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Savor the Flavor: 5 Substitutes for Adobo Sauce in Recipes

Ever find yourself ready to whip up your favorite dish, only to realize you’re out of adobo sauce? Happens to the best of us.

And here’s the good news: your culinary adventure doesn’t have to end there. In fact, this could be your chance to get creative in the kitchen.

Adobo sauce, with its rich, smoky flavor, is a tough act to follow. Yet, there’s a whole world of alternatives that can step up to the plate, bringing their own unique zing to your dishes.

From the tangy twist of citrus to the deep, earthy notes of mushrooms, we’ve got you covered. Together, we’ll explore five fantastic substitutes that not only save your recipe but might even make it better.

5 Substitutes for Adobo Sauce in Recipes

1 – Adobo Seasoning

Straight off the bat, if you’re out of adobo sauce, reach for adobo seasoning. Why? It’s pretty much the dry version of the sauce, packed with all the flavors you love but in a sprinkle-friendly form.

This seasoning is a blend of garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt, and sometimes a touch of chili powder. It brings a similar smoky and tangy vibe to your dishes without the wetness of the sauce.

Now, how to swap it in? Easy. Use one tablespoon of adobo seasoning for every tablespoon of adobo sauce your recipe calls for.

Since it’s dry, you might want to add a little extra liquid to your dish. Think water, broth, or even a dash of vinegar or lime juice to match the tanginess and moisture level of the original sauce.

Trust me, it’s a game-changer in marinades, rubs, and stews where you want depth without the drip.

2 – Chili Garlic Sauce

Ever thought about chili garlic sauce as an adobo sauce stand-in? It’s a solid move. This sauce brings the heat along with a garlic punch that wakes up any dish.

It’s perfect when you want a bit of spice coupled with that garlicky goodness. The best part? You probably already have it in your pantry.

Why does it rock as a substitute? Well, it’s all about balance. The spiciness adds excitement, while the garlic rounds out the flavor, making it super versatile.

Subbing it in is a breeze. Use it in a 1:1 ratio for adobo sauce. But remember, it’s spicier, so you might want to start with a bit less and taste as you go. It shines in marinades, stir-fries, and even as a taco topping. Basically, anywhere you’d use adobo sauce, chili garlic sauce can step in and spice things up.

Finding yourself reaching for chili garlic sauce often? Check out more ways to use it or find alternatives in this article.

3 – Ranchero Sauce

Ranchero sauce is a hidden gem in the kitchen. It’s a tomato-based sauce, zesty and mildly spicy, making it a top-notch replacement for adobo sauce.

Why? It packs a similar punch but with a twist, thanks to its blend of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and herbs.

To use it as a substitute, go for a 1:1 swap ratio. It works great in dishes where adobo sauce shines, like tacos, enchiladas, or stews. The bonus? Ranchero adds a slight, tangy kick to your meals, leveling up the flavor without overshadowing other ingredients.

Use ranchero sauce exactly where you’d use adobo sauce. Its smooth consistency and savory profile mean it blends well into soups, marinades, or even as a base for a zesty pasta sauce.

4 – Tabasco Chipotle Hot Sauce

Think of Tabasco Chipotle Hot Sauce as the cool cousin of adobo sauce. It’s smoky, a bit tangy, and has just the right kind of kick.

This sauce hits the nail on the head if you’re looking for that adobo vibe with a bit more fire. It’s made from chipotle peppers, so you get a deep, smoky flavor that’s pretty close to the real deal.

Here’s the scoop on using it as a substitute: go for a 1:1 swap. That’s right; if your recipe says you need a tablespoon of adobo sauce, use a tablespoon of Tabasco Chipotle Hot Sauce instead. This swap works wonders in BBQ marinades and sauces and even to spice up your morning eggs.

The best part? It’s easy to find, and you might already have a bottle in your kitchen. So next time your dish needs that smoky touch, reach for the Tabasco Chipotle, and you’re all set.

5 – Homemade Adobo Sauce

Making your own adobo sauce is easier than you think, and it’s a fantastic choice when you’re up for a little DIY in the kitchen.

Why go homemade? It puts you in control. You can adjust the heat, smokiness, and sweetness to fit your taste exactly. Plus, it’s fun to make!


  • 2 tablespoons of chipotle peppers in adobo (you can find these canned in most grocery stores)
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar (apple cider or white)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of oregano (dried)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup of water

How to make it:

  1. Dump everything into a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth. 
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. 

That’s it! Your homemade adobo sauce is ready to rock any recipe. 

Substitute ratio: It’s a straight swap. Use the same amount of this homemade sauce as you would the store-bought adobo sauce in your recipes. Whether you’re whipping up a marinade, sauce or stew, this homemade version brings all the flavor with a personal touch.