chipotle peppers
Red Jalapenos picked from the garden.

This week we had our first true freeze of the fall season.  Fortunately, we were able to pick the last of the peppers before nature turned down the thermostat. That left us with a plethora of peppers to try to can, freeze, and dry. A great way to preserve your red jalapenos is to make your own Chipotle Peppers.  It does take some patience, so plan to do this on a day when you have a full day to be ‘on call’.

chipotle peppers
Chipotle peppers ground down to make powder – Great to add to soups, stews and pasta dishes.

A Chipotle pepper is a dry, smoked jalapeno pepper.  They are most commonly made from red jalapenos.   They are added to any dish that needs a smoky flavor with a little kick.    Most of the natural ‘heat’ of the jalapeno is retained in the drying and smoking process.Typically it is about 5,000 to 10,000 Scoville Units. This is considered a “medium” heat in comparison to other chilies.  Of course, you can take out the seeds and ribs of the jalapeno to make a milder version of the chipotle pepper. Typically the Chipotle is used to flavor soups, salsas, stews, sauces, and even an occasional dessert.

chipotle peppers
Make sure to soak your wood chips in water for at least an hour to prevent burning in the smoker.
chipotle peppers
After a few hours, the red jalapenos are beginning to dry

To make your own Chipotles, start with thoroughly washed Jalapeños, without bruises or surface cuts. They shouldn’t be too soft. Remove the stems and place them on the rack in your smoker or grill in a single layer.

Add pre-soaked wood for the smoke in small amounts. Fruit woods are best to use such as apple wood, however hickory, oak, and pecan (the Mexican traditional wood) works well also. Just keep the airflow low so that the fire doesn’t get too hot and then continue smoking until the peppers are complete dried. Some people use a dehydrator, which works, but your dehydrator will smell smoky for weeks.

So what do you do with all of your chipotle peppers?  There are countless ways to use them, but here are some of our favorites…..

chipotle pepper
You can see the jalapenos have now begun to turn into chipotle peppers. Only a couple more hours to go.

Chipotle Powder 
A few spice companies offer a chipotle powder. This is simply the dried whole chili, ground up into a fine powder. Use as you would any chili powder for a spicy, smoky flavor. We love our Krups Coffee Grinder which grinds the peppers down into the perfect consistency.

Chipotle in Adobo Sauce 
Normally canned with a sauce made of spices, vinegar, tomato sauce and sometimes other chilies. You can use the chilies, the sauce, or both in common recipes.

Chipotle Chili Salt
The salt is a combination of chipotle chili powder and table salt. Use on meats or vegetables for a light smoky flavor.

Chipotle Dip 
Chilies are dehydrated and blended into a paste. Use the dip for chicken fingers, wraps and on veggies or chips.

We will get into more specific recipes on how to use your dried chipotle peppers in future posts.  But as for now, concentrate on getting those leftover jalapenos put to use before they go bad.

Jim and Mary

23 thoughts on “Making Your Own Chipotle Peppers From Jalapeno’s

  • November 30, 2016 at 9:43 am

    I wish I would have found this earlier. We grew so many jalapeno plants this year and gave so many peppers away. I canned about a dozen pints of them as well.
    I have the kids eating the chipotle and they love the smokey flavor.

    Next year I have big, big plans for my lovely jalapenos.


  • September 21, 2016 at 9:33 am

    I was just wondering if the smoke produce by smoking the jalapenos is dangerous as far as pepper compounds are considered. Do you make a point of staying away from it or does the smoke not carry any of the spicy compouds that could be dangerous if inhaled? Thanks.

  • April 28, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    Hello!! I’m curious.. I have a big green jalapeño plant in my backyard that I harvest a ton of nice sized green jalapeños. Does it make a difference using these type of peppers as opposed to the red? Thanks 🙂

    • May 11, 2016 at 4:57 pm

      The big difference between these two peppers is simply age. They are the same pepper, just a green jalapeño is picked early in the ripening process, while a red jalapeño is left on the vine to mature. During the ripening, the jalapeño, like other chilies, changes color from green to red

    • June 4, 2016 at 1:47 pm

      Jalapeños are often picked when a shiny green, however, if you leave them longer, they become black, and eventually red. Chipotle peppers are made from red.

    • October 21, 2016 at 1:07 pm

      In answer to your comment: I have made my own chipotle’ powder for years now and have used both green jalapenos (not fully ripened) as well as red jalapenos (fully ripened) both smoked with pecan wood and there is a difference (at least to me) in taste.

      I prefer the ripe (red) over the unripened ones as they seem to consistently taste both richer and sweeter.

      Having used chipotle’ powders made from mesquite, hickory, etc. I find the flavor to be “harsher” and so I’ve stuck with what I like traditional pecan wood.

      Hope this answers your question

  • January 28, 2014 at 8:45 am

    What temp did you keep your smoker?

  • October 23, 2013 at 8:26 am

    How long did you leave the jalps. in the smoker?

    • October 23, 2013 at 11:08 am

      Depends on how dry they already are – but usually anywhere from 6 to 10 hours

  • October 22, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Can you use your habanero peppers this way too?

    • October 22, 2013 at 4:12 pm

      You sure can – we did it when we had a bumper crop a few years back!

  • September 2, 2013 at 9:53 am

    I did this method this year also. Got lots of chilies this year, so will package up and give as gifts. They smell so good!

  • April 14, 2013 at 8:38 am

    Great informative post. I love smoked jalapenos and am eager to try this. Can you tell me what type of smoker you use?

    • April 15, 2013 at 9:07 am

      Thanks Linda! We just use a standard box style smoker that we purchased from Lowes. We are able to put in a pan of wood chips and water and it really does a great job with them.

      • July 26, 2015 at 7:18 pm

        What temperature did you have your smoker? Did you use a digital thermometer? What would the outcome be if you left the water bowl dry instead? – Thanks much.

  • October 18, 2012 at 5:47 am

    If only I had a smoker! I froze all of my jalapenos this year too. I don’t think I will have to plant them next year I have so many!

  • October 15, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Very interesting! I didn’t know that chipotle peppers were actually jalepeno peppers. Thanks for joining my party.

  • October 12, 2012 at 9:22 am

    what fantastic ways of keeping them, i must makes some into a powder myself.. now WHY did i not think of that.. I usually just freeze them.. piles of them this year.. they must love the dry! c

    • October 12, 2012 at 9:30 am

      Thanks Cecilia…and I think you are right…all this dry hot weather made for one heck of a jalapeno and pepper harvest!

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