Chipotle Meco Vs. Morita – How Do They Compare?

Both the chipotle meco (a.k.a. chipotle tipico) and the morita pepper (a.k.a. chipotle morita) are types of chipotle peppers (dried, smoked jalapeños) commonly used in Mexican cuisine. Despite their shared origins, they have distinct characteristics, uses, and levels of popularity. How are they different? Let’s compare the two.

Chipotle meco vs. morita quick comparison

Chipotle MecoMorita Peppers
Scoville heat units (SHU)2,500 – 8,0002,500 – 8,000
Median heat (SHU)5,2505,250
Jalapeño reference pointEqualEqual
Capsicum speciesAnnuumAnnuum
SizeApprox. 2 -4 inches, wrinkledApprox. 2 -4 inches, wrinkled
FlavorIntensely smoky, earthy, nutty, sweetSweet, earthy, smoky, fruity

Which is hotter, the chipotle meco or the morita pepper?

The heat of a chili pepper is measured using Scoville heat units (SHUs), which quantify the concentration of capsaicin, the chemical responsible for the pungent “spicy” sensation. Both chipotle meco and morita peppers are smoked versions of ripe jalapeño peppers, so they share similar heat profiles. They both range from 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville heat units – a low-medium heat. However, the morita tends to be slightly milder in practice, mainly due to the meco being picked a little later than the morita (the more time on the vine tends to increase heat.)

When compared to other common dried chilies, both mecos and morita chilies sit middle of the pack in overall spiciness. 

  • The ancho (dried poblano) ranges from 1,000 to 1,500 SHU – very mild in comparison.
  • The pasilla (dried chilaca) ranges from 1,000 to 2,500 SHU – it touches the range of the meco and morita, but still remains much milder.
  • The guajillo (dried mirasol) ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 SHU, being equal heat with the meco and morita, but without the potential to hit the heat ceiling of those chilies.
  • The cayenne ranges from 30,000 to 50,000 SHU – it’s at least four times hotter than the meco/morita with the potential of much more.

Which is more popular?

Popularity can be subjective and can vary depending on the region and culinary culture. However, in general, the morita pepper is more popular in the United States, especially in Southwestern cuisine. The meco pepper, on the other hand, is more commonly used in Mexico, particularly in the central and northern regions. In Mexico, the meco is the chipotle of choice for most authentic Mexican cooking. 

How does each chili taste?

In terms of their flavor profiles, both peppers have a smoky taste due to the smoking process they undergo. But the meco is smoked longer. It has a deeper, more intense smoky flavor, with a hint of sweetness. It also has a slightly nutty and earthy taste. Moritas, on the other hand, have a sweeter, fruitier flavor, earthy but with less pronounced smokiness. Its flavor is often described as being similar to that of a slightly spicy raisin.

How do they differ in shape and colors?

For all their similarities in background, the chipotle meco and morita physically have quite a few distinct differences. Both typically range two to four inches in length, but the meco tends to appear larger as it retains more of the original jalapeño width. The meco, with the increased drying and smoking takes on a tan/coffee-brown color, becoming both wrinkled and stiff in texture. They have a real leathery texture. 

The morita, with less time both drying and smoking, takes on a more raisin-like texture. Color-wise, it’s also more raisin-like, taking on a dark, reddish-purple color. The morita is also wrinkled, but it’s much more pliable as it has more moisture remaining in the chili compared to the meco.

Where does each pepper originate?

Both the chipotle meco and the morita pepper originate from Mexico. They are both versions of smoked jalapeño peppers, a variety native to Mexico. The meco is more commonly found in central and northern Mexico, while the morita is more prevalent in the northern regions.

Which is easier to find?

Availability can depend on the region. Outside of Mexico (particularly in the United States), the morita pepper tends to be more readily available in local grocery stores and online markets due to its popularity in Southwestern cuisine. The chipotle meco, while not as common, can still be found in Mexican specialty stores and some online retailers.

Which is used in more commercial products?

Commercially, the morita pepper is used more frequently. Its sweet and smoky flavor makes it a popular choice for salsas, sauces, and marinades. It is also commonly used in the production of chipotle-flavored products such as canned goods, snacks, and fast food items. For instance, the chili found in the popular canned chipotle in adobo sauce is the morita pepper.

The chipotle meco, while less common in commercial products, is still used in traditional Mexican dishes and is often sold dried for use in home cooking.

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UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on November 27, 2023 to include new content.
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