Chipotle Paste: Substitutes, Ingredients, Flavor, Making

A ripe, smoke-dried jalapeno chili pepper is called a chipotle pepper and is used for seasoning. Chipotle paste, powder, and sauce are used primarily in Mexican and Mexican-inspired cuisines.

This article explores the recipe, making process, uses, taste profile, and substitutes for chipotle paste.

What Is Chipotle Paste?

The chipotle paste is simply a paste made from a pureé of chipotle chilies. By the way, jalapeno chilies are smoke-dried to make chipotle chili.

Besides this chili, this paste may include other ingredients like walnuts, tomato puree, garlic, onion, nutmeg, bay leaf, oregano, vinegar, and lemon juice.

The chipotle chilli paste is a Mexican delicacy, usually, an accompanying sauce-like condiment added to soups, sauces, stews, pasta, and even desserts. Use chipotle paste when marinating meat, fish, or vegetables before grilling or barbecuing.

Note that chipotle paste and sauce are not the same. Chipotle sauce is similar to adobo seasoning.

It’s possible to make chili paste by mixing pureed chili and adobo sauce into a paste-like consistency. However, this paste will have a distinctive tomato tang and terrific chipotle smokiness.

What does chipotle paste taste like?

Chipotle chili paste has a smoky and spicy flavor that’s going to add some heat to your meals. Of course, the smokiness is the distinctive flavor of this paste, but beyond the heat and smoke, it is also sweet. Using this condiment, it’s a much easier way to add the lovely smoky heat of chipotle to your dishes.

Note that the taste of chipotle paste will vary according to the ingredients used in the paste.

Best Chipotle Paste Substitutes

The chipotle paste is a popular condiment in Mexican cuisine. Thus, it is rarely found in places where Mexican food isn’t popular.

What to do if you don’t have the homemade chipotle paste required for your recipe? What are the best substitutes that you can use? Here are the best options to make your recipe taste smoky and spicy without chipotle paste.

1. Chipotle in adobo sauce

Chipotles in adobo sauce are a popular condiment available even in places where Mexican foods aren’t common. If you can’t get it in your area, you can easily make a chili paste similar to it. You can puree the chipotle chilies and mix them with a sauce into a paste-like consistency

Chipotle in adobo renders the same smoky flavor as a chipotle paste. However, the tomatoes in the adobo sauce add a distinct tang to the smoky chili undertones. It will still work for most recipes that call for chipotle paste, despite its distinct flavor. Use it according to the suitability of your recipes.

2. Generic chili paste

It’s hard to find chipotle paste outside of Mexican food centers, but most supermarkets everywhere usually have a few other types of chili paste on sale.

A generic chili paste (ideally, Sambal Oelek Chili Paste), available at most supermarkets, is a worthy alternative to chipotle paste, and it works for most recipes. Honestly, it isn’t an exact match for chipotle paste, though it gives the same punch.

Regular chili paste has the same earthiness as chipotle but lacks a smoky undertone. Despite the differences, for most recipes, it is your best bet. Also, have a look at some of the chili paste substitutes that can be used in place of chipotle paste.

Even the one made of cayenne pepper could work as well.

3. Chili sauce

Any store-bought chili sauce is the last resort when you have to manage your recipe without the chipotle paste. Note that almost all the chili sauces you buy typically have a tomato base. These sauces are surely going to have a tang and also lack a smoky flavor.

Chili sauce is thinner than pureed chipotle in adobo sauce or chili paste. Using it instead of chipotle paste is going to make your recipes a little watery as well.

Chili sauce is not a perfect replacement for chipotle paste, but it can still work in a pinch.

4. Make your own chipotle paste

If you have chipotle peppers in your kitchen stack or available at the grocery store near you, it is very easy to make your own chipotle paste. The basic ingredients you need are chilies and a few common spices. In reality, it’s so simple that once you make chipotle paste, you may never consider buying it again.


  • 8 Dried Chipotle Peppers
  • 1/4 Cup Walnuts
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons minced onion
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Oregano
  • 2 Pinches of Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar


Boil the chipotles covered with water in a saucepan for about 30 minutes on a low flame. Once the chipotle peppers are cooked, remove the stems from the chipotles and reserve the cooking liquid. Blend all the ingredients in your food processor with 3 tablespoons of cooking liquid or good cooking oil added to the mixture. If needed, add more liquid or oil to get the paste-like consistency. Refrigerate the paste in an airtight container and the paste will stay fresh for up to 4 weeks.

