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Chipotle is nothing but a smoked and dried ripe jalapeño pepper. It was named after the Nahuatl word chilpoctli which means “smoked chile pepper.” Smoke-drying started in the Postclassic period. Soon enough, the Aztecs arrived and they used the same technique as a way of preserving their food.

Nevertheless, smoke-dried chipotle peppers have a deep red to brown color with a wrinkled, ridged, and thick skin. It is sweet and smoky, with gentle notes of tobacco, chocolate, and nuts that exhibits a complex heat. Chipotle peppers only range from 2,500 to 10,000 Scoville units. It can be used in soups, sauces, stews, marinades, salsas, stuffings, salads, and even desserts. 


Chipotle Trivia

  • Jalapeño is the state pepper of Texas.
  • Jalapeño peppers for chipotle are mostly left out on the plant to dry.
  • Traditional chipotles are smoke-dried for several days rather than several hours.
  • Chipotle peppers contain capsaicin which helps in reducing the risk of prostate, lung, and pancreatic cancer. It also helps manage insulin levels; hence, it has been strongly recommended for people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Chipotle peppers help increase metabolism; hence, it can promote fat and weight loss. It also boosts our immune system, supports digestion, fights against bone deterioration, cataracts, and other sight-related concerns. In addition, chipotle peppers are shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits in the body. 
  • Chipotle creams are topically applied to the skin to reduce joint and muscle inflammation.  
  • The famous Tabasco hot sauce uses chipotle as one of its main ingredients.

Chipotle Buying Guide

Chipotle peppers are usually processed and sold as whole pods, powder, concentrated base, marinade mix, and adobo sauces. And while it is quite hard to find whole chipotle peppers at large supermarkets such as H-E-B and Natural Grocers, it is relatively easy to find chipotle powders and chipotle in adobo sauce; however, canned chipotles, like the puréed ones, are usually watered down and flavored with tomato purées and some spices. You can find these products in the international or ethnic food aisle of your favorite grocer. On another note, a lot of artisan food vendors here in Texas sell almost all the chipotle products that include whole, puree, sauce, and powdered chipotle. However, you might be a little overwhelmed as chipotles come in many forms. Thus, here is a quick guide on chipotle’s varieties to help you in choosing the perfect one:

  • Morita – a Spanish word that translates to “small mulberry.” It is one of the two common chipotle varieties that is made by smoke-drying red and ripe jalapeño peppers, which are predominantly grown in Chihuahua, Mexico. Despite that, it is the most widely-used variety of chipotle in the United States, ranging from 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville units.
  • Meco, ahumado, or típico – It is one of the two common chipotle varieties that is made by smoke-drying a larger jalapeño pepper. It has a grayish-tan hue and a dusty looking skin that looks like the butt of a cigar. This variety is more popular in southern and central Mexico, as most natives prefer this variety because they tend to be smokier in taste. They are sometimes referred to as chile navideño as this pepper is stuffed and turned into a traditional Christmas dish.
  • Huachinango chile – it is a fresh red jalapeño pepper that is predominantly grown in Oaxaca and Puebla, Mexico. Its flavor notes are similar to meco but it tends to be larger in size. It is also being sold three to four times more than jalapeños. Smoke-drying this pepper leads to chipotle grande, while stuffing and smoke-drying it makes chipotle tamarindo
  • Jalapeño chico chipotle – this label means that the jalapeños were smoked and dried while it’s still immature and green. Thus, the flavor is milder than its counterparts.
  • Castrated chipotles or chipotle capones – this label refers to the smoke-dried red jalapeño peppers without its seeds. Like the jalapeño chico chipotle, this chipotle is milder in flavor than its counterparts.
  • Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce – these are chipotle peppers that are mixed with adobo sauce. It is usually packaged in cans and it has a mildly sweet and smoky flavor. You can use this as a substitute for plain chipotle, but you might have to adjust your recipe as this slightly changes the flavor of your dish.

Chipotle Production & Farming in Texas

Although chipotle peppers are native to Mexico, it is also grown and cultivated in Texas, especially in the southern region of the state. Texas is the third leading producer of jalapeños in the United States, following California and New Mexico. Thus, jalapeños are widely grown in this area. Texans also follow the traditional style of making chipotles, where jalapeño peppers are left out on the plant until they are deep red in color and about to dry out. These peppers are usually harvested towards the beginning of the fall season. Due to modernization, some farmers grow these peppers in greenhouses so that they can harvest it throughout the season at their own convenience.

