Home-Smoked Chipotle Chiles


  • Chunks or logs of fragrant hardwood, preferably a combination of oak and mesquite
  • 1 1/4 pounds red-ripe jalapeno chiles with stems
  • 1/2 cup dried red New Mexico chile puree or commercial chile paste, such as Santa Cruz
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Prepare a smoker according to the manufacturer's directions, using the wood chunks and achieving a steady temperature of 275 to 300 degrees F.
  2. Place the chiles directly on the smoker rack (or use a shallow disposable foil pan) at the cooler end of the smoking chamber or on the upper rack if your smoker has one.
  3. Lower the cover and smoke the chiles for 2 1/2 hours, or until they are soft, brown, and slightly shriveled.
  4. Remove the chipotles from the smoker. In a medium nonreactive saucepan, combine them with the chile puree, water, tomato paste, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, and salt. Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the sauce is very thick, about 15 minutes.
  5. Cool to room temperature.
  6. Transfer the chipotles to a covered storage container and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using. They can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 2 months.

Unsauced Dried Chipotles: After removing the chiles from the smoker, place them on a rack and leave them, loosely covered, at room temperature, until crisp, light, and dry, 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the humidity. Store airtight at room temperature.

Green jalapenos can be used, but red ones are more beautiful and have a deeper, sweeter flavor. Grow your own, or in the store, select chiles that have begin to turn red; they will eventually ripen. (Those picked without any red at all in their peels will always remain green.)

It might help you to know that I just weighed 1 1/4 pounds of jalapenos, and it took 30 peppers. But since my jalapenos were on the small side, I'd think that 20-25 dried chipotles would be about the right amount.

Makes about 3 cups.

Source: Recipe by W. Park Kerr in Burning Desires