11 Best Chipotle Paste Substitutes – Game-Changing Alternatives

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Chipotle Pasta on The Table
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Chipotle paste is very delicious, but I know it ain’t for everybody. Some people gotta watch what they eat and prefer alternatives.

If you’re looking for something different than chipotle paste, I got you covered. I did some research and came up with some mighty fine alternatives.

Now, chipotle paste is made from smoked jalapeño peppers that give it a nice little kick and smoky flavor, too. But maybe jalapeños ain’t your thing. Or maybe you just can’t find it at the store near you. Well, no need to worry.

I’m bout to tell you what you can use instead. And it’s all easy to find, too. Alright, let’s get to it then.

1. Ancho Chili Paste

Authentic Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Ancho chili paste is a great swap for chipotle paste. It’s made from dried poblano peppers and has more of a mild, sweet flavor than paste. But it still gives your food a nice smoky taste, like Chipotle.

Confused about how much to use? Just replace the paste amount with the same amount of ancho chili paste. It’s that easy! Now, if you like your food on the spicy side, I say throw in a pinch of cayenne pepper too. That’ll kick it up a notch.

2. Chipotle Powder

Chipotle Powder

Chipotle powder is another great alternative. It is made from dried, smoked jalapeño peppers, so it’s got all that awesome flavor packed in.

To make it like a paste, take 1 tablespoon of the powder and mix it with 1 tablespoon of either water, tomato paste, or ketchup – by the way, tomato paste typically lasts about 5 to 7 days in the fridge, so keep that in mind for storage.

Stir it around well until it reaches a spreadable consistency. Then test it out – if you want it hotter, add more powder. If it’s too spicy, add more liquid.

3. Smoked Paprika

Smoked Paprika - Chipotle Paste Substitute

Smoked paprika is just peppers that were smoked until they’re dried out. It gives your food an awesome red color and woodsy taste. All you do is take one tablespoon of the paprika and mix it with either one tablespoon of water, ketchup, or tomato paste. Stir it around well until it makes a little paste. Then, just add it to whatever you’re cooking.

If you want a little extra heat, you can also throw in a pinch of cayenne pepper. Before you know it, your dish will have that smoky chipotle flavor without even using the paste!

4. Chipotle in Adobo Sauce

Chipotle in Adobo Sauce

Chipotle in adobo sauce can totally transform what you’re making. Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapeños that get soaked in this tangy tomato sauce called adobo. By itself, it’s kinda different than your regular chili paste, but flavor-wise, they’re pretty darn similar.

Here’s the secret – if a recipe ever calls for chili paste but you have some of chipotle lying around, you can use it instead! Just chop up one or two of peppers real fine, or blend it up if you’re lazy like me. Mix it with a little bit of that adobo sauce, too. This will thin it out to the same consistency as paste.

5. Chili Powder

Chili Powder

Chili powder is a mix of ground chili peppers, cumin, garlic, and oregano. It won’t have that smokey chipotle taste, but it can still spice things up and add some flavor.

Instead of the paste, use 1 tablespoon of chili powder. But it’ll be too powdery on its own. So mix it with 1 tablespoon of water, tomato paste, or ketchup. Stir it well so it makes a paste. Believe me, you don’t want powder flying all over your kitchen.

Now here’s the secret – add a pinch of smoked paprika. That little bit will really boost the smokey chipotle flavor you’re missing.

6. Harissa

Ever heard of harissa? It’s an awesome red pepper sauce they make in North Africa. They take hot peppers, garlic, and some spices and mash it all up in olive oil.

The taste is kinda similar to chipotle paste but also a little different. It adds major heat and flavor to anything you put it on.

It is a great substitute for chipotle paste, but I’d start with a tiny bit at first since it’s spicier. Go slow and see how you like it before adding more. Flavor’s not exactly the same as chipotle, so find what amount works for you.

7. Gochujang

Gochujang Paste

I usually don’t mess with too many foreign foods, but let me tell you, gochujang is something else.

It’s made from red peppers, rice, beans, and salt – so right away, you know it’s gonna be packed with flavor. The taste? Kind of sweet and tangy, but also really spicy and complex. Not your average red pepper heat, that’s for sure.

Wondering how to use it in place of that chipotle paste you got? I’d start with half the amount of gochujang since it’s pretty intense. Then taste and add more if you want an extra kick. Also, keep in mind it’s thicker than chipotle, so you may need to thin it out some with a little liquid so the texture is how you like it.

8. Pasilla Chili Paste

Pasilla Chili Paste

Pasilla chili paste is made from dried pasilla peppers, which are a bit milder than chipotles. This paste doesn’t have as much heat or smoke, but it sure is flavorful. It’s got kind of an earthy, sweet taste that reminds me of raisins or prunes. Sounds good, right?

Anyway, this pasilla paste can really add some depth and zing to your cooking. And the best part is you can use it just like you would the chipotle paste. Start with the same amount, and then you can always add more later if you want more heat.

9. Guajillo Chili Paste

Guajillo Chili Paste

Guajillo chili paste is made from dried guajillo peppers. These little guys are on the mild side but pack some sweet fruit flavor.

The paste doesn’t have that smoked flavor like chipotle paste, but it adds a deep, rich taste to whatever you cook. Almost like you can taste the earth it came from.

Want a pro tip? Add a pinch of smoked paprika. That’ll trick your taste buds into thinking it’s smokier.

10. Ají Panca Paste

Ají Panca Paste

Ají Panca Paste is usually made in Peru with dried panca peppers. Those peppers are also pretty mild, so the paste won’t light your mouth on fire.

But don’t let that fool you – it’s got some nice flavors going on! They get all smoky and kinda fruity from being dried. A lot of chefs use it instead of chipotle paste when they cook.

11. Sambal Oelek

Sambal Oelek

Sambal Oelek is an Indonesian chili paste made from crushed raw red chilies, vinegar, and salt. While it lacks the smoky flavor of chipotle paste, it still adds a spicy kick and tanginess to your dishes.

To use sambal oelek as a substitute for the paste, mix one tablespoon of sambal oelek with a pinch of smoked paprika for added smokiness. Adjust the amount according to your taste preferences.

Final Words

Out of the options we talked about, I’d say the ají panca is probably closest to that smoky chipotle flavor you know and love. However, the others are still great in their own right.

No matter which one you decide to try, don’t be afraid to experiment with how much you use. A little can go a long way! Play around until you find the heat and flavor that suits you best.

And don’t forget, you don’t always need a direct substitute. Get creative in the kitchen. These products can spice up so many different dishes. When it comes to Chipotle, understanding the difference between barbacoa and carnitas can really enhance your dining experience.

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