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
    Clear and well-presented recipe. However, I am one of the few who do not have a cold smoker. I have a surfeit of green and red Jalapeños (and other varieties). Can I adapt the smoking process on my normal BBQ by placing smouldering wood chips at one end (direct heat) and the chilis at the other end (indirect heat) as long as I maintain the right temperature for 3 hours?

  2. I have a good crop of Hungarian Hot Wax peppers that have ripened to red. I want to try making chipotle from them but wonder why I never see other peppers substituted for jalapenos? It would seem to me that they would work although they may be hotter. Is there a reason that only jalapenos are used for chipotle or is it a matter of tradition mostly?

    1. A dried, smoked jalapeno is called a chipotle. The sauce they are in is called an adobo sauce. I’m sure you could use any pepper, let me know!

  3. This is what I’ve been looking for! I make a ton of salsa using chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. One of my jalapeño plants (I have five in my new raised beds and they’re is nearly all red peppers; looking forward to trying this! 🌶 (Will rate when I try it)!

  4. 5 stars
    Great recipe.
    We can rarely find red jalapeno peppers where I live, and the green jalapenos……. 6″ length ??? – I doubt it. I make a Bread and Butter jalapeno pickle, which is awesome, and the peppers that I buy are 4″ and less. For the times when I want to make Chipotle, those peppers end up looking like a dried cigar butt, but on the very rare occasion when I found red jalapenos, after smoking, they were a beautiful dark red colour, like the ones that you show in your photos. No matter the colour, they make great Adobo Sauce.

    1. I actually started growing them last year in my garden. The longer on the vine they get red. Not sure where you’re at, but give it a try!

    2. Hiya Kevin – thank you for these instructions!
      Have you had any problems with your dehydrator retaining the smoke smell (and infusing future foods)?
      We’re considering reversing the order and dehydrating prior to smoking – to avoid a contaminated dehydrator – but the result may be significantly less fragrant and awesome.

      Thanks!

  5. 5 stars
    Praise God and May He reward you well Kevin! Let me tell you why..

    I have recently been out of work and do not have any options here where I live. My wife and I have used chipotle peppers imported from Mexico in our restaurant that closed down due to Covid. We decided that we could make our sauces and sell them to make an income for now as we get through this difficult time.

    When I saw other articles about making Chipotle peppers yourself, they tell you that you HAVE TO dry it out in a smoker for 24 up to 48 hours! – That’s a lot of coal and wood chips, that puts the cost of the process really high.

    Tonight I found your article, and we are both really grateful that we found it. We mainly need Chipotles in Adobo for our recipes and 3 hours of smoking for the adobo is a Godsend. – Bless you and your family dear Kevin.

    So just to be 100% sure: The red ripened Jalapenos I get can be added to the smoker for 3 hours using pecan chips to flavor and it will get all that divine flavor we need and enjoy from using the fully dried out Chipotles?

    Also, I once bought a batch of Meco type Chipotles, they were huge and greenish brown in color and fully dried out. I thought that this was just the green Jalapenos. But the taste and smell was completely different. Nothing like the burgundy ones. The sauce we made tasted awful and extremely earthy. But it smelled really nice in the bag. – How is it that smoke drying green jalapenos picked early will be the same as the red ones?

    Thanks Kevin for any time and response you can give.

    Kind regards,
    Chipotle enthusiast

    1. So happy you found me and are enjoying the recipes Gafoor. Yes, follow the directions as written and you should be fine.

  6. 5 stars
    Thanks for your smoked jalapenos recipe. It’s a perfect fit for the adobo/chipotle recipe. The wood selection, temperature and time made all the difference. The smoky and very flavorful combination of pecan/hickory gave it that slightly mild flavor and eases you into the smoky punch that hickory brings. The best part is that it worked great on the green jalapenos.

    1. The pair go hand in hand so thanks for that Brian. I actually just plucked about 60 jalapeños from my last plant and Monday we will be smoking for chipotles. Cheers!

  7. 5 stars
    I make these every fall with vine ripened Jalapeño’s from my garden . I grind some into powder for Chili keep some whole amd give some away . Gives a great smoky flavor to my Chili and other dishes .!

  8. 5 stars
    This is by far the BEST recipe to make my own and so easy! AND your Adobo Sauce is amazing. Thanks for putting out great recipes Kevin!

  9. 5 stars
    You’ve saved me from buying store bought EVER again! These are fantastic. I use a dehydrator and then grind them to a powder. Fantastic!