February 13, 2011 12:00 PM
You Asked for It: Chipotle Chiles in Adobo Sauce
POSTED IN: Recipes , Salsas, Pickles and Jams
TAGS: adobo , chiles , chilis , chipotle , chipotles , pepper , peppers , pickled , pickling , piloncillo , sauce
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Shortly after posting one of my first Basic Ingredients posts, on Chipotles in Adobo Sauce, Cath Kelly from Australia commented: "I've been desperately looking for a recipe to make Chipotles in Adobo. We smoke our own Jalapeños which turn out beautiful, and this is the next step in my cooking process. Please hurry up and cook them up for us!"

Australia... An exotic place for someone to wonder how to make this addicting and versatile Mexican chile pickle. What's more, as much as Chipotles in Adobo are a basic staple in Mexican cooking, most Mexicans buy them ready-made in cans in stores and of extraordinary quality.

Think mustard, do you buy it or make your own?

Then again, time has proved there are more people into making things from scratch than what I thought: The most visited Post on my site, by far, is the one to make Pickled Jalapeños. Another chile pickle devoured by Mexicans from morning 'til night, from north to south, also usually bought ready-made in cans. 

Well, Cath, it has taken me a while. I am sorry. It has not been because I didn't have your request in mind. On the contrary, I've been testing and tweaking my recipe here and there, for over a year (!) so that when you make it, it can be better than what you get in the stores.  

There are different types of Chipotle Chiles. All Chipotles are Jalapeños that have been ripened, dried and smoked. They all turn out to be spicy, rich and smoky. But different varieties of Jalapeños turn into different varieties of Chipotles.

The smaller kind of Jalapeños, more intensely flavored and fragrant than the rest, turn into Chipotles Moritas, pictured above. Dark in color and deep in taste, they're the ones I prefer. Commercial makers do too, probably because of their flavor and attractive color, but also because being smaller, they work well for the smaller sized cans sold in shops

You can also use Chipotles Mecos, pictured below. They are bigger than Moritas and with a much lighter color. They are tasty too.

The perception exists, that it is complicated to make Chipotles in Adobo. It's not.

Chipotles need to be rinsed and simmered in water for about 15 minutes. This rehydrates and plumps them up, so they can absorb the flavors from the Adobo sauce and have a soft bite.

Most recipes for pickling Chipotles, don't include the Adobo element. But it is the Adobo which makes the store bought product so rich and delicious.

To make it, aside from the usual pickling suspects such as vinegar, oil and spices, after a lot of testing, I found out you need Ancho chiles.  Some people add tomatoes some people don't. My palate does call for them. Once the tomatoes and Ancho chiles are cooked in water until soft, and pureed, they make a rich Adobo base. 

Yes... The idea of marinating a Chile in the puree of another Chile is wild. But it is exquisite. Chipotles are spicy, smoky and rich. Anchos are bittersweet, mild and have a prune like flavor. Trust me, they like each other's company.  

The Ancho chile base is cooked and seasoned over sauteed carrots, onion and garlic in olive oil.


With the addition of marjoram, thyme and bay leaves.


Then those chiles beg for salt and a generous amount of brown sugar, or piloncillo. What it does to those Chipotles is blissful.


Maybe sinful.  

You be the judge...  

To finish the Adobo, pour rice vinegar and white distilled vinegar. That combination of vinegars works as if you were using the fruit based home made vinegars traditional in Mexico's countryside.

Then you just add the chipotles, cook it all together for 10 minutes. And you are done.

Once they cool off, place them in pint sized jars.

This recipe will make four pints you can keep in the refrigerator until you finish eating them (they will last months and months and keep getting better).

There may be a more important reason why most Mexicans don't make their own Chipotles in Adobo Sauce. Not only is it because the product sold at the shops is so good. Or because there is the perception that it takes a long time to make them.

I think its mostly because they are so good, and eaten in such large quantities, that any home cook would need to make Chipotles in Adobo continuously in their kitchen to meet the steady demand for more.

