosher. 
  • Black pepper: Freshly cracked.

How to make chipotles in adobo sauce recipe?

  1. Preheat: First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Prepare: Meanwhile, wipe off the chiles. with a wet paper towel. 
  3. Roast: After the oven is ready, roast your peppers for one to two minutes.
  4. Soak: Then, leave the oven on and add the chiles to a mixing bowl of hot tap water. Let them rehydrate for 20 to 30 minutes. 
  5. Roast again: Next, roast the tomatoes for 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. Blend: Meanwhile, remove the stem and seeds from eight of the peppers. Blend them in your food processor with the tomatoes, half of the onion, two whole garlic cloves, brown sugar, and water. 
  7. Sauté: Then, dice the rest of the onion and sauté it with the oil over medium heat until it is soft. Add the minced cloves, oregano, chili powder, salt, and pepper. 
  8. Simmer: After one minute, add the blended chipotles puree, vinegar, water, and the remaining chipotles. Let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until it has reached the consistency you like. Taste and season as needed.

Recipe variations:

  • Add veggies: You could also add sweet potatoes for a chunkier sauce. 
  • Cumin: A teaspoon of cumin will add a refreshing flavor. 
  • Different chiles.  Use ancho chiles for a mild and sweet adobo sauce.
  • Add more heat: For a lot of heat, leave the seeds in the chiles.
  • Extra water: Add extra water if it is too thick.

How to serve:

An easy way to serve this is to just put it in a bowl for others to use as a topping or dipping sauce. Or try one of these ideas:

  • This is an eye-opening addition to your homemade barbecue sauce. 
  • Mix a bit into your bloody mary next time for a spicy kick of flavor. 
  • You could also add it to refried beans served on the side or in one of your Mexican dishes. 
  • Another delicious way to serve is in one of our rice bowls like this Korean ground beef. 

Frequently asked questions

Is there a substitute for chipotle in adobo sauce? 

Chipotle in adobo sauce has become a popular ingredient in many dishes recently because it has tangy tomatoes, spiciness, and a smoky flavor that cannot be beaten.

But what if you do not have any and you do not have the time to make it? There are a few things you can try for an adobo sauce substitute such as tabasco chipotle hot sauce, chipotle powder, or smoked paprika with cayenne powder. 

What are chipotles in adobo sauce?

This flavorful Mexican staple is made with chipotle peppers and tangy tomato sauce.

The peppers are actually made of dried and smoked jalapeno peppers and the sauce is a tangy and slightly sweet red sauce made with tomato puree and other fiery spices.

Some recipes call for the peppers only for a spicy kick, some use just the sauce, and others use both. 

How do you make adobo sauce less spicy?

If you remove the chipotle chiles and just use the sauce, it will be less spicy. Or, if you have already used both, add a little bit of dairy like cream, yogurt, or sour cream. Sugar is also a great way to help tame the fire. 

Alternatively, add more ingredients to whatever you are making to offset the spiciness a bit. Starches are a good addition.

Add rice or pasta to your hot dish. Another idea is to remove the seeds from all of the chiles because that is where most of the heat is.

How to store leftovers:

  1. Store: Leftovers can be stored for future use by putting them in an airtight container like a mason jar in the fridge, where they will stay fresh for up to a month.
  2. Freeze: Another way to save this sauce is in the freezer. You could just put it in a freezer bag altogether or line an ice cube tray with plastic wrap and put a spoonful in each spot. Then wrap them separately and freeze them for future use. Because often, you only need a small amount in recipes.

More sauce recipes:

Cooking tips:

  • You could also use ice trays to keep the portions separate in the freezer without plastic wrap. Just fill each spot and put the whole tray in a freezer bag. 
  • Taste the soaking liquid after the peppers are done rehydrating. If you like it, add it to the mix. If not, just use one cup of water. 
  • Even if your recipe calls for something else, this sauce is fantastic in spicy foods. 
  • Chipotle Morita chiles are jalapeño chiles that have not been smoked as long so they are softer and have a slight fruity flavor.
  • Many people keep the canned variety as one of their pantry staples but do not use the whole can. Puree the leftovers with your food processor and separate them in plastic baggies or an ice cube tray as described above.

Chipotles in Adobo Sauce

Chipotles in Adobo Sauce are slightly sweet, tangy, and spicy, perfect for any kind of Mexican cuisine or whatever dish you want to add heat to.

cast iron pan with chipotles in adobo sauce
  • Prep Time30 MIN
  • Cook Time5 MIN
  • Servings 6 servings


  • 20 dried Chipotle Morita chiles
  • 1 white onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup chile powder
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • freshly cracked black pepper


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Using a wet clean kitchen wipe off any dusty crevasses on the Morita's. Arrange them on a baking sheet.
  • Roast the Moritas for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add them to a mixing bowl and cover them with very hot water. Let them soak for 20-30 minutes.
  • After the chiles are done reconstituting take a taste of the soaking liquid. If you like the flavor, you can use it for the adobo sauce. If not, then you can use water for the adobo sauce.
  • In the meantime. add the tomatoes to a small baking dish and roast at 400 degrees F for 20-30 minutes.
  • Select 8 of the chiles and de-stem them, de-seed, and add them to a blender or a food processor along with the roasted tomatoes, 1/2 onion, 2 garlic cloves, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup water or soaking liquid. Combine well until smooth.
  • Finely dice the leftover onion.
  • Place a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, add oil and saute the onion until it softens.
  • Mince the 2 garlic cloves and add them to the pan. Add Mexican oregano, chili powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and some freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Saute for a few minutes and then add the chipotle puree, 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup water, and the remaining drained chiles.
  • Stir well and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until it has reduced down to your preferred consistency.
  • Take a final taste for seasoning, adding more salt, sugar, or spices if you want.
  • Store in Mason jar in the fridge for 4-6 weeks. Use as needed.

Nutrition Facts

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I made this and it turned out great! One question: the recipe calls for ½ cup chile powder, and in the instructions it says "add [...] chili powder". I was surprised by the amount of chile/chili powder, and also started to wonder if I should use any specific kind of chile/chili powder. So I googled and eventually realized the difference between chile and chili powder - the former is supposedly made solely from dried chiles, while the latter is a mix of chiles and other spices. I happened to have a variety of different powders on hand, so I mixed them together to make ½ cup, and that seems to have turned out fine. However - for the next batch - I was wondering if you had any thoughts on specifically what kind of chile/chili powder should be used? Thanks!

Catalina Castravet

Catalina Castravet

I would go with all-purpose chili powder:McCormick Chili Powder. Thanks!



Adobo is the most popular Filipino sauce, I guess. I haven't tried Chipotle's version though. Looks good!



This sounds like an awesome combination, and so flavorful. I'd love to try making this.

Rose Ann Sales

Rose Ann Sales

Oh my! This is such a really amazing recipe! It look so good! I know my family would love this so much!

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