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Showing the texture of the Mexican adobo sauce
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4.84 from 6 votes

Adobo Sauce Recipe

This homemade adobo sauce recipe is classic, authentic Mexican cuisine, made with ancho and guajillo peppers and wonderful seasonings, earthy and huge on flavor.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Main Course, sauce
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: adobo, ancho, guajillo, sauce, spicy
Servings: 16 tablespoons
Calories: 19kcal


  • 4 guajillo peppers
  • 4 ancho peppers
  • 3 cups hot water or enough to cover the dried peppers + ½ cup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste optional for a milder flavor
  • ½ teaspoon Mexican cinnamon or use cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon Mexican oregano or use oregano
  • ½ teaspoon sugar optional, to taste – see my NOTES on Optional Spices
  • Salt to taste


  • Remove the stems from the guajillo and ancho peppers and remove the seeds. You may need to cut into the peppers for this, which is fine.
  • Heat a large pan to medium-high heat and dry toast the dried peppers a couple minutes per side. They will become more pliable and slightly puff up. This helps to release the oils for more flavor.
  • Place the dried pods in a large bowl and cover with hot water. Soak them for 15 minutes, or until they become very soft and rehydrate. Transfer the softened peppers to a food processor, but reserve the soaking liquid.
  • While the peppers are softening, heat olive oil in a medium pan and add the onion. Cook it down for 4-5 minutes to soften.
  • Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds to 1 minute, until you it becomes fragrant.
  • Add the tomato paste, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, sugar and salt. Cook for 1 minute, stirring.
  • Stir in 1/2 cup water. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add the mixture to the food processor along with the softened peppers and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of fresh water, or you can use the dark liquid from soaking the peppers. Process until smooth.
  • Adjust with salt and sugar to taste, and with a bit more water until you achieve your desired consistency. Strain if you’d like a thinner sauce, or use as-is.



Makes about 2 cups.
Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.


Calories: 19kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 20mg | Potassium: 61mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 494IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg