Chipotle Pepper: Origin, Taste, Uses, Scoville, Making

What are Chipotle Peppers?

A chipotle is a smoke-dried ripe red jalapeño chili pepper used for seasoning.

Chipotle is a Mexican Spanish word that derives from a Nahuatl word that means ‘smoked pepper.’ It’s pronounced ‘chi-POAT-lay. ‘ That’s ‘-lay,’ as in rhymes with ‘play,’ ‘clay,’ and ‘tray’. Unequivocally, the word is pronounced chi-POAT-lay.

In Mexico, it’s produced using the age-old craft of gently smoking them over pecan wood for several days. Chipotle is intensely smoky and moderately spicy and it forms the foundation for a wide variety of dishes. Often, they are ground and used in several Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes. You’ll find it typically sold in a rich, smoky-flavored adobo sauce.

Today, chipotles predominantly come from Mexico, where they produce two varieties of chipotle: Morita (made with fully grown green Jalapenos) and Meco (made with fully matured red jalapenos). Chipotles are available in different forms such as dried, powdered, canned, or pickled.

What Is in Chipotle?

Chipotle: The only ingredient in Chipotle is the red jalapeños that have been smoked and dried.

Chipotle powder: is made of ground jalapeno with a smoky flavor. Chipotle powder is mildly spicy. It is perfect for adding smoky flavor and mild heat to many recipes.

Chipotle sauce: is made of mayo as a base foundation and sour cream adds extra creaminess and a gentle tanginess. The ingredients in this sauce include sour cream, chipotle pepper in adobo, mayo, Lime Juice, garlic, and salt.

Chipotle paste: is made from a purée of chipotle chilies. It usually includes ingredients such as tomato purée, garlic, onion, vinegar, sugar spices, and dried herbs.

Chipotle pepper in adobo: includes a combination of things. The adobo sauce is a velvety, sweet, and tangy sauce made from dried chili pepper, generally chipotle chili. The key ingredients in adobo sauce are mayo, sour cream, chipotle peppers, lime juice, garlic, and salt.

What Does Chipotle Taste Like?

The smokiness is the distinctive flavor of chipotle, besides the smoke and heat, chipotle is also sweet. Their heat ranges from 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville units. They are hotter than the commonly used ancho chiles.

Usually, the ripened jalapenos on the vine to a deep red are much sweeter than green jalapenos. Toasting the dried peppers for a few minutes helps wake up the flavors to their full.

How to Use Dried Chipotle Peppers?

This smoke-dried jalapeno pepper is popularly used to make chipotle sauce, chipotle powder, chipotle paste, canned chipotle, chipotle pickle, chipotle salsa, and chipotle in adobo.

Chipotle peppers are central to Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisines. Some love to puree a can of chipotles into a dipping sauce; others may use the fine powder of dried chipotles to sprinkle onto popcorn or pizzas.

Canned Adobo sauce is a popular item made of chipotle chilies which are known for their great flavor with mild heat.

Tinga de Pollo tacos are made by filling the shredded chicken tinga cooked in a chipotle sauce. Mole poblano and Camarones a la diabla are two deeply flavorful sauces that have chipotle chiles as the key ingredient.

This smoked chili, typically in powdered form, is a common ingredient in several homemade and commercial products. The ground chili is combined with other spices to make a meat marinade – adobo. It’s an important part of some brands of barbecue sauce and hot sauce, also in some chili cornes and stews.

How to Make Chipotle Peppers?

The easiest method to make chipotle pepper is by using a special smoker grill. Add wood to the tray and set the smoker at 2000 F. Place the washed and dried jalapenos on the smoker grill. Smoke for 24-48 hours, until very dry; check them every 12 hours, or so. Once fully dehydrated, remove the smoked peppers from the grill and arrange them on a cooling rack.

If you don’t have a special smoker grill, then use a large charcoal grill with a smoker box attached. Even with a gas grill, or kettle-style charcoal grill, you can still create a smoky environment good enough for DIY chipotle pepper.

Preserve the smoke-dried jalapeno peppers in an airtight container to keep them clean dry and in good condition for one to two years.

Note that you should use relatively mild wood for smoke. Any fruit woods are the best, such as oak, hickory, and pecan. Provide a steady supply of wood, because the longer you smoke the peppers, the better quality peppers you get.

Chipotle In Adobo Sauce

Frequently Asked Questions

Is chipotle a spice?

All types of peppers, including chipotle, are generally categorized as spices. They add heat and flavor to dishes just like a regular spice used to flavor foods. Pungency and unique flavors are the fundamental qualities of any spice like cumin, ginger, pepper, or cloves.

Are chipotle peppers hot?

The heat level of chipotles ranges from 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville heat units. They are hotter than ancho chiles (1,500-1,500 SHU) and paprika (250–1,000 SHU) but milder than red chiles de Arbol (15,000-30,000 SHU). Underneath the distinct flavors of smoke and heat, chipotles are also sweet.

What is chipotle sauce?

Chipotle sauce is a creamy sauce with a unique, smoky flavor. The taste of the sauce may vary according to the ingredients used. Usually, it has bubbly flavors of dill and coriander, the creaminess of curds and mayonnaise, and the heat and smokiness of chipotles. It’s a great condiment to use along with any dish, be it a burrito, or a sandwich.

What is chipotle salsa?

Chipotle salsa, also known as Pico de Gallo, is a special variety of sauce used as condiments for tacos, nachos, tortilla chips, burritos, and other Mexican and American foods, as dip or topping. The ingredients may vary, but the general ingredients in chipotle salsa are tomatoes, ground cumin, green chilies, lime juice, salt, sugar, ground black pepper, chipotle peppers in adobo, cilantro, and onion.

What is chipotle in adobo sauce?

Chipotles in adobo are smoked and dried jalapeños rehydrated in tangy vinegar, purée of tomato, garlic, and other spices and herbs. It has an intense smoky flavor and medium heat, perfect for traditional Mexican cuisines and Tex-Mex dishes.

What’s a good chipotle in adobo substitute?

The best substitutes for chipotle in adobo are:
• Tabasco chipotle hot sauce
• Chipotle powder
• Smoked paprika
• Cayenne powder mix
• Smoked Paprika + Tomato

Where to buy chipotle peppers?

Smoke-dried jalapeno peppers are easily available in Mexico and in places where a sizeable Mexican population lives. All types of chipotle products like sauces, powder, pickles, whole chilies, and more are available from various online sellers.

Read Next: All important facts on  Cayenne Pepper and the best substitutes for Jalapeno pepper that you can use.