Adobo Sauce is a rich, reddish brown, earthy flavored sauce synonymous with chipotle peppers. A traditional Mexican sauce made with ground ancho and guajillo chiles that has the consistency of a thick BBQ sauce, I’ll show you how to make it using simple pantry items and spices.
What is Adobo Sauce?
Adobo Sauce is made from chili powder, vinegar, sugar, garlic and herbs. This was originally used to flavor and preserve meats and is fantastic in so many Mexican and Tex Mex dishes. It’s mainly known as the sauce poured over chipotle peppers.
The other day I showed you How to Make Dried Chipotle Peppers if you wanted to make them from scratch. It’s super easy and much cheaper than buying store bought.
Now feel free to use whatever chili powder you prefer, but I like to make my own. Ancho chili powder is best for making adobo. I often times add a few dried chipotle chiles or guajillo chiles for good measure!
A little goes a long way when that little kick of smoky flavor is needed.
This Adobo Sauce is fantastic used in soups, mixed with Ranch dressing for salads and to flavor bomb gravies. Enjoy!
How to Make Adobo Sauce
- 2 cups dried chipotle peppers (to soak in adobo sauce) (or 20 freshly smoked, not dried)
- 1/2 cup chile powder (See Note 1)
- 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped (8 oz with juices)
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp brown sugar (See Note 2)
- 1 tsp oregano (See Note 3)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 3 tbsp olive oil
For Adobo Sauce
- In a food processor or blender add the chile powder and carefully pour in 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Cover with lid to steep while you get the other ingredients together.
- Add the vinegar, chopped tomatoes, garlic, brown sugar, oregano, salt, cumin, cinnamon, pepper and allspice to the food processor or blender and process to a smooth purée, about the consistency of BBQ sauce or catchup. If needed, thin with water.
- Heat oil in a skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Carefully pour in the chili vegetable purée and bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 20 minutes uncovered.
- Makes about 2 1/2 to 3 cups adobo sauce. Use in any Mexican dish you prefer or add chipotle chiles (See below) and keep in an airtight container and refrigerate.
If Adding Dried Chipotle Peppers
- Pre-soak: Bend and crack slightly the dried chipotle peppers (or make punctures all over with a knife). Add to a saucepan and just cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Be sure to add water if needed so they don't dry and burn. Set aside to cool.
If Adding Freshly Smoked Chipotle Peppers (not dried yet)
- Add freshly smoked peppers directly to the adobo sauce. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- You can substitute ancho chile powder for regular chile powder.
- If available use Mexican piloncillo. The sugar is found at most Mexican markets or in the Mexican aside of most markets and is formed into a cone shape. Break off and use 2 tablespoons.
- I prefer Mexican oregano and it definitely adds so much authenticity to the recipe. Mexican oregano is a relative of Lemon Verbena and is native to Mexico. Similar in that it’s pungent like Mediterranean oregano, Mexican oregano has notes of mild licorice and citrus. Mediterranean oregano is a member of the mint family and most often is used in Greek and Italian recipes. Mediterranean oregano is the one most found in spice racks and supermarkets.