Our adobe sauce recipe is rich with smokiness, a touch of spice, a full floral aroma from the chiles & peppers, and a touch of fruit.
To make an adobe sauce, you need chipotles i.e., (smoked jalapenos) which turn dark red during the smoking process. If your dish requires heat, then these peppers will provide it without burning your mouth out with too much spice because their spicy flavor has been largely softened by roasting in a smoker for hours.
Adobo sauce comes from the Spanish word adobar, which means marinate or pickle with salt, vinegar, or garlic. Adobo sauce is mainly used for meat dishes but is enjoyed in seafood and even vegetables.
⬇️ Table of Contents
🥘 Adobo Sauce Ingredients
The base of South American adobo sauce is the dried chile peppers. The two most commonly used peppers for adobo are Guajillo and Ancho chiles.
Let's take a look at each of the chile's respective flavor properties and spice levels.
TIP: You can always purchase dried chilies online.
- Chipotle Peppers
- Puya Chiles or Pasilla
Herbs & Spices
- Fennel Seed
- Mustard Seed
- Minced Garlic
The remaining ingredients are found on the recipe card below.
🌶️ Adobo Sauce Peppers To Use
Chili peppers each have different flavor profiles. Just like the different grapes used in wine crafting. Having a solid understanding helps you adjust the recipe to the growing season and what is available at the market.
Below shows the 4 chiles we love to include. Our finished adobo sauce recipe is balanced and not spicy. If you want spicy, no problem, I explain how to accomplish both heat levels.
The collection of dried peppers is from the middle of the hotness level of the Scoville scale and is most commonly found in grocery stores.
Scoville Scale: How To Measure Spice Level
The Scoville Scale is a measurement of the heat level of chili peppers. It was developed in 1912 by American chemist Wilbur Scoville to estimate how much spice/heat) an individual pepper possesses, named the Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The scale assigns a rating from zero to infinity, with sweet bell peppers at zero and Carolina Reapers at over 2 million Scoville units!
Chilies and Peppers for Adobo Sauce
Ancho Chile Peppers
Mild in spice level - has a smoky raisin flavor - Scoville scale = 1000-1500 (lower than a jalapeno) (recipe to try with ancho chiles: Chicken Tortilla Soup
Medium(+) in spice (Guajillo range in spice heat level) Flavor is spicy mixed with hints of berries and green tea. To most, this is a must-use in adobo sauce recipes. The chile also brings great color to the sauce.
What Chipolte's Look Like
Chipotles have around the same spice level as their fresh form, which is the jalapeno pepper - The chipotles are not considered "spicy-hot" in the world of peppers and chiles - Scoville scale: 2000-8000
Fresh Peppers: Shishito | Serrano | Jalapeno
The addition of fresh peppers overall intensifies the flavor profile. Some Chefs skip the fresh peppers, what a disappointment. To control the heat level, remove the seeds and rib. (Rib: the white stuff the seeds are attached to)
Similar to Guajillo chiles, but with more spice and a bit more fruitiness. Another great option you'll find in the markets is Pasilla chilis or Mexico chilies.
💭 Controlling The Spice Level
Seeds and stems are where the spice is found. I removed all of the seeds and stems and the result is a balanced adobo sauce that does have some spice, but nothing in the way of being "Hot".
Our adobe sauce is rich with smokiness, a touch of spice, a full floral aroma from the chiles & peppers, and a touch of fruit.
If you want spicy adobo sauce, then add in the seeds and stems, the adobo sauce will end up around twice(+) as spicy.
If you wanted to perfect your adobe sauce recipe on the spice level, you could try something as exact as counting the number of seeds.
Removing Seeds & Stems: - Break off the stem at the top by pinching right below the stem, then using your other hand grab right below where you want to remove and twist.
Shake the seeds out of the dried chilies into a bowl. Then using your fingers or scissors, open the chile all the way up, and finish removing any seeds. It's ok to leave a few.
Max Flavor: Roast the dried chiles to release their natural oils and flavors on a cookie sheet. This will certainly enhance the overall complexity of the flavor. You can skip this step, but the adobe sauce will not be the best you can make.
Bake @ 400 for 4-5 minutes. You will know when the chiles are ready by the aroma/smell in the air. Once you can smell the chiles it's pretty much time to remove them from the oven. All ovens cook a little bit differently.
It only takes a moment to burn the dried chiles. Keep an eye on the process until complete.
🧂 Seasoning & Herbs
- Fennel Seed
Using a blender, begin with the roasted dried chiles and give them a head start blending. The chiles take up a lot of space in the blender. After a quick chop, you'll have more space to add the rest of the ingredients. Add water to help the blender get started. (½ cup)
Add the additional ingredients to the blender:
- ½ (+) large Red Onion
- Minced Garlic - ( 2 tablespoons)
- Kosher Salt - ( 2 tablespoons)
- Canola Oil - ( ¾ cup )
- Olive Oil - ( ¼ cup )
- Brown Sugar - ( 2 Tablespoon )
- 1 Juiced Lime
- Mustard Seeds ( 1 tablespoon)
- Thyme ( 1+ tablespoon)
- Cumin ( 1+ tablespoon)
- Fennel Seeds ( 1+ tablespoon)
Blend everything together, then take a taste.
