The Origins of the Chipotle Pepper

Published on December 9, 2022

Chipotle, also known as Capsicum Annum, is a popular pepper used in Mexican dishes. It adds a distinct smoky and earthy flavour that adds depth to many dishes.

The Secret is Out: Chipotle is Actually Jalapeño

A little known fact is that chipotle is a smoked jalapeño pepper. They are typically green in colour through most of the growing season until the fall, when they start to turn bright red in colour and keep on the bush as long as possible. Once their red colour deepens and they have lost most of their moisture, they are harvested to be made into chipotles.

Chipotles range in heat from 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville units. For perspective, a green pepper has 0 Scoville units, and a Ghost Pepper has over 1 million!! Heat levels depend on the growing conditions and also the ripeness of the pepper.

The Preservation Process that Creates Incredible Flavour

The next step in chipotle creation is the smoking process, which is thought to date all of the way back to the Aztecs who used it to preserve chilies and meats as well. 

The process involves wood to dry and smoke the ripened jalapeños over 6 days, and they are stirred every few hours to ensure the smoke is mixed thoroughly.

On average, 10 pounds of jalapeños produces 1 pound of chipotles after they’ve gone through the drying and smoking process.

Varieties and Forms of Chipotles

There are 2 prominent varieties from Mexico, known as morita (which is most commonly found in the United States) and a larger variety called meco, which is mainly used in Mexico.

The morita variety is smaller with a reddish-purple hue, where the meco is more of a grayish tan colour – some say it resembles a cigar butt!

Chipotles can come in many forms including powder, flakes, pods, canned in adobo sauce, just to name a few.

Next time you visit a Quesada near you, be sure to try something that features Chipotle Peppers, including our newest plant-based offering: Saucy Chipotle Tofu! You may also like to try our Spicy Chipotle Chicken, Chipotle Mayo, Chipotle Hot Sauce or our Chipotle Tomato Salsa!