6 Chipotle Paste Alternatives

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Key Takeaways

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Ancho Chili Powder: A mild alternative with similar smokiness, made from ground, smoked poblano peppers.

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Smoked Paprika Mix: Combines the smoky flavor of paprika with added cayenne for heat, mimicking chipotle’s smokiness and spice.

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Chipotle in Adobo Sauce: Offers a similar smoky and spicy flavor profile with an additional tangy tomato puree undertone.

The chipotle paste is the key ingredient for many Mexican recipes that feature smoked jalapeños and other dried chillies. It brings unique smokiness and spiciness to the Mexican dishes. The secret ingredient is chipotle to make authentic-tasting Tex-Mex dishes.

Unfortunately, you can’t find it easily outside Mexico. However, there are a number of Chipotle paste alternatives that you can use when you don’t have this smoky and spicy ingredient at hand. Below are some great options to bring any Mexican recipe to spice when you don’t have the chipotle paste.

What is Chipotle Paste?

Chipotles are basically jalapeño peppers that have been dried and smoked to make a chipotle paste. It is quite popular in Mexican and Tex-Mex cooking. The chipotle paste is made from soaked Chipotle peppers that adds a smoky flavour to any dish.

The soaked chipotle peppers are sometimes blended with tomatoes, garlic, spices, onions, sugar and dried herbs to create a spicy and rich paste.

This smoky-flavoured pasted can be used in a variety of ways, from vegetable roasting to use in sauces and coating meat to soups and even desserts. In short, a jar of chipotle paste is enough to spice up your cooking and add incomparable flavour.

Why Use it?

There’s no surprise that seasonings and sauces are the key weapons to elevate any recipe. It is hard to beat chipotle paste if we talk about Mexican recipes. It is an instant way to add heat, smokiness and zesty flavour to your dish. Chipotle is particularly used to give a smoky flavour to meat dishes. That’s why it is perfect for adding depth to chilli con carne and stews.

What does it taste like?

The chipotle paste gives a smoky flavour due to whole, dried, and smoked jalapeños peppers. This paste also includes some other Mexican chillies that make it creamy. It has a tangy flavour and can be somewhat spicy. To make chipotle paste, put some soaked chipotle chillies in a blender with a few added ingredients, and you end up with a spicy and smoky paste.

The smokiness of chipotle is so strong that adding a couple of other Mexican chillies don’t dilute its signature smoky composition. This smoky and spicy flavour brings heat to your meals. Despite its distinctive smoky flavour, it offers sweetness too. The taste of the chipotle paste will vary according to the ingredients that you use to make this paste.

6 Substitutes for Chipotle Paste

If you don’t want to miss the smokiness of this Mexican savoury delight, consider these alternatives to chipotle paste to jazz up your meals to no end.

Ancho chilli powder

Are you wondering what can I use instead of Chipotle paste? Ancho chilli powder is the best alternative for chipotle paste. Made with poblano peppers, ancho chilli powder shares many things with chipotle paste. They both are whole and dried ground peppers. Like chipotle, ancho chilli powder has no additional spices.

As mentioned above, smoked jalapeños are used to make the chipotle paste. Similarly, ancho chillies are smoked to impart a similar smoky and spicy flavour to any dish. However, poblano chillies that are the key ingredient of ancho chilli powder are milder than jalapeño, so the overall taste of ancho chilli powder is milder than chipotle paste.

Smoked paprika:

Smoked paprika

The smoky flavour of chipotle paste is probably the primary reason for its popularity, and smoked paprika has almost the same smokiness you crave. That’s why; it can be used as an alternative for chipotle paste.

However, it tends to be milder than dried chipotle. So if you add a bit more heat to your recipes, use the mixer of smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. To make this spice substitute, take the same quantity you would with dried chipotle powder and add cayenne chilli powder to taste. 

Southwestern sauce

You are in luck if you have this spicy sauce on hand. Southwestern sauce is the best alternative to chipotle paste that is made with lime juice, chipotle, mustard, garlic and mayonnaise. Depending on the dish, use the peppers or sauces. This sauce will definitely make any salad dressing and sandwich taste delicious. It tastes like chipotle sauce.

Chipotle in adobo sauce

Chipotle in adobo sauce is referred to as the most acceptable alternative for chipotle paste. It is quite popular and easily available at places where Tex-Mex dishes are not common. However, if you can’t find it from your nearest supermarket, you can make it at home. 

Mix the chipotle puree with vinegar, garlic, tomato puree and other spices to make this sauce. Like chipotle paste, it renders the same smoky and spicy flavour. However, the tangy puree of tomato in the adobo sauce adds a distinctive tang to the undertones of smoky chilli. Despite its distinct flavour, it will work for the recipes where the chipotle paste is the key ingredient. 

Chilli garlic paste

Outside Mexican food centres, chances are you may not find chipotle paste. Supermarkets usually have other types of chilli paste, and garlic chilli paste is readily available at most supermarkets.

You can consider it as a worthy substitute for chipotle paste. It usually works well with most recipes that call for chipotle paste. Unfortunately, chilli garlic paste is not the exact match, but it has the same earthiness. It gives you the same punch but lacks the signature smoky undertone of chipotle. Despite these differences, it can be a good alternative for chipotle paste for most recipes.

Chipotle Paste

Make your own chipotle paste.

If you have chipotle peppers, you can easily make chipotle paste right at home. Chipotle chillies are the basic ingredient that you need to make this paste. If you haven’t chipotle peppers, you can use Meco or dark Morita chipotle chiles (small). Soak 8 to 10 ounces of chillies in the warm water. It takes around 30 minutes to soak Morita chillies.

However, Meco chillies require more than 30 minutes of soaking. Drain off the soaking water once they are soft. Strain the soaking water through a sieve and set it aside. Now place them in a food processer and whirl to make a fine paste. Use the strained soaking water to thin this paste.

Andy Canter


Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.

This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!