They are eaten with everything! Tortas, sandwiches, quesadillas, tostadas as a pickle... They are also used to season and flavor from soups to stews, to tamales to beans, dressings and casseroles... and so much more...  

Here you go Cath Kelly, I hope this recipe pleases you so. Now you got me in trouble, my husband says he will not eat the canned product anymore.

Makes about 4 pints

1/2 pound dried chipotle chiles moritas, about 90, or for the mecos, about 45
1 oz ancho chiles, about 2 or 3 chiles, rinsed, stemmed and seeded
4 roma tomatoes, about 1 pound
1 1/2 cup ancho chile and tomato cooking liquid, (see below)
1 cup olive oil
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced, about 2 1/2 cups
1 white onion, halved and sliced, about 3 cups
6 garlic cloves, thickly sliceds
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
cup dark brown sugar, or piloncillo grated
1 tbsp kosher or sea salt, or more to taste
3/4 cup white distilled vinegar
3/4 cup rice vinegar

Rinse the chipotle chiles and drain. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Set over medium-high heat. Once the water begins to simmer, cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Place the stemmed and seeded ancho chiles and tomatoes in a pot and cover with water. Simmer for about 6 to 8 minutes until the tomatoes are cooked through and soft. Transfer to a blender with 1 cup of the cooking liquid, and puree until smooth.

In an extended and large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the carrots and onion, let them season for a couple minutes. Make some room and add the garlic, cook for another minute. Pour in the ancho chile and tomatoe puree, the marjoram, thyme, bay leaves, salt and sugar. Stir, and let the sauce season and thicken for 5 to 6 minutes.

Pour in the vinegars, and cook for another 5 minutes. Finally, drain the chipotles, discard their cooking liquid and add to the mix. Let it all cook together for 5 more minutes and turn off the heat. Let them cool off and place in jars.

Cover tightly and refrigerate. Give them a day before you eat them, so they will have had time to pickle and thrive in that adobo sauce.

They will keep in the refrigerator for 6 months, if they last that long.


Oh WoW! You know where I'll be later onthis week - in the kitchen cooking up chipotles in adobo! I can't thank you enough!

Cath Kelly | February 13, 2011 5:07 PM

My pleasure Cath! Sorry I took a while...

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Cath Kelly | February 13, 2011 6:25 PM

All good things come to those who wait! I made your Tatcha the other day - sooooo goood - especially with a big dollop of sour cream.

Cath Kelly | February 13, 2011 8:34 PM

Thanks for demystifying one of my favorite flavors, Pati--the photos are gorgeous and the recipe makes my mouth water!

Aviva Goldfarb | February 13, 2011 8:49 PM

Esta receta la probaremos en casa de inmediato. solamente de leerla, ya siento en el paladar los sabores.
Las fotografías están extraordianrias. Bravo!

Perla | February 13, 2011 9:33 PM

Thank you Aviva!! I have a couple of extra jars in the fridge if you want to swing by ; )

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Aviva Goldfarb | February 14, 2011 10:20 AM

Gracias Per!!!!!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Perla | February 14, 2011 10:24 AM

Oooooooh. That's how I like my Tacha too.

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Cath Kelly | February 14, 2011 10:26 AM

Great recipe, great photos, great writing! I will have to try this, as chipotles en adobo are on the top of my favorite chile list.


Cooking in Mexico | February 26, 2011 5:09 PM

Hi Kathleen, Many thanks! Also at the top of my list, and they are much easier to make than one would think...

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Cooking in Mexico | March 1, 2011 1:33 PM

I came to this late, but I'm so making these.

(For the record, I make my own mustard now and then, too.)

Congrats on the new show! I've been a fan since your first Wash Post articles.

Steven | March 22, 2011 11:35 PM

Hola! Me da MUCHO gusto haver encontrado esta pagina! Como he buscado una buena receta de tacos alpastor. No tendras una por ayi??? Hay tantas en el internet que ya ni se pa donde jalar! Muchas gracias por todo el esfuerso y amor que le pones a tus recetas y a tu pagina.

