How to Make Chipotles in Adobo Sauce

Many Mexican dishes call for the ingredient “chipotles in adobo sauce”, or some variation on this, which makes otherwise mild dishes into flavorful, spicy delights. While one can find this ingredient in regular grocery stores, nothing is better than making your own fresh at home.

The most important ingredient, obviously, is the chipotle. Chipotle peppers are actually just fully-ripened jalapeno peppers that have been dried out. You can identify them as the dark brown, wrinkly peppers available at your local Mexican grocer. The rest of the necessary steps are outlined below in this recipe from Pati’s Mexican Table.

Chipotles in Adobo Sauce, Ixtapa Cantina, MACHIPOTLE CHILES IN ADOBO SAUCE

Serves: makes about 4 pints


1/2 pound dried chipotle chiles moritas, about 90, or for the mecos, about 45

1 ounce 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 teaspoon dried marjoram

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

2 bay leaves

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, or piloncillo grated

1 tablespoon 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 a 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 you don’t eat them all first.


It may sound strange to marinate the chipotle peppers in the puree of another type of pepper, but this is important to getting the perfect taste. Chipotle peppers and ancho peppers have quite different flavor palates—chipotles are smoky while anchos are bittersweet and mild. They complement each other nicely.

Now that you have the instructions to make your own peppers in adobo sauce, you can see that it’s actually pretty easy to do at home. This is just one more step towards cooking fresher Mexican dishes!

If you love authentic Mexican food that is made fresh daily, then you will love Ixtapa Mexican Grill and Cantina. We have locations throughout Massachusetts so that we can bring south-of-the-border cuisine to the northeast! Visit one of our locations today.