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Best Substitutes For Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce That Give You All The Heat

Maria Foster
Last Updated on
by Maria Foster

When you enjoy anything from a Mexican restaurant, it more than likely has some form of Adobo Sauce. A delicious, red, all purposes sauce that is made from dried chilies, spices, and vinegar.

The most popular chili in adobo sauce is Chipotle Peppers. They add a gorgeous smokiness to any dish and are extremely popular in Mexican and Spanish cuisine.

Best Substitutes for Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce That Give You All The Heat

Chipotle peppers are often canned in a tomato-vinegar sauce for preservation before being placed on the shelf. But you want the fresh flavors that only fresh Chipotle Peppers can provide. And they may be a lot harder to find.

We have 5 of the best substitutes for Chipotle Peppers including smoked peppers, cayenne pepper, and even store-bought Chipotle paste.

So, even if you cannot find fresh Chipotle Peppers, there is always a way to get that gorgeous smokiness into your food!

You may want to leave out a glass of milk for when the heat becomes too much.

5 Best Substitutes For Chipotle Peppers

SubstituteProtein Substitute RatioCalories 
Cayenne Pepper 0.2g1 teaspoon5.7 Kcals 
Smoked Paprika0.3g1 teaspoon6.5 Kcals 
Ancho Chilies2g1.5 chili48 Kcals
Chocolate Habanero0.4g0.5 chili9 Kcals
Chipotle Paste0.2g1 teaspoon10 Kcals

What Do Chipotle Peppers Taste Like?

With the fast food brand Chipotle making Mexican-inspired cuisine more popular than ever, everyone is trying to get their hands on Chipotle Peppers. Yet so few know what Chipotle Peppers actually are.

Simply described, a chipotle pepper is a jalapeño that has been allowed to mature until it is red, smoked, and dried. It has a rich smoky flavor with a nice spice that is great for adding depth to any dish.

They are most commonly sourced from Mexico and are used in a wide range of dishes for the spicy yet smoky flavor they provide.

Chipotle Peppers are traditionally used in the spicy Mexican sauce, Adobo. It is composed of onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, thyme, and Chipotle Peppers. And is then used as a dipping sauce, cooking sauce, and for various dishes throughout the cuisine.

Many restaurants and home cooks keep a jar or tub of Chipotle Peppers in adobo sauce in their pantries. Meaning they always have a delicious, spicy sauce to add to any dish when they need it.

Nutritional Value Of Chipotle Peppers

10 Kcals0g0g0g1g

Chipotle Pepper Substitutes

Now, that we know everything there is to know about Chipotle Peppers, it is time to discuss the substitutes.

So, if you cannot find Chipotle Peppers or find them too intense to work with, there is always something to add depth and flavor to your dish.

1. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper is an excellent alternative to Chipotle Peppers as it offers the same distinctive flavor and is more commonly found grounded in the spice section.

It is a type of capsicum like the popular bell pepper but contains a lot more spice and flavor. Making it the perfect addition to your adobo sauce. It is also the main ingredient in various hot sauces as it provides a unique heat.

Cayenne is delicious on pizzas, in soups and sauces, and sprinkled over meats and shellfish. As a substitute to salt and pepper, keep it in a shaker on the table.

Their skin is quite thin and wrinkled when they are young, but when dried, it is smooth. If you want to really take the heat of your dish to the next level, do not remove the seeds.

2. Smoked Paprika

Another great option to replace Chipotle Peppers is Smoked Paprika. This is an extremely popular spice that is used all over the world. And it provides that addictive smoky flavor we all know and love in our adobo sauce.

This alternative is a Spanish specialty. It was created by slowly smoking pimento, a type of pepper located in southwestern Spain. It is smoked over oak until it has a beautiful round, woodsy flavor that is perfect for adobo sauce.

Smoked Paprika does not give the heat provided by other spices. This has made it extremely common to add a pinch of ground cayenne pepper to bring up the heat.

Using Smoked Paprika in place of Chipotle Peppers allows you to control the spice level and to really focus on the other flavors in the dish.

3. Ancho Chilies

Ancho Chilies are another substitute for Chipotle Peppers. Mexican poblano chiles that have been dried and ground have smokey flavors and a mild heat. Additionally, ancho chilies have a sweet undertone that gives any dish a fresh touch.

They can be purchased in either raw or powdered form. With the powdered form, you will get a slightly milder flavor so it is recommended to use slightly more than you would with Chipotle Peppers.

Or you can also add a little cayenne for that little kick.

Ancho Chilis are most commonly used when making broth for Birria Tacos. But they work perfectly when you need a little heat that adds to the dish rather than overpower it.

4. Chocolate Habanero

Everyone is aware of the fruity flavors that the regular habanero pepper provides. Yet, the Chocolate Habanero offers a lot more of that smoky flavor that we are looking for.

Although the smokiness is not as powerful as the chipotle, it is still incredibly pleasant because it is accompanied by a coating of fruity habanero flavor.

The Chocolate Habanero has a much higher spice level than the Chipotle Pepper. So, you only need half of a chili to get you started. If you feel like you need more heat, add the other half.

This alternative also works great as a paste. Make sure to mash it down really fine and season with salt, pepper, and anything else you feel will enhance the flavor this pepper provides.

You may want to leave this out for the kid’s portions though.

5. Chipotle Paste

If you really do not want to sacrifice the flavor that Chipotle Peppers provide, then you have to get your hands on some Chipotle Paste.

This is simply everything you need to make adobo sauce in a jar and it is spicy, flavorful, and truly perfect for cooking. And it is extremely easy to find in the store or make at home!

The spice is more concentrated so only use what you would when using Chipotle Peppers.

This works great for a large range of recipes from chicken or beef marinades to adobo sauce. It adds an instant heat that is truly delicious.

1. Mexican Chipotle Chicken Soup

One thing that we do not taste enough in our soups is a little spice. This Mexican Chipotle Chicken Soup uses Chipotle Peppers for an added heat that is delicious.

Serve with fresh tortilla chips or a slice of crusty bread for the perfect lunch throughout fall and winter.

2. Chipotle Lime Cauliflower Tacos

Sometimes you want your lunch or dinner to be light, tasty, and refreshing. This Chipotle Lime Cauliflower Tacos recipe is perfect for during the week as you simply throw everything together and let everyone dig in.

Top with a fresh squeeze of lime and some cheese for the perfect easy meal that everyone can enjoy.

Not to mention it gets some essential nutrients after a long day!

3. Honey Chipotle Salmon With Cauliflower Rice Pilaf

When you need dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes you want to make this Honey Chipotle Salmon recipe. It is sweet, spicy, tangy, and all things delicious.

Using only 2 teaspoons of chipotle in adobo sauce your salmon is going to take heavenly. Or use one of the substitutes above to get the job done.

This recipe calls for cauliflower rice pilaf but you can use anything you want! Potatoes, pasta, noodles. The choice is yours.

Final Thoughts

Chipotle Peppers are what make adobo sauce so delicious. They add depth, smokiness, and a gorgeous spice that hits the taste buds just right. But finding them in the store may not always be easy.

Above are 5 of the best substitutes for Chipotle Peppers that are going to have your adobo sauce tasting fresh and delicious.

You may have to watch your measurements. You don’t want to burn the tongue off of Grandma. Or maybe you do.

Just be sure to use small amounts of any substitute and build up that flavor profile. You will find your adobo sauce tasting better than ever before!

About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
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