8 Best Adobo Sauce Substitutes

What is the best substitute for Adobo Sauce?

Are you looking for an adobo sauce substitute? Whether you’re looking to switch up your go-to adobo sauce or want to explore new flavors, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll introduce you to eight delectable alternatives that will elevate your dishes to a whole new level.

From tangy and sweet to smoky and spicy, these adobo sauce alternatives offer a diversity of flavors that will make your taste buds dance with delight. We’ll explore options such as tangy BBQ sauces, or smoky chipotle sauces that add a fiery kick to any dish.

The suggestions we have come up with can all be made from ingredients that you should have in your pantry. And we have also thrown in a couple of shop-bought ones as well for convenience. Try using: Dry Adobo Seasoning, Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, Smoked Paprika and Vinegar, Tomato Sauce and Spices, Soy Sauce and Vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce and Spices, Harissa Paste, or Barbecue Sauce.

What is Adobo Sauce?

What is Adobo Sauce and what is it made of? Adobo sauce is a sauce commonly used in Mexican and Filipino cuisines. It’s typically made from a blend of chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, herbs, and spices. The result is a rich, tangy, and slightly smoky sauce that adds a wonderful depth of flavor to dishes. It’s often used as a marinade for meats, a base for stews, or even as a topping for tacos and other dishes.

If you’re looking for a substitute, you can try mixing tomato sauce with a bit of chipotle chili powder and vinegar to mimic some of the flavors of adobo sauce. But remember, the exact flavor might vary, so feel free to adjust the ratios to match your taste preferences!

So, whether you’re a fan of traditional adobo or love experimenting with new flavors, our handpicked selection of alternatives will hopefully inspire you to get creative in the kitchen. So grab your apron, gather your ingredients, and get ready to spice up your recipes. Your next flavor-packed feast awaits!

Okay, before we look at your Adobo Sauce substitute options, let’s deal with that empty cupboard situation!

Where can I buy Adobo Sauce?

If you want to be more prepared, and ensure you don’t run out of adobo sauce, then you should stock up now.

Nowadays, most delicatessens and general supermarkets stock a wide variety of adobo sauce. Or if you prefer you can also purchase adobo sauce on-line.

So why not jump on and place your order today.


Adobo Dry Seasoning Powder

A bottle packed full of authentic Mexican flavors. Made with fresh farm ingredients for a punch of full flavor. Use in sandwiches and tacos, or use as a rub for meats.

Guten-free, No-MSG, no preservatives or artifcial flavors.

What can I substitute for Adobo sauce?

Here are some of the best ingredients to substitute the flavor and role that adobo sauce provides in your recipes.

  • Adobo Seasoning
  • Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
  • Smoked Paprika and Vinegar
  • Tomato Sauce and Spices
  • Soy Sauce and Vinegar
  • Worcestershire Sauce and Spices
  • Harissa Paste
  • Barbecue Sauce

Adobo Sauce substitutes

Adobo Seasoning

Dry adobo seasoning is a flavorful blend of spices and herbs. It is often used to season and enhance the taste of various dishes. It’s a convenient way to add the classic adobo flavor without the liquid component of the traditional adobo sauce. The exact ingredients in dry adobo seasoning can vary, but it typically includes a mix of ingredients like garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, oregano, cumin, and sometimes a bit of salt.

Dry adobo seasoning is quite versatile and can be used to season meats, poultry, also seafood, vegetables, and even rice. It imparts a savory, slightly tangy, and aromatic flavor to your dishes. This makes it a popular choice in both Mexican and Filipino cuisines. You can use dry adobo seasoning as a rub for grilling or roasting, or as a seasoning for sautéed or stir-fried dishes.

If you’re looking for a store-bought option, you can usually find pre-packaged dry adobo seasoning in the spice aisle of your grocery store. You can also create your own by mixing the individual spices in the proportions that suit your taste. It’s a great way to have the adobo flavor on hand whenever you need it!

Dry spice

Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are a fantastic ingredient that brings a smoky and spicy kick to your dishes. They are actually made from dried and smoked jalapeño peppers. They’re often sold canned in a flavorful adobo sauce made from a mixture of spices, vinegar, tomatoes, and other seasonings.

The combination of the smoky heat from the chipotle peppers and also the tangy, slightly sweet flavors of the adobo sauce creates a unique and complex taste that’s used in various cuisines, especially Mexican and Tex-Mex. These peppers are incredibly versatile and can be used to add depth and spice to a wide range of dishes, from marinades for meats to sauces for tacos and salsas.

