Marinades, Sauces, Rubs & Salsas

Chipotle Chile Marinade

This pugnacious marinade belongs to an extended family of Latino seasonings called adobo. Mexican versions contain chiles and this one owes its fiery smoke flavor to chipotle chiles (smoked jalapeños). I prefer canned chipotles over the dried because the juices are loaded with flavor and heat. Traditionally, the marinade would be made with sour orange. To approximate the flavor of this tropical citrus fruit, I combine fresh lime and orange juice.


Chipotle Chile Marinade

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: Makes 2 cups adobo, enough to marinate 2 to 3 pounds of meat or seafood


  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 3 ripe plum tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 medium-size onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 to 4 canned chipotle chiles
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons canned chipotle juices
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt (sea or kosher)

Recipe Steps

1: Heat a comal or dry skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin and peppercorns and toast until fragrant, 2 minutes. Transfer the spices to a blender or spice mill and grind to a fine powder. Leave the spices in the blender.

2: Place the tomatoes, garlic, and onion on the comal and cook until nicely browned on all sides, turning with tongs. This will take 4 to 6 minutes for the garlic, and 10 to 12 minutes for the tomatoes and onion. Coarsely chop the vegetables and transfer them to the blender with the spices.

3: Add the lime and orange juices, the vinegar, chipotle chiles and juices, oregano, and salt. Run the blender in bursts to reduce the ingredients to a thick purée. Transfer to a large jar, cover, and refrigerate. Use within a few hours of making.