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10 Best Adobo Sauce Substitutes For You

10 Best Adobo Sauce Substitutes For You

If you’re a fan of Mexican or Filipino cuisine, you must have heard of adobo sauce. It is a sauce used in Mexican cooking to marinate various meats or fish. So, today we are here to talk about the best adobo sauce substitutes. 

However, if you do decide to cook Mexican or Filipino food someday and seem to be all out of adobo sauce, there is no need to worry! You can easily use a substitute for the same that is more easily available. This article is your guide to find the best adobo sauce substitutes. 

You must be wondering what you can actually use as a substitute for adobo sauce. The best adobo sauce substitutes are garlic and chili sauce, chipotle peppers, Greek seasoning, ancho chile paste, cajun seasoning, ranchero sauce, adobo seasoning, and hoisin sauce. 

However, before we start discussing the best adobo sauce substitutes, let me tell you a little bit about adobo sauce itself. This will for sure make it easier for you to pick your substitute. So, let us discover adobo sauce!

What’s In The Post

Quick Peek: Adobo Sauce

This section has all the information on adobo sauce. You will get to understand what the sauce is, its flavor and texture profile, uses, and nutritional information too. 

What Is Adobo Sauce?

 Adobo sauce is a tangy and slightly sweet Mexican red sauce. It contains ingredients such as tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, and spices. Quite often, a variant of adobo sauce is very commonly sold, which contains chipotle chilis marinated in adobo sauce. 

Adobo is a term used in various cuisines. However, what exactly is adobo? The Spanish word adobo generally means ‘ marinade’ or ‘seasoning’. However, the style of the seasoning generally varies depending upon which part of the world you are in. 

Now, Spanish adobo generally refers to a red sauce. This adobo sauce is now sold in most grocery stores with a chipotle pepper marinating in it. It is sold under the name ‘chipotle peppers in adobo sauce’. 

Describing Adobo Sauce: Flavor And Texture

Adobo sauce is red in color and has an intense flavor of paprika along with sourness. Usually, all adobo sauces sold now have a chipotle pepper marinating in it. However, despite the chipotle pepper, the sauce has a less intense heat to it. 

The flavor is often described as zesty, spicy, and tangy. The consistency of adobo sauce is thick, similar to that of a thick barbecue sauce. The texture is fine and not very lumpy or too coarse. 

Uses Of Adobo Sauce

Adobo sauce is mainly used in Spanish and Mexican cuisine as a marinade. It works really well with fish, scallops, shrimp, chicken, and pork. Moreover, you can also add it to rice while it is cooking to add flavor to it. 

These days, adobo sauce is often sold with chipotle pepper in it. The chipotle pepper can also be chopped or pulverized and added to any recipe to add a hot smoky flavor. Adobo sauce, however, does not have to be limited to Spanish or Mexican cuisine. 

Adobo sauce can be added to any recipe to add a slightly smoky yet sweet flavor to them. You can mix adobo sauce with minced pork and use it as a substitute for chorizo. Moreover, you can add it to soups, use it for sauteing and also use it in salad dressings. 

Adobo Sauce On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

Adobo sauce, being a type of seasoning, is generally used in small quantities in various recipes. Hence, this sauce does not really impart any nutritional benefits to food. However, let us still discuss the nutritional facts of adobo sauce. 

A serving of 1 tablespoon of adobo sauce, which is around 17 grams, contains 17 calories. Out of these calories, 9.6 calories are from fat. Adobo sauce has minuscule amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol. 

Hence, it can easily be consumed by people with certain health issues related to cholesterol. Moreover, it is rich in sodium and potassium along with vitamin A, C, calcium, and iron. It also has some amounts of carbohydrates and dietary fibers. 

Why Use A Substitute For Adobo Sauce?

I am sure you must have wondered this by now, considering how versatile adobo sauce is. While there are many reasons to use adobo sauce in a recipe, there are some reasons why you can consider using its substitute. 

Firstly, adobo sauce is not that easily available. Regardless of how versatile adobo sauce is, this ingredient is not that available everywhere. So, if your recipe calls for adobo sauce in the marinade, you can use a more readily available substitute.