When using chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, you can finely chop the peppers and use the sauce to add a burst of flavor to your recipes. But be aware that they can be quite spicy! Therefore you might want to start with a small amount and adjust according to your heat tolerance. The smoky richness they bring can be a real game-changer in your cooking. Use in soups, stews, sauces, or even dips. It’s a popular choice among food enthusiasts for a reason!

Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce as a substitute for adobo sauce.

Smoked Paprika and Vinegar

Using smoked paprika and vinegar as a substitute for adobo sauce is a great way to add smoky and tangy flavors.

Start by mixing a tablespoon of smoked paprika with a teaspoon of regular vinegar (such as white or you could also try apple cider vinegar). This will form the foundation of your substitute.

To enhance the flavors, consider also adding a pinch of other spices like garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and oregano. These will help replicate the multidimensional taste of adobo sauce. If you want a slightly saucier texture, you can add a bit of olive oil to the mixture. This will help the flavors adhere to your ingredients more effectively.

Give your mixture a taste test. If it’s not smoky enough, add a touch more smoked paprika. If you prefer more tanginess, increase the amount of vinegar.

Use your smoked paprika and vinegar mixture just like you would use adobo sauce. Marinate meats, brush it on vegetables before roasting, or mix it into soups and stews for an extra layer of flavor.

Remember, the proportions may vary based on your preferences and the dish you’re preparing. Feel free to tweak the amounts of smoked paprika, vinegar, and other spices until you achieve a taste that you’re happy with. It might not be an exact replica, but it will certainly add a delightful twist to your recipes!

Paprika and vinegar as a substitute for adobo sauce.

Tomato Sauce and Spices

Using tomato sauce and spices as a substitute for adobo sauce is a creative way to capture some of the flavors.

Start with about half a cup of tomato sauce as your base. You can use plain tomato sauce or even tomato paste diluted with a bit of water.

Then to mimic the flavor profile of adobo sauce, add a pinch of garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, oregano, and a touch of chili powder (adjust to your spice preference).

To replicate the tanginess of adobo sauce, add a splash of vinegar. White vinegar or apple cider vinegar work well. Start with a small amount and adjust according to taste. If you feel your tomato sauce is a bit on the tart side, you can also add a pinch of sugar or a drizzle of honey to balance out the flavors.

To enhance the savory notes, consider adding a touch of soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce. These can add depth to your substitute.

Now you just have to mix all the ingredients well and give it a taste. Adjust the spices, tanginess, and sweetness as needed to match your desired flavor profile.

Use your tomato sauce and spices mixture in dishes that call for adobo sauce. It can be used as a marinade for meats, a base for stews, or also as a flavorful topping for tacos.

Keep in mind that this might not match the exact complexity of adobo sauce, but it will add a unique flavor to your dishes.

Tomato sauce and herbs as a substitute for adobo sauce.

Soy Sauce and Vinegar

Using soy sauce and vinegar as a substitute for adobo sauce can create a savory and tangy flavor profile.

Start by combining soy sauce and vinegar in a bowl. A common ratio is about 3 parts soy sauce to 1 part vinegar, but you can adjust this based on your taste preferences.

Next, to balance out the flavors and add a touch of sweetness, you can mix in a small amount of brown sugar, honey, or another sweetener. Start with a teaspoon and adjust to taste.

To achieve a more complex flavor reminiscent of adobo sauce, consider adding some minced garlic, onion powder, and also a pinch of black pepper. These seasonings will enhance the overall taste. And if you enjoy a bit of heat, you can also add a pinch of chili flakes or a dash of hot sauce to give your substitute a spicy kick.

Stir the mixture well and give it a taste. Adjust the ratios of soy sauce, vinegar, sweetness, and seasonings to create a blend that suits your preferences.

Use your soy sauce and vinegar mixture as a marinade for meats, poultry, or tofu. You can also use it as a base for stir-fried dishes or even as a drizzle over cooked vegetables or rice.

The mixture will add a delicious umami and tangy flavor to your dishes.

Soy sauce and vinegar.

Worcestershire Sauce and Spices

Try using Worcestershire sauce and spices as a substitute for adobo sauce.

Begin with about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of Worcestershire sauce as your base. This will provide the savory and tangy flavors that are characteristic of adobo sauce.

Now, to enhance the flavor, add a pinch of garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and oregano. These spices will help create a more complex taste profile.

Worcestershire sauce already has a bit of sweetness, but you might want to balance it out further by adding a touch of brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup if desired. Additionally, a splash of vinegar (such as apple cider vinegar) can enhance the tanginess.

If you like a bit of heat, you can also add a pinch of chili powder or red pepper flakes to give your substitute a spicy kick.

