Chipotle peppers are synonymous with Mexican and Tex Mex cooking. It goes without a doubt that I use them weekly in something, and I’ll show just how easy they are to make so you don’t have to get store bought anymore.
What is a chipotle pepper?
Chipotle peppers are basically ripened jalapeño chiles that have been smoked and dried. They can be ground and used in many Mexican and Tex Mex cooking and are typically sold in a rich, smokey flavored adobo sauce.
The best thing to do is grab about 20 fresh jalapeños and allow them to ripen and turn red. I leave them out in a bowl uncovered near a window.
What’s the difference between red and green jalapeños?
They are the same pepper, it’s just that a green jalapeño is picked early before it ripens on the vine, while a red jalapeño is left on the vine longer. Like other chilies that turn red it is older. The red ripened are best to use for smoking, but the green are fine, too.
I’m sure making chipotle peppers all started as a way to preserve bumper crops of jalapeños back in the day.
How to make chipotle peppers.
Wash them and dry them off. You can remove the stems if you like, but I prefer to leave them on like little handles.
Lay them out on a rack that will fit inside your smoker and set your smoker for 200°F.
For the wood chips or pellets, pecan is the traditional Mexican wood, but I also like to use a mild, fruity wood like apple or cherry. Hickory or oak work well too, if you don’t have the others.
You will be smoking for these 3 hours, so plan accordingly. In other words, be sure you have enough wood or pellets!
After the smoking process is complete and you want to store these as dried chipotle peppers, then you’ll need to dry these completely. Using a dehydrator works best, but 10 hours in an oven set at it’s lowest temperature, or 200°F, will do.
Store in an airtight container or grind for chipotle powder.
This is what they look like fresh from the smoker!
If you want to store the smoked peppers in adobo sauce…
I take them straight from the smoker and add the freshly smoked peppers directly to my adobo sauce, skipping the other 10 hour drying process. Simmer for another 20 minutes. Let cool completely and store all in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
I make my own Adobo Sauce, too. The recipe for that is coming up next, so stay tuned. So get your jalapeños smoked and dried and come back to learn how to make my adobo sauce. Enjoy!
How to Make Dried Chipotle Chiles
- Set smoker temperature to 200°F.
- For the wood chips or pellets, pecan is the traditional Mexican wood, but I also like to use a mild, fruity wood like apple or cherry. Hickory or oak work well too if you don't have the others. We will be smoking for 3 hours, so plan accordingly.
- Wash and dry the jalapeños. Use whole or cut the stems off the jalapeños and place in a single layer on a wire rack (or racks) that will fit the inside of your smoker.
- Smoke the jalapeños for 3 hours. Remove from smoker (and if not storing in adobo sauce) you will need to dry these completely.
- Using a dehydrator works best, but 10 hours in an oven set at it's lowest temperature, or 200°F, will do. Store in an airtight container or grind for chipotle powder.
To learn How to Make Adobo Sauce, see this recipe.