All About Chipotles and Chipotle Powder

Chipotle in American recipes

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve undoubtedly heard of chipotle. It's now used in lots of American recipes. You hear and see it everywhere – on TV ads, in Mexican restaurants, in fast-food drive-through menus. It’s in barbecue sauces, mustards, ketchup, jams, salad dressings -even in some of your old favorites. So what the heck is chipotle, anyway?

Even many folks who like the taste of chipotle aren’t really sure what it is. Some think it’s a species of pepper, while others are sure it’s some sort of spice. Well actually, both schools of thought are partially correct.

Chipotle isn’t exactly a species of pepper. It has more to do with the way certain jalapeno peppers are cured. Traditionally, the green jalapenos are left in the field until they turn a deep red and lose much of their moisture. Then they’re smoked and dried over a slow fire for several days. Sometimes the dried peppers are ground into a fine powder, essentially making them a spice-like flavoring agent.

Chipotles have a distinct smoky, earthy flavor that they impart to foods with which they’re cooked. On the heat scale, chipotle peppers are near the middle: fairly hot, but not scorching.

Chipotles, like other chilies, provide several nutritional benefits. They’re a good source of B vitamins, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and magnesium. Chipotles also contain capsaicin, a compound that helps regulate blood sugar, increases metabolism, decreases inflammation, and helps relieve pain. Capsaicin is what gives chili peppers their “heat.”

chipotle powder
chipotle powder

Varieties of Chipotles

The most widely used chipotle is the morita. It’s a small pepper with a deep red or purplish color.

A larger variety is the chile meco, which is khaki colored and harder to find outside central and southern Mexico.

dried chipotle peppers
dried chipotle peppers

How to Buy Chipotles



Chipotles are available as whole dried peppers, as pickled peppers, and in cans with adobo sauce, which contains tomato sauce, vinegar, onions, and spices, along with the chipotle peppers.


When buying whole dried peppers, choose the ones with the deepest, richest color. They’ll have the best flavor.


Chipotle chili salt can be found, too. It’s a blend of salt and powdered chipotle peppers. Another way to use chipotle is in the form of chipotle chili paste, where the dehydrated peppers are made into a paste. And as I’ve already mentioned, chipotle powder is also available.


Where to find chipotles


Many grocery stores in the U.S. now carry chipotle powder and chipotles in adobo, and some carry the dried morita peppers. To find a larger selection, visit an ethnic grocery store, or shop online.


chipotle in adobo
chipotle in adobo

How to Use Chipoltes and Chipolte Powder

Chipotle goes great with numerous American recipes. The canned chipotles in adobo sauce can be eaten whole, diced, or pureed. They’re good with dried beans, lentils, and rice. You can also use them to flavor stews, soups, and marinades for beef, pork, chicken, and lamb.

Dried chipotles can be rehydrated by placing them in warm water. Remove the seeds and stem first, then let them soak for 15-20 minutes until they become soft and pliable. You can then chop or slice them to use in salsas, tacos, burritos, sandwich spreads, mashed potatoes, cheese dips, and other dishes.

To grind your own chipotles, start with whole dried peppers, but remove the stems. For a milder powder, remove the seeds first. For a more pronounced flavor with more heat, grind the seeds, too.

You can use your home-ground chipotle or purchased chipotle powder the same way you’d use chili powder to season foods.

How to Store Chipotle Peppers

The canned chipotles in adobo will keep for a long time in the fridge after opening. Just place them in a plastic container with a lid. To freeze, place the peppers in a freezer bag. it’s easy to break pieces off the frozen peppers to use in cooking.

Store dried peppers in jars, with the lids screwed on tightly. Store away from direct sunlight and heat sources.

How to clean a chipotle pepper

How to make a chipotle-lime sauce

How to make a honey-chipotle marinade

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Comments 31 comments

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Either it never reach the European shores or you did lift a rock and there I was. I never heard of it. I know I am living in front of my laptop. Thanks for updating me.

sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 6 years ago

You're right, I've heard of chipotles but really didn't know anything more.

