Top Chipotle Substitutes And How To Use Them
chili powder and chipotle powder

Top Chipotle Substitutes And How To Use Them

Smoky flavors and spicy tones, if you cannot find chipotle peppers, here are some substitutes you can go for.

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Are you fond of that smoky hot food? Do you know where does that spice in your Mexican dishes comes from?

It’s all because of very smoky Chipotle peppers. These dried and smoked jalapeños impart a pungent and strong flavor to all recipes. What if you are out of a chipotle in your pantry? Well, there are few substitutes for chipotle. Some of them are mild, while some may be hotter.

Chipotle adds spiciness to your dishes. Jalapeños are smoked, dried, and then ground into chipotle powder. This powder adds prominent flavors to dishes like barbecue sauces or pasta seasoning. You can experience a smoky texture in all Mexican and Asian dishes and chipotle plays a major role in it.

Are Chili And Chipotle Powder The Same?

The chipotle powder has a variation in taste and aroma in comparison to ground chili powder. Chilli powder comprises many other elements apart from chilies, such as garlic, cumin, and oregano. Besides, it has a smoky flavor to it that is perfect for several types of sauces. On the other hand, the chipotle powder is made from jalapeños that undergo a smoking process. It gives a raw and spicy flavor to the recipes.

Chipotle Powder Substitutes

chipotle powder
What can you substitute for chipotle powder?

Looking out for the perfect substitute for chipotle is essential for retrieving the authentic taste. You can get chipotle in several forms at your nearest grocery store. If you like the aroma of chipotle, you can hunt for dried full chilies. However, another option is to look out for chipotle powder. You can get it at a nearby supermarket store easily.

It is easy to use, and you can enjoy its terrific flavors without any hassle. Adding an adobo sauce along with chipotle powder serves as a perfect combination. If you get the chipotle powder at a nearby market, it is also important to understand the quantity in which it is to be added. One dried chipotle can be replaced with ½ teaspoon of the powder. Adobo sauce comprises of whole chipotle so the ratio can work well.

Other Substitutes For Chipotle Are As Follows

1. Pasilla de Oaxaca

chocolate habanero and pasilla de oaxaca
Chocolate Habanero and Pasilla de Oaxaca are a few substitutes for chipotle powder.

As the name suggests, pasilla peppers are mainly found in the Oaxaca province of Mexico. You can also find them in a few in regions of Asia but still, they are very rare. It can be the perfect substitute for chipotle due to its smoky flavor. The smokiness that you get while consuming this chilly is exotic. If calculated on heat parameters, it has a higher heat concentration. This can be better understood with the statistics.

Pasilla peppers give out almost 2,500 SHU while smoked jalapenos have 8,000 SHU. It means they can turn out to around thrice the spice of pasilla peppers. If you like the smoky touch, it is a desirable option. However, it is crucial to get them at the grocery stores as they come under the rarely available spices.

2. Chocolate Habanero

This is the next chipotle substitute on the list. Habaneros has some amount of fruitiness to it but the chocolate habanero offers comparatively earthy and smoky flavors. Since it has a chocolate-like blend, the earthiness is not like chipotle and nor it is as spicy also. But it can be a milder substitute to chipotle.

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Chocolate habanero just leaves behind the chipotle in terms of smoky touch. It shoots high in heat, even the regular habaneros which are around SHU of 5,77,000. The figure itself is capable of making them realize that it’s a component of super hot pepper territory. If used in proper proportions, this spice can meet up the chipotle’s expectations in every dish.

3. Ancho chili powder

Ancho chili powder (a Mexican spice) is made up of poblano peppers. As a result, it has many things in common with the chipotle powder. You can also consider it to be the closest substitute to chipotle. Similar to chipotle, even ancho powder is made by dried and ground chipotle peppers. There are no added spices to it. Jalapeños are used for chipotle powder while the smoked poblano chilies help in the preparation of ancho chili powder.

Poblanos help in the preparation of ancho chili powder and they are milder in terms of heat and smoke than chipotle. The mildness of ancho chili powder works can gel up great with the recipes that need a mild spice and smokiness. When you are using this substitute in your recipes, at least consider the same quantity which you use for chipotle powder. As it is a mild alternative, you can slowly increase the addition of this spice depending on the level of heat you require in your food. Bw, you may want to use it for its antioxidant properties.

4. Cayenne pepper powder

cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper has higher heat than chipotle peppers.

Cayenne pepper is comparatively high in terms of heat than chipotle. They are safe to eat. Its Scoville rating is somewhere from 30,000 to 50,000. Chipotle powder heat rating is 2,500 to 8,000 which is relatively milder. The quantity of chipotle powder required in any recipe can be substituted by the cayenne powder. Cayenne peppers are very smoky and those who cannot resist high heat should simply avoid this alternative. Or rather than chucking it, you can use it in a very minimal amount.

But the cayenne pepper powder must be used in half the quantity of chipotle due to its spicy and highly smoky quality. This powder profile is not exactly like the chipotle. As a result, it is essential to use it according to the recipe that you are using it for. For example, in meat marinades or fish recipes, this can add a perfect blend of spice but does can be quite tricky when added to stews and soups. Taking into account the variations between their heat tone, the quantity of usage and the kind of dish must be selected by you.

