This Chipotle Sauce recipe takes just 5 minutes to whip up and will elevate anything it touches from tacos to sandwiches to veggies!
This Chipotle Sauce is one of the simplest condiments to make, explosively flavorful and 100% addicting as a sauce, dip or spread. It transforms even the most ordinary dish to extraordinary with its creamy, smoky, zesty heat. Drizzle it on all your Mexican favorites from tacos to burritos, spread it on burgers, sandwiches, and wraps, and dunk in veggies, chips and fries; the possibilities are as endless as the deliciousness! This Southwest Chipotle Sauce is easy to customize to make it more or less spicy, healthier, vegan or without even pulling out your food processor!
Looking for the burrito recipe in these photos? See it here!
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how to make chipotle sauce video
Why You’ll Love this Chipotle Sauce recipe
It increases the YUM factor of anything it touches by 1000%. No joke. This Chipotle Sauce recipe is one of my favorite condiments to keep on hand because its creamy, spicy heat transforms everything it touches into the best ever. I can’t eat a burrito without but it’s equally fabulous on a turkey sandwich.
Its versatility knows no bounds. Use it as a dip, spread, or dressing, make it more or less spicy, more or less creamy, use fresh chipotle peppers in adobo sauce or powdered, use sour cream, Mexican crema or Greek yogurt, mayonnaise or Vegainase, etc.
It’s ridiculously easy to whip up. You only need 5 minutes and a food processor to make this zesty Southwest Chipotle Sauce. Just add the ingredients and pulse with ZERO chopping! If you want to skip the food processor, I’ve added options for that as well.
It’s made with simple ingredients. This Chipotle Sauce is made with sour cream, mayonnaise, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, cilantro, lime juice and seasonings. To keep it pantry friendly, you can even skip the cilantro.
What Are Chipotle Peppers in Adobo?
Chipotle pepper comes from the Nahuatl word chilpoctli meaning “smoked chili.” Chipotles in adobo are smoked and dried jalapeños rehydrated and preserved in adobo sauce and are the secret to this explosively flavorful Chipotle Crema.
Chipotle peppers are made from jalapenos that are allowed to ripen on the vine from green to red, picked, smoke-dried, rehydrated then either ground or preserved in adobo sauce. They are prized for their intense zesty, smoky, slightly sweet heat.
When ground into a powder, chipotle peppers are referred to as “chipotle powder” or “ground chipotle pepper,” an ingredient I use often in marinades, rubs and sauces.
Chipotle peppers in adobo
Chipotle peppers in adobo, however, refers to chipotle peppers marinated in a rich and ridiculously flavorful, velvety, earthy, tangy-sweet, spicy adobo sauce (adobo translates from Spanish to “sauce, marinade, or seasoning”) sold together in 7 or 12 oz. cans. The adobo sauce is a spicy, sweet and tangy purée of tomato, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, ground ancho and guajillo chiles, and various spices such as paprika, oregano, cumin and cinnamon which all enhance the taste of the chipotle peppers.
Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are commonly used in sauces (like this one!), glazes, marinades, braises (like Beef Birria), soups, sandwiches and beans. They are a versatile pantry staple worthy of keeping stocked!
Where can I find chipotle peppers in adobo?
If you’ve never purchased chipotle peppers in adobo, don’t worry – they should be easy to find. Grocery stores will either carry them near the tacos by the chopped green chilies and jarred salsas, in the international aisle or in the Latin aisle. If you don’t see them, make sure to ask, or you can purchase them on Amazon HERE
HOW DO I STORE CHIPOTLE PEPPERS?
Most recipes only call for 1-2 chipotle peppers or 1-2 tablespoons of minced chipotle peppers so you are left with an open can of smoky, spicy goodness. I love spice, but that is a lot of chipotle peppers to use up before their fridge life expires! To make the most of your worthy investment, I suggest freezing chipotle peppers. They only take a few minutes to prep and are easy to pull out any time you need them.
You can freeze whole chipotle peppers or in 1 tablespoon increments:
- To freeze them whole: Spread the peppers out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and flash freeze for 1-2 hours until solid. Once solid, cut the parchment wrap apart, individually wrap each pepper, then store in a freezer safe bag for up to 3 months.
- To freeze chipotle peppers by the tablespoon: Spread parchment paper out on a baking sheet or line an ice tray with plastic wrap. Next, mince the chipotle peppers without the sauce, (or you can use a food processor), and plop them onto the parchment in 1 tablespoon increments a few inches apart or place them in each ice cube compartment. Flash freeze for 1-2 hours until solid, then cut the parchment/plastic wrap apart, individually wrap each tablespoon, and store in a freezer safe bag for up to 3 months.
- To freeze adobo sauce: Freeze the sauce with the chipotle peppers or freeze it separately in 1 teaspoon increments because it is super potent!
