How to Make Adobo Sauce

4.87 from 46 votes

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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.

How to Make Adobo Sauce

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.

spices for How to Make Adobo Sauce

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!

How to Make Adobo Sauce

Experiment if you’re into that. I love to make my own spice blends and you can find them here.

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

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How to Make Adobo Sauce

How to Make Adobo Sauce

4.87 from 46 votes
Let me show you how to make adobo sauce, typically found covering chipotle chiles. Made from chili powder, vinegar, garlic and herbs, this was originally used to marinade and preserve meats and is fantastic in so many Mexican and Tex Mex dishes.
Servings: 10
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes


Adobo Sauce

If Soaking Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce (See Notes)

  • 2 cups dried chipotle peppers (to soak in adobo sauce) (or 20 freshly smoked, not dried)


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, tomatoes, garlic, brown sugar, oregano, salt, cumin, cinnamon, pepper and allspice to a 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 TexMex or Mexican dish you prefer or add chipotle chiles (See below) and keep in an airtight container and refrigerate.

If Adding Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

    If Using Dried Chipotle Peppers:

    • Pre-soak: Bend and slightly crack 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 more water if needed so they don't dry and burn.
      Set aside to cool, then add to Adobo Sauce AFTER Step 3. Simmer in Adobo Sauce for another 10 minutes. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


      If Using Freshly Smoked Chipotle Peppers (not dried yet):

      • Add freshly smoked peppers directly to the Adobo Sauce AFTER Step 3. Simmer in Adobo Sauce for another 10 minutes. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

      For Canning

      • Carefully remove jars from hot water, shaking off excess water. Pour hot Adobo Sauce into hot jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe rims of jars with a damp paper towel to remove any spill residue. Place a lid on the jar and screw a ring on until finger-tight. Process jars 15 minutes in water bath, depending on altitude.
        The processing times are for high acid foods based on canning at sea level to 1000 feet. When processing at higher altitudes, adjust the processing time according to the below times.
        Altitude in Feet >> Increase Processing Time
        1,001-3,000 ft above sea level = 5 min
        3,001 – 6,000 ft above sea level = 10 min
        6,001 – 8,000 ft above sea level = 15 min
        8,001 – 10,000 ft above sea level = 20 min
        Remove jars from water bath and allow to cool completely and lids pop, letting you know they are sealed.


      1. You can substitute ancho chili powder for regular chili powder.
      2. 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.
      3. 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.


      Calories: 57kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Fat: 4g | Sodium: 122mg | Potassium: 45mg | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 530IU | Vitamin C: 2.1mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 0.3mg

      The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

      Course: condiments
      Cuisine: Mexican, Southwest, Tex Mex
      Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
      spoon in jar of Adobo sauce


      Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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      1. 5 stars
        Heya, Kevin! Just in the simmering stage right now… Amazing so far! I grow a lot of peppers, and am using my own chili powder made from New Mexicos and Jalapeños. Works great with this recipe! Got my homemade dried chipotles soaking, and ready to do some canning. Way better than store-bought, of course! Thanks for posting. 👍😏

      2. Hi Kevin, I’m a little confused on the amount of water in this recipe, you say 1 1/2 cups but do you really mean a half cup? not 1.5 cups? Thank you in advance 🙂

      3. 5 stars
        I posted a comment but don’t see it. I just made this recipe and I think it rocks! Way better then store bought and I know what’s in it. Going to can some to share with friends! Awesome recipe Kevin👍👊

      4. 5 stars
        I just made this for the first time!! Way better then store bought and I’ll be canning some to share with friends. 👍👊 very awesome recipe Keven!!

      5. 4 stars
        I have made 4 batches of this recipe and reduced the water each time due to consistency it is not thick going to boil longer to cook down. followed directions. its on the stove now. going to can with fresh smoked peppers. I make a glaze with finished product but find recipe watery.

        1. That’s really strange to me as every time I find it thick (ketchup consistency)? I guess it depends too on the size of the tomatoes, but that’s why I also have 8 ounces weight on them in case? Strange…

          1. 8 oz of tomato by weight not by volume? Might by why mine is turning out runnier than your photos. I might just simmer for longer and simmer longer with the chipotles. It smells amazing and I can’t wait to make a bbq sauce with the chipotles and adobo. Cheers!

      6. 5 stars
        After storing the sauce with the smoked peppers, do you remove the peppers before using or blend the peppers onto the sauce?

        1. That’s completely up to you and whatever recipe you’re using them for Joe. I do both sometimes. Sometimes I just use the sauce on eggs and chop a chipotle for something else.

        1. Well it is part of the recipe, I would use a sugar substitute of your choosing. It’s all about balance of flavors Judy.

      7. The “what is adobo sauce” section says it’s made with sugar, but I don’t see sugar in any of the listed ingredients.

          1. 5 stars
            No sir, apparently I’m the one missing something. I make this recipe every week for my meal prep and it tastes just like chipotles chicken. I never get sick of it.