What Is Chipotle Powder?

Updated April 17, 2017

Many recipes, ranging from chilli to salmon dishes, list chipotle powder as an ingredient. The spicy, smoky flavour of chipotle powder comes from grinding up a whole dried chipotle chilli. Created by smoking jalapeño peppers until they reach a reddish-brown colour, chipotles make up nearly 20 per cent of the jalapeños grown in Mexico. Chipotle powder is a common form of the chipotle found in the United States. Adding chipotle powder to your cooking will give it a kick of spicy flavour.


Chipotle powder is made from grinding whole chipotle peppers, which were thought to have originated with the Aztecs in what is now northern Mexico City. The Aztecs may have smoked the jalapeños to keep them from rotting and to make them easier to dry. In modern times, chipotles remain prominent throughout Mexico, and their reach has extended to the United States. Commonly used in powder form for cooking, chipotles are used in restaurants throughout the U.S.


Noted as a smoky, spicy ingredient, chipotle powder is a seasoning used often in soups, sauces and meat seasoning. Considered to have medium heat compared to other varieties of chilli, chipotle chillies do keep most of the heat from the jalapeño through the smoking process. Because the chipotles are often smoked over wood fires, they contain a slight hint of sweetness mingled with their smoky flavour.


Chipotles and chipotle powder are often ingredients in Mexican, Central American and Southwestern cooking; however, their use can go far beyond traditional dishes of fajitas, salsa and chilli with black beans. Chipotle powder is used in a wide array of dishes, including roast turkey, braised chicken and brown-sugar-chipotle salmon. Some sweet dishes also incorporate chipotle powder for a spicy kick, such as chocolate chipotle shortbread.


Home cooks can make their own chipotle peppers by smoking jalapeños with a smoker. It is not likely that commercial-quality chipotles will result from home smoking, but it is possible to create a similar result. To smoke the jalapeños, prepare a smoker, smoke the chillies directly on the smoker for roughly 2 ½ hours. Remove them from the smoker, let them dry for roughly 2 weeks and store them in an airtight container. To create chipotle powder, grind the chipotles in a food processor until they are fine.

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About the Author

Jeris Swanhorst is a writer and English and literature instructor at the college level, and owner of SwanJay, a knitting and crochet business. She earned a master's degree in English from Minnesota State University in 2007.