Chipotle Paste: Substitutes, Ingredients, Flavor, Making

A smoke-dried ripe jalapeno chili pepper is called 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 purée 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 walnut, tomato puree, garlic, onion, nutmeg, bay leaf, oregano, vinegar, and lemon juice.

The chipotle paste is a Mexican delicacy, usually, an accompanying sauce-like condiment added to soups, sauces, stews, pasta, and even desserts. This paste is often used for marinating meat, fish, or vegetables before grilling or barbequing.

Note that chipotle paste and sauce are not the same. Chipotle sauce is similar to adobo sauces with chipotle. 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 bring 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. By 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.

Chipotle Paste Substitutes

The chipotle paste is a popular condiment in Mexican cuisines. Thus it is rarely found in places where Mexican foods aren’t popular.

What to do if you don’t have 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

Chipotle in adobo sauce is 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 it with a sauce into a paste-like consistency

Chipotle in adobo sauce 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 Mexican food centers but most supermarkets everywhere usually have few other types of chili pastes on sale.

The garlic 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 chipotle paste though it gives the same punch. Garlic 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.

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 the tang and also they lack the 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 groceries 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 Tablespoon 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 in low flames. 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 a good cooking oil added to the mixture. If needed add more liquid/oil to get the paste-like consistency. Refrigerate the paste in an air-tight container and the paste could stay fresh for up to 4 weeks.

Chipotle Paste In A Jar


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 substitution for chipotle in adobo as they both are equally hot and smoky 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 chipotle paste for 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 recipes that call for chili paste, chili sauce, and smoky chili powder.

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