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Chipotle crema is smoky and spicy! It’s the ideal sauce or topping for tacos, bowl meals, nachos, and more.

Chipotle Crema

Looking for a sauce to add a sparkle to bowl meals, tacos, or even as a dip for fries? Try this Chipotle Crema: creamy, spicy, and altogether irresistible! This delectable sauce stars chipotle chilis in adobo sauce: a unique Mexican pepper that adds a smoky heat to anything it touches. You can customize this sauce to your desired spice level, with variations for mild to spicy. Then get ready to dollop on tacos, burrito bowls, nachos, and more.

Ingredients in chipotle crema

Crema is a thickened cream often used in traditional Mexican cuisine to dollop over soups, tacos, burritos, enchiladas. Traditionally, a crema would be made with actual Mexican crema, but sauce can also be made with sour cream, yogurt, or mayonnaise.

This recipe takes inspiration from the rich cultural food tradition of this Mexican sauce: you can use either sour cream, Mexican crema, or a combination of Greek yogurt and mayo. The ingredients you’ll need are:

  • Sour cream or Mexican crema (or Greek yogurt and mayo; see below)
  • Chipotle chilis in adobo sauce
  • Lime juice
  • Garlic
  • Salt
Chipotle Crema

The magic ingredient: chipotle chilis in adobo sauce

The key to chipotle crema? A can of chipotle chilis in adobo sauce! You can make this sauce two ways: with chopped chipotle chilis, or using just the adobo sauce in the can. Here are a few notes on this ingredient and the two variations of this sauce:

  • Chipotles in adobo sauce are sold in most grocery stores here in the US, available near the Mexican products. The can includes chipotle chiles: smoked and dried jalapeños that are rehydrated and canned, and adobo sauce, a purée of tomato, vinegar, garlic, and other spices.
  • For a spicy sauce, use a knife to finely chop then grind the chili peppers into a paste. This makes the most forward, spicy chipotle flavor! The sauce comes out slightly chunky with this method, so if you’re looking for a perfectly smooth sauce you can pass it through a fine mesh sieve using a spatula.
  • For a mild sauce, use adobo sauce only! This makes for a sauce that’s milder, with a backend heat. If you use adobo sauce only, you may want to add a bit of smoked paprika or paprika for color.
Chipotle Crema

Purchase or make DIY Mexican crema

Mexican crema is a thickened cream often used in traditional Mexican cuisine. It tastes creamy and slightly tangy, like a combination between American sour cream and French crème fraîche. It’s richer than sour cream because it has a higher fat content.

You can find Mexican crema at the grocery store: look near the sour cream and creme fraiche. Or, you make your own Mexican crema! It’s a fun kitchen DIY that takes 48 hours to thicken. Go to How to Make Mexican Crema.

How to use chipotle crema

This chipotle crema recipe we created especially for our Ahi Tuna Tacos, which taste incredible paired with cilantro lime slaw and this creamy sauce! Here are a few more ways to dollop or dip this sauce:

More recipes with chipotle chilis

Chipotle chilis in adobo sauce are a true kitchen magic trick! They add a smoky heat to anything they touch, bringing complexity to vegetarian and vegan dishes in particular. Here are some favorite recipes using chipotle chilis:

This chipotle crema recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Chipotle Crema

Chipotle Crema

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x


Chipotle crema is smoky and spicy! It’s the ideal sauce or topping for tacos, bowl meals, nachos, and more.


  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chipotle chilis in adobo sauce or 2 tablespoons adobo sauce*
  • 1 cup sour cream or Mexican crema (or ¾ cup Greek yogurt plus ¼ cup mayonnaise)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon grated garlic (about 1/4 clove)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Use a large knife to finely mince the chipotle peppers, then use the side of the knife to grind them into a paste as finely as possible. *Or, for a milder sauce, use just adobo sauce from the can of chili peppers and skip this step.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of the chopped chilis or adobo sauce with the sour cream, lime juice, grated garlic and salt. If you used chopped chilis, the sauce will be slightly chunky: if desired, use a spatula to pass it through a fine mesh sieve to make it fully smooth. If you used adobo sauce, you may want to add ½ teaspoon smoked paprika or paprika for a brighter color. Stores refrigerated for up to 1 week.
  • Category: Essentials
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: Sauce
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Chipotle crema

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

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