Adobo Seasoning Substitutes

Adobo seasoning is a flavorful spice mix. It is quite popular in Spain, Mexico, the Philippines, and part of South America. It is mildly spicy, hence appealing to most people.

Adobo seasoning has several uses, but most people use it as a rub to enhance the flavor and color of meat.

All you need to do is rub the spice on your meat before grilling or frying, and you’re good to go. Adobo seasoning is also used in steaks and soups.


Although adobo seasoning is an amazing ingredient, it is not readily available in most grocery stores and supermarkets.

If you do not have adobo seasoning in stock and can’t get it close to where you leave, you will have to substitute it with another ingredient.

You may also want to use a substitute to experience a different flavor. 

Luckily, there are several alternatives you can use in place of adobo seasoning. In this article, we will discuss our top alternatives in detail. They include; homemade adobo seasoning, adobo sauce/ adobo paste, chili powder, chipotle in adobo sauce, Greek seasoning, and Cajun seasoning. 

Without wasting any more time, let us discuss the substitutes in detail.

The Substitutes

Adobo seasoning contains onion, garlic, black pepper, turmeric, red pepper, cumin, and oregano as the main ingredients.

The flavor of different adobo seasonings can slightly vary depending on the brand you buy, but the ingredients are pretty much the same.

When choosing a substitute, you need to consider the flavor. Your substitute should have a flavor profile that is somewhat similar to that of adobo seasoning.

Here are some substitutes you can use in recipes that call for adobo seasoning.

Also, check out: MSG Substitutes.

Homemade adobo seasoning


Homemade Adobo seasoning is your best bet when looking for a substitute for adobo seasoning. If you use the right recipe, it will give you better results than the store-bought adobe seasoning.

You will only need a few basic ingredients to make adobo seasoning at home. Below is a recipe that will give you amazing results.

Follow it to the latter, and you will not be disappointed.

You will need:
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, add all the ingredients and mix them until they are completely combined. If you love your adobo seasoning spicy, you can add an extra teaspoon of chili powder and a little bit of cayenne pepper.
  2. Once completely combined, transfer the mixture to an airtight container.
  3. Store in a cool, dry place until you are ready to use.

Use homemade adobo seasoning the same way you use store-bought adobo seasoning.

Adobo sauce/ adobo paste


Adobo sauce and adobe paste are ideal substitutes since they contain adobo seasoning. However, you should note that they contain additional ingredients like sugar and vinegar.

If you use adobo sauce or paste as a substitute, your dish will have an adobo-like flavor.

Note that adobo sauce and adobo paste contain extra liquid. Therefore, you must reduce the amount of liquid in your recipe to get good results.

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For instance, if a recipe requires you to use a liquid like water, reduce the quantity so that you don’t end up with an overly moist dish.

I highly recommend using this substitute in casseroles and soups. The results are always on point. You can also use adobo paste on the meat you intend to grill.

All you need to do is apply the paste to the meat before grilling to improve the flavor and color of the meat.

Chili powder


If you like a little bit of heat in your dishes, you can use chili powder.

This is a go-to substitute for many because it is readily available. You can buy chili powder at any supermarket near you.

Chili powder is a great alternative because it contains black pepper, oregano, garlic, and cumin, all of which are ingredients found in adobo seasoning.

Note that chili powder will slightly alter the color of your dish since it is bright red. The color of adobo seasoning is yellow. Additionally, it will make your dish spicier.

I recommend adding this substitute to your marinades. Alternatively, you can dry rub chili powder on your meats.

Substitute adobo seasoning with chili powder in equal amounts.

Chipotle in adobo sauce


Chipotle in adobo sauce is one of my go-to substitutes. The best part is that it is readily available in most supermarkets and grocery stores.

Note that chipotle in adobo sauce is much spicier than adobo seasoning. It will also give your dish a smoky flavor.

Manufacturers make chipotle in adobe sauce using dried jalapenos, vinegar, garlic, tomatoes, and other spices. 

You can substitute adobo seasoning with chipotle in adobo sauce in most recipes. However, you should know that it will slightly alter your dish’s flavor.

Additionally, it is very spicy. If you do not like heat on your food or are cooking for children, consider using one of the other substitutes.

Greek seasoning


I am a great fan of Mediterranean flavors. If you are like me, you are in luck because you can use Greek seasoning instead of adobo seasoning.

Greek seasoning is a good alternative because manufacturers make its base using the same spices they use to make adobo seasoning.

Other additional spices like thyme and marjoram make its flavor a bit more complex, but it still makes for a good replacement.

You can substitute adobo seasoning with Greek seasoning in equal amounts.

Cajun seasoning


Cajun seasoning is a good adobo seasoning substitute. Just like adobo seasoning, it contains black pepper, oregano, and garlic.

The flavor of Cajun seasoning and adobo seasoning is slightly different. However, Cajun seasoning will give you amazing results when you add it to savory dishes.

Substitute adobo seasoning with Cajun seasoning in equal amounts.

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Simply put, adobo season is a combination of specific spices. Most people use it to enhance the flavor of savory dishes, especially meat.


If you are looking to substitute adobo seasoning with another ingredient for whatever reason, your best option would be to make homemade adobo seasoning using the spices we listed in the recipe above.

My other favorite substitutes are; Chipotle in adobo, adobo paste, and Greek powder.

Apart from homemade adobo seasoning, the other substitutes won’t give you the same results that adobo seasoning gives you. However, they will still give you decent results, especially in meat dishes.

Try using any substitutes we have discussed above, and let me know whether you liked the results. 

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