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Adobo Sauce (Mexican Chili Pepper Sauce)

Adobo sauce is best known as a Mexican staple in Latin American cuisine, known for its bold and smoky flavorprofile. It is a versatile ingredient used in marinades, stews, sauces, and dips.

what is adobo sauce


Adobo sauce, as known as Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, Chipotle paste, chipotle in adobo, adobe sauce, or adobo paste.

Basically It is made of a blend of chiles, herbs, spices, and vinegar. The chili peppers used can vary, but adobo sauce is often made with smoked chipotle chiles for a distinct smoky flavor. Garlic, cumin, Mexican oregano, and salt are common spices used in adobo sauces.

adobo sauce

It is available in most grocery stores, but it can also be made from scratch using a combination of the above ingredients. You can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will last for up to two weeks or longer.

Plus, adobo sauce freezes well, you can portion the sauce in ice cube trays before go into the freezer for easier use later. It will last up to 6 months in the freezer.


It’s made with a blend of Mexican herbs and spices with chiles that you can find at local Mexican markets. 

They are garlic, oregano, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, chile powder, different types of chiles (ancho and guajillo), and white vinegar. It is used as a marinade, barbecue sauce, and as a flavoring to enhance the flavor of foods.


The most commonly types of peppers used for the sauce are:

Mexican chiles
  • Chipotle Peppers: All chipotle chiles start as jalapeño peppers. For example, a Chipotle Morita is a jalapeño left on the plant to ripen until semi-sweet and ruby red). Canned chipotle peppers are available at most Latin supermarkets.
  • Ancho Chili powder (ground ancho): Made from dried form of poblano chile peppers, dried ancho chiles provide a mild and fruity flavor to the sauce.
  • Guajillo Chiles: Guajillo peppers are dried chilies with a mild to medium spiciness and a sweet taste.
  • Pasilla Peppers: These are dried chilaca peppers with a mild to medium heat and a fruity flavor.


It has a deep, smoky flavor with a mildly spicy kick. The dried chili peppers provide a smoky taste, and the oregano gives it an earthy flavor. T

chipotle pepper in adobo sauce

he combination of these ingredients results in a complex and delicious sauce. And oftentime, you can adjust the spiciness to your liking by adding more or fewer dried chilies.


You can also include other common ingredients to make your own twist of adobo sauce, such as:

adobo sauce recipe
  • Garlic: Adds a pungent flavor and aroma to the sauce.
  • Onion: Provides a slightly sweet and tangy flavor to balance the spiciness of the chili peppers.
  • Cumin: Brings a warm and earthy flavor that complements the depth of the chili peppers.
  • Oregano: Adds a herbaceous note that pairs well with the tanginess of the vinegar.
  • Tomato: Provides sweetness and body to the sauce and can mellow out the spiciness of the chili peppers.
  • Salt: Balances the flavors of the sauce and enhances the umami taste.


Here’s how to make it:

  1. Soak 5 dried ancho peppers and 5 dried guajillo peppers in hot water until they are soft.
  2. Remove the stems, seeds, and veins from the peppers and place them in a blender or food processor along with 1/2 cup of white vinegar, 3 peeled garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon each of black pepper, dried oregano, cumin, and salt.
  3. Blend the mixture until it becomes a smooth paste.
  4. You can use this sauce immediately or store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or freeze it for longer storage. It can be used as a marinade, a seasoning, or a dipping sauce for vegetables, and snacks. Its smoky, tangy, and slightly sweet flavor adds depth and richness to any dish.


Here is a simple recipe for making Spanish-style Adobo sauce:


  • 6 dried chilies (such as ancho or guajillo)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Heat a dry skillet over medium heat and toast the dried chilies until fragrant.
  • Remove the seeds and stems from the chilies and transfer them to a blender.
  • Add garlic, cumin, oregano, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper to the blender and blend until smooth.
  • Transfer the sauce to a jar or container and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Pro Tip: If you want a milder sauce, use fewer chilies or remove the seeds and membranes from the chilies.


