Chipotle powder is made from dried, smoked jalapeños and lends its unique spiciness and smokiness to a number of Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes. If a recipe from those cultures requires chipotle powder, you will need it or a suitable alternative to get an authentic-tasting dish. Omitting it is not an option. Fortunately, suitable alternatives are not difficult to find. Below are several chipotle substitutes that you may already have in your kitchen.
Ancho chili powder
Ancho chili powder is made with poblano peppers and has a lot in common with chipotle powder. Both consist of dried, ground peppers with no additional spices. In the same way that jalapeños are smoked to make chipotle powder, some ancho chilies are smoked and will impart a similar smoky flavor to your dish.
Because the poblanos used to make ancho chili powder are milder than jalapeños, ancho chili powder tends to be milder than chipotle powder. Its relative mildness may make it ideal if you are trying to tone down the spice in your dish. When using ancho chili powder in place of chipotle powder, start with the same amount required for chipotle in your recipe. You can then increase in small increments depending on the level of heat that you want.
Chili powder seasoning
Chili powder seasoning consists of ground chilies mixed with various spices. While the ingredients vary depending on the maker’s blend, most chili powders include cumin along with oregano. In some blends, garlic and salt are also included. Remember to check the ingredients on the chili powder you use.
Chili powder has the benefit of being easy to find and ancho chilies are used in many blends. Furthermore, the spices included along with the ground pepper usually work well in dishes that require chipotle powder. When using chili powder, remember to tweak the other spices in your recipe to prevent over seasoning. Start with the amount that your recipe requires for chipotle and increase from there according to your preference.
Cayenne pepper powder
Cayenne pepper is usually somewhat hotter than chipotle with a Scoville rating of between 30,000 and 50,000 compared to Chipotle powder’s relatively mild 2,500 to 8,000 rating. Use half the amount of cayenne that your recipe requires for chipotle and work up from there in small increments. Note cayenne pepper is rather neutral in flavor – quite a different flavor profile than the smoky earthy chipotle, so consider this when opting for it in a recipe.
Smoked paprika can also make a workable chipotle alternative as long as you are mindful of the fact that paprikas may not have the heat of chipotle powder. Consider mixing smoked paprika with some cayenne in order to get both heat and smokiness.
Another option is to use hot sauce with a drop or two of liquid smoke. Note that hot sauce can add some acidity, which may complement some dishes but not others.