The remarkable smokiness of the chipotle chilli is wonderfully enhanced by this sweet and sour pickling process. A great condiment to have on hand as a boost of flavour and heat to any dish, try adding chipotle chilli in adobo to mayonnaise, guacamole or chilli con carne.

Either chipotle meco (with a tobacco colour and tiger stripe) or chipotle mora (mora meaning blackberry, the approximate colour of the dried chilli) may be used in this recipe, but a sweeter, fruitier flavour comes from the mora, which is smoked while plump and ripe. The chipotle meco is smoked after drying the chilli on the bush and has a more intense heat and flavour.

1 litre





Skill level

Average: 4.1 (29 votes)


  • 130 g chipotle meco or chipotle mora (see Note)
  • 3 ancho chillies (see Note)
  • 150 g tomato, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 whole allspice
  • ¼ bunch thyme
  • ½ tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil
  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 175 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 125 ml white vinegar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 55 g piloncillo (see Note) 

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time 1 week

Pierce the chipotle chillies with a pairing knife, place in a medium-size saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until tender. Drain.

Remove the seeds and stems from the ancho chillies and place in a small saucepan with 200 ml water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes until soft. Transfer the chillies and water to a blender with the tomato, garlic, allspice, thyme, oregano, peppercorns and two of the softened chipotle chillies. Blend until very smooth. Reserve.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 3–4 mins until softened. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the reserved puree. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken. Add the vinegar, salt, sugar, chipotle chillies and 100 ml water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

While still warm, spoon the mixture into sterilised jars. Leave the chillies for at least one week for the flavours to develop. Refrigerated, these chillies will keep for at least 12 months. 



• In Australia, chipotle chilli typically refers to chiptole meco. Mora chillies can be very difficult to source.

• Chipotle and ancho chillies are available from Mexican grocers and specialist spice suppliers.

• Piloncillo, also known as panela, is a type of unrefined, brown cane sugar. If unavailable, substitute brown sugar. 


Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Kristine Duran-Thiessen.