Uses in traditional Mexican cuisine

Here are some ways to use homemade or canned Adobo sauce in your cooking:

what is sofritas
  • Marinating sauce: Adobo sauce makes an excellent marinade, imparting its unique flavor into your ingredients. We use it in our tofu Sofritas and TEX MEX Paste.
  • Dressings and dips: it can be used to make flavorful dressings for salads or as a dip for veggies and chips.
  • Rice and beans: Adding it to Mexican rice and Bean chili can take them from ordinary to extraordinary.
  • Grilled vegetables: Simply toss them in a mixture of olive oil and the sauce before grilling.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to this versatile sauce, so don’t be afraid to get creative in the kitchen!

Uses in non-traditional recipes

Here are some ways you can use it in your cooking.

vegan birra tacos (oyster mushroom recipes)
  1. Add a few spoonfuls of the sauce to marinades for grilled or roasted, tofu or vegetables to give your dish a delicious smoky flavor.
  2. Stir some sauce into soups, stews, or chili for an extra kick of heat and depth of flavor.
  3. Use Adobo sauce as a condiment for sandwiches, red tacos, or burgers instead of ketchup or mayo.
  4. Mix the sauce with vegan sour cream or coconut yogurt to make a delicious dip for chips, crackers, or veggies.

With its smoky and spicy flavor, adobo sauce adds depth and complexity to your dishes, taking them to a whole new level.


Within each region or culture, the recipe for Adobo may vary with the addition of different ingredients like coconut milk, onion, spices, and other sauces. Here are some variations:

a jar of homemade Mexican paste
  • Chipotle Peppers in Adobo: made with smoked and dried jalapeno peppers (chipotles).
  • Red Adobo: made with dried red chiles, this version is spicier than other varieties and has a deep red color.
  • Guajillo Adobo Sauce: This sauce is made with dried guajillo peppers, garlic, oregano, and cumin. It’s perfect for adding depth of flavor to stews and soups.
  • Green Adobo: made with fresh green chiles, this version is milder and has a bright green color.
  • Adobo de Ajo: made with garlic and vinegar, this version has a tangy and garlicky flavor.
  • Adobo de Chiles Secos: made with a mix of dried peppers, this version has a complex and earthy flavor.
  • Adobo Negro: made with a mix of blackened chiles and spices, this version has a deep umami and slightly sweet flavor.
  • Pineapple Adobo Sauce: This sweet and spicy sauce is made with diced pineapple, chipotle peppers, and adobo sauce. It’s perfect to adding a sweet and spicy twist to your tacos and burritos.
  • Filipino Adobo Sauce: This classic Filipino sauce is made with soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves. It’s perfect for marinading and is a staple at Filipino fiestas and gatherings.

Each version of adobo sauce has its unique flavor and culinary uses. It’s a versatile sauce that can add depth and complexity to any dish.

Final Words

Adobo sauce is a Mexican condiment that is widely used as a cooking sauce. It is a unique blend of sweet and tangy flavors that varies from region to region and from family to family. It brings you the authentic Latin American flavor to your dinning table, all you need is a dollop of this magic sauce.

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More Vegan Recipes

what is adobo sauce

Homemade Chipotle in Adobo Sauce Recipe

This is the best homemade Mexican Adobo Sauce recipe! Made with just a few simple ingredients, it's perfect for spicing up your favorite dishes.
5 from 7 votes
Print Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1 cup
Author: SHU-CHUN


  • 6 pc dried chilies such as ancho or guajillo
  • 3 pc garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp Mexican oregano
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Heat a dry skillet over medium heat and toast the dried chilies until fragrant.
  • Remove the seeds and stems from the chilies and transfer them to a blender.
  • Add garlic, cumin, oregano, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper to the blender and blend until smooth.
  • Transfer the sauce to a jar or container and refrigerate for up to two weeks. Pro Tip: If you want a milder sauce, use fewer chilies or remove the seeds and membranes from the chilies.

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