How to make chipotle pepper powder (smoked Jalapenos)


In my last post I talked about my quest for a cheap smoker to make some of my own chipotle pepper powder.  Typically chipotle pepper powder is made using red ripe jalapenos and smoked for about 24 hours.

Given my lack of ripe jalapeno peppers (had 3 small ones) and it being the beginning of August I opted to make an alternate variety of brown chipotle powder.  While picking pecks of jalapeno peppers I also noticed I had some sweet peppers with no plans so decided to use them to make some sweet smoked paprika.


I started by splitting the jalapeno peppers from step to end (leaving other side attached and pulling  them apart slightly.  If you want a little less heat you can scrap out the seeds and membrane they are attached to, but given my current tolerance to peppers I probably wouldn’t really tell the difference so I kept them in.


I then sliced the sweet peppers into slices in approximately the same width as the peppers with hopes they would end up drying about the same time (should have gone a little wider then pictured below.


With the pepper neatly arranged on my Brinkmann Smoke’N Grill Charcoal Smoker and Grill (El Cheapo Brinkmann aka ECB) it was time to start smoking.  Though you can smoke peppers and many temperatures, from my research traditionally they are smoked at 125F using hardwoods such as hickory, pecan, apple (or other fruit woods)  I personally went with a combination of hickory and apple wood.

With the little experience I have done with my new smoker, I decided that doing this with charcoal (if even possible) would lead to a lot of smoker tending and much lost sleep.  This led me to pick up a $10 electric hot plate at my local Bartell Drug Store and a heavy duty pie pan at a thrift store for $0.50.


Next I placed the electric hot plate and pan with a handful of wood chips (soaked for 30 minutes) on a small cinder block and placed my smoker (fire/water pan removed) over the my heater contraption.  After playing with the variable temperature on the hot plate I found that about Medium/Medium High produced some decent smoke as you can see in the video below (this is a little too much I turned it down just a hair after recording video)


After closing everything up the smoker was cooking at a perfect 125F, now this would be terrible for BBQ meat but perfect for smoking peppers.  Ever 3-4 hours (when smoked stopped) I emptied the ashes out of the pan and added new water soaked chips and waited.

After 16 hours in the smoker, I decided that was enough and  here are how the peppers looked before moving them to the food dehydrator to complete their drying process.


I wanted to use the peppers for powder so I made sure they were very brittle and I moved them out into the dehydrator at 130F for about 20 hours.  Though for softer leathery peppers could be used in sauces (chipotle adobo sauce) you could leave them in for about 12 hours for slightly softer peppers.

Green Jalapeno Peppers (Meco “Brown” Chipotle Peppers)


Red Jalapeno Peppers (Morita Chipotle Peppers)


Sweet Peppers (Smoked Sweet Paprika)


Just for fun I decided to combine a couple of each variety into my Magic Bullet with the grinding attachment and made some powder which I am storing in an old spice container.  The rest I stored in a Ziploc bag.


How to use chipotle peppers

  • BBQ Spice: Good addition to injections or for food that does not have the advantage of staying on the grill long enough to get a nice smoky flavor (steaks/hamburgers/chicken)
  • Chipotle Mayonnaise: Take a cup of mayo and add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. of chipotle powder to give a very different flavor to your traditional mayonnaise.
  • Chipotle Salt: With flavored sea salts becoming so popular lately, you can save some money by just adding 1.5 to 2 tsp. of chipotle powder to 1 cup of sea salt.  This along with a little freshly cracked pepper is a very simple seasoning for a great tasting steak.
  • Chipotle Adobo Sauce: Add 1 tsp. of chipotle powder to 1/4 cup of ketchup to make your own great tasting chipotle adobo sauce.
  • Pizza Sauce: Like the taste of wood oven pizza but lack the wood oven.  Add a 1/2 tsp. of Chipotle powder to 1 cup of pizza sauce for a wood oven baked flavor.
  • General: Add to soup, salsa, spaghetti, chili, tacos, salad, vegetables, breadsticks, sandwiches, or anything else you want to add a little spicy and smoky flavor.

Closing Remarks

As you can see this little spice is very versatile and has many uses on your outdoor grill and/or kitchen.  Like most spices your chipotle powder should last for 12 months in a sealed container, but you can keep the flavors more potent by keeping the peppers intact and only grind them when you need to use it (or will use it in the next month or so).

14 Responses to “How to make chipotle pepper powder (smoked Jalapenos)”

  1. meemsnyc Says:

    Oh my, I bet this is going to bring the best flavor in your food! Wow!

  2. Building a BBQ Smoker Says:

    […] many suggestions that I should smoke my jalapeno peppers in comments of my making jalapeno pepper powder post, I decided to give it a try.  After doing […]

  3. Red Icculus Says:

    I just picked up a Brinkmann. I had been using my dad’s, but I can’t wait to smoke a plethora of peppers. Thanks for the great guide!