Can you Substitute Chipotle Powder for Chipotle Peppers in Adobo?
You can substitute ground chipotle chili (chipotle powder) for chipotle chiles in adobo if you are in a bind. However, chipotle peppers in adobo are extra fabulous because they are marinated in the fiery adobo sauce, which makes them that much more flavorful – the powder just isn’t the same.
We are also using 1 teaspoon adobo sauce in this recipe so I highly suggest you splurge for the canned chili peppers. The sauce can be omitted if you use the powder.
One chipotle pepper is equivalent to ½ teaspoon of chipotle powder, so I recommend starting with 1 teaspoon and adding more to taste after it is all blended together. If you are wary about heat, start with less – you can always add spice but it’s hard to take away!
what do you need to make creamy CHIPOTLE SAUCE?
The ingredients for this Creamy Chipotle Sauce are easy to find and easy to keep stocked. You will need:
Possible recipe variations
If you need to meet a dietary need or switch up the flavors, here are a few options:
how spicy is chipotle sauce?
This Chipotle Crema is meant to have a kick, but the good news about making it from scratch is that it’s easy to adjust to taste. Just like jalapeños, chipotle peppers in adobo will vary in spiciness, so you may need to adjust the amount you use each time. Here’s the general breakdown:
Mild: one chipotle pepper
Mild-medium: two chipotle peppers
Medium-spicy: three chipotle peppers
Spicy: four chipotle peppers
Hot: five or more chipotle peppers
You can start with less chipotle peppers, blend the ingredients together, then add another pepper and blend again if it’s not spicy enough.
How to make Chipotle Southwest Sauce
Are you ready to see just how easy it is to make this Chipotle Southwest Sauce? It’s made in three easy steps:
- Step 1: Combine ingredients. In a food processor, add the chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice, garlic, cilantro and seasonings.
- Step 2: Process until smooth. Pulse until the sauce becomes smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Step 3: Adjust to taste. This is YOUR chipotle sauce, make it how you like it! See suggestions below.
tips to adjust chipotle southwest sauce
Making Chipotle Sauce from scratch means you can make it perfect for YOU! Here’s how to adjust to taste:
Want to make it spicier? Add ½ to 1 whole additional chipotle pepper or chipotle powder in ¼ teaspoon increments after the sauce is processed. You can also spice it up with dashes of cayenne pepper or hot sauce.
Want to make it thinner? Add milk or water 1 tablespoon increments for more of a dressing-like consistency for salads or bowls.
Want to make it more flavorful? If your Chipotle Sauce tastes like it’s missing something, it’s probably heat, salt or acid. Add additional chipotle peppers, salt or lime juice.
Want to make it tangier? For a brighter, tangier sauce, add additional lime juice, 1 teaspoon at a time.
Want to make it zestier? For an herbier, zestier Chipotle Crema, add additional cilantro.
Want to make it less spicy and creamier? Add additional mayonnaise or sour cream and/or use less chipotle peppers.
WAYS TO USE CHIPOTLE SAUCE
This Chipotle Sauce recipe makes everything better! It is stand-alone delicious or can be added to your favorite Mexican dishes, used as spread for sandwiches, wraps, etc. Here are a few ways to use this sensational condiment:
SERVE AS A DIP:
Dunk anything in Chipotle Crema and it instantly becomes downright swoon worthy. Try dipping the following:
- Fresh vegetables: celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, snap peas
- Roasted vegetables: roasted potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted cauliflower, roasted broccoli, roasted butternut squash, roasted asparagus, roasted Brussels sprouts etc.
- Carbs: tortilla chips, pretzels, pita bread, crackers, breadsticks, etc.
- Appetizers: taquitos, flautas, fries, sweet potato fries, zucchini fries, fish sticks, chicken nuggets, chicken tenders, etc.
- Main dish: grilled chicken, grilled shrimp, pork, etc.
SERVE as a sauce:
Chipotle Sauce can (and should!) be added to pretty much any Mexican dish! Here are a few of our favorites:
- Breakfast foods: Elevate chorizo eggs, chilaquiles, breakfast tacos, breakfast taquitos, breakfast enchiladas, huevos rancheros, migas etc., or spice up traditional breakfast foods like scrambled eggs, omelettes, frittatas, quiche, etc.
- Burritos: I’m addicted to adding this Chipotle Sauce to the filling of any burrito instead of sour cream and dunking the burritos in the sauce. Try it with wet burritos, California burritos, smothered Chicken burritos or ground beef, bean and cheese Burritos – and drool.
- Tacos: Swap your plain sour cream or avocado crema for Chipotle Crema to marry all of the ingredients together with a bang! Try it with carne asada street tacos, easy shredded chicken tacos, ground beef tacos, ground turkey tacos, shrimp tacos, Baja fish tacos, blackened fish tacos and tacos al pastor.