Stir the mixture well and give it a taste. You can adjust the spices, sweetness, tanginess, and heat according to your preference.

Use your Worcestershire sauce and spices mixture as a marinade for meats, poultry, or even vegetables. It can also be brushed onto foods while grilling or roasting to add flavor.

Keep in mind that this substitute may have a slightly different flavor profile compared to traditional adobo sauce, but it can still add a tasty and unique twist to your dishes.

Worcestershire sauce and vinegar as a substitute for adobo sauce.

Harissa Paste

You can use harissa paste as a substitute for adobo sauce, although it will provide a different flavor profile. Harissa is known for its spicy, smoky, and aromatic qualities, so it will add a unique twist to your dishes.

Harissa paste can be quite intense in terms of both heat and flavor. Start by diluting the harissa paste with a neutral liquid such as water, chicken broth, or even a bit of tomato sauce. This will help you control the spiciness and make it more compatible with your recipe.

The consistency of harissa can vary from brand to brand. If your diluted harissa paste is too thick, you can thin it out with a bit more liquid until it reaches a sauce-like consistency. Remember to taste your diluted harissa mixture to gauge its spiciness and flavor. Depending on the heat level, you might want to adjust the amount you use in your dish.

If you want to achieve a flavor profile closer to adobo sauce, you can add a pinch of garlic powder, cumin, and smoked paprika to the diluted harissa mixture. This will help round out the taste and bring some of the adobo-like notes.

Use your diluted harissa mixture as you would use adobo sauce. It can be used as a marinade for meats, a base for stews, or even as a condiment for tacos and sandwiches.

Keep in mind that harissa paste has a distinct North African origin, so while it may not replicate the exact flavor of adobo sauce, it will certainly add an intriguing and bold twist to your dishes.

Harissa paste

Barbecue Sauce

You can use barbecue sauce as a substitute for adobo sauce, but keep in mind that barbecue sauce has its own unique flavor profile that includes smokiness, sweetness, and sometimes tanginess. While it might not replicate the exact taste of adobo sauce, it can still add a flavorful twist to your dishes.

Opt for a barbecue sauce that aligns with the flavors you’re aiming for in your dish. Some barbecue sauces are smokier, some are sweeter, and some have a tangy kick. Choose one that complements the other ingredients in your recipe.

Depending on the thickness of the barbecue sauce, you might want to thin it out slightly with a bit of water, broth, or even vinegar. This will help it spread more easily and evenly across your ingredients.

Give your barbecue sauce a taste to gauge its sweetness, smokiness, and overall flavor. Depending on the dish you’re preparing, you might need to also adjust the amount you use to avoid overpowering the other flavors.

If you want to add a touch of adobo-like complexity, consider mixing in a bit of cumin, garlic powder, and also onion powder. These spices can help bridge the gap between barbecue sauce and adobo sauce.

Use your barbecue sauce as a marinade for meats, a glaze for roasting or grilling, or even as a dipping sauce. It can also be used to create flavorful sauces for sandwiches and wraps.

Remember that while barbecue sauce may not perfectly replicate the flavors of adobo sauce, it can still be a delicious and intriguing addition to your recipes.

Barbecue sauce.

Summary for Adobo Sauce substitutes

Okay – that’s you all sorted with suitable substitutes for adobo sauce.

Absolutely! Here’s a quick summary of the substitutes we discussed for adobo sauce:

  1. Dry Adobo Seasoning: A blend of dry spices and herbs used to season and enhance the taste meats.
  2. Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce: Finely chop chipotle peppers and use the adobo sauce for smoky and spicy flavors.
  3. Smoked Paprika and Vinegar: Combine smoked paprika and vinegar for smokiness and tanginess.
  4. Tomato Sauce and Spices: Create a blend of tomato sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, oregano, and a touch of vinegar for a tangy flavor.
  5. Soy Sauce and Vinegar: Mix soy sauce and vinegar for a savory and tangy profile.
  6. Worcestershire Sauce and Spices: Combine Worcestershire sauce with garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder for a complex umami taste.
  7. Harissa Paste: Use shopbought harissa paste for a fast spicy, smoky, and aromatic twist.
  8. Barbecue Sauce: Opt for barbecue sauce with smoky, sweet, or tangy elements for a flavorful alternative.

Remember, these substitutes might not exactly replicate adobo sauce, but they can bring their own unique flavors to your dishes. Adjust the ingredients and ratios to match your preferences and the specific recipe you’re working on. Happy cooking!

We have gathered together a lot more facts on ingredients such as herbs, spices, oils, nuts, etc. if you would like to learn some more.

Or if you need to swap out another ingredient have a look at our Substitutes section.