Essential Preparations/

Red Chile Adobo Sauce

This is Rick's alternative to turkey gravy for his Mesquite Grilled Turkey.  The finished sauce will keep for days if refrigerated, well covered. 


  • 1/3cup vegetable oil
  • 12medium (about 6 ounces)dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into flat pieces
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2teaspoonsdried oregano, preferably Mexican oregano
  • 1teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly ground
  • 1/2teaspoon cumin, preferably freshly ground
  • 1/4teaspoon cloves, preferably freshly ground
  • 1/2cup cider vinegar
  • 4cups chicken or turkey broth (use the turkey neck and giblets for making broth)
  • Salt
  • 2 to 3tablespoons Sugar


Measure the oil into a large skillet and set over medium heat. When hot, oil-toast the chiles 1 or 2 pieces at a time until very toasty smelling and blistered, only a few seconds per side. Pour off all but a generous film of oil from the skillet and set aside. Transfer the chiles to a large bowl and measure in 4 cups hot tap water; a small plate on top will keep the chiles submerged. Let rehydrate for about 20 minutes.

Measure the garlic, oregano, black pepper, cumin, cloves and vinegar into a blender or food processor. Pour in the rehydrated chiles, liquid and all (do this in two batches if necessary). Process the mixture to a smooth puree. Press through a medium-mesh strainer set over a bowl.

Set the chile-frying skillet over medium heat. When quite hot, add the adobo and stir until reduced to the thickness of tomato paste, about 10 minutes. Stir in the broth, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes or so. The finished sauce should be quite light in texture, not watery, but just one stage thicker. (A good test is to pour a little on a plate and watch it spread: If it flows evenly, it’s right; if it doesn’t flow much and water begins separating around the edges, it’s too thick.) Season with salt (usually about 1 tablespoon) and sugar—it should be a little sweet-sour with a hint of saltiness. Serve warm.



    1. Hello Louise –
      This is one of the “Secret Weapons” from Rick’s upcoming cookbook. We use it for a number of recipes in this book and offer a bunch of other ideas about ways to use the sauce. You can preorder your book here:

      Additionally, I have copied a few recipes below that use the sauce:

  1. On May 2, 2015 I viewed a presentation for preparing barbacoa in a slow cooker and was referred to the website for the recipe; however, I was unable to find it. It looked and sounded great. Would you please e-mail the recipe to me. Thank you.

    Damon R. Capps

  2. Dear Rick,
    Could I use this sauce for Chile Colorado? Or do I use the same recipe using the red dried New Mexico chilies? How many cups does this recipe make? Can I freeze this sauce and for how long can I freeze it? Do you have the recipe for Chile Colorado?
    In which book can I find it in? I’d like to buy a copy of that book, if it exists.

    Thank You,

  3. I live in Africa and cannot get drive ancho chillies here. Can other chillies be substituted? What about ancho chili powder?

    1. Most any dried chillie will work. You could use Ancho Powder. Mix about 4 Tablespoons of powder, to 1/2 cup Hot Water, but, Chicken Stock is best.. Mix in powder and water to desired thickness.

  4. I’ve been making this recipe for years and it’s very tasty but I only spray enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. I’ve never understood the need for 1/3 cup to toast the chilies for only a few seconds and then throw out the oil. Just curious.

  5. About how much sauce does this make? I’m assuming it reduces down…. Also, can you freeze the sauce for later use?

  6. Just made this using Ancho, Pasilla, & Mulato chilles. Made pork adobo with some loin chunks I had left over. Great taste, but should have used a little bit fatter pork. Meat was a little dry. Will make again. Great Adobo.

  7. Looks great! I’m anxious to try it. On a recent episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate, they showed a ribeye steak being grilled after a dip into this adobo sauce. However, on the show they said this adobo has 16 ingredients. I only see 10 listed here???

  8. I just watched Rick’s program on kbtcs, Seattle area 2-4-17, and I want to know what sauce he made for the pork belly dinner. I see this adobo sauce, but I remember the t.v. show having a can of chiles in chipolte sauce. If anyone has time I would like to have the name of that sauce, so I can try it. Thanks, andrea

  9. Dumb question…after you strain the mixture do you use the liquid or the paste left over in the strainer?

  10. Can this sauce be used as a taco sauce, or as a sauce for a bean tostada or a burrito? Most bottled taco sauces use guar or xanthan gums which I cannot eat so am looking for something good to sub that isn’t a chunky salsa type sauce.

    1. Hey there! This stuff is so incredibly versatile. It might be a little much to ladle over a burrito or tostada, but it would be fantastic cooked along with your taco filling.

  11. Made this last weekend. It took a long time to reduce the sauce to a tomato-paste consistancy. I think next time I will use a minimum of water to blend the peppers in the blender instead of four cups. I used vegetable broth and kept everything vegan. The sauce smelled nice and very similar to raisens, but I was surprised that the sauce ended up rather spicy. I didn’t expect the anchos (which is a mild pepper) to be spicy, but it might have been because everything was so concentrated. I portioned the four cups of sauce into containers and froze them. I see this sauce working very nicely for vegetable enchiladas in the near future.

  12. Love your Cooking. Brings back so many memories growing up. I’m new to your website and love the YouTube videos. Where is your cookbook for sale?
    My mom was born in San Antonio and grew up in El Paso. I remember as a boy visiting her mom and we would always go to Juarez and visit the markets. Mom would bring home dried chilies- the dark red ones. As I remember it, she would boil the chilies, then squeeze them through a colander with a big wooden pestle. That was how she made homemade enchilada sauce! She would always pass bottles of her authentic sauce to friends, and save some in the freezer. I’ve never found a restaurant that has that flavor since then, save a small cafe in Gulfport, MS. I live on the gulf coast of AL. Do you have a recipe like that, to make red enchilada sauce? Thanks for your time and I’m sharing your site and videos.

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