Best 11 Adobo Sauce Substitutes to Make Savory Dishes

Adobo Sauce Substitute

Adobo sauce exists in various cuisines. Each place has a different take to it, altering its taste and in effect, its recipe uses. If you hope to create a dish that requires this sauce, try out other adobo sauce substitutes that are as flavorful and do wonders for your meals.

Again, note that depending on which recipe calls for adobo sauce, you have to know which kind you’ll be needing. For an easier reference, Mexican adobo sauce is more tangy and spicy, Philippine adobo sauce more sweet and savory, and Caribbean adobo quite earthy and spicy. You can read more on this in the latter portion of the article.

For now, see the following alternatives to this sauce.

Try either of these three seasonings as adobo sauce substitutes:

1. Adobo seasoning

First in the list is adobo seasoning. Made up of onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, salt, and oregano, this blend touches similar flavor notes you’d get from an adobo sauce.

Adobo seasoning is pretty much like adobo sauce in a non-liquid, powder form. It is used to make sauces, to add as an ingredient in stews, beans, rice meals, or to serve as a marinade or dry rub for poultry and meats.

While this spice mix is a flavor powerhouse on its own, you can also mix it with some lemon juice or vinegar to get an even tastier meal. This seasoning is commonly used in Latin cuisine.

2. Cajun seasoning

Another seasoning that works well for many dishes is cajun. This spice blend is a mix of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, black pepper and oregano. Like most sauces and seasoning, there are variations to cajun blend but most have more or less the spices mentioned.

Cajun seasonings are mostly spicy but some are milder and others a lot more intense. Its spicy, smoky, garlicky taste is perfect for meats, seafood, veggies, stir-fries, sauces, and soups.

Used as an ingredient in cooking, an addition to dipping sauce, or a base for marinade, cajun seasoning is a great flavoring for plenty of dishes. It works best with Caribbean, French, West African, and Native American recipes.

3. Greek seasoning

Probably one of the best when it comes to aroma, Greek seasoning is a blend of herbs. It commonly has oregano, basil, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. Some varieties include salt, pepper, dill, garlic powder, or onion powder in the mix.

Greek seasoning is widely used in Mediterranean and Greek cuisine. It is excellent for applying as a dry rub or marinating meat, fish, or seafood with. It can also serve as flavoring for soups, veggies, stews, and sauces.

4. Spice blend

Just with most flavorings, store-bought spice blends are already available and you can simply choose one that contains the herbs and spices that you like. If you’re after the same flavor profile as adobo sauce, get a spice mix with the most similar ingredients.

An even better option is to make your own homemade spice blend. This way, you can make either adobo, cajun, or greek seasoning if you have the right spices and herbs ready in your pantry.

Like adobo sauce, there are various spice blends to choose from and it depends on which country and cuisine it is for.

Consider these pastes or sauces that make for tasty alternatives to adobo sauce:

5. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

This sauce blend may have adobo sauce in its name but it does not share the same flavor for all adobos. This one however is the next best thing or probably what most people would identify adobo sauce with if you’re making Mexican food.

Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce is made up of jalapeño chiles with tomatoes and spices. There are store-bought products available but some suggest making homemade ones would be best so you can adjust the spiciness and tanginess level according to your tastes.

6. Tabasco Chipotle hot sauce

This sauce is made up of garlic powder, chipotle peppers, onion powder, salt, sugar, vinegar, and some other spices. As such, you can get a familiar flavor from some Mexican or Latin American style adobo sauce.

This sauce is most often used for marinating or grilling meats and as a dipping or topping sauce for many foods including pizza, burger, salad, or even rice dishes.

7. Achiote paste

If you need a flavoring to replace adobo sauce in Mexican, Caribbean, or Central American dishes, you can try achiote paste. It is made with pepper, garlic, cloves, oregano, cumin, and coriander.

With its list of spices, achiote paste can taste quite sweet, spicy, earthy and smoky. It makes for a great marinade, sauce, and rub for meat, poultry, and fish.

