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How to Make Chipotle Peppers

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Smoked chipotles are a powerhouse of flavor in Mexican cuisine. And there is zero comparison between store-bought and the robust and vibrant flavor of homemade! And the great news is they are SO simple to make. All you need are ripe jalapeño peppers, a smoker, and some wood chips. The dried chipotles can be stored in a ziplock bag or, for long-term storage, vacuum sealed or frozen. They can also be ground into a powder for seasoning your food or added to adobo sauce. I’m going to show you step-by-step how to make chipotle peppers!

Use your homemade chipotle peppers to add flavor to your favorite Mexican dishes like Enchiladas, Pozole Rojo, Albondigas Soup, Queso Fundido, and for making your own Enchilada Sauce!

how to make chipotle peppers mexican smoked chipotles en adobo sauce recipe diy jalapenos

Summertime means my garden is in full swing. I should say “gardens”, because this is only the smallest of three massive garden plots on our property. Yes, diehard gardener here. Even in the heat and humidity of Virginia summers. And speaking of heat, since moving to Virginia three years ago from the Pacific Northwest, I count the heat as a silver lining for having a much longer growing season and for being able to grow things I previously couldn’t, like melons, okra, sweet potatoes and…peppers! I grow a lot of peppers in all different varieties and today I’m going to show you how to make one of my favorite ingredients for Mexican food: smoked chipotle peppers!

daring gourmet garden pepper plants
daring gourmet garden fresh peppers

What Are Chipotle Peppers?

A chipotle pepper is a ripe jalapeño that is smoked over pecan wood and dried. When jalapeños are allowed to fully ripen on the plant they turn completely red and these are what are used to make smoked chipotle peppers. Chipotles are used in Mexican cuisine to add flavor, intensity and some heat. They can be ground or chopped up and added to sauces and stews. They are also commonly associated with chipotles en adobo sauce, which are chipotle peppers marinated in adobo sauce, which is a traditional puréed Mexican sauce made from chiles, tomatoes, onions, garlic, vinegar and variety of spices. Be sure to check out my authentic Adobo Sauce recipe.

Below left are green jalapenos from my garden which I use for cooking and for making pickled jalapenos. Below right are jalapenos that I left on my pepper plants to fully ripen to a rich red. These are what we’re using to make the smoked chipotles.

ripe red jalapeno peppers

Where Do I Find Red Jalapeno Peppers?

Unless you grow your own jalapenos it’s very difficult to find ripe red ones at the store. If you don’t have access to them you can place your green jalapeno peppers in a single layer next to a sunny window in a warm room, turning them over occasionally, and wait a few days for them to turn red.

How to Use Chipotle Peppers

Dried chipotle peppers can be stored whole and then chopped and added to straight to your sauces and stews and allowed to simmer along for a fabulous dose of flavor. They can also be ground to a powder to make your own homemade chipotle pepper chili powder to add to dishes and for making your own rubs and seasoning blends for a punch of flavor like homemade Chili Powder, Taco Seasoning, Montreal Steak Seasoning, and Burger Seasoning.

Chipotles are also commonly marinated in adobo sauce and sold canned. You can easily do this yourself by adding these homemade chipotle peppers to my homemade adobo sauce.

how to make chipotle peppers mexican smoked chipotles en adobo sauce recipe diy jalapenos

How to Make Chipotle Peppers

Let’s get started!

Get your smoker preheated to 160-180 F / 71-82 C. You can go a little lower than this but don’t go higher. I’m using my Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker which has been holding up great for over 8 years.

Get your wood chips out. Pecan wood chips are the traditional choice for smoking chipotles. If you can’t find pecan you can also use a fruity wood such as apple or cherry. It’s a common misconception that wood chips have to be soaked first. They don’t because before they can begin smoking, all of that moisture has to evaporate out of them. So just place them in your smoker as they are.

preparing smoker temperature and pecan wood chips

Wearing gloves is strongly recommended when handling hot peppers. While your smoker is preheating take a sharp knife and slice down one side of each pepper lengthwise. This is to enable the smoke to fully penetrate the chili and, if you’re making chipotles en adobo with your chipotles, the slit will help the sauce get inside. You can remove the stems if you wish but they’re usually intact in canned adobo sauce and the little “handles” are easy for grabbing.

Place the jalapenos on the racks in your smoker and add wood chips. Smoke them for roughly 6-8 hours, depending on the ambient temperature. If you like them extra smoky you can add another handful of chips an hour or two into smoking.

slicing ripe jalapenos and placing in smoker

The chipotles are done when they are leathery but not moist and mushy. There should be some resistance when you try and bend them but they shouldn’t be so dry that they snap in two.

