By Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm
Updated August 22, 2016

You bought a can of chipotle chiles in adobo. Maybe you used one chile to make chili. Or perhaps you threw one and a teaspoon of the liquid in salsa. A single pepper is enough to spice up most dishes, so with approximately 9/10 of a can left, now what?


Chipotle chiles in adobo—smoked and dried jalapeño peppers marinated in a tangy red sauce—add a complex depth of heat, but they are friggin' hot. This is good news for your grocery list: You can use one can of chiles to inspire an entire week of lively meals.

Here's what to make—and how to avoid waste—with chipotle chiles in adobo:

Shredded Chicken and Avocado Nacho Salad

Shredded Chicken and Avocado Nacho Salad

1. Make a Spinach salad with avocado dressing: Take some spinach, add thinly sliced radish, leftover roasted (or rotisserie chicken), grilled shrimp, or baked tofu, toasted pepitas, and a handful of broken-up tortilla chips. Make a chipotle-avocado crema by pureeing 1 ripe avocado, a few tablespoons of sour cream or crema, a couple tablespoons of lime juice, some cilantro, and 1 chipotle chile in adobo, and drizzle everything with the sauce (you can thin it with a little olive oil, if you like, for a more dressing-like consistency). Use this salad as a jumping off point.

2. Scrambled egg tacos: Scramble eggs, toast some tortillas (I like to do so over a stovetop burner, so the tortillas get a little char), and blend Greek yogurt (or sour cream) with one or two chiles--depending on how hot you like it. Top the tacos with yogurt-chipotle sauce, cilantro, and thinly sliced scallions.

Loaded Chorizo Nachos

Loaded Chorizo Nachos

3. Nachos: Nachos are a seriously underrated weeknight meal. Add a chopped chile or two to your meat mixture—this recipe calls for chorizo—and load it onto your favorite purchased or homemade (if you want to use up some excess tortillas from your scrambled egg tacos) tortilla chips along with cheese, pinto beans, radish, tomato, and green onions. “Supposedly” the recipe above serves 4--but from personal experience, it can also serve 1.5-2 nacho-lovin' people.

4. Grilled Fish Sandwiches: Mix a minced chipotle chile into tartar sauce for a fish sandwich with a kick. This recipe uses grouper, however any sustainable, white, flakey fish--such as like cod or tilapia--will do.

Grilled Corn with Chipotle Butter

Grilled Corn with Chipotle Butter

5. Grilled Corn with Chipotle Butter: Melt butter, add in minced chipotle chile, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Brush over grilled corn, top with crumbled queso fresco, and serve with lime wedges. This would be a great side for grilled chicken, steak, or shrimp. P.S. this spicy compound butter would be a great way to add personality to any number of vegetables, or you could even make...

6. Pasta with Chipotle Butter: Yeah, on second thought, definitely make a double batch of that chipotle butter (let cool, then store in a resealable container in the fridge). Re-melt the butter and toss with warm cooked pasta—a shape like farfalle would work well here—crumbled queso fresco or feta, thinly sliced scallions, and cooked, crumbled bacon (if you like). If you have any leftover grilled corn, cut that off the cob and throw it in, too.

Herbed Wheat Berry and Roasted Tomato Salad with Grilled Chipotle Chicken Breasts

Herbed Wheat Berry and Roasted Tomato Salad with Grilled Chipotle Chicken Breasts

7. Chipotle Chicken Breasts: Chop a chile and use that, some of the sauce from the can, olive oil, salt, and honey to coat and flavor grilled chicken breasts. You can marinate the chicken in this mixture beforehand and/or baste the breasts (thighs and drumsticks, too) with it as they cook. This mixture would also be delicious brushed on steak or fish. Bonus points if you make this roasted tomato salad and herbed wheat berries to go along with the sweet-and-spicy chicken.