How Long does Chipotle Last in the Fridge?

To keep Chipotle leftovers safe in the fridge for 3-4 days, it’s important to slow down bacteria growth that can make you sick. Here’s how to keep your leftovers fresh:

  1. Use airtight containers: This keeps the food moist and safe from other fridge items.
  2. Store different items like rice, beans, and meat separately. This keeps flavors fresh and makes reheating easier.
  3. Heat leftovers to 165°F (74°C) before eating to kill any bacteria. You can use a microwave, oven, or stove.
  4. When not sure about the food’s safety, it’s better to throw it away to avoid getting sick.

Chipotle Paste In A Jar

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use smoked paprika instead of chipotle paste?

The chipotle paste is a lot spicier than smoked paprika sauce. Even the hottest smoked paprika will be mild in comparison to chipotle paste. Still, you can use smoked paprika as an alternative if you are happy with its low spiciness. Or else, you can use an additional source of heat along with smoked paprika in your dish to bring the heat level up to the level of chipotle paste.

What’s the closest thing to the chipotle sauce?

The closest alternative to chipotle sauce seems to be hot pepper sauce (Tabasco sauce) or chipotle paste diluted with water. Regular chili paste lacks the smoky undertones of chipotle but has an earthy undertone similar to the chipotle sauce. When you are using chili paste as a substitute for chipotle sauce, there may be a vinegary bite as well, depending on the ingredients used in the paste.

What can I substitute for Chipotle in adobo?

Chipotle powder is the closest substitute for Chipotle in adobo sauce as they are both equally hot, smoky, and tangy in flavor. In the absence of chipotle powder, the next best alternatives are smoked paprika and cayenne powder.

How much chipotle paste should I use?

Use 1 tablespoon of chipotle paste for a mild flavor and 2 tablespoons for a hotter and stronger flavor. While using a substitute for chipotle paste, consider the comparative spiciness and flavor of the alternative ingredient.

What is chipotle chili paste used for?

Chipotle paste works best in Mexican-style chicken tacos, burritos, soups, and chile-based dishes. It can also be in any recipe that calls for chili paste, chili sauce, or smoky chili powder.

Can I use ancho chili powder instead of chipotle?

Ancho chili could be a decent chipotle paste alternative. The former is made of smoked jalapeños while the latter has smoke-dried poblano peppers as the key ingredient. Both are made of dried ground peppers and are closely similar in flavor. However, ancho chili powder is milder and tastes less smoky.

What hot sauce does chipotle use?

Chipotle serves a unique, spicy homemade tomatillo-red chili salsa, created with dried red chilies, tomatillos, onions, garlic, and various spices. Additionally, they provide TABASCO® Chipotle Pepper Sauce, a tasty mix of ripe red jalapeños, vinegar, salt, and spices.

How long is chipotle good for?

Chipotle leftovers stay fresh in the fridge for 3-4 days when stored right. For best quality, put them in airtight containers, keep ingredients separate, and reheat to 165°F (74°C). If unsure about their freshness, it's safer to throw them away.

Why is chipotle sour cream so creamy?

Chipotle's sour cream is creamier because it has more fat than regular store-bought types. They also stir it often, which breaks down the fat more, making it smoother.

What sauce goes with fajitas?

Fajitas pair well with various sauces for different flavors. Salsa, in types like tomato or tomatillo, adds zest. Sour cream, especially with lime or spices, offers a cool, creamy taste. Guacamole brings creamy, avocado richness. Cheese sauce provides a gooey, indulgent touch.

Where to buy chipotle paste?

You can buy chipotle paste at many places, like big grocery stores including Walmart and Kroger, in their international food sections. Specialty shops like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's have more variety. Online stores like Amazon and Walmart Grocery also sell it, and Latin American grocery stores offer authentic options.

Is chipotle sauce healthy?

Whether Chipotle sauce is healthy depends on its ingredients. Some, like the tomatillo-red chili salsa, are good for you because they have capsaicin, which can help your metabolism and lower inflammation. But, creamy Chipotle sauces have more calories, fat, and salt. It's best to use them in moderation.

To find more info on chipotle, also have a look at the best substitutes for chipotle powder and chipotle pepper substitutes in other articles here.