How to Make Adobo Sauce

4.88 from 49 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

4.88 from 49 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

Ingredients 

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)

Instructions 

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.

    OR

      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.

      Notes

      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.

      Nutrition

      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

      Kevin

      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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      200 Comments

      1. 4 stars
        I am going to try this recipe this weekend.

        While viewing the recipe on my phone, I had 12 pop ups. Very bad user experience. I get you need to make money but don’t destroy your recipes with so many pop ups.

        1. !2 seems WAY to much, there shouldn’t be so thanks. I’ll look into this with my ad agency David. Apologies and hope you enjoyed the adobo sauce. 🙂

      2. Hello, this looks like a great recipe. Just wondering, can I leave out the sugar altogether or will this affect the taste too much? (I’m currently avoiding all sugar.)

      3. 5 stars
        Good day Kevin,

        We made Chipotle peppers from all sorts of hot peppers and super hot peppers. We went to an actual chilli pepper farm hidden away here. We met the great owners and got a tour of the farm and their grows of exotic hot peppers. They once were on some record for having over 64000 hot pepper plants.

        We collected freshly harvested, mostly ripe red jalapenos, fresh Carolina reapers, some chocolate super hot peppers, a bunch of yellow ghost peppers, lots of red habaneros and chocolate habanero peppers.

        Followed your steps for smoking peppers as advised, and Praise God, everything went excellent, especially for first timers that never used a charcoal wood smoker or any smoker ever.

        This was a cool journey for us. We went from checking out all these amazing peppers online, thinking we’d never find these peppers where we live, to staring at a brimming 10L pot of absolutely fresh and amazing delicious Chipotle peppers in amazing Adobo sauce (adjusted to our own secret recipe).

        Praise God always Kevin. It’s amazing how much good can come out of a person simply sharing with others. Thank you Kevin for sharing your experience and knowledge with us.

        Did you know that if you teach some one something good. You will get rewarded for it. Then when that person uses that knowledge and perhaps teaches others and so on, you get the reward for all that good, forever. God Willing.

        Thanks again Kevin. Much appreciated.

        1. So sorry for the late reply as I have been away on a much needed vacation outside the USA. Needless to say, about your comment… Wow, what a story. I am so happy for you. Where are you at? Would love to go to a chili pepper farm like that!

      4. This was very good. The only substitution I made was puréed, soaked, whole ancho chili for chili powder, jaggery instead of piloncillo(it’s the same thing), and morita chili instead of chipotle, for a slightly less smoky taste. It’s in the fridge and being used regularly. Thank you

      5. 5 stars
        This is by far the best recipe for adobo sauce. Some adjustments were made in case it can help others. Blended in 1 large chipotle for more of that “adobo/chipotle” flavor and helped thicken it. After simmering for 20 min. it came out slightly bitter so a very small amount of vinegar was added to taste.

          1. Your adobo ingredients say hlaf a cup of chilli powder, which would be pretty hot.. And then I want to add smoked jalapeños…..

      6. Hi Kevin!
        When canning the sauce with the chipotle peppers, can it be pressure canned? Or is water bath better because of the vinegar in the sauce?