At one point, chipotle pepper was among the more obscure Latin American spices, at least outside of Latin America. These days, its common in the well-appointed kitchen and the name is familiar to many (in particular, thanks to the popular restaurant chain.) Chipotle peppers are simply jalapeño peppers that have been dried and smoked before being ground. And chipotle powder is by far the most versatile form the chipotle pepper can take. With it, you can bring chipotle’s smoky, earthy, and spicy flavor to most any dish. Though, we do have some favorite use cases. Below, see eight of our favorite chipotle powder uses that lean into the delicious smokiness this spice provides.
In dry rubs
Chipotle powder’s smoky character makes it perfect for enhancing meats cooked over an open flame. Its smokiness can enhance meats you plan to grill or barbecue, adding an extra dimension to the flavor. It can do a good job of making meats cooked on a stovetop or in an oven taste like they spent some time in a smoker. Chipotle powder is a great addition to most pork cuts, including ribs and pork butts. It also makes a great addition to meatloaf.
While chili powder is an essential spice blend for chili, it is also not the only option. Chipotle powder is a good chili powder substitute, but it is even better when you use it in combination with chili powder. Its smokiness is a great compliment to chili powder’s cumin, garlic, and other intense savory flavors. You can even use chipotle powder in place of the ancho chilies that are the most popular pepper for this spice blend.
Want a creamy spread for a sandwich that has a mild smoky and spicy kick? Add a little chipotle powder to your mayonnaise. It gives the mayonnaise a little heat along with an attractive reddish glow. You can use your chipotle mayo in chicken salad and egg salad sandwiches and on your burgers.
In taco meat
Traditionally, Mexican cooks use taco seasoning to season taco meat. Taco seasoning has essentially the same flavor profile as chili powder, which means it has chili pepper along with cumin and other savory spices. You can use chipotle powder as the pepper component of your taco seasoning, which will give your taco meat a pleasant hint of smokiness.
In barbecue sauce
A smoky flavor is key in any barbecue sauce you intend to use on ribs, chicken or pulled pork. You can get that smokiness the hard way — on the grill — or you can add an ingredient like liquid smoke. Chipotle powder is a great alternative to both. Not only will it give you the smoky notes, but it will also give you some heat and pepper flavor.
Adding a little heat to salsa’s flavor usually enhances it. The mild heat of chipotle is perfect for this and its smokiness is also good.
A dash or two of chipotle powder improves both fried and scrambled eggs. It is a great addition to southwestern omelets. Use it on deviled eggs to give your deviled eggs a little extra heat and an additional smoky flavor that goes a step beyond paprika.
In red enchilada sauce
Enchilada sauce is almost as versatile a condiment in Mexican cuisine as salsa. Enchilada sauce’s applications go far beyond just enchiladas and chipotle powder’s heat and smokiness are great additions to it. You can use it to flavor a variety of meats including the chicken and beef for tacos. It is also a great seasoning for chimichangas and burritos.