I want to talk about one of my favorite spice blends, Adobo Seasoning. Adobo is translated into English in a number of ways but is basically a “marinade” originally used to preserve meats. This Home-Made Adobo Seasoning is a powder and made to mimic the complexity of a Mexican Adobo.
Many countries and cultures have their own Adobo, but I first learned of Adobo in Mexican cooking, as a sauce – a blend of herbs, spices, and toasted chile spiked with vinegar and a touch of sugar. The sauce has a kick and sweet/sour tang that’s not just appealing, but a little addictive.
About Home-Made Adobo Seasoning:
So if you could take the essence of that beautiful sauce and put it in a jar, that’s what this Adobo seasoning is. My guess is that Chili Powder really wants to be Adobo and that it is probably originally based on Adobo. Adobo, in my opinion, is so much better with all its complexity.
Now since this Home Made Adobo Seasoning is a powder, you can use the seasoning in all kinds of ways just as is or with a touch of sugar and/or a splash of vinegar to give it that bit of adobo’s sweet, tang.
Using this Home Made Adobo Seasoning Dry:
The real magic of the Adobo seasoning is it can be used on or in so many things. Use it anywhere you’d reach for “Chili Powder” to spice up almost any old dish, Mexican or not. It can take you to Mexico or can be used in Tex-Mex or Southwestern dishes. And it can be sprinkled on things like fries or popcorn or other snacks.
Think of sprinkling in Adobo when you want to doctor up pintos, black beans, or rice. Use a teaspoon per pound as a seasoning for chicken, seafood, fish, or pork chops. Sprinkle it in ground beef for tacos. Use it in Enchiladas, Burritos, whatever! Add a bit to Chili, Black Bean Soup, or spark up some dishes like stews, Jambalaya, or other dishes and nudge them into a whole different realm of flavor.
Try it on vegetables, or sprinkle over a baked potato, add it to mayo, sour cream, or yogurt for a kicked-up dipping sauce. Put a little in your Guacamole. I use this Home Made Adobo Seasoning in my Bahn Mi Street Tacos.
Using this Home Made Adobo Seasoning as a Rub:
Use Adobo seasoning as a part of a wet or dry rub on larger pieces of meat, too. Since true Adobo sauce usually has a good sweet/sour tanginess, from the sugar and vinegar, this would be great as a dry rub with either white or brown sugar in it.
A wet rub would be ideal with the Adobo seasoning, mixed with a little of either white or brown sugar, a little oil, and a splash of vinegar.
Typically, when using a rub, either wet or dry, you’ll sprinkle or rub it on generously, then tightly wrap and refrigerate overnight to let the magic happen.
Make Chorizo with your Adobo Seasoning:
I love to make homemade Chorizo (it’s so much fresher than store-bought and so inexpensive to make) and while I do have my Homemade Chorizo Recipe, I sometimes use my Home Made Adobo Seasoning instead. I usually have some of this Adobo Seasoning on hand so it’s a great shortcut.
That chorizo is super easy to make, by the way, and especially inexpensive if you buy pork shoulder and grind or mince it in your food processor.
Variations on your Adobo Seasoning:
As it stands, this Home Made Adobo seasoning is not so much hot, just flavorful. An Ancho is just a dried Poblano, so it’s pretty low on the Scoville scale. The Guajillo Chili brings a raisiny smoky flavor to the table, and again, has little heat. The heat in the recipe comes from Chile de Arbol, so choose your heat level by choosing how many to add.
Because I like things a little spicier, I often add a teaspoon each of cayenne and pure chipotle powder, which def ups the heat level – a lot! You can use any hotter dried chili to bring the heat, too, if you lean that way.
Saving Money on this Seasoning:
While I love going to spice shops and exploring what they have to offer, I generally stay away from their mixes and blends! If you were to buy this at Penzeys, a small jar would cost about eight bucks! Keep in mind, the Adobo seasonings at the grocery store tend to have a lot of salt – when you buy them you’re paying for one of the cheapest ingredients of all! If you shop well for your spices and chiles, it’s really not much to make.
Stop by a Mexican market for your chiles and some of your spices. You’ll be surprised at the low prices. If you don’t have a Mexican market nearby, you might find that the pricing at your grocery store chain might vary according to the demographics of the area they serve.
Most of the common ingredients (paprika, garlic and onion powder, pepper) can be bought in larger jars from your grocery or big box store, which will save you some money. Some of the less commonly used spices can be kept in the whole form and ground to order in your spice grinder (I like my coffee grinder for this) or blender. Items like the coriander and mustard seeds keep just about forever in the whole form in a dark cupboard.
If you’d like to see some of my other Spice Blends, check out my collection of Spice, Herb, and Flavor Packet Substitutes.Print
Home Made Adobo Seasoning, Dry
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: about 1 cup 1x
- Category: spice or herb blend
- Cuisine: Mexican or Southwestern
- 3 Ancho chiles (3 tablespoons of a pure Ancho powder)
- 3 to 4 Guajillo chiles
- 4 to 6 chile de arbol (choose your heat level)
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds (2 tablespoons ground)
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (about 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard)
- 2 tablespoons paprika (regular “sweet” paprika)
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano or marjoram
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
Heat a dry skillet over medium heat. Add the chiles and toast, turning on all sides, until puffed and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
Add the coriander and mustard seeds and toast until fragrant and slight whiffs of smoke appear, stirring constantly. Remove immediately from the pan and set aside to cool.
When room temperature, remove seeds & stems from peppers, tear them into bits. Grind peppers, coriander, and mustard seeds to a powder in a spice grinder, food processor, or blender. Put the powder in a bowl and combine with remaining spices; stir well to combine.
Store in an airtight container. Keeps well but will begin losing flavor eventually, which is highly dependent on where/how it is stored and how often it is opened.
- Hotter peppers or a combination of peppers may be used to vary heat levels. I often add cayenne & Chipotle powder.
- There is no salt or sugar in this recipe so the control is in your hands as you cook and you may add as little or as much as you’d like.
Keywords: Adobo, Frugal Hausfrau, Mexican or Southwestern, Spice & Herb Blends
More on Adobo:
You might be familiar, already, with Adobo Sauce. Since I have no family recipe passed on down through the generations, one of my favorite sauces is from Rick Bayless. Diane Kennedy’s Adobo sauce is a bit more complex, but delicious, too.
Adobo sauce is also the “red stuff” in a can of Chipotle Chiles in Adobo Sauce, but of course, homemade sauce (or this seasoning) is formulated to taste good, rather than just preserve the peppers.
There’s also Goya Adobo Seasoning, which is quite different than this type of Adobo.