Chipotles en adobo is a simple-to-make Mexican store cupboard essential transforms smoked chipotle chillies into a marinade that’s so good, you’ll find yourself mixing into everything from breakfast to dinner. As well as a warming kick, its smokiness adds a layer of depth to your cooking and it’ll leave you wondering what you were doing in life without it.


It lasts for months and it’s delicious in stews, pasta sauces, meatball recipes, dressings and mayonnaises.

Cooking time: 1 hour total


200g chipotle chillies (about 65)
1 cinnamon stick, optional
Half a head of garlic, cloves roughly chopped
2 medium onions or 1 large, roughly chopped
3 tbsp fresh oregano leaves or a few good pinches of dried oregano
1-2 tbsp thyme leaves
3 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
2-3 fresh bay leaves
4 tbsp olive oil
250ml good quality red wine or cider vinegar
50ml good quality balsamic vinegar
7 tbsp Demerara or palm sugar
1 tbsp sea salt plus more to taste


Wash the chipotles in cold water and drain. Snip off the stalk end of each chilli with scissors, which will allow the water to penetrate their tough skins and discard the seeds to reduce the spiciness.

Cover with water, add the cinnamon stick (if using) and simmer for 30-40 minutes until completely soft. When the chillies are soft, drain and rinse off any excess seeds. Put the onion, garlic, herbs and spices into the blender with 100ml of water and the chillies. Purée to a smooth paste, adding 1-2 tablespoons of the vinegar to facilitate the blending if necessary. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan until hot. Carefully add the chilli paste and fry for about three minutes, stirring continuously with a spatula to prevent it catching and burning. If the paste bubble and bursts too much, turn the heat down.

After you have cooked out the paste add the vinegar, sugar, salt and another 100ml water and cook, stirring every few minutes, for a further 15-20 minutes. Taste and check to see the balance of flavours. You may need more salt, sugar or vinegar.

Store in clean jam jars or Kilner jars.

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