- Fajitas: Like tacos, fajitas love a drizzle of this creamy, spicy Chipotle Southwest Sauce to bring all the ingredients together. Add it to chicken fajitas, steak fajitas, pork fajitas, shrimp fajitas and salmon fajitas.
- Nachos: Add Chipotle Sauce to these loaded ground beef nachos or pile your favorite chips with cheese, optional beef barbacoa, carnitas or Mexican chicken and of course top with plenty of guacamole, salsa and Chipotle Sauce.
- Burrito Bowls: I live for burrito and taco bowls! Fajita Burrito Bowls, Shrimp Burrito Bowls, Chicken Burrito Bowls, Barbacoa Taco Bowls with the textural rice, juicy protein, crunchy lettuce and Creamy Chipotle Sauce just get me.
- Favorites! Of course, there are so many other Mexican dishes such as quesadillas tostadas, carne asada fries and more!
SERVE AS A SPREAD:
Skip the mayo and use Chipotle Crema instead! It pairs well with everything from burgers and bacon to turkey and toast. Here are a few dishes to try it on:
- Sandwiches: grilled cheese, chicken, turkey, ham, BLT, etc.
- Burgers: BBQ bacon, cheeseburger, Hawaiian, Asian, Korean, etc.
- Wraps: turkey, Caprese, buffalo chicken, doners, etc.
- Paninis: Caprese, turkey pesto, BLT, grilled veggie, spicy steak, BBQ chicken, etc.
SERVE AS A DRESSING
- Side Salads: Thin the sauce with a bit of milk, starting with 1 teaspoon and adding more if needed until it is the consistency you want. Add to any Southwest inspired salads with corn, black beans or avocado or try it on Southwest Salad or Mexican Salad.
- Main Dish Salads: Thin as described above and drizzle it over Chicken Fajita Salad, Steak Salad, Mango Chicken Salad, Shrimp Avocado Salad, Taco Salad, Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco Salad or Chipotle Chicken Salad
- Pasta salads: Don’t thin out the dressing and add to Mexican Pasta Salad, Southwest Orzo Salad or make your own!
How long is chipotle sauce good for?
Transfer Chipotle Crema to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. The sauce will naturally thicken as it sits in the fridge, so you may want to thin it with a splash of milk or water when ready to use.
CAN YOU FREEZE IT?
Yes, you may freeze Chipotle Southwest Sauce but be ready for it to separate a bit when thawed. You can whisk it back together again, or pulse it a few times in the food processor along with a tablespoon or so of mayonnaise. It will separate more if use low-fat or nonfat ingredients.
Creamy Chipotle Sauce
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- Add all the ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as needed. Start with less chipotle peppers and you can add more to taste after it's blended.
- Adjust to taste with additional chipotle peppers, lime or salt. For less spicy, add additional sour cream or may. For thinner, add milk or water 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Looking for the burrito recipe in these photos? See it here!
Spice LevelJust like jalapeños, chipotle peppers in adobo will vary in spiciness, so you may need to adjust the amount you use each time. You can start with less chipotle peppers, blend the ingredients together, then add another pepper and blend again if it’s not spicy enough. Here’s the general breakdown: Mild: one chipotle pepper
Mild-medium: two chipotle peppers
Medium-spicy: three chipotle peppers
Spicy: four chipotle peppers
Hot: five or more chipotle peppers
Tips and Substitutions
- Chipotle peppers in adobo: Are sold in 7 or 12 oz. cans by the chopped green chilies and jarred salsas, in the international aisle or in the Latin aisle. If you don’t see them, make sure to ask, or you can purchase them on Amazon HERE
- Can I use Ground Chipotle Pepper? Yes, if you’re in a bind, but chipotle peppers in adobo are extra fabulous because they are marinated in the fiery adobo sauce, which makes them that much more flavorful – the powder just isn’t the same. Start with ½ teaspoon and add more to taste, up to 2 teaspoons for super-hot.
- To freeze chipotle peppers: Spread peppers on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and flash freeze for 1-2 hours until solid. Once solid, cut the parchment wrap apart, individually wrap each pepper, then store in a freezer safe bag for up to 3 months. Freeze the adobo sauce separately.
- Sour cream substitute: Swap the sour cream for plain Greek yogurt or a dairy free or vegan substitute. You can use nonfat or regular.
- Mayonnaise substitute: Swap the mayonnaise for sour cream, Greek yogurt or a vegan substitute.
- Make it dairy-free: Substitute the sour cream with cashew sour cream.
- Make it vegan: Substitute the sour cream with cashew sour cream and the mayonnaise for vegan mayonnaise like Vegainase.
- Serving suggestions: See post for tons of ideas!
- Storage: Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It can be frozen but will separate some so whisk or blend together with some extra mayo before using.
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