JenDobson27 profile image

JenDobson27 6 years ago

Interesting hub Habee, I actually never really knew what chipotles were! All I know is I love the burritos at Chipoltle :)

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

I better get back under my rock then Habee lol. Never heard of this.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

My favorite - chipotle sauce - I'm still working on my recipe as the ones I've made so far are enough to turn out your lights. Nice to see something other than herbs! I think I was dreaming herbs all night. Did you see your tag on my pesto sauce? I dedicated it just for you!

MCWebster profile image

MCWebster 6 years ago

Thank you very much for this hub :) I am one of those who has definitely heard of chipotle, but had no idea what it really was. Very informative.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Habee, Great hub but my stomach refuses to behave when I eat the spicy food because of the medicine I am taking. I loved the videos.

Research Analyst profile image

Research Analyst 6 years ago

ooh this is great, spices really add to any dish and can change the whole taste and texture of a meal. great info.

mulberry1 profile image

mulberry1 6 years ago

Yes, these have become common place in grocery stores even here in the midwest. The Mexican influence I am sure. I've used them some, but love all of the info anyway.

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 6 years ago from Oakley, CA

WOW! What a wealth of information. I have heard of Chipotle, and eaten it...but did not know that it was a Jalapeno that had received 'special treatment.'

Fits right in with my philosophy of 'learn something new every day!' Thanks for sharing all this!

habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

HH, maybe it's just an American thing!

habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi, Sheila!

habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Jen, I love chipotle anything!

habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Eth, see the comment I left to HH!

habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Buckie, I'm just now trying to catch up on my reading and answering comments. youngest daughter had the puter all afternoon doing online college stuff. I'll go check it out now!

habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Glad you liked it, MC!

habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Pam, get you some Aciphex! I can now eat a car battery with no ill effects. lol

habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Research, I totally agree!

habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, Mulberry! Good to see ya!

habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Oh, Lizzy, thanks so much!

oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

My family and I love Chipotles. I something that spices things up to the degree it does. Thanks for sharing, great hub

habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Ocean, I love their smoky flavor!

nancy_30 profile image

nancy_30 6 years ago from Georgia

Great hub. I've always wondered what it was. Thanks for the information.

SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

I love chipotle in just about every way. I think the flavor is about one of the finest spicey flavors ever. I love getting some new ideas about how to use them and how to get them. Thanks so much.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

I was briefly addicted to Raspberry Chipotle Sauce a few years ago. Looks very similar to the photo of RC jam at the beginning of the hub. A friend was introduced to it at Food Day at work, where it was poured over a block of cream cheese, then spread on club crackers. At the time, the sauce wasn't available in local stores and had to be ordered online. My friend was my "connection". I knew I was hooked when I showed up at her door one night with a pkg of cream cheese in one hand and a box of crackers in the other. Pathetic! Alas, I loved the sauce but something in the sauce didn't love me, and two rounds of heartburn put me off it forever. (pausing to weep)

Great information here!

stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Fantastic hub! I love southwestern cuisine and this is inspiring me to change up a few of my favorite recipes (I'm thinking about my homemade guacamole - chipotle would be a great addition) Cheers, Steph

habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks for reading, Nancy!

habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Steve, great of you ro stop by!

habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Jama, I'm addicted to raspberry-chipotle BBQ sauce!

Jim 5 years ago

I've been cooking with these for years but have lately become obsessed with them. I can't get enough! I buy them by the can in multiples and probably go through a can every day or so. I eat them straight out of the can and run out for recipes. Here is a great recipe for a nice sauce to put on fish tacos etc.:

2 Chipotle peppers

2-3 tsp. of the adobo sauce from the can

fresh lime juice..about 1 tblsp.

1/4 cup sour cream

1 tblsp. mayo (best foods pref.)

1 tblsp. regular or greek plain yogurt

1 clove garlic

1/2 tsp. apple cider vinigar

1/2 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/4+ cup fresh cilantro (to own taste)

Add all ingredients to food processor and process until finely mixed and smooth. Adjust as needed..I like more chipotle and adobo sauce but to each to own...Enjoy!

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Wow, Jim! Thanks a bunch! Like you, I'm hooked on chipotle peppers.

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