This post is for all of you who stay up late at night wondering what goes into a can of chipotles in adobo. You’re not alone!
Chipotles can bring so much joy to the kitchen, so it’s only natural for the mind to seek out the cause of such culinary happiness — so that it can be reproduced again, and again, and again.
Sure, you can always keep a few of these in the pantry:
I certainly do and I always will!
But making your own batch will give you a newfound appreciation for these beauties. It will also help you home in on brands in your area that are worthy substitutes, i.e. are they as good as my lip-smacking homemade chipotles?!
How To Make Chipotles in Adobo Sauce
To get started you’re going to need some chipotle chiles, and in particular, Morita chiles.
As is usually the case, chipotles have a different name than their fresh counterpart — and in this case you need to start with a jalapeno to get a chipotle.
Leave a jalapeno on the plant long enough and eventually it will turn reddish in color. De-hydrate it, smoke it, and you’ve got a chipotle on your hands — a fiery smoky wonder that is a great secret weapon to have in the kitchen. (I’ve been buying these ones on Amazon lately.)
Keep in mind that there is a Chipotle Meco out there that is tan in color and is a slightly different bird.
For reference, here’s what the Meco looks like:
But it’s the Moritas that are typically used for canning chipotles so that’s what we’re using today.
Note that you may see some leftover stem on the Moritas.
Even canned chipotles will come with this leftover stem base intact, so it’s fine to leave these on for the reconstituting process. Before using them in dishes I usually cut off the stems and de-seed them, but you can consider this optional. (More info on using chipotles.)
A blast of heat will wake up the dried Moritas and I usually just plop them in a 400F oven for a couple minutes.
You’ll need about 18-20 chiles for this pint-sized batch of chipotles.
Once they’re roasted you can add them to a mixing bowl, covering them with the hottest tap water you’ve got.
20-30 minutes is a standard time for reconstituting chiles, but the Moritas are dense so I will sometimes let them reconstitute a bit longer.
If they float to the surface you can use a small plate or bowl to keep them submerged.
Meanwhile, stick a tomato in the oven and let it roast until you need it.
Once the chiles are reconstituted we’re going to puree 6-7 of them and use that as the base flavor in the adobo sauce.
I usually de-stem and de-seed the Moritas used for the puree because I don’t want seeds in the adobo sauce.
Don’t forget to use caution when handling hot chiles like these Moritas. You can use gloves if you’re particularly sensitive to spicy foods, but I usually just wash my hands after handling them and that takes care of it. (More info on handling hot chiles.)
Add the chile pieces to a blender or food processor along with:
the roasted tomato
1/2 onion (most of it)
1 peeled garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 cup water (or soaking liquid)
And give it a whirl.
The recipe calls for 1/2 onion — I usually put most of it in the blender and reserve a chunk of it for an upcoming saute.
And yes, you’re going to need to add some sugar to your chipotles — that’s one of the keys to giving them that sweet, tangy flavor that you’ve been wondering about late at night!
I used brown sugar for this batch but there is leeway on the sweetener so feel free to use what you have on hand. Keep in mind that you can always make them sweeter if you want as my palate typically prefers less sweetness than most peeps.
And don’t forget to take a taste of the soaking liquid that the Moritas have been resting in. You can use this soaking liquid for the adobo sauce, but if it tastes bitter to you then you can use water in place of it.
Okay, moving on! We’ll add a bit more flavor to the adobo sauce by giving some onion and garlic a quick saute. I usually save a sliver of the 1/2 onion and chop it up fine, something like this:
Once the onion softens we’ll add:
1 minced garlic clove
1 teaspoon salt
some freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano (What is Mexican oregano?)
Let this cook briefly to warm up the spices and then we’ll add:
the chipotle puree from the blender
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water (or soaking liquid)
the remaining whole, drained chipotles
Bring this to a simmer and take a taste, adding more sugar, salt, or spices if you want.
I added another pinch of cumin and salt to this batch.
Let this simmer lightly for 10-15 minutes or until it has reduced down to your preferred consistency. I like using the adobo sauce in recipes so I typically leave it thin and liquidy.
I’m usually psyched at this point because the sauce already has that familiar, tangy chipotle flavor but with some serious zip and vibrancy.
This will all fit quite nicely in a pint-sized Mason jar. You’ll have about 12-14 whole chipotles along with plenty of the adobo sauce.
Keep this in the fridge where the chipotles will slowly absorb the delicious flavor of the adobo sauce as they rest in it.
They’ll last for at least a few weeks in the fridge if not longer.
So how to use these beauties?!
For some tasty options see our 16 Chipotle recipes post. There are loads of good ideas in that post, with special nods to the Ground Beef Tacos, Refried Beans, and Tomatillo-Chipotle Salsa. A freshly blended batch of Tomatillo-Chipotle Salsa using homemade chipotles is a real treat so please keep that one in mind!
But feel free to get creative too as the adobo sauce can offer up some quick kitchen improv. I made some simple chicken tacos a couple nights ago with cheese, Guac, and plenty of adobo sauce slathered on top. Such a simple combo but they were bursting with that tangy, smoky flavor and were absolutely divine.
Okay, let me know if you have any questions about these homemade chipotles — it’s an easy recipe to have in your arsenal and it comes with the side benefit of getting some Moritas in your kitchen!
Homemade Chipotles in Adobo
- 18-20 dried Chipotle Morita chiles
- 1/2 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 Roma tomato
- 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup water (or soaking liquid)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- olive oil
- Wipe off any dusty crevasses on the Moritas using a wet towel. Roast the Moritas in a 400F oven for 1-2 minutes. Add the Moritas to a mixing bowl and cover them with the hottest tap water you've got. Let the chiles reconstitute for 20-30 minutes.
- Note: when the chiles are done reconstituting take a taste of the soaking liquid. If you like the flavor of it you can use it for the adobo sauce. If you don't like it or if it tastes bitter to you then you can use water for the adobo sauce.
- Roast the Roma tomato in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until you need it.
- Once the chiles have reconstituted, we'll use 6-7 of them for the adobo sauce. De-stem and de-seed the chiles and add them to a blender of food processor along with the roasted tomato, the 1/2 onion (set aside a small chunk of it), 1 peeled garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar, and 1/2 cup water (or soaking liquid). Combine well.
- Finely dice the leftover chunk of onion and saute it in some oil over medium heat until it softens. Then add: 1 minced garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and some freshly cracked black pepper.
- Saute briefly and then add the chipotle puree from the blender, 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup water (or soaking liquid), and the remaining drained chiles. Combine 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 a pint-sized Mason jar in the fridge where the chipotles will keep for weeks if not longer.
Disclaimer: there are some affiliate links on this page which means I will get a small percentage of the sale if you make a purchase at no additional cost to you. But I only recommend products that I use and trust — feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about this!
We just used these chipotles in our Easy Chicken Tacos.
Want to see our latest recipe? It’s these Champurrados.