What’s The Best Chipotle In Adobo Sauce Substitute?

More and more popular recipes call for chipotle in adobo sauce.

It brings the spice, along with a smoky tomato tang to rich soups, marinades, and other flavor-packed dishes. So where do you turn if you’re flat out of this spicy concoction in your kitchen? What are your options for a chipotle in adobo sauce substitute if there’s simply none available at your supermarket or you’re right in the middle of cooking and need something in a pinch? Here are your best alternatives.

Supermarket substitution: Tabasco Chipotle Hot Sauce

Adobo sauce is a lightly seasoned tomato-based sauce which includes vinegar, so you’re not too far off by simply subbing in a few splashes of Tabasco Chipotle Hot Sauce. The heat won’t be quite as intense as you’d get from dicing a chipotle in the adobo sauce on the spot, but the smokiness will be there. Like for most substitutions, tend to under-spice, then add more to taste.

Spice rack quick fix: Chipotle powder or Smoked paprika/Cayenne powder mix

If you have chipotle powder available, it’s a good substitution for both heat and smokiness. If you don’t, then opt for a smoked paprika and cayenne powder mix. Equal portions of these two spices will provide the smokiness you’re looking for, along with the more pronounced heat you’d expect from chipotle in adobo sauce. For both of these quick fixes, you’re opting to leave out the tomato-based sauce, so there may be a slight alteration to the overall flavor of the meal.

For the adventurous: Make your own “on the fly” version

You can makeshift your own version of chipotle in adobo sauce using common kitchen ingredients. If you have dried chipotle around, it’s best, but you can also swap out those dried chilies for the chipotle powder or smoked paprika/cayenne mix from above. We’ll guess you don’t have whole dried chilies at your fingertips, so we’ll describe the powder option:

Mix 1 tablespoon tomato paste (or if you must – ketchup), 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (or smoked paprika/cayenne powder mix), 1/2 teaspoon cumin, a pinch of oregano, a pinch of garlic powder, and a pinch of salt. 

Adjust these proportions to best fit your flavor and spiciness expectations. Again – this is a makeshift fix, not a real recipe for traditional chipotle in adobo sauce. It won’t have anywhere near the richness of flavor due to no simmering of the ingredients. But when you’re in a pinch, a little adventurous mixing can do wonders.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on March 8, 2021 to include new content. It was originally published on April 22, 2015.