- Diana

Diana | March 30, 2011 4:09 AM

hi, great show, On Monday April 25, 2011 the music playing through out the show was great. Could you tell me the name of the group or groups.

gladys | April 26, 2011 8:24 AM

We love your receipes so much and love natural cooking. We have a thought and need some ideas. A plum tree going to waste and all those lovely plums.... what can we make and some ways to preserve them for later...Love your show.... We enjoy yours over everyone else's. You really make real food people want to eat. Thanks....

Sarah and Carla | September 3, 2011 11:13 AM

I've been waiting for a cooking show like yours. My mother-in-law taught me to cook her beloved Mexican food and I've been cooking it for almost 47 years. I'm just thrilled to get some new recipes, like your marvelous Chop Chop Salad. Keep them coming. You are just so sweet and a pleasure to watch. I just can't wait for the next show and recipes. Thank you so much. Donna Herrod

donna herrod | September 19, 2011 1:26 AM

Muchas gracias Donna!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from donna herrod | September 19, 2011 11:40 AM

Just wondering if you de-seed the chipotle peppers will it just be a milder taste? Thanks.

Amanda | February 9, 2012 11:50 AM

Thank you for your question Amanda! Yes, if you de-seed the chipotle peppers, the sauce will have a milder taste. If you are going to de-seed them while making the sauce, then do it after they have boiled and rehydrated. However, by de-seeding them you are breaking apart the pepper and this will affect the texture and taste of the sauce. I would recommend de-seeding them right before you eat or use them!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Amanda | February 10, 2012 1:31 PM

Awesome! Finally, an article that completely explains chipotle chilis!

Thank you so much!

Rob | March 9, 2012 3:01 PM

We have been smoking our jalapeno's for years then freezing them to add to soups, chili, etc.

This adobo is just what these chipotle's need!
I wonder if I can preserve them?

Thank you so much!

Gidget | May 17, 2012 12:06 PM

Gracias muchisimas gracias Paty por compartir tus recetas yo soy admiradora tuya y quisiera aprovechar hojala no este abusando no tienes alguna idea de como hacer el chorizo person por mi atrevimiento y gracias.

Silvia | June 19, 2012 7:24 PM

Wow! This recipe is amazing! I'm from Australia and buying chipotle hot sauces is really difficult. I bought some dried chipotle peppers used them in the adobo. I ended up puttingv the finished product in the vitamix and diluting it a little with water and vinegar and now have bottles upon bottles of chipotle hot sauce yay!

Jamie | August 11, 2012 3:48 AM

So glad you enjoyed the Chipotle in Adobo Sauce recipe Jamie!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Jamie | August 12, 2012 8:43 PM

I smoked jalapenos all day, and I just finished simmering them in your adobo recipe, and my house smells insanely smokey delicious. I can't wait to use these peppers....

Justin V | October 1, 2012 12:00 AM

Hola Justin, I love the way my house smells when I cook peppers too! Let me know how you use them.

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Justin V | October 2, 2012 4:04 PM

Pati, these are without a doubt, the best I've ever had. I underestimated the heat that they would retain, and ended up with numb lips for a while, but when I figured out the balance, they were perfect. I used them in a dish of mashed chipotle sweet potatoes with bacon and hickory syrup, and everyone loved it. Thanks again for a great recipe.

Justin V | October 28, 2012 9:29 AM

I just tried this recipe. I have few questions -the chipotles remained rather leathery still after more than an hour of simmering, is this normal? I got tired of hanging around and put them in jars but the chipotles aren't soft. Also, the heat seems to have died down and it is only mild ly spicy..can I prevent this from happening? I love the heat!


Ellie | December 15, 2012 7:17 AM

YUM that sounds awesome! Thanx! As you can see I found it! ;-)

Rose replied to comment from Cath Kelly | December 18, 2012 10:47 PM

Hi Ellie, Not to worry, it's normal for the chipotle chiles to remain leathery after simmering. They will soften as they pickle. Also, the pickling will reduce the heat level of the chiles some. If you leave the seeds in the chiles, they will be hotter. I'm glad you are trying this recipe!!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Ellie | December 19, 2012 3:10 PM