Mexican Adobo Sauce

Mexican adobo sauce is a cooking sauce made with different types of dried chillies and spices. This sauce is a staple in the Mexican gastronomy and used to make different dishes such as pollo en adobo (adobo chicken), pork ribs, beef, etc.

Mexican adobo texture

When my mom wanted to spoil us she would cook short pork ribs in adobo sauce. When she wanted to make something fancy she will cook adobo pork loin and when she’ll get bored of cooking the same dish for days, she will just make chicken adobo.

Those three dishes were always my mom’s favourites and all three were made with the same sauce: Mexican adobo.

What is adobo?

The adobo is a cooking technique originate in Spain, this technique refers to the immersion of a raw food (usually meat) in a sauce prepared with spices and vinegar.

There are many types of adobo that vary from country to country. But in this post I’m going to talk about how to make Mexican Adobo.

The Mexican adobo is a sauce prepared with various types of chilies, depending on the area in Mexico we can find different types of adobo, some use two types of chillies, others only one, with or without tomato, with or without onions and even spices can vary, but what everyone agrees on is that the adobo marinade is prepared always with vinegar.

Ingredients for mexican adobo.

Don’t worry if you can’t find all those types of chillies. You still can make this homemade adobo using a substitute: Paprika.

Replace each piece of dried pepper with one tablespoon (or a little less) of ground paprika. You can also use a mix of sweet and hot paprika for a more intense flavour.

Various jars with homemade adobo.

How To Make Mexican Adobo

With scissors cut the chiles in half lengthwise and discard the seeds. This operation can also be done after soaking the peppers, but if you want to toast them, you need to discard the seeds before placing the chillies on water (I’ll tell you more about this below).

Cutting the chilies.

Wash throughly the chillies and put them in a bowl. Cover with boiling water and let them soak for at least 30 minutes or until the water has almost cooled down.

If you want a sauce with a slight flavor of tatemado (toasted), before putting the chilies to soak you can roast/toast them lightly on a comal or a cast iron pan, this changes the flavor of the sauce a little in a very delicious way!.

Soaking the chilies.

Place chillies in a blender and add all the spices. Add a teaspoon of salt, the vinegar and half a cup of the water where the chilies were soaked.

If you want, you can use powdered spices, such as cumin, pepper, bay leaf, etc. Just remember that the amounts are slightly higher when the species are powdered.

Addin vinegar to the blender with other ingredients for homemade adobo.

Blend until obtaining a thick and velvety sauce. Depending on the power of your blender this can take 3-4 minutes.

If you want the sauce with a rustic consistency, blend it only a couple of minutes. If on the contrary, you want a very smooth consistency, then blend for a longer time and strain the sauce to get rid of any discard from the chillies.

Mexican adobo on the blender.

How To Store

  • Frozen in small ice cubes. Very practical because you can use it in small amounts.
  • Frozen in zipper bags. Very useful for when large amounts of marinade are needed, for example for a party or gatherings.
  • Coat with Mexican adobo any protein you’d like, then place it in bags. A good idea to save time, defrost the meat and you no longer have to wait for it to marinate. I have frozen everything, chicken legs and wings, breasts, pork ribs, fish, etc.
  • Pour it into fridge-proof containers, cover and store in fridge for up to 10 days.
A spoon with the sauce for showing its texture.

Useful Tips:

  • I use very little salt because I prefer to add it to the dish that I will cook with the sauce, but you can taste it after blending and decide whether or not to add more salt.
  • With the ingredients for this recipe, you’ll get about 3 cups of adobo sauce.  It depends on how big the chilies are and how many you’re adding of each. The important thing is to balance the quantity of chilies since the sauce should have the flavour of the three types that are used and not only from one.
  • Once the sauce is finished, it can be used immediately, but if you want to keep it (which is what I do) you can do it by freezing it in cubes, in zip-loc bags or plastic containers. Since it contains vinegar and spices, it can last for up to 6 months in the freezer and about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
  • You can double this recipe to prepare a large batch.

How To Use

As I said before, Mexican Adobo can be used in so many recipes, for example this delicious Pork Ribs With Adobo or maybe to prepare a die for Tamales Rojos. Also, if you omit the vinegar you can prepare this exactly recipe and use the sauce for Enchiladas, Red Pozole or Mole de Olla!

More mexican authentic recipes

Mexican Adobo Sauce

3 cups
Mexican adobo sauce is a cooking sauce made with different types of dried chillies and spices. This sauce is used to make different dishes such as pollo en adobo (adobo chicken), pork ribs, beef, etc.
5 from 3 votes
Prep: 15 mins
Soaking time: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 3 dry ancho chillies read notes
  • 5 dry guajillo chillies read notes
  • 5 dry pasilla chillies read notes
  • ½ cup (120 ml) white vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled
  • 1 tsp black pepper whole
  • 1 tsp cumin whole seeds
  • 2 tsp dry oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt

Instructions
 

  • Using scissors cut the chiles in half lengthwise and discard the seeds (see notes).
  • Wash throughly the chilies and put them in a bowl. Cover them with boiling water and let them soak for at least 30 minutes or until the water has almost cooled down.
  • In a blender put the chilies and all the spices. Add a teaspoon of salt, the vinegar and half a cup of the water where the chillies were soaked.
  • Blend until obtaining a thick and velvety sauce. Depending on the power of your blender this can take 3-4 minutes.
Notes
  • Replace each piece of dried pepper with one tablespoon (or a little less) of ground paprika. You can also use a mix of sweet and hot paprika for a more intense flavour.
  • If you want a sauce with a slight flavor of tatemado (toasted), before putting the chilies to soak you can roast / toast them lightly on a comal or a cast iron pan, this changes the flavor of the sauce a little in a very delicious way!.
  • If you wish, you can use powdered spices, such as cumin, pepper, bay leaf, etc. Just remember that the amounts are slightly higher when the species is powdered.
  • If you want the sauce with a rustic consistency, blend it only a couple of minutes. If on the contrary, you want a very smooth consistency, then blend for a longer time and strain the sauce to get rid of any discard from the chillies.
Course sauces
Cuisine mexican

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3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Always wondered how mexicans achieve that wonderful color in grilled chicken. Now makes sense :D thanks for sharing, not sure if i can find the dry chilies here in Florida but I’ll give a try next time I’ll go out for shopping.

    By the way, can I use this sauce to make enchilada too? it looks pretty similar to the mole enchilada recipes I’ve seen before.

  2. 5 stars
    By the color st first though “must be similar to a BBQ sauce” but oh well! Never tried something like this, very strong sauce, I think it goes great with many many things, I definetly have a new sauce to add in my family meals and daily life!

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