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Chipotle Pepper in Adobo Sauce Substitutes

A chipotle is a smoke-dried ripe jalapeño chili pepper used for seasoning. This chili is primarily used in Mexican cuisines. It comes in different forms, such as stewed adobo sauce. The distinctive flavor of a chipotle is smokiness, but underneath the smoke and heat, chipotles are also sweet. Chipotle pepper adds complexity to savory and sweet dishes, not only in adobo sauce. Chipotles add an excellent medium heat to many dishes, including smoky salsas, cooked sauces, scrambled eggs, pickled vegetables, and even brownies.

Adobo Sauce Nutrition Facts

Chipotle Pepper in Adobo Sauce Substitutes

Adobo is a tangy, slightly sweet red sauce. If chipotle and adobo sauce is put together in a can, they become a versatile pantry staple. The chipotles alone are used for intense smoky chile heat and the adobo sauce for a sour-sweet flavor and a slightly less fiery smoky heat.

Additionally, chipotle pepper has several health benefits, such as promoting weight loss, preventing stomach ulcers, and fighting infections. However, the potential side effects of temporary burning sensation of the mouth after eating, unpleasant symptoms, especially for people with irritable bowel syndrome, amongst other reasons, might be a cause to seek other alternatives.

What is Chipotle Pepper?

The chipotle pepper is one of the most typical ingredients of Mexican cuisine. They have basically ripened jalapeño chiles that have been smoked and dried. They can be ground and used in many Mexican and Tex Mex cooking and are typically sold in a rich, smokey flavored adobo sauce.

Its preparation can take a long time as it takes up to 7hrs for it to dry in an oven. Typically, you’d best use 6 inches or larger jalapeños. Allow to ripen and turn red. If drying in the oven, any jalapeños smaller than 6 inches in size will dry in 4-6 hours, depending on the oven and thickness of jalapeños. If 6 inches or larger, drying time is 6-10 hours. Use your discretion in timing as ovens vary.

If you want them stored in adobo sauce, take them straight from the smoker and add the freshly smoked peppers directly to the adobo sauce.

Chipotle Peppers Use in Recipes

Chipotle pepper’s uses are not limited to adobo sauce. It has its traditional uses, and it pairs well with spices too. Let’s take a look at some of the recipes it shines and pairs well with.

Chipotle Pepper in Adobo Sauce Substitute

Many people fell in love with chipotle pepper in adobo sauce in their travels to Mexico. Even if you’re lucky enough to bring in a few cans back home, it won’t last long. Luckily, close substitutes can be used as a replacement, and you’d still enjoy the hot, spicy, and savory flavor.

Smoked Paprika

Smoked Paprika


Smoked paprika—also known as pimento, is made by first slow-roasting peppers over an oak fire before grinding them into a powder. Like chipotle, it has a subtle smoky flavor and adds a hearty meatiness to vegetarian and plant-based recipes, making it an excellent replacement.

For recipes where there is already tomato, replacing the chipotle with smoked paprika is often enough. Start with 1-2 teaspoons of smoked paprika and add more as needed. If you want some heat, any fresh or dried chili peppers can be added to taste.

Dried Chipotle Powder

Dried Chipotle Powder


This option is not the first on the list because it is more difficult to find than smoked paprika and the likes. But if you happen to have chipotle chili powder or whole dried chipotles, they will work incredibly well. If using whole chilies, soak in boiling water to soften before chopping and adding to your dish. It can also be used in the same proportion because of the similar heat they both produce.

Cayenne Pepper Powder

Cayenne Pepper Powder


The cayenne pepper is a type of Capsicum annuum. It is usually a moderately hot chili pepper used to flavor dishes. Cayenne pepper and chipotle powder are common kitchen spices, working equally well for upping the spice level of food and adding a touch of spicy color. Both come from chili peppers and are as easy to find as they are easy to use.

Cayenne pepper powder is considerably hotter than chipotle powder, so you’d best use a considerably and significantly reduced quantity. Even though they have different flavors and appearances, they are chili powders and can replace each other in adobo sauce as long as you don’t expect to get identical results.

Smoked Paprika Plus Tomato

If your recipe uses the chipotle peppers and the adobo sauce and doesn’t already have some sort of tomato, you’ll need some smoked paprika for the smoke factor and tomato for the sauce. If you only have ketchup, that will be better than nothing. Just start with a small amount, though, as ketchup is significantly sweeter than adobo. Tomato passata, puree, or canned tomatoes will also work; you can substitute them in the same proportion or equal quantity.

Dried Chipotle Powder Plus Tomato

If you are using the adobo sauce and your recipe doesn’t already contain tomato, a combination of dried chipotle and tomato paste would work incredibly well. Just like the smoked paprika with tomato, ketchup works well with this as well; even though it’s sweeter than adobo sauce, it still nonetheless makes for a great substitute and can be used in the same ratio too.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are chipotle peppers in adobo sauce spicy?

The chipotle pepper is a smoked chili. These peppers are smoke-dried jalapenos preserved in adobo sauce. They have a distinct, smoky, spicy, slightly sweet flavor.

How do you make chipotle peppers in adobo sauce less spicy?

Adding something sweet to a too spicy dish is another great way to reduce the spiciness. A sprinkle of honey, sugar, or sweet ketchup should do the trick.

Can I substitute cayenne pepper for chipotle powder?

Cayenne peppers are known for their fantastic health benefits, and this is what makes cayenne powder an ideal chipotle powder substitute.


Chipotles in adobo are smoked and dried jalapeños rehydrated and canned in a sweet and tangy purée of tomato, vinegar, garlic, and some other spices. However, if you can get it when you want it or it is not recommended for your diet, there are other hot and spicy peppers and powders you can use in its stead.