That’s right! You don’t grow chipotle peppers – you make them! And it’s an easy process if you have a wood grill or smoker. Here’s exactly how to make your own chipotle peppers.
Did you know that pepper names change when they’re dried?
For instance, Poblanos become Anchos.
Here’s a handy list:
One thing it doesn’t mention though, is that chipotle peppers aren’t just dried jalapeños, they’re also smoked.
Traditionally, chipotle peppers are smoked on pecan wood, which is abundant down here where so many of them are grown and used.
But we also have even more mesquite wood, so for the most part, that’s what I choose for my smoking.
Which brings up a great point: smoking your own chipotles is a great opportunity to bring some additional uniqueness to your dishes based on the wood you choose!
Some great choices for smoking your own chipotle peppers:
I often pickle the few jalapeños I grow, (see some of my pickles recipes here) but this year I’ve been enjoying using my smoker, and loving the variety that having chipotles peppers on hand gives me.
Here’s what you need for your homemade chipotle peppers:
- Jalapeños. Preferably ripe (red), but if you don’t have time to let yours ripen, green will do.
- A smoker. You do not have to have a perfect smoker setup situation! A great smoker is definitely on my goal list, but for now, I use an old upright smoker. It can be a lot harder to regulate the temperature, but it works! If you have a charcoal grill, that will work too – you’ll just need some soaked wood chips to go with your charcoal, or you can swap the charcoal completely for your wood choice.
- A way to dehydrate your peppers after they’re smoked. Your oven on the lowest setting will work if you don’t have a dedicated dehydrator.
How to Make Chipotle Peppers
First of all, I’m not by any means a pro at using a smoker, so forgive me if some of my language seems amateurish. It’s because I am an amateur.
Which just goes to show you that anybody can make their own chipotle peppers.
The first step. If you’re using a wood smoker, pile your fuel into a pyramid shape, and squirt a bunch of lighter fluid over it. (if you’re using charcoal or pellet smoker, you’re on your own.)
Let the lighter fluid soak into the wood for a minute of so, then come back and light it.
Let the wood burn down for 5-10 minutes. For my small smoker, it takes about 5 minutes, for a larger smoker using more wood, it’ll probably take closer to 10.
Then close the drafts down most of the way to slow the burn.
After that, it’s a guessing game. Let your flame burn down enough that your peppers don’t turn to cinders when you put them on. This is probably going to be longer for an upright smoker like mine, where the food is directly over the flame, making it super hot. I let mine burn down for 35-40 minutes.
You’re shooting for 200º.
Put the peppers on the smoker and smoke for 3 hours.
They should look pretty wrinkled and worn after being smoked, but not dried out and burnt.
From there, move the peppers to your dehydrator for about 10 hours. These peppers are cooked, so the warmest setting on your dehydrator is just fine.
Alternatively, lay them on a rack in your oven (for airflow – I like to use a cooling grid on top of a cookie sheet), and set your oven to 200º or its lowest temperature.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
It’s an admittedly long process, but most of the time is pretty hands off. Once you get the smoker set, you just want to say nearby in case the fire dies down too much (for those of us who don’t have swanky temperature controlled smokers), and then once they’re in the dehydrator, it’s completely hands off.
These homemade chipotle peppers are great for adding to salsa, enchilada sauce (they would be a great addition to cheeseburger enchiladas!), salad dressing and.. a lot of other things – if you love chipotles, you already know.
How to Make Chipotle Peppers
- Jalapeño peppers
- Smoker and smoker fuel
- Dehydrator or oven
- Chipotle peppers are traditionally made using ripe (red) jalapeños, so you can set your green ones in a well-lit area to ripen if you choose. Otherwise, green jalapeños work well too.
- Light your smoker and set or burn down to 200º
- Space jalapeño peppers out on grill grate so they are not touching
- Smoke for 3-4 hours until wrinkled
- Remove from smoker and put into your dehydrator or oven set at 175-200º for ten hours
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use as needed in your favorite recipes
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