Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce Substitute

Adobo Sauce is a Spanish marinade or sauce containing herbs and spices like Paprika, Oregano, Parsley, and Salt. Both preserving food and enhancing its flavor, adobo traditionally uses vinegar to preserve the food. Adobo sauce is now famous in Spanish, Mexican, and South American cuisine. 

Chipotle peppers are smoke-dried, dehydrated Jalapeno peppers used for seasoning and marinades, such as chipotles en adobo (chipotle peppers in adobo sauce).

Sometimes you might need chipotle pepper in adobo sauce substitute, which might seem tricky. In this article, you’ll learn about some ideal substitutions you can make for this popular delicacy.

Substitutes For Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

1. Cayenne Pepper Powder

Cayenne pepper is a hot but tasty alternative you can use for chipotle in adobo sauce. 

This option offers plenty of complimentary flavors, especially for bbq dishes, beef, barbacoa, birria, and burrito.

The main thing to be aware of with cayenne pepper is that it’s hot! Therefore, you should use much less than you think, ideally combining with a bit of oil to create a good marinade while taste-testing a little to ensure the heat level is to your liking.

2. Smoked Paprika

This substitute will work great for beans, fish, and noodles. Paprika isn’t too spicy; it’s much milder than even mild chilies such as the chipotle pepper

However, smoked paprika is a good option because it’s one of the main ingredients in adobo sauce. If you combine it with a bit of salt and oregano, you’ll have something similar to what you’d expect, minus a little heat.

You can even combine smoked paprika, salt, oregano, and cayenne pepper powder with a splash of oil to create a homemade alternative to adobo sauce.

3. Ranchero Sauce

Ranchero Sauce is an excellent option if you want to make fajitas, enchiladas, or similar Mexican dishes.

This sauce is tomato-based which is why it does work well for some Mexican recipes. However, it’s not incredibly spicy, either.

You might want to consider this as a substitute because it’s easy to pick up in any grocery store, with a similar saltiness and spicy flavor.

4. Chili Garlic Sauce

This option is ideal for duck and other poultry-based meats such as chicken because the garlic adds a little something to elevate the dish more than what you’d get with chipotle peppers in adobo. 

Chili garlic sauce can contain different chilies. Some use red jalapeno peppers, and others use Fresno chilies. So it can be rather hot or mild.

When picking out chili garlic sauce in the store, you can choose a spice level that will suit your tastes.

This option is widely available in the store due to its popularity in several dishes, but you can always make it at home.

5. Ancho Chili Paste

You can use Ancho Chili Paste as a substitute for chipotle pepper in adobo sauce for marinades. It uses ancho chilies, salt, and a little water to create a thick sauce with a similar smoky flavor to adobo sauce.

As the ancho chili only offers a mild spiciness, it’s more of a sweet-tasting pepper, making it great for delicate meats like duck. 

You can use this option as a direct substitute in dozens of recipes, but it can also work as a base to build on by adding a little chili powder, cayenne pepper, or even diced whole chilies to create something with a bit more kick.

Finally, if you’ve got some oregano on hand, you can add some to bring a little bit of that unique herb flavor to your dish.

6. Homemade Adobo Sauce

Another option, which isn’t always ideal because of the time and ingredients involved with a homemade substitute, is doing it yourself!

You can use chipotle peppers or jalapeno peppers (since chipotle peppers are smoked jalapenos), which means that if you have the time & ingredients available, it’s possible to create something incredibly similar.

Check out this easy-to-follow recipe for making homemade adobo sauce below.


Regardless of the reason why you want a chipotle peppers in adobo sauce substitute, there are many excellent alternatives you can make for this delicious sauce/marinade. Any option on our list will help you make a suitable substitution for any situation.