Moreover, in case you just seem to be out of adobo sauce, why bother looking for it? Trust me, it will be difficult to find it! You can easily just use a substitute for the same and I am sure one of the substitutes might already be present in your pantry! 

I believe I have given you enough information about adobo sauce. Now, without further ado, let me quickly guide you through the best substitutes for adobo sauce. 

10 Best Adobo Sauce Substitutes

This section has the best substitutes you can use in place of adobo sauce. Moreover, you will also get to know what recipes you can use the substitutes in and the ratio of substitution. 

1. Garlic And Chili Sauce

Adobo sauce generally has a strong flavor of garlic to it. As chili garlic sauce has predominant flavors of just garlic and chili, it can make a good substitute for adobo sauce in various recipes. 

Chili garlic sauce is a very common sauce used in Asain cooking. However, the flavor of this sauce is quite versatile, so it does work well in recipes of all cuisines. Moreover, chili garlic sauce works really well in marinades and as a dipping sauce too. 

Chili garlic sauce is usually hotter in flavor as compared to adobo sauce. So, while using it as a substitute for adobo sauce, use half the quantity of chili garlic sauce as compared to the adobo sauce given in a recipe.

2. Chipotle Peppers

Chipotle peppers or even chipotle sauce have a spicy flavor of the chipotle peppers with a smoky undertone that has a little sweetness to it. You can use chipotle peppers or chipotle sauce as an adobo sauce substitute in various recipes. 

Chipotle peppers usually have a great smoky flavor to them as they are roasted before adding them to the chipotle sauce. This will add a different tone of flavor to your food for sure. However, certain chipotle peppers can be a little too hot. 

So, make sure you are mindful of the heat level before using them as a substitute for adobo sauce. Generally, using half the quantity of chipotle peppers as compared to adobo sauce works for substitution. 

3. Adobo Seasoning

Adobo seasoning basically has the exact same ingredients in it as adobo sauce, just in a powdered form. As the ingredients are the same, adobo seasoning can definitely work well as a substitute for adobo sauce. 

Yes, the texture of these two ingredients is poles apart. However, the flavor is an exact match! Adobo seasoning also has citrus zest in it, which gives it a tangy flavor and makes up for the vinegar in adobo sauce. 

Adobo seasoning works well as a substitute for adobo sauce in any recipe that requires cooking. You can use it in meat rubs, marinades, and even salad dressings. Use it as a substitute in a 1:1 ratio. 

4. Cajun Seasoning

Cajun seasoning is a spice blend made with a combination of various spices. It has a spicy flavor that works well in recipes in place of adobo sauce. You can use it as an adobo sauce substitute in various recipes. 

Cajun seasoning is another powdered spice blend. The flavor of this seasoning does not exactly match that of adobo sauce, however, in most recipes it does the trick. It works well in marinades, salad dressings, and meat rubs. 

Moreover, the best part about cajun seasoning is that it is a staple in most kitchens. However, it is important to remember that cajun seasoning already contains salt. So be mindful about the amount of salt added to the dish. 

5. Ancho Chile Paste

Ancho chile paste generally comprises hot ancho chile peppers, salt, and water. Though not an exact match in flavor, ancho chile paste has a smoky undertone with a sweet flavor that works as a substitute for adobo sauce. 

Ancho chile paste is actually a very versatile ingredient. Though it does not have the exact same flavor as adobo sauce, it makes a great base to add other ingredients to make it taste similar to adobo sauce. 

Add some water, soy sauce, and vinegar to ancho chile paste, and it will have a slightly similar flavor profile to that of adobo sauce. You can use this in marinades, as a dipping sauce, and as a base sauce for recipes in a 1:1 ratio of substitution. 

6. Achiote Paste

Achiote paste is made with annatto seeds. Though it does not really have chili peppers in it, it has a sweet and spicy undertone flavor that works well as an adobo sauce substitute in various recipes. 

Achiote paste is very commonly used in Mexican and central American cuisine. The flavor does match that of adobo sauce in some ways. Moreover, in case you want the flavor to be hotter, you can add some paprika or chili peppers to the paste. 

Dilute the achiote paste with some water and use it as a substitute for adobo sauce in marinades, meat rubs, or any other recipe in a 1:1 ratio of substitution. Achiote paste also works really well with seafood. 

