How to Make Chipotle Peppers

5 from 18 votes

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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.

How to Make Dried Chipotle Chiles


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.

bowl of jalapenos - How to Make Dried Chipotle Chiles

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!

jalapenos in the smoker - How to Make Dried Chipotle Chiles

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 (125-135°F), but 10+ hours in an oven set at its lowest temperature, or 170-200°F depending on your oven (convection), will do.

How to Make Dried Chipotle Chiles


Store in an airtight container or grind for chipotle powder.

This is what they look like fresh from the smoker!

How to Make Dried Chipotle Chiles

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

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How to Make Dried Chipotle Chiles

How to Make Dried Chipotle Chiles

5 from 18 votes
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.
Servings: 10
Prep: 3 hours
Cook: 10 hours
Total: 13 hours

Ingredients 

  • 20 jalapeños (red preferred)

Instructions 

  • 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. Make a slit with a paring knife from stem to tip along the side of each chile pepper. 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, see below step.
  • Using a dehydrator works best (125-135°F), but 10+ hours in an oven set at its lowest temperature, or 170-200°F depending on your oven (convection), will do (See Note 1). Store in an airtight container or grind for chipotle powder.

Notes

  1. I typically use 6 inch or larger jalapeños. If you can find red, all the better, or allow to ripen and turn red. If drying in oven, any jalapeños smaller than 6 inches in size you will dry in 4-6 hours, depending on oven and thickness of jalapeños. If 6 inches or larger, drying time is 6-10 hours, depending on size and thickness. Use you discretion in timing as ovens vary. I have also used my convection oven set at 170-200°F and dried 6 inch jalapeños in 6-7 hours as well. Length of time depends on type of oven and thickness of jalapeños.
  2. 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 the 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. To learn How to Make Adobo Sauce, see this recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 8kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Potassium: 69mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 300IU | Vitamin C: 33.2mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 0.1mg

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: Pantry, Spice Blend
Cuisine: Mexican, Tex Mex
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
How to Make Dried Chipotle Chiles

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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67 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I am puzzled by this comment, “I take them straight from the smoker and add the freshly smoked peppers directly to the adobo sauce, skipping the other 10 hour drying process.”

    Does that mean that you just place them whole into your adobo sauce or are you chopping? Blending? Other?

    I wish there was a picture of that step for me to understand what you are instructing us to do.

    Thank you for the recipe. I am gathering up the courage to try something new. 😉

    1. I place them whole in the adobo sauce after smoking them Wendy. Feel free to slice or chop if you prefer. If you want the chipotle peppers dried, by all means do that, but its not necessary. Drying them the 10 hours allows you to store them NOT in the sauce.

      1. But Kevin, I think the question stands. What’s in the adobo sauce besides the smoked peppers that will allow you to “simmer them”. Water? broth of some kind? About how much?

        Thanks! I’ve got a bumper crop and will start smoking (the peppers) this afternoon.

  2. So far I have only seen chipotle chilli flakes in my supermarket. how many teaspoons would equal two Chillies?

    1. As the size of each chile differs that would be difficult to say. You could always order them dried chipotles online. I Googles your inquiry to find this: 5 dried rehydrated chipotles = 2 teaspoons powder or 2 chipotles in adobo. Hope that helps Michael.

  3. Has anyone tried this without a smoker? my outdoor options are electric bbq set to low, with wood chips on one side of the fish tray, peppers on the other… OR food dehydrator, using a lower rack for wood chips.

    this week i’m smoking garden crop: dried jalapenos & frozen bhut jolokias – for homemade chipotle mayo, before the snow falls, again.

  4. 5 stars
    Kevin, XLNT recipe. Are other chiles ever substituted in place of jalapeños by traditional Mexican cooks? Poblanos? Thanks in advance for your reply!

    1. I’m really not sure Stanton, but experimentation is always encouraged! I realize dried poblanos are Anchos, a fresh chilaca dried is a pasilla etc, but smoked, I’m not sure.

  5. Is it possible to use my grill to do the smoking? One burner out of 3 on gives me about 200 degrees, and starts the chips in the box smoking.

  6. Well-presented and very useful information, thanks Kevin!

    I’ve seen fire-roasted chipotle in the Southwest but the smoker method is ridiculously easy. With a garden full of jalapenos I’ve already knocked out three batches this season (smoked using pecan). Drying them in the dehydrator does make the house smell like a barbecue pit but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

    Ground up a bunch and used some coarse bits to make a chipotle oil and some finer powder to make a chipotle salt, both versatile additions to Tex-Mex cooking. Made your adobo sauce (with some going into homemade enchiladas tonight) and will smoke another batch of chipotle tomorrow and can up with the adobo.

    Just wanted to say thanks for the excellent work, cheers!

    1. Funny I put the dehydrator out in the garage for that exact reason after my first batch! Thanks for checking in and letting me know Joe, much appreciated! It’s THE best way to use up that jalapeño bounty. 🙂

  7. Kevin, any reason you can’t just leave the peppers in the smoker for the full 13ish hours? Smoke for 3 hours, let the wood chips peter out, continue until dry? I use an electric smoker so unless my power goes out, I can leave them in quite a while.

    Now that I think about it, the smoker might even circulate air better than the oven if you open all the vents.

  8. 5 stars
    Great information!! Thank you so much. I have a bumper crop of jalapenos, now I can preserve them for other uses.

  9. What do you use to grind the dried peppers into powder? I grow jalapeño peppers to make rotel. I would love to try making my own chipotle seasoning.

    1. After you dry them a food processor, spice grinder, or coffee grinder should work. Let me know how it turns out!

  10. I’m firing up the smoker tomorrow for pork belly & a Boston butt…gonna make some chipotles too! Picked up a mess of jalapeños today. Going to try the adobo sauce recipe too.