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Perfect Adobo Sauce Substitute: 13 Finest Solutions

Perfect Adobo Sauce Substitute: 13 Finest Solutions

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So, adobe. It is a Spanish word that, when translated, means “sauce, marinade, or seasoning. This sauce, which has its origins in the Philippines, is somewhat uncharacteristic in terms of its flavor.

It is a combination of earthy, sweet, and smoky flavors. Therefore, it’s not a particularly hot sauce, and I guess many of you are used to sauces mostly being a little hot.

But this is not a reason for it to be less popular, in fact, this is a very popular sauce all over the world, especially in Mexico. Its main ingredients include dried chilis, cinnamon, cumin, black pepper, bay leaves, and a little bit of apple cider vinegar.

But what if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have this incredible sauce on hand or you can’t find it in your local grocery store or supermarket? You need a good adobo sauce substitute, of course. And I am here to help you find your perfect alternative.

Searching For An Ideal Adobo Sauce Substitute Among 13 Options

So, here is the ultimate list of the best substitutes you can find for adobo sauce:

1. Tabasco Chipotle Hot Sauce: Easy To Find

tabasco sauce bottle with red chilli and black peppers

When it comes to flavor, there is nothing closer to adobo sauce than tabasco chipotle hot sauce. You can also find it very easily on the shelves of your local grocery store. So, what more you can ask for?

Of course, you can ask for texture. It is only the texture that is slightly different as you don’t have that thick, pulpy consistency, but the taste definitely can make up for it.

The ingredients of these two sauces are also very similar with a few exceptions. The main ingredients of this sauce are chipotle peppers, onion powder, garlic powder, vinegar, salt, and sugar.

It is a great taste enhancer for pasta, salads, sandwiches, and tacos. So, all in all, it can be a very good substitute for its Filipino counterpart.

2. Chili-Garlic Sauce: One Perfect Combo

Chili garlic sauce on the table

This is one interesting adobo sauce substitute that is the perfect spice blend of chili spiciness and savory garlic flavor. There are also some other ingredients that contribute to that exceptional taste and those are vinegar and salt.

However, if you don’t fancy that strong garlic flavor, you can always add some oregano and tomato paste and some other spices that you favor.

This sauce is perfect for marinades on your meat or fish and you can make it by simply adding some olive oil to the mixture and you will get that desired thick paste.

You can also use chili-garlic sauce in stir-fries and soups.

3. Chipotle Peppers: Chef’s First Choice

chipotle - jalapeno smoked chili flakes,

This is a common choice among chefs and I think that is a fairly good reason to consider it as a good option. Chipotle chili in adobo sauce adds some of that smoky flavor with a bit of sweetness.

When you are adding this dried jalapeno pepper to your sauce you must also pay attention to the level of heat because of its extra spicy flavor. So, consider this if you are not a big fan of spice.

You can freely use chipotle pepper in beans, stews, marinades, vegetables, and when grilling meat.

4. Ancho Chili Paste: Extra Sweet-Smoky Undertone

chilli paste in a bowl

Store-bought ancho chile pastes are just pureed ancho chiles, salt, and water. So, to be honest, this is not the best solution as an adobo sauce substitute. The flavor does not match that of adobo sauce, but if you want to add some extra sweet-smoky undertone to your dish, go for it.

Adding some other seasonings and a bit of ancho chili paste may be a good solution for this problem of getting the right flavor. Indeed, this ingredient has been historically used as the main ingredient for many Mexican and Central American sauces.

5. Greek Seasoning: Best Of Mediterranean

Homemade greek seasoning mix of dried herbs and spices

We all know that the Mediterranean diet is one of the most healthy diets that exist. Ingredients of Greek seasoning are at the heart of that Mediterranean style of eating. So, what you can conclude is that this is one very healthy option.

Those incredible ingredients are dill, oregano, thyme, basil, pepper, marjoram, salt, garlic powder, and onion flakes. This extraordinary blend of dried herbs and spices has a savory, minty, earthy, sweet, and somewhat spicy flavor.

You can make it at home and adjust the ingredients of your will, or you can buy it at any grocery store or supermarket. It is best to use it as an ingredient in salads, dips, marinades, dressings, shrimp, meats, and fish.

6. Achiote Paste: Central America’s Favorite

achiote in bowl on wooden background

Achiote paste is a popular ingredient in Central American, Caribbean, and Mexican dishes. It possesses a mix of earthy, sweet, and hot flavors. Its main ingredients include oregano, cumin, annatto seeds, cloves, black pepper, coriander, and garlic.

It is best to use this paste to rub onto your meat or fish, and you can also use it to make marinades and sauces. I will also give you a tip and that is if you want some extra spicy flavor, you can add some chili peppers or chili powder to it.

7. Hoisin Sauce: Add Some Umami Flavor

Hoisin sauce on the table

If you want some sweet umami and solid salty flavor, then hoisin sauce is a great option for you. This dark-colored sauce is made of chili peppers, garlic, vinegar, sesame oil, soybeans, fennel, five-spice powder, and sugar.

