Chile Morita: a key ingredient of adobo sauce

Chile Morita
Chile Morita is a small, smoked Mexican chili pepper commonly used in Mexican cuisine. The chilies are typically brownish-red and have a smoky, fruity flavor with moderate heat of 2,500 to 8,000 SHU. They go in adobo sauce and add smokiness to soups, stews, and marinades.

What is Chile Morita?

Chile Morita
Chile Morita

Chile Morita or Morita chile pepper is a chipotle pepper used in Mexican cuisine, particularly in Oaxaca and Puebla. They are made from smoked red jalapeño peppers. They add vibrant red color to Mexican dishes and can pair well with other spices and condiments like tomatillos and garlic (e.g., salsa).

OriginMexico, Chihuahua
AppearanceSmall, red, wrinkled
CuisinesMexican dishes: mole sauce, pozole
Flavor profileFruity, smoky, medium heat


Chile Morita is a small, smoked, dried jalapeño pepper originating in Mexico. Nowadays, these peppers come from Chihuahua. They are also commonly used in Southwestern and Mexican cuisine, particularly in dishes from Puebla and Veracruz.

Chile Morita was once considered a luxury item from the Aztec era. However, smoke-drying peppers for food preservation has a much older origin, pre-dating even the Aztecs, and was developed in Mesoamerica.


Chile Morita is small and dark red, with a wrinkled texture. It is often used in its dried form but can also be used fresh.

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You can use Morita for various dishes, including salsas, marinades, soups, stews, and sauces. You can also use it to season meats, seafood, and vegetables.

One popular dish that features chile Morita is the traditional Mexican soup known as pozole. In this dish, the chili adds heat and depth of flavor to the broth, typically made with pork or chicken and hominy.

Chile Morita is also commonly used in Mexican mole sauces, which are complex sauces that often contain a variety of spices, nuts, and seeds. In this context, the dried chili is typically used to add heat and smokiness to the sauce.

Flavor profile

Morita has a fruity and smoky flavor with medium heat. It adds depth of flavor and a spicy kick to other dishes.

Nutritional Benefits of Chile Morita

Chile Morita peppers are great, but they also provide various health benefits. These chiles are a good source of fiber and contain essential vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A, and magnesium.

Moreover, these chiles contain capsaicin, which is responsible for their spicy taste. This compound may boost metabolism and even improve blood sugar levels.

What is the difference between Morita and Ancho?

Morita peppers A type of smoked red jalapeño chili pepper, dark red to brownish color with a wrinkled texture, 2,500 – 8,000 SHU, smoky aroma
Ancho peppersDried poblano peppers, have a deep reddish-brown color with a smooth, shiny texture, 1,000 – 2,000 SHU, sweet and fruity

Morita peppers are a type of smoked red jalapeño chili pepper. They are smaller than the jalapeño pepper and have a dark red to brownish color with a wrinkled texture. Morita peppers have a medium heat level, ranging from 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).

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Ancho peppers, on the other hand, are dried poblano peppers. They are larger than the jalapeño pepper and have a deep reddish-brown color with a smooth, shiny texture. Ancho peppers have mild to medium heat levels ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 SHU.

Morita peppers have a smoky aroma and flavor due to the smoking process they undergo. On the other hand, Ancho peppers have a sweet, fruity flavor with hints of raisins and a slightly earthy taste.

What is the heat level of Chile Morita?

Morita chile’s heat level is medium-hot, ranging from 2,500 to 8,000 on the Scoville scale. 

Here are the heat levels of some of the least hot and hottest peppers in the world:

Least hot peppersHottest peppers
Bell Pepper – 0 SHURaja Mirch – 900,000 SHU
Carmagnola Rosso – 0 SHUGhost Pepper (Bhut Jolokia) – 855,000-1,041,427 SHU
Pimento Pepper – 100-500 SHUCarolina Reaper – 1,400,000-2,200,000 SHU
Banana Pepper – 0-500 SHUTrinidad Moruga Scorpion – 1,200,000-2,009,231 SHU

What is a substitute for Chile Morita?

Meco chiles can substitute chile Morita since they are both made from smoked jalapeño. They are smoked, dried peppers with a similar heat level and flavor profile, with meco chiles slightly larger than Morita chiles. Another difference is that Moritas undergo a shorter drying process than meco chiles.

However, meco chiles may be harder to find in some areas and spicier than Morita chiles, so adjusting the amount used accordingly is essential. 

Other possible substitutes for chile-dried Morita include:

Chipotle peppers: Chipotle peppers are another smoked and dried chili pepper that can be used as a substitute for chile Morita. They have a slightly sweeter flavor than chile Morita, but they have a similar level of heat and smokiness.

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Guajillo peppers: Guajillo peppers are a dried chili pepper commonly used in Mexican cuisine. They have a mild to medium level of heat and a slightly fruity flavor that can complement the smoky flavors in a dish. While guajillo peppers are not smoked, you can toast them in a dry skillet to add a smoky flavor.

Arbol peppers: These are small and slender, with a heat level similar to cayenne pepper. Arbol peppers have a slightly nutty and smoky flavor, which makes them a good substitute for chile Morita. However, the flavor profile is not as fruity as chile Morita, so it might not be the best choice to replicate its distinctive taste.

Pasilla peppers: These peppers are dried and have a deep, rich flavor with notes of raisin, chocolate, and tobacco. They are less smoky than chile Morita but have a similar fruity taste. Pasilla peppers have mild to medium heat, so they might not be the best choice for a spicier dish.

Spicy salsa with chile Morita

One recipe idea that incorporates chile Morita is a spicy and smoky salsa. To make this salsa:

  1. Soak a handful of dried chile Morita peppers in hot water for 10-15 minutes until they soften.
  2. Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers, then blend them in a food processor with diced tomatoes, chopped onions, minced garlic, lime juice, and salt.
  3. Serve the salsa with tortilla chips or as a topping for tacos, burritos, or grilled meats.

Before using it in other recipes, you can toast Morita chili peppers on a dry cast-iron skillet. Lastly, you can grind them and make chili powder (chile powder)


Alexandra is a passionate writer with a deep appreciation for food - not just as nourishment but as an expression of culture, a reflection of history, and a celebration of life. She knows that everything in life requires a little spice - and gets a kick (get it?) every time she achieves the perfect combination of heat and depth.

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