Chipotle peppers are dried and smoked jalapeno peppers. These small-to-medium-sized peppers are typically dark or dark red in color as they are aged and have a distinctive smoky and earthy flavor with subtle fruitiness. They’re a great option to add a nice depth of heat to your dishes without setting your taste buds on fire.
This go-to spice comes in various forms, including canned, dried, powdered, and pickled. It is primarily used to pack heat and can be added to various dishes like soups, sauces, stews, and other savory recipes. If you don’t have chipotle pepper on hand, you can use these chipotle pepper substitutes to add a similar flavor to your dishes.
1. Ancho Chili Powder
Ancho chili powder is a Mexican spice made with dried and ground poblano peppers. It has a mild heat to it and has some smokiness along with fruity, raisin-like undertones. Ancho chili powder can add a deep, rich flavor to dishes and is considered the closest substitute to chipotle pepper.
You can use ancho chili powder to add heat and smokiness to savory recipes. However, keep in mind that ancho chili powder can have milder heat than chipotle pepper, so you may need to add more if you like your food spicy. It also has a somewhat sweet flavor, so it would be best to sprinkle in some cayenne pepper to pack heat.
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder = 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder. (Add more to your preferred level of heat.)
2. Chipotle in Adobo Sauce
Chipotle in adobo sauce is a Southwestern condiment made by adding chipotle peppers to a herb-tomato-based sauce with vinegar, garlic, herbs, and sugar. It has an earthy, tangy, and smoky taste with hints of sweetness that create layers of flavors in any dish.
You can use chipotle in adobo sauce in sauces and salsas to give your dish that coveted chipotle flavor. But, keep in mind that it will add some tanginess and sweetness to your dish. You may also need to balance the liquid content of your recipe against the sauce to avoid making your dish too runny.
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper paste = 1 teaspoon chipotle in adobo sauce. (Add more if needed.)
3. Chipotle Powder
Chipotle powder, made from smoke-dried jalapeno chili peppers, has a mild, earthy, smoky taste. It is popular in Mexican, Tex-Mex, and Southwestern cuisine and is commonly used to add heat and flavor. You can easily find chipotle powder in the herbs and spices aisle of most grocery stores and is a terrific stand-in for chipotle peppers.
You can use chipotle powder to substitute for chipotle pepper in soups, stews, marinades, or any other dish. It will help you add the authentic chipotle flavor to your dish while sticking to the required consistency, although chipotle powder will also add a hint of fruity undertone. Keep in mind that it has a more concentrated flavor, so you will need to adjust the amount used to avoid overpowering your dish.
1 chipotle pepper powder = 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder.
4. Crushed Red Pepper
Crushed red pepper, or red pepper flakes, is a mixture of Anaheim, bell, Fresno, and jalapeno peppers. It has a similar heat level as chipotle pepper but lacks that subtle earthiness and smokiness. Although the taste slightly differs, crushed red pepper makes an excellent ground chipotle pepper substitute.
You can use crushed red pepper in many recipes that call for the original ingredient. These flakes usually have a large number of seeds, which makes them quite spicy. So, they’re best sprinkled over pasta, garlic bread, pizza, or meat starters, where they add a kick of heat to the dish. Keep in mind that it also has a mildly sweet undertone, so it’s not suitable for dishes that require the heat of chipotle to shine.
1 chipotle pepper powder = 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper.
5. Chocolate Habanero
Chocolate habanero is a variety of habanero chili with an earthier and smoky flavor compared to regular habaneros, although the smokiness is not quite as strong as chipotle peppers. It also has hints of fruitiness and the chocolate-like blend works wonderfully as a milder substitute for the heat-packed chipotle peppers.
Chocolate habanero’s level of heat surpasses that of chipotle peppers by a fair amount. So, while you can still use it to replace chipotle pepper in any recipe, it would be best to restrict the use of this super hot pepper variety as a rub for barbeque and grilled dishes.
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder = 1/4 chocolate habanero. (Start with a small amount and adjust to taste.)
6. Pasilla Peppers
Pasilla peppers, also called Pasilla de Oaxaca, come from Oaxaca, Mexico. These dried chilis are smokier than chipotle peppers but have a fruity flavor similar to raisins or prunes. Use them in the right amount and you have a near-perfect substitute for chipotle pepper.
While you can use Pasilla de Oaxaca in any dish that calls for chipotle pepper, they do pack significantly less heat than chipotle peppers. So, you will need to adjust the amount you use to get the desired outcome. Alternatively, you can also combine it with crushed red pepper or chili powder to add heat without sacrificing the smoky flavor.
1 chipotle pepper powder = 1 teaspoon pasilla de Oaxaca.
7. Smoked Paprika
Smoked paprika is made with pimento peppers and is a popular ingredient in Spanish cuisine. It isn’t as hot as chipotle peppers but adds an intense smokiness to the recipe. This delicious alternative to chipotle pepper is widely available and can be used in any dish that calls for chipotle pepper.
Smoked paprika can be used to marinate fish, chicken, and meat or to flavor sauces, soups, and stews. However, it is milder than chipotle pepper, so you may need to add in some chili powder or cayenne pepper to get the desired levels of heat and smoky flavor in your dish.
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder = 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika + 1/4 teaspoon chili powder or cayenne.