5. Smoked paprika

dry organic red smoked paprika
Dry Organic Red Smoked Paprika in a Bowl

Opting for smoked paprika can also work out to be a good alternative. But paprika does not have a similar heat like that of a chipotle. If you wish to use paprika as its substitute, it is good to add some cayenne powder for attaining a better level of heat and smoke. Paprika and cayenne, when mixed in the right quantities, can just be the right alternative to chipotle. Make pasta, meats, fish, or marinades using this combination substitute and you would not miss chipotle at all.

If you do not have the cayenne powder in your kitchen pantry, another suitable option is to add some hot chili sauce with the paprika to derive a liquid smoke. This can also enhance the flavor of your dish immensely. However, hot sauce is quite acidic and many people might not be able to consume it. If you are not a spice lover and can accommodate moderate heat in your food, paprika can solve your problem. Mild dishes like vegetable salads or stews can consider paprika as an alternate spice mixture.

There are a few varieties of paprika that you can counter at nearby grocery stores. Some paprika has mild flavors that are made with pimento peppers while you can also get the smoking hot paprika at the store rack. However, this one is available only with a few top brands and if you are lucky, you might get it as well. Or else an online grocery store might also lend you a few options for this paprika.

There are certain important facts about chipotle substitutes and the main ingredient that can enable you to make up the right choice. Some of them are discussed below.

Related Reading:

13 smokiest alternatives for smoked paprika.

Do Dried Chipotle Chilies Have Any Alternate Option?

Dried chipotle chilies are smoky and the alternative to it also needs to resemble a similar taste. Hence, if you do not have chipotle chili peppers, a good option would be Ancho or Mulato chilies. However, they are not very smoky.

You can use chipotle chilies in adobo sauce to get a perfect mixture. Try using 1 tablespoon of normal tomato ketchup + ½ tablespoon liquid smoke and also add 1 chopped jalapeno pepper if available. This can be a great mixture to add with any recipe or you can also prepare dips out of it.

What Is The Proportion Of Dry Pepper To Equal The Chipotle Powder?

Chipotle powder is a readily available substitute as compared to dried peppers. It also depends on the type of dried pepper that is accessible to you. If you compare poblano pepper to the chipotle powder, obviously the powder is smokier and hence it must be used only ½ spoon.

However, if the cayenne peppers are considered, it is advisable to use almost a spoon of chipotle powder as these dried peppers have a higher heat SHU and are spicier.

Related Reading:

Out of cayenne pepper? Try these five alternative spices for cayenne pepper to get a somewhat similar flavor.

What Is The Difference Between Adobo Sauce And Chipotle Sauce?

Chipotle chilies are the smoky dry jalapeños. On the other hand, adobo is a tangy sauce with some amount of sweetness in it. Using the chipotles means you wish to add some smoky and spicy flavor to the recipe. While adobo sauce is considered an alternative for the chipotle sauce but you need to increase its ratio to add the same level of spice to the recipe.

Is Chipotle Powder Spicy?

It can be better understood from that, unlike chili powder that has many other ingredients like cumin and oregano in it; the chipotle powder is purely ground and dried chipotle chilies. As a result, many people confuse themselves that chili and chipotle powder are equally smoky and fiery.

The pungent that you can get from the chipotle powder is sufficient to understand its heat. Another aspect of chipotle powder is it has a kind of unique fruity undertone to it. So if you are preparing any dish that needs some raw touch, chipotle or its substitutes can work well.

Where Can You Get Chipotle Substitutes?

Dried chipotle, poblano, cayenne, and other such substitutes are available only at limited stores. However, powder forms of these smoky dry chilies can be available at your nearest supermarket or the grocery shop. There are also certain dedicated spice shops where a variety of such spices are readily available.

Another great way is to hunt for them at a huge online market. This can be a smart decision as you do not have to rush anywhere and the chipotle powder would probably reach your doorstep. Stocking up this spice in your kitchen pantry is a wise decision so that you can use it whenever required.

What Are The Uses Of Chipotle Powder?

Most of the Mexican cuisines include chipotle powder as a part of their basic ingredients. Have you even made or eaten Mexican food? The mild spice and earthy tones that tempt you to eat more Mexican cuisines are because of this magic ingredient. Chipotle powder is also widely used for the preparation of meat marinades. Other dishes that you can prepare with the use of chipotle are soups, stews, and a variety of sauces.

Related Reading:

Looking for the best ancho chili powder? We reviewed multiple brands to come out with our recommendation of the best ancho chili powder.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here we have answered a few FAQs about chipotle alternatives.

You can substitute chipotle powder with 

  • Pasilla de Oaxaca
  • Chocolate Habanero
  • Ancho Chili Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper Powder
  • Smoked Paprika

You can substitute chipotle powder with smoked paprika powder or ancho chili powder to get that spicier kick.

Smoked paprika powder is definitely a better replacement for chipotle powder than red chili powder.

Chipotle powder is made by mixing a lot of spice powder along with chili powder, whereas chili powder is made from dried chilies.


Chipotle is a fiery ingredient that adds smoky aroma and a pungent heat to anything you make. It is a must store option, especially for those who like making Mexican and Asian cuisines. You just need to get a few packets and put them in an airtight container.

However, if anytime you are preparing a meal and run out of chipotle powder or dried chilly, above given substitutes might help in reducing the stress. Few of them are commonly found ingredients that can be available handy to you.

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