In order to store your smoked chipotle peppers without them developing mold they will need to be sufficiently dried. If they need to dry longer you can do this by reducing the heat of your smoker to between 125-140 degrees F and continuing to dry them, transferring them to a food dehydrator set to the same temperature, or placing them on a wire rack on a baking sheet in your oven turned to the lowest temperature (if it doesn’t go lower than 170, prop the door open a crack).

how to make chipotle peppers mexican smoked chipotles en adobo sauce recipe diy jalapenos

Allow your homemade chipotles to fully cool before transferring them to an airtight container or ziplock bag for storage. You can also grind them to a powder and then store the powder in an airtight jar.

Enjoy!

how to make chipotle peppers mexican smoked chipotles en adobo sauce recipe diy jalapenos
how to make chipotle peppers mexican smoked chipotles en adobo sauce recipe diy jalapenos

How to Make Chipotle Peppers

Smoked chipotles are super easy to make and they add incredible flavor and richness to your Mexican dishes!
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Smoking Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 15 minutes
Course condiment
Cuisine Mexican

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • fresh ripe red jalapeños (see Note), washed; select firm peppers without blemishes, as uniform in size as possible

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your smoker to 160-180 F / 71-82 C. You can go a little lower but don't go higher.
    Wearing gloves is strongly recommended when handling hot peppers. Take a sharp knife and slice down one side of each pepper lengthwise. This is to enable the smoke to fully penetrate the chili and, if you're making chipotles en adobo sauce with your chipotles, the slit will help the sauce get inside. Removing the stems is optional. They're typically left intact.
    Place the jalapeno peppers on the racks in your smoker and add the wood chips (they do not need to be pre-soaked). Smoke them for roughly 6-8 hours, depending on the ambient temperature. If you like them extra smoky you can add another handful of chips an hour or two into smoking.
    The chipotles are done when they are leathery but not moist and mushy. There should be some resistance when you try and bend them but they shouldn't be so dry that they snap in two.
  • In order to store your smoked chipotle peppers without them developing mold they will need to be sufficiently dried. If they need to dry longer you can do this by reducing the heat of your smoker to between 125-140 degrees F and continuing to dry them, transferring them to a food dehydrator set to the same temperature, or placing them on a wire rack on a baking sheet in your oven turned to the lowest temperature (if it doesn't go lower than 170, prop the door open a crack).
    Allow your homemade chipotles to fully cool before transferring them to an airtight container or ziplock bag for storage. You can also grind them to a powder and then store the powder in an airtight jar.

Notes

If you don’t have access to ripe red jalapenos you can place green jalapeno peppers in a single layer next to a sunny window in a warm room, turning them over occasionally, and wait a few days for them to turn red.
Keyword Homemade Chipotle Peppers, Homemade Smoked Chipotles, How to Make Chipotle Peppers
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kimberly killebrew the daring gourmet

Hi, I’m Kimberly Killebrew and welcome to Daring Gourmet where you'll find delicious originals, revitalized classics, and simply downright good eats from around the world! Originally from Germany, later raised in England, world-traveled, and now living in the U.S., from my globally-influenced kitchen I invite you to tour the world through your taste buds!

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Recipe Rating




5 from 8 votes (4 ratings without comment)

12 Comments

  1. This was super, Kimberly, thank you for the informative tutorial. I’ve got my first batch of homemade chipotles done.

  2. I made your adobo sauce yesterday and gave it 5 stars (would give it more if I could) and am on to make these chipotle peppers next. Can’t wait.

  3. THIS IS EPIC. I’ve been following your site for a number of years and you have become my top trusted source for recipes. I especially enjoy your recipes for homemade sausages, bacon, cured and smoked meats, etc. So these homemade chipotles are right up my alley. I’ve got my smoker, I grow my own peppers and am going to let them fully ripen. Just need to grab the pecan chips and I’m ready to start smoking some peppers. Looking forward to your adobo sauce recipe next. Keep up the great work, Kimberly, your talents and efforts are much appreciated. Regards, Brian

      1. Well I’ve finished my first batch of chipotles and wow, they smell good! I made your adobo sauce yesterday (incredible) and have packed some of my chipotles in a jar with adobo sauce and am going to keep those refrigerated for a week or so and then pull them out to get some cookin’ going. You’re a gem, Kimberly, thanks a million and I’ll be back for more recipes as usual! Regards, Brian