8. Ancho chile paste

A simple chili paste made from dried peppers, ancho chile paste or ancho-guajillo chili paste are your next best bet for Mexican adobo.

While achiote paste can give a sweet and quite peppery taste, ancho chile paste is your best bet for a smoky, spicy flavoring. Also with slight fruity notes, this paste goes well for plenty of Mexican recipes.

9. Ranchero sauce

Another kind that you can use if you’re out of adobo sauce is ranchero sauce. It is made with a mixture of herbs and spices including chipotle peppers, jalapeños, and onion. It also includes tomato in the mix that makes it richer in flavor.

This smoky, spicy, tomato-based sauce is also often used for Mexican dishes. It can act as a cooking sauce, but it’s mostly used as a dipping sauce or as a serving sauce to drizzle or top over finished recipes.

10. Chili garlic sauce

While this option is a bit more distinct in taste and doesn’t share a lot of similarities to adobo sauce, you can still work with it in a pinch.

Chili garlic sauce compliments so many recipes and is widely used in Chinese cuisine. So if you’re looking to replace the type of adobo sauce in Asian countries like the Philippines, this option works. It’s not the same but it is sweet, savory, and makes for a delicious condiment for your grilled foods or as a glaze or dipping sauce in a variety of dishes.

11. Hoisin Sauce

In a pinch, you can also use hoisin sauce as an alternative to adobo sauce. It is made with garlic, five-spice powder, fennel, red chili pepper, fermented soybeans, sugar, vinegar, and sesame oil.

Hoisin sauce is sometimes compared to American BBQ sauce in terms of consistency and flavor profile. However, hoisin sauce is less sweet, saltier, and richer in taste with good umami. It is used like chili garlic sauce as a glaze or dipping sauce but can also work as a marinade and for stir-fries.

Related FAQs

What is adobo sauce?

Adobo sauce can be Filipino, Spanish, Mexican, Portuguese, or Caribbean style. Depending on where you’re shopping for this ingredient or where you’re cooking with it, you will have various results which are all delicious for the right recipes.

The term adobo is commonly associated with a method of cooking and a specific dish from the Philippines. It came from the Spanish term of marinating called adobar. For Filipino, Spanish, and Portuguese cuisine, adobo sauce is typically made up of vinegar, soy sauce, salt, and black pepper. Some herbs and spices are also added in like oregano and bay leaves.

What are the different kinds of adobo sauce?

In Philippine cuisine, adobo sauce comes as part of cooking chicken or pork by first marinating it with a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, black pepper, and bay leaves. The sauce that comes from this is adobo sauce.

In Caribbean cuisine, adobo sauce is a blend of spices like garlic pepper, onion powder, oregano, pepper, and salt. It is also used to marinate or used as a wet rub for meats or vegetables.

If you’re using the Mexican version, this sauce becomes more tangy and spicy with tomatoes, chili peppers, vinegar, salt, and garlic. It is used as a marinade, seasoning, or condiment.

What is a good chipotle peppers in adobo sauce substitute?

You can use smoked paprika with tomato, which is like the most straightforward version that copies the flavor of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. You can also try making homemade chipotle peppers in adobo sauce with ingredients that you think taste best. There are already many recipes online that you can choose from.

So, what is the best alternative for adobo sauce?

As previously mentioned, adobo sauce is not just one thing. For instance, you can never use Mexican adobo sauce to cook a Filipino dish with adobo sauce. The only common thing in adobo sauce that exists in various cuisines is that it uses a mix of spices. The best adobo sauce substitutes are those meant for the dishes needing a particular flavor.

If you want an alternative to the thick paste-like adobo sauce for Mexican dishes, try using achiote paste or ancho chile paste. For Caribbean-inspired adobo sauces, replace it with either Greek or Cajun seasoning. As for Philippine adobo, just use some basic spice blend and if you need it as a sauce for grilled meats or veggies, chili garlic would give you a familiar Asian flavor.

Choose well and enjoy your next meal!

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