Answered: Chipotle Pepper Substitute

Chipotle Peppers are a type of chili pepper made from dried jalapeño peppers. They are used to bring a distinctive, smoked earthy flavor to dishes while adding a little heat. In this article, we’re looking at the best chipotle chili pepper substitute for any situation.

What Are Chipotle Peppers?

Chipotle Pepper is a dried, smoked variation of the jalapeño pepper. Chipotle peppers are primarily used as a seasoning and are available as chipotle powder, flakes, whole pods, and sometimes canned.

Primarily used in Mexican cuisine and related inspired cuisines such as Tex-Mex, these peppers are a crucial ingredient in dozens of recipes.

Usually milder than fresh or matured jalapeños, chipotle pepper varies between 2,500-8,000 Scoville heat units (SHU). 

They appear dark to dark-red in color and, when whole, are noticeably dehydrated, affecting their size accordingly. 

Best Substitutes for Chipotle Pepper

1. Chipotle Powder

Most stores will stock chipotle powder in the herbs and spices aisle. This availability makes chipotle powder an effective alternative to whole chipotle peppers.

You can use the powdered chipotle in the same dishes and recipes, which is another plus.

The main thing to watch out for is that powdered chili is more concentrated. The added concentration of flavor and heat can overpower a dish, so you need to adjust how much you use.

You can substitute chipotle powder for regular chipotle peppers by using half a teaspoon per whole dried chipotle chili.

2. Smoked Paprika

Smoked Paprika is a delicious, widely-available alternative to smoky chilis like chipotle.

You can use smoked paprika in many of the same recipes, but it works best when used as a substitute for chipotle pepper powder.

Made with pimento peppers, it isn’t as hot but has a more intense smokiness, making it ideal for fish, chicken, and beef. Paprika also works well in sauces, soups, and stews.

If you can find it in your local store or the spice rack at home, then you can increase the heat of this more mild option with 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder per half 3/4 teaspoon of paprika that you use.

When substituted for chipotle you should always use smoked paprika, not regular paprika, as the flavors aren’t quite the same.

3. Chipotle in Adobo Sauce

This choice is your best option for a suitable chipotle pepper paste substitute. 

Chipotle in Adobo Sauce is a tomato-based sauce combining earthy, tangy, and smoky flavors. The tomato adds a sweetness that makes them perfect for sauces, salsas, tacos, and more.

You can use this substitution in a 1:1 ratio to replace dried chipotle peppers or chipotle pepper paste.

4. Crushed Red Pepper

Crushed Red Peppers make an excellent ground chipotle pepper substitute. The only downside is that while they have the heat, they don’t have the same subtle earthy flavors and smokiness that you might want.

Crushed red pepper is quite spicy but does have a unique sweetness that comes through in many cases. So while you can use these in many recipes, it might not be best when you’d ordinarily want to use something like chipotle paste. 

5. Dried Pasilla Pepper

Pasilla peppers come from the Oaxaca region in Mexico. Also known as Pasilla de Oaxaca, the dried version of these chilis is even smokier than chipotle peppers.

You can use them in all the same dishes and recipes. However, they aren’t as good in the heat department.

The pasilla pepper is only around 2,500 Scoville heat units (SHU), which is much less than chipotle chili peppers, scoring up to 8,000 SHU.

You can always combine dried pasilla peppers with crushed red pepper or chili powder to add heat while retaining the smoky flavors that are important in many recipes that require chipotle.


No matter why you need a chipotle pepper substitute, there are numerous alternatives you can easily use to replace these peppers in any dish. So give one of the above options a quick try and enjoy your food as you usually would!