Adobo Sauce

Adobo Sauce

January 16, 2020 0 By

Adobo sauce is best known for being the sweetly earthy sauce that bathes canned chipotle peppers. It’s an authentic and ridiculously versatile Mexican staple that’s easy to DIY. Here’s how to make it at home.

Adobo sauce is an authentic, earthy, rich, velvety, and not particularly tongue-tingling Mexican sauce made from dried chile peppers. It’s typically made from dried ancho chile peppers but our recipe also offers an easier riff that relies on pure ancho powder rather than dried ancho chiles in pepper form. How brilliant is that?!–Renee Schettler

How to Use Adobo Sauce

We’re all probably most familiar with adobo sauce as the sweetly earthy sauce that bathes canned chipotle peppers. But it boasts far, far more uses than that…

Use it as a marinade for fish, scallops, shrimp, chicken or pork destined for the grill or skillet.

Stir a little into rice as it cooks.

Mix with ground pork for a quick substitute for Mexican chorizo.

Add to pretty much any brothy soup for depth and interest.

Season sautéed greens or potatoes.

Use in a simple vinaigrette to drizzle over a salad.

Dribble over your morning (or evening) eggs.

Adobo Sauce

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 15 M
  • 15 M
  • Makes about 1 1/4 cups


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Scoop the chile powder into a blender or small food processor. In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Pour the hot water over the chile powder, loosely cover the blender or secure the top of the processor, and pulse to create a smooth slurry. Let cool.

If you prefer a straightforward and quick adobo, toss the peeled garlic cloves in a microwavable bowl, add enough water to cover, and microwave on 100% for 1 minute. Drain. If you prefer a sweeter, toastier flavor to your adobo, toss the garlic cloves, still in their papery skins, in a dry skillet and place over medium heat, turning them regularly until they turn soft and blotchy black, about 15 minutes. Let cool and then remove and discard the papery skins.

Toss the garlic in the blender along with the cinnamon, pepper, cumin, oregano, vinegar, and salt and process until a smooth purée forms. If necessary, stir in some water, a splash at a time, until the adobo is the consistency of barbecue sauce.

Transfer the adobo to a pint jar, screw on the lid, and store in the refrigerator for up to a couple months. Originally published September 11, 2016.

*How to Make Adobo Sauce with Whole Dried Ancho Chiles

  • If you prefer to work with whole dried ancho chiles rather than ancho powder, simply remove the stems and seeds from 4 medium dried ancho chiles and toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat for a minute or so, until very aromatic. Transfer to a plate to cool and then tear the chiles into small pieces, scoop into a blender, and proceed with the recipe, blending the dried chiles instead of the chile powder with the boiling water as directed and then adding the remaining ingredients.

Adobo Sauce Recipe © 2015 Rick Bayless. Photo © 2015 Christopher Hirsheimer. All rights reserved. All materials used with permission.