It is an excellent dipping sauce and can be added to marinades and stir-fries as well. If you don’t like the strong saltiness of hoisin sauce, you can easily solve this problem by adding some ingredients like water, lemon juice, vinegar, or oil.

And there is also a solution of adding chopped onions, garlic, or tomatoes to increase the sauce’s flavor if that is what you are concerned about.

8. Cajun Seasoning: One Spicy Seasoning

cajun seasoning in a spoon

Cajun seasoning is a peppery mix of condiments such as smoked paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano, and garlic powder. It is excellent for roasting, sauteing, and grilling.

It represents a great option for seafood, meats, soups, veggies, stir-fries, and as a dipping sauce. You can make a great marinade from it, for your meat or fish, by adding some olive oil, lemon or lime juice, soy sauce, or some vinegar.

I must also add that this is one very salty spice mix, so when you make any of these dishes, don’t overdo it with salt because you will ruin the flavor; besides, salt is not good for your overall health.

9. Ranchero Sauce: Beautiful Smoky Flavor

Breakfast with fried egg and sauce on grilled flour tortilla

Ranchero sauce possesses that sourness that is something quite similar to adobo sauce. It is made of chili peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, garlic, and some other herbs and spices. You can also add vinegar, soy sauce, and some other herbs to make it look more like adobo sauce.

Adobo sauce can be bought in grocery stores, but it can also be prepared at home. Your task is to blend all the above ingredients, puree them, and heat them until they become bubbly.

It is best to use this sauce in Mexican foods, as a topping for tacos and enchiladas.

10. Adobo Seasoning: Same Content Without The Liquid

dry organic adobo pork seasoning in a bowl

Adobo seasoning is also known as “dry adobo” because it contains the same ingredients as adobo sauce, just dried ones.

It is not out of place to repeat them, and those are ground garlic, onion powder, black pepper, salt, and oregano. It can also contain citrus zest, which plays the role of the vinegar that adds that tang to adobo.

It is best to use this seasoning to rub onto the meat. It can also be used for grilling, roasting, and sauteing meats and veggies.

11. Italian Seasoning: Incredible Aroma

Wooden spoon with Italian seasoning-dried oregano with thyme

Recently in one of my articles, I wrote about substitutes for Italian seasoning, and now the same is on the list of the best substitutes for adobo sauce. The cooking world is really interesting and unpredictable, and that’s why we love it.

Italian seasoning is another seasoning that can be used as an adobo sauce substitute. Its main ingredients include oregano, basil, thyme, marjoram, and rosemary. It has an earthy, sweet, savory, and spicy flavor.

And it is best used in soups, marinades meat, fish, sauces, and vegetable dishes.

12. Sriracha Sauce: Your Last Option

hand holds a bottle of Sriracha hot chili sauce

Sriracha is not the most popular option when it comes to substitutes for adobo sauce, but it can come in handy when you run out of options. 

Sriracha sauce is a kind of ubiquitous sauce and it can simulate other sauces. It is a chili-based sauce, and when you mix it with some cumin, chipotle powder, and ancho it may present a solution, to some extent.

13. Homemade Adobo Sauce: Easy To Make Alternative

Bowl of adobo sauce

If you don’t even have siracha sauce on hand, then there is not much left to do. All you have to do is make your own homemade adobo sauce instead of using a store-bought one.

In the next part, I will show you a very good and simple recipe for homemade adobo sauce that anyone can make easily.

Perfect Recipe For Your Homemade Adobo Sauce

This is, in my opinion, one of the best recipes for delicious homemade adobo sauce.


• 4 ancho peppers

• 4 guajillo peppers

• 3 cups of water

• 1/2 chopped onion

• 4 chopped cloves of garlic

• 1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil

• 2 tablespoons of tomato paste (ketchup if you want it sweeter)

• 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

• 1/2 teaspoon of oregano

• 1/2 teaspoon of cumin

• 1/2 teaspoon of sugar

• A little salt


1. Remove the stems and seeds from the ancho and guajillo peppers.

2. You will then heat a large pan to medium heat and dry toast the peppers for 2-3 minutes so that they become more pliable.

3. When they are ready, you will put them in a large bowl and cover them with boiling water and wait until they become soft. That could take 20-30 minutes.

4. During that time, you will cook the other ingredients. Heat the olive oil in a medium pan, add the onion and cook it for about 5 minutes and then add the garlic and cook for about a minute until it becomes fragrant.

5. After that you are going to add the other ingredients: tomato paste, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, salt, and sugar, and cook it for about a minute. Then add the 1/2 cup of water, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

6. In the end, you will put this mixture into a food processor and add about 1/2 cup of water, and process it until it’s smooth.

7. When it is all done, you can store your homemade adobo sauce in the refrigerator (it should last a month) and you can enjoy it.

Final Verdict

I hope I’ve helped you in your search for the best adobo sauce substitute and that you’re happy with what you learned about these ingredients.

I also tried my best to present you with a simple and good recipe for a delicious homemade adobo sauce that you can enjoy in your dishes.