Chipotles en Adobo

This version of Chipotles en Adobo is based on recipes given to the late Mexican food authority Diana Kennedy by various neighbors of hers in Mexico. Adobo, a paste made of ground chiles, spices, herbs, and vinegar, is often used to season meat. These chipotles are served as a condiment, sprinkled with a little olive oil and crumbled queso fresco, or ground with peanuts, for example, in a cooked sauce. If you prefer a less pungent version, boil the chiles first for about five minutes. Then drain them, slit them open, and remove the seeds and what remains of the veins. Discard the water and start at the beginning of the recipe, reducing the cooking time by five minutes. If you wish to have a lighter sauce, add six ounces of broiled tomatoes to the adobo. RELATED: Diana Kennedy Shares 7 Recipes from Her Mexican Kitchen

3 cups


  • 4 ounces chipotle mora chiles (about 60)

  • 3 ancho chiles, seeds and veins removed

  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

  • Leaves of 2 fresh marjoram sprigs or 1/8 teaspoon dried marjoram

  • Leaves of 2 fresh thyme sprigs or 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

  • Pinch of cumin seeds, crushed

  • 1 bay leaf, torn into small pieces

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 3/4 cup mild vinegar

  • 3/4 cup strong vinegar

  • 1/4 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon sea salt


  1. Rinse the chipotles and drain. Pierce each one all the way through with a sharp fork or skewer. Place in a pressure cooker with water to cover and cook at low pressure for about 15 minutes; they should be soft but not mushy. (Alternatively, cook the chiles with water to cover in a tightly covered nonreactive medium saucepan over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes.)

  2. Drain the chipotles, remove the stems and wipe off any stray seeds clinging to the outside. Set aside.

  3. Meanwhile, in a medium nonreactive saucepan, cover the anchos with hot water and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to a blender. Add 1 cup of water plus the garlic, marjoram, thyme, cumin seeds, bay leaf and 4 of the cooked chilpotles and blend until almost smooth.

  4. Heat the oil in a shallow nonreactive skillet. Add the blended ingredients and fry over moderately high heat for about 3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking. Add the vinegars, brown sugar, salt and 1/2 cup of water and cook for 5 minutes longer. Then add the remaining chipotles and cook over moderate heat, scraping the bottom of the pan from time to time to prevent sticking, until the sauce has reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes.

Make Ahead

The Chilpotles en Adobo can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Before using, place in a medium saucepan, moisten with a little vinegar and bring to a boil. Let boil for a few minutes.

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