Pesticides, additives, and chemicals:

Fortunately, the majority of chipotle products that we found in stores contain no additives and chemicals. Only a few brands have some but it is minimal. Hence, as we scrutinize each brand, here are the additives and chemicals that we found:

  • Silicon Dioxide – This chemical compound is also known as silica. It is used as a thickener, stabilizer, anticaking agent, and carrier for aroma and flavor. Although it is safe to consume, it can lead to lung problems when consumed past its RDA. 
  • Ethoxyquin – This additive is a synthetic antioxidant that is used to preserve food and to prevent scalds and oxidation. Although this additive is regulated and declared safe to consume by the FDA, it has been linked to the induction of white blood cells in our body. This additive is also used as a pesticide in rubber.


Whole chipotles are packaged in vacuum-sealed pouches to prevent air from penetrating the pepper. Chipotle powder, chipotle concentrated base, chipotle marinade mix, puréed chipotle, and chipotle in adobo may come in packages like cans, pouches, packets, cartons, and jars.

Enjoying Chipotles

Chipotle peppers are known for their smoky notes and mild heat. They are usually sprinkled on raw, cooked food, or even desserts, and it is often used in cooking vegetables as it creates an umami flavor and a grilled taste. In addition, it also adds depth, complex flavor, and vibrancy to any food from scrambled eggs, burgers, enchiladas, kebabs, sandwiches, pickled vegetables, and meat to soups, salsas, and sauces. And speaking of sauces, chipotle peppers are also popular to be the byproduct of chipotle adobo sauce, wherein the smoke-dried peppers are added to this sweet and sour flavored sauce.    


Chipotle peppers can be stored in a variety of ways. It can also be placed in either the refrigerator, where it would last for about one to two months, or the freezer, where it would maintain its best quality for about six months. When you are to store an opened can of chipotle peppers, especially if it’s mixed with adobo sauce, lay the peppers separately in a parchment paper-lined baking tray, scoop some adobo sauce to the peppers, and nicely wrap it before putting it into the freezer. You can blast-freeze the peppers and transfer them to smaller ziplock bags to save some freezer space. You can also purée these peppers with the adobo sauce using a blender or food processor; you may pour them in mason jars and store it in the refrigerator. In addition, you may also choose to pour the puréed chipotle in an ice cube tray for convenience. Once frozen, you may opt to transfer it into ziplock bags to save some space. Just remember that one chipotle cube is roughly equivalent to one pepper. 

Make your own chipotle at home:

As we now have learned that chipotle peppers can be done by anyone in the comfort of their homes, it’s time to get started. We highly suggest that you do this ahead of time and store it until you’re ready to use it. Not only that it’ll save you a lot of time but the peppers will also intensify its flavor over time. Smokers and dehydrators work best, but if you don’t have one, you can also smoke using the cold side of the grill and you may dry the peppers using the oven. Below is a quick recipe that you will surely love: 

Yield: 20


  • 20 pieces jalapeño peppers, or as many as you can
  • Wood chips, as needed Chef tip: pecan chips are the preference of Mexicans for chipotles. If you can’t find one, apple, cherry, hickory, or oakwood chips also works perfectly for smoking jalapeño peppers.


  1. Soak the wood chips for at least 2 hours.
  2. Set up your smoker with a handful of soaked wood chips and set the temp to 200ºF.
  3. Cut the jalapeño stems off and lay them on a wire rack that fits your smoker.
  4. Smoke the jalapeño peppers for 3 hours and dry them completely by either using a dehydrator or the oven. When using the oven, set the temperature to 200ºF or at its lowest setting and dry the peppers for 10-12 hours. If your oven has fans, turn it on. The peppers have to be completely dry but still malleable. 
  5. You can store in a ziplock bag or an airtight container and keep it for later use, or pulverize the peppers using a blender or food processor to make a chipotle powder.



  • Serving Size: 1 Pepper, (4.3g)
  • Calories: 14 2.2
  • Carbs: 3g 1%
  • Sugar: 1.8g
  • Fiber: 1.2g 5%
  • Protein: 0.5g
  • Fat: 0.3g 0%
  • Saturated Fat: 0g 0%
  • Trans Fat 0g 0%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 3.9mg 0%
  • Vitamin C 2.3%
  • Vitamin A 23%
  • Calcium 0.1%
  • Iron 1.4%
  • Potassium 80mg 2%
  • Vitamin B6 0.1mg 5%
  • Folate 0.7mcg
  • Magnesium 0.1mg

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