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Adobo Sauce

Adobo Sauce is a rich, ridiculously flavorful, velvety, earthy, tangy-sweet, spicy, smoky Mexican staple made with ground ancho and guajillo chiles. It takes about 30 minutes to make from start to finish (15 minutes of that is hand’s off simmering) and then the hypnotic blend is ready to elevate all your dishes throughout the week or it can be frozen in portions for later.  This smoky adobo sauce is begging to be mopped over steak or chicken, as a braise for chicken or beef, as a sauce for enchiladas or burritos, as a dip for birria tacos, vegetables, etc. or drizzled over eggs.  With one taste, you’ll be hooked!
Course Condiment
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 3 cups





  • Dry toast the spices in a large skillet over medium heat until evenly toasted, shaking the skillet occasionally. They're done once they smell super fragrant. Transfer to a bowl or plate so they don’t continue to cook; set aside.
  • Add the peppers and dry roast for a couple minutes per side to toast; remove from the skillet.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
  • Add the toasted spices followed by the deseeded chilies, and all the remaining Adobo Sauce ingredients (tomatoes through water). Bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the peppers are very soft, stirring occasionally.
  • Transfer the mixture to a high powered blender (in batches if needed) and purée until smooth, leaving a corner of the lid open and covered with a paper towel so steam can escape and it doesn’t explode. (NOTE: If you don’t have a high-powered blender, then strain the chili sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, using rubber spatula to push the mixture through. The solids left behind are the spices so don’t toss them! You can wrap them in a cheese cloth or mash them and add them to the sauce.)



  • Water or broth:  You may use water or I like to use chicken broth if I’m using the sauce with chicken or beef broth if using the sauce with beef. Use reduced sodium broth so the adobo sauce isn’t too salty or use regular broth and omit the salt and salt to taste.
  • Dried Chilies: Dried chilies can be found at any Mexican market as well as many grocery stores (and many super Walmart’s depending on your location) in either the Mexican aisle or produce section. Many produce stores such as Sprouts and Whole Foods also carry packages of dried chilies. If you can’t find them or simply want a one-click option, then you can purchase them on Amazon here: ancho chiles, guajillo chili, arbol chiles.
  • Storage:  Adobo sauce should be store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days or it can be frozen for up to three months.  You can freeze it in an airtight freezer friendly container, freezer bag(s), or freeze the sauce in ice cube trays, then bag them to use as needed.

How to Use