How to Make Adobo Sauce

4.88 from 48 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 48 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
        Thanks for a concise write up and clear steps. I will look up your recipe for chili powder, get the Mexican cone of brown sugar, that I see frequently, and make room on my shelf for Mexican Oregano. Just learned about the difference. Mom loved Lemon Verbena. My son and I go through cans of the chipotle in adobo sauce and just want to get our hands on the sauce. Our Charleston rice is made with tomato juice instead of water. We have now moved on to a hearty salsa instead. Adobo sauce is going into that mix. Moving towards Jollof.
        I got lost in the description and then the recipe regarding the peppers used. In the write up you mention ancho and guajillo chiles. Then in the recipe you just list chipotle chiles.
        What’s up?

        1. The ancho and guajillo chiles are for the adobo sauce. I mentioned adding dried and or freshly smoked chipotles to the Adobo sauce. Does that make sense? Now I’m off to look up and see what this new Jollof rice dish is, thanks!

      2. 5 stars
        This is fabulous! Commercial adobo sauce gives me terrible heartburn but your recipe hasn’t bothered me at all. I have 4 half pints in the canner to give to my kids. Was super easy to make, nice and thick. I also made your chili powder that is fantastic! I threw in a handful of dehydrated tomatoes just because I love tomatoes. It added another depth of flavor, who knew! Thanks so much for sharing your recipes.

          1. Planning on making here soon. Wondering if the canning is done by water bath or pressure canning and if the later what pressure is used? Thinking 10lbs would be right?

          2. That would be by water bath, all information is in the recipe card and Notes Hannah, but by all means pressure at 10 lbs if you prefer.

      3. Hi Kevin!

        This will be my second year now making this recipe. Last year i put in a little containers and froze. How long does it last in the fridge thoough?

        Thanks! I love it!

      4. You could remove the changing of the number of Servings as it doesn’t change the 1.5 cups of water within the Directions of the recipe. I made it for 5 servings and assumed it changed the water amount, however, it did not. So now I have a soup rather than a sauce! I will used to pour over tortillas I roll up with rice and chicken. The measurements get all screwed up with the option of servings so removing it would probably be a good thing.

        1. Sadie, sorry that was your experience. The recipe card only goes up 1x, 2x and 3x, there is not way to halve the recipe unless you do it yourself.

      5. I am about to make the recipe, but I am confused on the amount of chili powder. It says 1/2 cup or 0.05 g. That cant be the same amount.

        1. Not sure what’s happening with the plugin that computes that to Metric, but it should be 1/2 cup or 47g. I’ve updated the recipe card to reflect. Thanks Anita!

      6. I love the smokiness of Chipotle in Adobo, but it’s way too hot for my palette. I want to try your sauce recipe and make my own. Can you recommend what I can add for smokiness? Would liquid smoke work?

        1. For that added smoky flavor (if you’re not adding chipotle peppers), try 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika and see how that tastes for you.

          1. This should make about 3 cups total, so 3 8-ounce jars or 6 4-ounce ones should do it Jennifer.