TIP: Usually adobo sauce is made in batches. I would suggest not adding any more salt than the recipe calls for and waiting until you use the adobo sauce for the recipe you cook in the future. Try to not overdo the recipe on any one ingredient and make your changes the day of using the sauce.
Texas adobo sauce will last in your refrigerator for at least 3 months in glassware. The sauce slightly ferments over that time and improves in flavor #adobo
- Soups - Adds depth of flavor
- Chicken - Use as a marinade with a fresh squeeze of lime and minced onion
- Make a smoky adobo hummus - Add extra garlic
- Spicy mayonnaise - the uses are many. BBQ chicken, salmon, steaks burgers...
- Nothing much better than great chili
Watch How To Make
Try These Recipes That Use Adobo Sauce
Chipotle is a type of chili pepper that is smoked and dried. It has a smoky, earthy flavor and a slightly spicy heat. When added to recipes, it can add depth of flavor.
The level of spiciness in adobo sauce can vary depending on the recipe. Some recipes may use milder chilies, while others may use hotter chilies. You can adjust the level of spiciness to your preference by using more or fewer chili peppers in the recipe.
Adobo sauce can be used in a variety of recipes. It can be used as a marinade for meat, poultry, or seafood. It can also be used to flavor stews, soups, or sauces. Additionally, adobo sauce can be used as a condiment.
If you don't have adobo sauce, you can use a similar sauce like sofrito or salsa verde. You can also use a blend of chili powder, vinegar, and spices to create a similar flavor.
Yes, there are a few different worldly cuisines with their own versions of adobo sauce. An example would be the Philippines. The style of adobo is based on using soy sauce instead of dried chiles.
Yes. Make sure to add extra canola oil before freezing. It will stay good for around 3 months. The longer in the freezer, it may change in texture and flavor.
Yes, adobo sauce is typically gluten-free. However, you should always check the labels of the ingredients you use to make sure they are all gluten-free.
📖 Recipe Card
How to Make Adobo Sauce
- 20 chiles Chipotle Peppers
- 15 chiles Guajillo
- 15 chiles Puya Chiles or/ Pasilla
- 8 chiles Ancho Peppers
- 3 Jalapenos
- 3 Serranos
- 5 Shishitos
Herbs & Spices
- 1 ½ tablespoon Cumin
- 1 ½ tablespoon Fennel Seed
- 1 ½ tablespoon Thyme
- 1 tablespoon Mustard Seed
- 2 tablespoon Minced Garlic
- ¾ cup Canola Oil
- ¼ cup Olive Oil / optional
- 1 cup Water / use a much as needed to create a paste-like consistency
- 2 tablespoon Kosher Salt
- 1 medium Onion
- 2 tablespoon Brown Sugar
- 1 juiced Lime
How To Control Adobo Sauce Spiciness
- For a balanced adobo sauce, you'll want to remove the seeds and stems. If you would like the adobo sauce to be spicy hot, start by removing the seeds. Then smash/grind the seeds into a paste. This way the adobo sauce will not be full of seeds and have improved texture.
Preparing the Chiles
- Roast the dried chiles on a cookie sheet in a preheated oven of 400 degrees for about 5 minutes. You'll know the chiles are almost done once you can smell them in the air.You'll want the chiles to be almost crispy once out of the oven. They will crisp up even further once out of the oven as they cool down. This will make blending them easier.
Herbs & Spices
- Next, toast the spices and herbs in a dry pan on the stovetop. Do not add anything to the pan other than the herbs and spices. Take about 3 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they do not burn. TIP: - while toasting, you can move the pan on and off the heat to control the toasting process. Best practice...
- Toasting: Add to dry pan on medium heat,- 1 ½ tablespoon of Cumin- 1 tablespoon of Mustard Seeds- 1 ½ tablespoon of Fennel Seeds- 1 ½ tablespoon of Dried Thyme
- Using a blender or food processor. I like using a blender since it has high walls and the chiles are long/tall. Start with the roasted chiles in the blender and get them to blend up first. Add water at this point to help the blender chop the chiles.Start with ½ cup of water to moisten the dried chiles and blend again. Then add in ½ cup of canola oil plus ¼ cup of olive oil. Add as much water/oil as needed to create a paste consistency.Next, add in one medium onion, 1+ tablespoons of kosher salt, plus 2+ tablespoons of brown sugar, normal white sugar will work. Squeeze or juice one lime and add to the blender.
- After adding all the ingredients, adjust the consistency with water. The end result, you will want the consistency of a paste. If the mixture looks too tight/thick add more water or oil.
Adobo Sauce Recipe Ideas / Uses
- - Soups: Depth of flavor- Spicy Mayonnaise - Marinade on chicken/turkey- Chili recipes- Spicy Hummus dips
- Roasting the dried chiles releases their natural oils and improves the flavor
- Adding fresh peppers gives needed fresh acid, deeper flavor, and capsaicin (spice oil)
- Brown sugar, the secret ingredient to balancing
- Adobo sauce will mature in flavor by a small amount of fermentation while in controlled temperature, ie the refrigerator
- Experimenting with different chiles and peppers is the most fun in my opinion with adobo sauce making. Keep an eye out while shopping during the year. Take note of what is available and in season. Build your foundational recipe here today, and next time make a small adjustment.