7. Ranchero Sauce

Ranchero sauce is a bit like salsa and uses tomato as its base. These tomatoes add a flavor of sourness to your food, which is quite similar to that of adobo sauce. Hence, ranchero sauce can work well as an adobo sauce substitute. 

Ranchero paste also contains chili peppers which give it a flavor of spice along with the sourness of tomatoes. It works well in various recipes such as dipping sauce, marinades, meat rubs, and definitely as a sauce base for recipes. 

Ranchero sauce generally comes in different variations. So, you can pick the one which has a spice level that matches your taste. Use half of the quantity as the amount of adobo sauce used in the recipe while using it as a substitute. 

8. Greek Seasoning

Greek seasoning is a combination of various herbs and spices. It has a minty, peppery, and earthy flavor that works well as a substitute for adobo sauce in various recipes. 

Greek seasoning again has a different texture as compared to adobo sauce. So, it will not really work well as a substitute for adobo sauce if you are looking for a dipping sauce. However, you can easily use it in recipes such as marinades and meat rubs. 

This seasoning can also be added to tomato-based sauces to add to their flavor and use that as an adobo sauce substitute. You can dilute it with some water, vinegar, and soy sauce and use that as a substitute for adobo sauce. 

9. Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce contains fermented soybeans with various other ingredients. It has an umami flavor with sweet and salty undertones. It can work well as a substitute for adobo sauce in various recipes. 

Hoisin sauce works really well as a dipping sauce in marinades and meat rubs. However, it is a tad bit salty in flavor as compared to adobo sauce. So, it is best to dilute it with some water and vinegar, before adding it to any recipe. 

The other option, if you want to use hoisin sauce in a recipe, is to check the amount of salt. Make sure you balance the flavors out by reducing the salt in the recipe. Use this as a substitute for adobo sauce in a 1:1 ratio. 

10. Homemade Adobo Sauce

Adobo sauce is actually very easy to make at home. In case you do have enough time, you should definitely make adobo sauce at home as there is no better substitute than the exact same sauce! The ingredients and recipe for homemade sauce are given below. 


  • ½ cup vinegar
  • ½ cup broth of your choice
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons peppercorns
  • 2 garlic heads, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder


  •  Combine all the ingredients together and bring them to a boil.
  •  Once cool, pulverize them in a blender to get a sauce and serve!

Short Recap For Best Adobo Sauce Substitutes

I am sure that by now, you must have gone through all above-mentioned substitutes for adobo sauce. However, I know some of you might still be confused about which one to use. So, I have broken it down further into three categories.

Most Suitable: The most suitable substitute for adobo sauce is homemade adobo sauce. 

Easily Available: Garlic and chili sauce is the most easily available substitute for adobo sauce. 

Best Flavor Profile: Adobo seasoning and homemade adobo sauce will give the best flavor profile when used as a substitute for adobo sauce. 

Final Word

As we have come to the end of this article, I hope it has helped you find the best substitute for adobo sauce for your recipe. Adobo sauce can definitely be a tricky ingredient to find. However, the flavor of this sauce can easily be mimicked with the use of substitutes. 

That being said, all the substitute options given in this article are very worthy alternatives for adobo sauce. You can pick your substitute based on what fits your recipe best and as per your personal flavor preferences, and I am sure you will love it!

How To Substitute The Above Mentioned Ingredients For Adobo Sauce

Adobo Sauce Substitutes

Here is how you can substitute the above mentioned ingredients for adobo sauce.

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  • Garlic and Chili Sauce
  • Chipotle Peppers
  • Adobo Seasoning
  • Cajun Seasoning
  • Ancho Chile Paste
  • Achiote Paste
  • Ranchero Sauce
  • Greek Seasoning
  • Hoisin Sauce
  • Homemade Adobo Sauce
  • Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe
  • Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
  • Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is adobo sauce made of?

Adobo sauce is made of ground dried chilis, dried herbs, and vinegar.

Is adobo sauce the same as chipotle sauce?

No, adobo sauce and chipotle sauce are two different types of sauces.

Is adobo sauce very spicy?

Adobo sauce is a little spicy but not extremely spicy.

What does adobo sauce taste like?

Adobo sauce is spicy, tangy, and savory in flavor.

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