A simple recipe for adobo sauce. Plus, use it to make a delicious beef adobo dinner.
What is adobo sauce? Is it the same as Filipino adobo sauce?
Adobo sauce is composed of dried chiles, vinegar, garlic, and seasonings. It was originally used by the Spanish as a marinade to preserve meats, but was later used for flavoring foods prior to cooking.
Adobo sauce is mild to moderately spicy, and more so if you keep the chiles’ seeds when making the sauce. The heat comes from ancho chiles (1000-1500 on the Scoville scale) and guajillo chiles (2500-5000).
In this post, I’m referring to the adobo sauce that originated in Spanish cuisine, and was then widely adopted in Latin America. The Filipinos independently developed a somewhat similar sauce (see Instant Pot Chicken Adobo), which Spanish colonists called “adobo” because of some similarities. But each has a very distinct and different taste.
Adobo sauce vs chipotle sauce
A chipotle pepper is a smoked, dried jalapeño. Adobo sauce uses ancho and guajillo chiles, not chipotles, so it’s not the same as chipotle sauce.
However, you’ll likely come across “chipotles in adobo sauce” which is exactly as it sounds — chipotle peppers sitting in adobo sauce. This post shows you how to make adobo sauce, and doesn’t add chipotles.
Tips for making adobo sauce
- Make sure that the dried chiles are completely softened before pureeing in a blender with the rest of the ingredients. They’re soft enough when you can easily bend them. If some are still stiff, keep soaking them in hot water until pliable. Don’t attempt to blend them if they’re not totally soft.
- Adobo sauce should have a thick paste-like consistency. If you prefer the sauce to be thinner, you can add small amounts of water to your blender until you you get your desired texture. Another reason to make it thinner is if your blender has trouble pureeing it. I used a Nutribullet for the job.
- If you have any leftover sauce, freeze it in ice cube trays. Once frozen, you can pop the cubes out of the tray and store in a resealable bag. You can use them anytime by adding them to stews and such.
Beef adobo dinner
I’ve also included instructions for making a delicious beef adobo dinner (see recipe card below). With just 10 minutes of cooking, this is a very fast and easy method for making an adobo-flavored dinner.
The flank steak is tossed with corn starch prior to cooking to keep the meat moist and tender (see tips for tenderizing stir fry beef and low carb beef and broccoli). If you skip the corn starch, the meat will be tougher.
You can serve beef adobo with anything you’d like. I follow a low carb diet so I opted for spiralized zucchini “noodles.” If you’re not low carb, you might want to serve with rice.
Adobo Sauce (& Beef Adobo Recipe)
- 2 ounces dried whole ancho chiles (about 6)
- 1 ounce dried whole guajillo chiles (about 5)
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Making adobo sauce:
- Snap the stems from chiles and discard them. In a large bowl, soak chiles in hot water until soft and pliable, about 30 minutes. If the chiles float to the surface, use a plate to keep them fully submerged.
- Drain the chiles and discard the water. For a less spicy sauce, remove the seeds.
- In a blender, add softened chiles and all remaining adobo sauce ingredients. Blend until pureed into a thick paste-like consistency, pausing occasionally to scrape down the sides of the blender. If too thick to blend, add water to thin it out.
Making beef adobo:
- Slice the flank steak against the grain into thin strips, about 1/4 inch thick. In a large bowl, toss the beef with corn starch until well-coated. Set aside.
- In a bowl, combine adobo sauce and mayonnaise, stirring together until smooth. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a wide pan over medium to medium-high heat for a few minutes until hot. Add beef and cook for a few minutes until browned, stirring and flipping the slices frequently.
- Reduce to medium-low heat. Add adobo-mayonnaise sauce to the pan and stir with the beef until well-mixed, about a minute.
- Turn off the heat and serve while hot. Optionally top with freshly ground black pepper.
|Nutrition Facts Per Serving (Adobo Sauce)|
|Total Fat 2g||4%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||1%|
|Trans Fat 0g|
|Total Carb 16.5g||6%|
|Dietary Fiber 7g||28%|
|Nutrition Facts Per Serving (Beef Adobo)|
|Total Fat 32g||49%|
|Saturated Fat 7g||34%|
|Trans Fat 0g|
|Total Carb 12g||4%|
|Dietary Fiber 3.5g||14%|