Chipotle sauce is a spicy, smoky, savory condiment made from chipotles in adobo (smoked jalapeño peppers).
Learn how to make homemade vegan, dairy-free chipotle sauce. A great way to spice up tacos, burritos, and much more.
Check out our best vegan sauce recipes.
If you've never tried chipotle sauce, you are in for a treat. It has a light smokey flavor and unique warm heat; it's earthy and creamy, with a bold, unmistakable flavor.
The most important ingredient in a chipotle sauce is chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Chipotles are smoked, dried jalapenos. They are preserved in a dark, tangy, and spicy red chile sauce made from ground dried chilies, dried herbs, and vinegar.
We use two chipotle peppers to make a mildly spicy sauce. If you like it spicier, add more chipotle peppers; if you want it less spicy, start with one chipotle pepper and take it from there.
You can find chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in most US supermarkets, in the Mexican food aisle. You can also find them in Mexican grocery stores or online. If you don't live in the US, then online is your best bet.
To make chipotle sauce we combine the chipotle peppers in adobo with two other ingredients: vegan sour cream and vegan mayo. You can use regular sour cream and classic mayonnaise if you are not vegan.
There are plenty of options on the market for vegan sour creams (Tofutti, follow your heart, wayfare, good karma, etc.) and vegan mayo. However, you can also make them at home following our super easy recipes for vegan sour cream and vegan mayo.
Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
Spicy, earthy, tangy, and smokey, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce have a unique flavor that makes this chipotle sauce hard to resist.
They are easy to find, they often come in a can, and many Mexican brands sell this product in the United States. However, if you are outside the US, you can easily find them online or in Mexican grocery stores.
Can you replace chipotles in adobo sauce? We tried, and the best way to do so is with Tabasco hot sauce + smoked paprika, or use chipotle powder instead.
Vegan sour cream
Vegan sour cream adds creaminess to the chipotle sauce while keeping the recipe light and healthy.
You can find it in most supermarkets, but we prefer to make our homemade sour cream with five simple ingredients: cashew nuts, water, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and salt.
Check out our vegan sour cream recipe to learn how to make this healthy, creamy condiment in 5 minutes.
For non-vegans, give the vegan version a shot; it's absolutely delicious! Alternatively, you can use regular sour cream, Mexican crema, or plain greek yogurt are good alternatives.
We add vegan mayo to give the sauce a velvety texture and richness. Check out our vegan mayo recipe; it's also effortless to make in less than 5 minutes.
Use lime juice to add extra tang and freshness. You can replace lime with lemon juice.
Add just half a clove to start. This sauce should not be overly garlicky.
No condiment is complete without a bit of salt. We like sea salt or kosher salt, but you can use any other salt.
We like our sauce simple, with few ingredients, to let the chipotle peppers shine. However, we've seen recipes that call for spices and sweeteners.
Therefore, we recommend trying the chipotle sauce as written in our recipe to see if you like it first. Then if you want to add a touch of sweetness, you can do so with maple syrup or vegan honey. Finally, add some cumin powder if you like it a little more aromatic.
Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor: chipotles in adobo sauce, vegan sour cream, vegan mayo, lime juice, garlic, and salt.
Blend for a couple of minutes, scraping down the sides of the food processor once or twice until you have a smooth and creamy sauce. Taste and adjust for salt, lime juice, and heat.
Note: we use two chipotle peppers to get to a medium-spice level. Add one chipotle pepper for a milder sauce and three to five chipotle peppers for a spicier sauce.
Transfer to a serving bowl, and use it as a dip or drizzle for your favorite dishes. Vegan chipotle sauce is a great way to add a spicy, smokey flavor to most dishes.
If you like hot smokey sauces, you can use this vegan chipotle sauce with most of your favorite dishes. Our favorite ways to use it are:
- With anything Mexican or Mexican-inspired: tacos, nachos, burrito bowls, wraps, black beans, and more.
- On veggies! Try it drizzled on or as a dip with air-fried, oven-baked, and even steamed vegetables. Our favorites are air-fried potatoes, sweet potato fries, air-fried zucchini and zucchini fries, grilled zucchini, and grilled eggplant.
- Like a spread in a sandwich or wrap, it's even excellent in a veggie burger.
- Drizzle it on salads, grain bowls, or mixed in rice salads or barley salads.
- Use it to garnish crostini bread with veggies.
More Vegan Sauces
If you're looking for more vegan sauce ideas, take your pick at these recipes:
- Vegan pesto: perfectly paired with steamed and boiled veggies as well as a pasta salad.
- Romesco sauce: creamy, nutty, peppery; this sauce brightens up your veggies.
- Tahini sauce: add some middle-eastern creamy, dreamy flair to your vegan salad and pasta salad.
- Cilantro Lime dressing: a bright, refreshing, and herby dressing that works well with Mexican-inspired dishes.
- Mustard vinaigrette: a simple and effective way to add flavor to your couscous salad.
- Chimichurri recipe: adds bold flavor to legumes and veggies, a great addition to taco Tuesday!
Keep leftover sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. We don't recommend freezing it.
For more condiment ideas, check out our dressing and sauces category page.
- Food processor or blender
- Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor: chipotles in adobo sauce, vegan sour cream, vegan mayo, lime juice, garlic, and salt.
- Blend for a couple of minutes, scraping down the sides of the food processor once or twice until you have a smooth and creamy sauce. Taste and adjust for salt, lime juice, and heat.Note: we use two chipotle peppers to get to a medium-spice level. Add one chipotle pepper for a milder sauce and three to five chipotle peppers for a spicier sauce.
- Transfer to a serving bowl, use to drizzle, as a dip, or as a spread. Vegan chipotle sauce is a great way to add a tangy, smokey heat to most dishes.
- It's great with anything Mexican-inspired, with roasted, grilled, and air-fried veggies, grain bowls, and much more. Keep leftover sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. We don't recommend freezing it.