What Are The Best Morita Pepper Substitutes?

Morita peppers, a type chipotle pepper, are well-known for their unique smoky flavor and moderate heat. These smoked, dried jalapeños are an essential ingredient in Mexican cooking. However, they might not always be readily available in your local grocery store. Here are some of the best morita pepper substitutes that can save your dish without compromising on flavor. While each substitute has its unique flavor profile and heat level, they all can replace morita peppers effectively.

Your best bet: Chipotle meco peppers

Chipotle meco are one of the most suitable substitutes for morita peppers. Like morita, chipotle meco are also smoked, dried jalapeños. The primary difference lies in the smoking duration – chipotle meco peppers are smoked longer, resulting in a drier, smokier, and slightly hotter flavor. If you’re substituting meco for morita, consider reducing the amount to avoid overpowering the dish with smokiness.

Solid option #1: Guajillo peppers

Guajillo peppers are another excellent substitute for morita peppers. They are similar in overall heat (2,500 to 5,000 Scoville heat units compared to the morita’s 2,500 to 8,000 SHU.) And guajillos offer a sweet, fruity flavor that can complement many dishes. While they lack the smoky flavor of morita peppers, they can be lightly toasted to add a touch of smokiness.

As mentioned, guajillo peppers are less spicy than morita peppers, so you might want to adjust the quantity based on your taste preference.

Solid option #2: Ancho peppers

Ancho peppers (dried poblano peppers) are milder than morita peppers (1,000 to 1,500 SHU), with a sweet, earthy flavor. Their heat level is quite low, but they make a good substitute for morita peppers in recipes where the smoky flavor is not a dominant factor. Ancho peppers are widely available and can be a great addition to soups, stews, and sauces.

–> Learn More: Guajillo Vs. Ancho – How Do They Compare?

Solid option #3: Pasilla peppers

Pasilla, also known as ‘little raisin’, are dried chilaca peppers. They typically have a mild spiciness that can touch the lower end of medium heat (1,000 to 2,500 SHU.) Pasilla have a rich, berry-like flavor with earthy notes. While they lack the smokiness of morita peppers, their unique flavor profile can add a different depth to your dishes. Pasilla peppers are perfect for those looking for a less smoky alternative to morita peppers.

A spice rack choice: Smoked paprika

If the smoky flavor is what you’re after, smoked paprika can be a good morita pepper substitute. Made from smoked, dried, and ground red peppers, smoked paprika offers a sweet, smoky flavor and vibrant color. It’s typically less spicy than morita peppers (unless you buy hot smoked paprika), making it an excellent option for those who prefer milder flavors. 

A canned option: Chipotle in adobo sauce

This popular (and easy to find) sauce can certainly sub in a pinch for chipotle morita, but there are some obvious things you’ll need to consider. First, as a sauce, this substitution will work best in dishes where the additional moisture is no problem. Second – the adobo sauce brings its own flavor profile to the table. Yes, it’s a complementary flavor, earthy and rustic. But there’s a tangy sweetness here that you’ll need to account for in the swap.

If you must: BBQ sauce

For a non-traditional substitute, consider a smoky BBQ sauce. While it won’t replicate the heat of the morita peppers, it will provide the smoky flavor that is often desired. This is a great option for those who are not fond of spicy foods but still want to add a smoky touch to their dishes. But, consider this an “in a pinch” substitution as any of the above alternatives are much more preferable. 

Must-read related posts

  • The Hot Pepper List: Go beyond the morita chili. We cover 150+ chili peppers on our list, ranging from mild to super-hot on the Scoville scale. Search by name, heat, flavor, and more.
  • Ancho Vs. Pasilla: We dive into what makes these two popular dried chilies different.
  • Chipotle Grilled Cheese: We use a single chili in this recipe to bring the classic sandwich to life.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on November 25, 2023 to include new content.
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