One of my personal favorite spices is chipotle powder. This simple ingredient has intense, spicy, complex flavor that can change an entire meal (for the better).
We specifically grow jalapeño peppers to create our own homemade spices. So, today I will share how to make homemade chipotle powder from fresh jalapeño peppers.
Note: If you’re just looking to buy chipotle powder online, this is a great source.
What Is Chipotle Powder?
There are many ways to make chipotle powder, so let’s start with what exactly it is. Chipotle peppers are simply red jalapeño peppers that have been smoked and dehydrated. When these are ground up into flakes or powder, you get chipotle powder.
So, whether you have a purpose-built smoker, or just a charcoal or gas grill, you can effectively smoke your jalapeños at home. From there, all that is left is to dehydrate and grind the peppers into a powder.
How To Make Chipotle Powder
With a basic understanding of what chipotle powder is, we can get started with the process. First, you’ll need to gather your supplies and ingredients.
- Wood/pellets. To smoke jalapeños, you’ll need some dry wood or wood pellets. These can easily be found at hardware stores and come in various tree types.
- Red jalapeños. Traditionally, chipotles are made using red ripe jalapeño peppers, not green. The red peppers have more sweetness, resulting in a richer flavor. If you can’t find red jalapeños, green will still work, but expect a bit more bitterness.
- Smoker or gas grill. Smokers work best, but a standard grill works great, too (it is just a bit more work). We’ll show you how to do it on a gas grill using nothing but tin foil.
- Smoker box (for the grill). If you are using a grill, you’ll need a smoker box. You can get a purpose-made smoker box for pretty cheap, or simply use heavy duty aluminum foil.
- Dehydrator. After smoking, the peppers need to be dehydrated. We use this excalibur dehydrator for all our pepper drying.
- Spice grinder. After drying, all that is left to do is grind your chipotles into powder. While you can store them whole, we prefer to grind them all up into an easy-to-store powder.
Best Wood Type For Smoking Chipotles?
Perhaps the most important step is choosing the wood you will use to smoke the jalapeños. Traditionally, Mexican chipotles are made using pecan wood. However, this may not be easily available where you live, so there are some alternatives.
Recommended woods for chipotles:
- Pecan (traditional)
- Apple, pear, or other fruit wood
We have tried many types, from apple to hickory. The flavors differ, but they have all been delicious in their own way. I recommend experimenting to find your favorite.
Smoking Jalapeño Peppers (On A Gas Grill)
Since we don’t currently have a smoker, we just used our propane gas grill to get the job done. One day, we might make the investment in a smoker, but for now this simple method works great!
How To Smoke Jalapeños On A Grill
- Make a few wood pouches.
Add about 2 cups of wood chips to the center of a large piece of heavy duty foil. Fold and crimp the foil to lock in the wood chips. Then, poke a few holes along one side of the pouch. Make 2-3 pouches, as the wood eventually stops smoking.
- Place the pouch underneath the grill grate.
Lift the grate on one side of your grill and place the pouch just above the burner. As the wood heats up, it will begin to smoke and release into the chamber. If you are using a smoker box, place it on one side of the grill.
- Heat one side of the grill (aim for 200°F).
Turn on the burner under your wood pouch to high heat. As the wood chips heat up, they will begin to release a blueish smoke.
- Add red jalapeños to opposite side of grill.
We like to keep our jalapeños whole for smoking, but some like to slice them in half lengthwise. Either way, add the peppers to the opposite side of the grill (not directly above the smoke). Close the lid.
- Keep the temperature around 200°F.
Try to maintain a temperature between 180-220°F. On smaller grills, this may be difficult, as one burner can raise the temperature significantly. Don’t worry if it is hotter than 220, but avoid lowering the burner temperature too much, as this can stop the wood from smoking.
- Smoke the jalapeños for 2-3 hours, rotating occasionally.
After 30-45 minutes, your wood pouch will run out of smoke. Replace it with a fresh pouch as needed (we used 3 pouches total). As the peppers heat up, they will soften and cook slightly, so rotate one or twice throughout the process.
- Remove from heat and get ready to dehydrate.
With your jalapeños freshly smoked, they still need to be dried out to make a powder. At this point, the peppers will resemble roasted peppers. There is still plenty of moisture in them which we need to remove for storage.
Dehydrating and Grinding the Chipotles
With your smoke-infused jalapeños in hand, all that is left to do is fully dehydrate the peppers. This step can be done a number of ways, but the easiest is to use a food dehydrator.
Keep in mind, you can also use an oven on low heat. Some newer ovens and toaster ovens have a dehydrate feature, but the ideal temperature is around 125°F. Learn more about how to dehydrate peppers here.
- Slice the jalapeños in half lengthwise
- Place slices on dehydrate trays
- Dehydrate at 125°F for 8-12 hours
- Once peppers are brittle, grind into a powder in a spice grinder
- Store in an airtight container in the pantry
That is it! This method can be used to smoke all types of peppers, with different types of wood for unique flavors and heat levels. While plain jalapeño powder is great, smoking them first really levels up the flavor.
Chipotle Powder Recipes and Uses
Now that you’ve got your very own chipotle powder, what are you going to do with it? At the end of the day, chipotle powder is a spice. You won’t be eating it on it’s own, so here are some great ways to use this tasty ingredient:
- Chipotle chicken tacos. One of our favorite ways to use chipotle powder is to make homemade tacos. It also makes a great addition to taco seasoning or homemade barbacoa.
- Chili spice blend. Chile con carne will never be the same when you incorporate some of your homemade chipotle powder. Add a bit of cumin, garlic powder, and paprika, and you’re off to a great start.
- Black bean soup. One of our favorite hearty soups is our best spicy black bean soup. The smoky flavor can be added with either chipotles or smoked paprika (though I personally prefer the chipotles by a mile).
- Hot sauces. If you grow your own peppers, then I recommend making big batches of fermented mash. From there, you can experiment with adding other ingredients, and chipotle powder makes a great hot sauce addition.
- Salsa. Smoky salsa is seriously delicious. It isn’t traditional, but if you like making salsa, then try adding a bit of smoke for a deep, rich flavor.
If you take the time to make your own chipotle powder, let us know how it came out! We make enough every year to last us until the following season so we’re never left wanting spicy, smoky flavor.