  4. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    memmsnyc, I added about 1/2 teaspoon to my normal rub and applied on some grinders which I had to cook on my George Forman grill since I was out of propane and I wasn’t going to start up charcoal for a few small burgers. Added a nice smokey flavor and just a hint of spice.

    Red Icculus, well of course you get what you pay for. Won’t get the insulation that the higher end smokers like Big Green Eggs provide, but at 5% of the price seems like a bargain to me.

  5. › The Wife Only Allows Smoking Outside . . . Says:

    […] […]

  6. pizza recipe Says:

    Oh my, I bet this is going to bring the best flavor in your food! Wow!

  7. Laurie Says:

    Hey, CVG! I was thrilled to find your post describing how to use a hotplate as the heat source for smoking jalapenos into chipotle. Like you, I had come to the conclusion that attempting to maintain a charcoal fire for at the right temperature for 12-18 hours was a recipe for little sleep and a poor outcome. Your post inspired me to give electric smoking a go.

    I used my rectangular Master Forge “Dually” charcoal grill (link) with two hotplates inside — one didn’t produce enough heat. With two electric burners on their highest setting, I maintained 150-200 degree temps with all vents closed. I set a square thrift store cake pan of moistened mesquite chips on one of the burners to produce the smoke.

    I put 4 dozen red jalapenos on the grill’s warming rack, above the grill, on perforated heavy-duty foil to keep the peppers from falling through the rack when they started to shrink. I put the lid down, and was delighted to see fragrant smoke pouring out of the grill within 10 minutes. I added more moistened wood chips to the pan every four hours, and smoked the peppers 12 hours on the first day. Eight of them were fully dry: the rest spent the night in my oven, which I had heated to 175 degrees (lowest setting) then turned off before putting the peppers inside.

    In the morning, half of the peppers were completely dry. So I fired up the hotplates again, put in another pan of moistened mesquite chips, and put the peppers needing more drying onto the warming rack. Four hours later, they were all done. Perfect. I can’t wait to grind them up and start using them.


  8. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Yeah it worked great for me…still need to figure out how I can use the same rig and get enough heat for meat smoking. Could save some serious money on charcoal.

  9. rick Says:

    To finish drying peppers or jerky
    after smoking I put a 100 or 150 watt lightbulb in my oven and prop the door open with a pencil. My oven only goes down to 170 degrees and I feel that’s too hot for cold smoking

  10. Mael Says:

    I did well over 40 jalapeño plants this year for the purpose of smoking them all. I smoke mine in a 55 gallon drum with duct pipes leading from a hole in the ground with my fire, to the drum.

    Smoking those guys for a few days and then transferring them to my dehydrator I noticed that they smell strong of smoke when first put in, but it fades after about a day. I know this might sound crazy as smoking is about leaving a layer of resin on your subject, but I wonder if some how during the dehydrating stage I actually somehow lose some of the smoking quality.

  11. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Mine still had quite a bit of smoke left in them after doing the same process. Might be normal oxidation where flavors are lost in herbs as they are exposed to air but the remaining (inside the pepper) the richy smoky flavor still exists.

  12. Mael Says:

    You could be right.

    For another recipe idea, try taking sour cream and adding a liberal amount of chipotle with a little bit of salt…it’s insane as a chip dip.

  13. Agnot4567 Says:

    I love great tasting peppers of all types. I grow Ghost Peppers, Jalapeno Peppers as well as Scotch Bonnet’s. Last year I had so many of the hotter types that I took a chance and smoked some of them as well.

    I have a wood smoker that is near perfect for this type of operation in that it will supply good cool smoke for a long duration with little attention. Once I have a good fire in the smoker box going, the peppers will go in the smoking chamber. I’ll add either Hickory and Apple or what other fruit and nut wood that I have handy. I found that I only need to smoke them for about 8 to 12 hours and then finish them off in the dehydrator till the moisture levels are down to a minimum.

    After that I like to grind into a fine powder and then store in a well sealed jar for later use. The whole ones that I retain for cooking just go into a double lock freezer bag and I’ve had them last like that for over one year now.

    For those that like that hotter and more earthy taste of the Ghosts, you will find that the smoke adds a new element to the flavor that they impart to dishes and to rubs for cooking meats.

    While the predominant smoke is from Oak I try to go light on the Oak for this process and use as much of the other woods as possible for this. I have found that Oak can impart a bitter flavor is it’s not moderated with other woods. I’ve also found that while Maple is not one of the “normal” woods that are used, it does give a great flavor and it will not leave that bitter flavor.


  14. steve Says:

    The best thing about smokers is that once set in, it will do the rest itself. You may only need to load wood chips from to time to time. Not only meat but you can also delight in vegetable smoking. Moreover, cold smokers are also available in the market. All in all, you and your smoky food preparation requirements are authoritative to buy a perfect smoker either for your kitchen, patio or backyard.

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