Adobo Sauce Substitute

Adobo Sauce is best known for containing chipotle peppers. However, this versatile sauce can contain many different ingredients, including peppers. This article will explore what can make a quick, effective adobo sauce substitute in a pinch.

Originally from Spain, adobo sauce is now almost synonymous with Mexican cuisine, especially in the United States. You can use it for meat – this is called adobado. It can also be used in stews, soups, and more.

Read on to find out all you need to know about adobo sauce and what will make a good substitution for this much-loved sauce.

What Is Adobo Sauce?

Adobo Sauce is bursting with flavors, with the smoky, sweet, tangy, and robust earthy taste making it a huge favorite for meat, bbq, tacos, burritos, and a lot else.

It’s a deep crimson-red color with a thick paste-like consistency. While it is known as a sauce, it is often used as a marinade. In Spanish, adobo actually translates to “sauce, marinade, or seasoning,” and it is used for all of those uses.

The sauce can contain many chilies or a singular chili, such as ancho, guajillo, or chipotle chili peppers. It also contains paprika, oregano, and vinegar; in some non-traditional recipes, it also contains cumin and cinnamon. These are then cooked and simmered to create a delicious mouthwatering sauce or paste.

With a wide variety of different uses, you need to consider a few different options when looking for the best substitute for adobo sauce.

Substitutes For Adobo Sauce

1. Garlic and Chili Sauce

You can either make garlic and chili sauce at home or purchase it in most grocery stores.

It makes an excellent substitute for adobo sauce when you want a dip or marinade.

It can be extremely hot to mild which makes it a perfect substitution for those who want to control the heat to their own taste.

2. Regular Peppers

You can use regular chili peppers as a substitute for adobo sauce. Just dice them up in a blender and combine with a little oil along with any of the herbs and spices that you’d find in adobo sauce to create a quick marinade for chicken and other meats.

Some of the most common peppers used in adobo sauce include:

  • Ancho Peppers
  • Guajillo Peppers
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Chipotle Peppers

Any of the above peppers would work well, with the exception of jalapenos they are all smoky peppers that add a nice mixture of smoky-sweet to your dish.

3. Ancho Chili Paste

Ancho Chili Paste is a delicious, mildly spicy, sweet and smoky paste that you can use for adding to sour cream, soups, etc. It also works well for marinading meat such as pork, beef, and chicken.

Like most chili pastes, you can buy these in the store, or quickly make them at home by following a recipe or video tutorial.

4. Homemade Adobo Sauce

Speaking of video tutorials, there’s always the option to create a homemade adobo sauce if you have the right ingredients on hand.

It should only take around 5-10 minutes to prepare everything, then you simmer them together under a low-moderate heat to get the desired consistency and harmony of flavors.

Follow the video above if you’d like to give it a go – the added bonus of this is that you can make as much as you need for future uses too.

5. Adobo Seasoning

Adobo Seasoning works well as a dry rub for meats such as pork. If you want to barbecue some meat, create a sauce, season some potato salad, or make an interesting fajita mixture then adobo seasoning is going to give you the flavors you want from an adobo sauce alternative.

6. Gochujang

Gochujang is a deep crimson chili paste, but that’s not where the similarities to adobo sauce ends.

This famous Korean red chili paste is made using chili powder, glutinous rice, and fermented soybean powder. It has a intensely savory, sweet, and fiery flavor. It does have a subtle smokiness to it that makes it an interesting substitute for adobo sauce.

You can use Gochujang for dipping sauces, stews, soups, and marinades. So you can use it in almost any situation that you would use adobo sauce. It has a thick texture which also gives you that similar consistency.

The main difference is that Gochujang adds a little more heat to the dish so you might want to adjust ratios, basically, do a little taste test before using it as a 1:1 substitute!


Adobo Sauce is a tantalizing taste-bud teasing delight with many different uses. If you needed an adobo sauce substitute, now you’ve got one with one of the excellent options above. Give one of them a go and get eating!