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Gourmet Hacks: 5 BEST Substitutes for Adobo Seasoning

We all have that moment — you’re in the middle of cooking, reach for the adobo seasoning, and find the jar empty. Oops. It’s not just you; it happens to the best of us. Finding a substitute can feel like a mini-quest in your kitchen.

Lucky for us, the spice rack holds more secrets than we give it credit for. I’ve been there, staring at my spices and wondering which mix could save my dish. Today, I’m sharing my top 5 go-to swaps for adobo seasoning. No stress, just simple fixes with ingredients you likely have at home.

Each of these alternatives brings its own unique flair to the table, promising to keep your dishes flavorful. And hey, experimenting with these can be quite the game-changer in your cooking routine.

What is Adobo Seasoning?

what is adobo seasoning

Adobo seasoning is a sauce made from many spices and peppers often used as a marinade.

It originated from Mexico and was traditionally used to preserve meat, but now it has been adapted for meats, vegetables, or even fish.

The word Adobo comes from the Spanish word “adobar,” which means marinade, pickle, or season.

It is a seasoning mix popularly used in Caribbean and Spanish cuisine.

There are many variations of Adobo seasoning, but it usually consists of a combination of pepper, garlic powder, salt, and onion powder.

The ingredients may be changed depending on the region where they are made.

It can have chili flakes or cayenne pepper to increase its spiciness.

The amount of each ingredient used varies from recipe to recipe, but the common denominators are salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Adobo seasoning is available at grocery stores, where Spanish cuisine is practiced in most countries.

It can be found in the ethnic food aisle or international markets.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Adobo Seasoning

Suppose you do not have adobo seasoning available, the next best thing to improvise.

Here’s a detailed comparison of the key characteristics and proper ratios for substituting Adobo Seasoning with Caribbean Curry, Cajun Seasoning, Caribbean Jerk Seasoning, Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, and Adobo Paste or Adobo Sauce:

SubstituteKey CharacteristicsProper Ratio
Caribbean CurryA blend of spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, and fenugreek. It has a vibrant yellow color and imparts a warm, aromatic flavor.1:1
Cajun SeasoningA spicy blend of paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic, oregano, and thyme. It adds a bold and zesty flavor with a good amount of heat.1:1
Caribbean Jerk SeasoningA combination of allspice, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg, and habanero peppers. It offers a complex flavor profile with a moderate level of spice.1:1
Chipotle Peppers in Adobo SauceSmoky and spicy, chipotle peppers are jalapeno peppers that have been dried and smoked. They are then canned in a tangy adobo sauce.Use sparingly
Adobo Paste or Adobo SauceA concentrated form of Adobo seasoning made with a mixture of garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, and spices. It provides intense umami and tangy flavors.Use sparingly

1 – Caribbean Curry

caribbean curry

People who prefer a milder flavor can opt for Caribbean curry.

This mixture consists of spices such as cayenne pepper, coriander, ginger, and turmeric.

In addition, other ingredients may be added depending on the country where it originates from or if other herbs are used to add more depth to the flavor profile.

It’s crucial to note that Caribbean curry may also contain cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

The taste is not very hot, but it has a slightly sweet flavor profile.

Since it can be used as a dry rub or marinade for meats, you can follow the same instructions on your recipe when cooking adobo dishes.

2 – Cajun Seasoning

cajun seasoning

Another popular spice mixture is Cajun seasoning.

These are spices that originate from the United States.

The name of each ingredient in this mixture will vary depending on the brand, but common ingredients include garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt, and paprika.

Others may also contain celery seed or red pepper flakes.

This seasoning is not too spicy, but it has a slightly sweet and smoky flavor.

It can season meats, chicken, pork, or fish.

The best way to apply it is when frying meat in a pan.

You may also use it to marinate your meats for several hours before cooking them in the oven or on the grill.

3 – Caribbean Jerk Seasoning

caribbean jerk seasoning

Caribbean Jerk Seasoning may also be considered another alternative for adobo seasoning if you want something new to cook.

The ingredients include thyme, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper, and cloves.

You may also add cayenne pepper for heat.

Caribbean Jerk Seasoning is very popular in the Caribbean islands of Jamaica and Haiti.

Even though it adds heat when used as a dry rub or marinade for meats, the actual amount is insignificant.

This seasoning is a bit spicy and smoky, but the spices also have a hint of sweetness to them.

It can be used for meat dishes such as Jamaican jerk chicken or roasted pork shoulder from Haiti.

4 – Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce

chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

If you happen to have a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in your pantry, don’t throw it away.

Use minced chipotles in Adobo to replace part of the amount of adobo seasoning that is called for in your recipe.

This is also great if you add a smoky and spicy flavor profile to your dishes.

It’s also very versatile, so you can use it to season meats or add it when making sauces for dipping or drizzling on top of certain foods.

The possibilities are endless.

This is a great way to add a unique flavor profile without cooking too much time.

All you have to do is open the can and use it as part of your adobo seasoning recipe.

5 – Adobo Paste or Adobo Sauce

adobo paste or adobo sauce

Lastly, you can always choose to use adobo sauce if you’re in a pinch and do not have any available at home.

These are usually sold in small cans and jars that you can find at your local grocery store.

Adobo paste has a deeper flavor than adobo sauce, so it may be ideal for casseroles or roast pork dishes.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to add a little spice and smokiness to your dishes, then adobo sauce works just as well.

You can also use adobo sauce to thicken your cooking liquids and add flavor to other dishes such as casseroles or other non-Asian-inspired one-pot meals.

Just add a tablespoon of the paste in a quarter cup of water and mix well before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.


Adobo seasoning is very versatile and can be mixed with different ingredients depending on your taste.

It is also great to use when cooking meat, chicken, or fish dishes.

If you’re looking for an alternative, several other spices will work just as well in your recipes.

Some of the best include Cajun seasoning, Caribbean Jerk Seasoning, minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and adobo sauce or paste.

So, what’s your favorite alternative for adobo seasoning?

The 5 Best Substitutes for Adobo Seasoning

Craving the flavors of adobo but don't have the seasoning on hand? Fear not! Check out our curated list of the 5 best substitutes for adobo seasoning that will add a burst of savory goodness to your dishes. Whether it's a homemade blend or readily available alternatives, these substitutes are sure to satisfy your taste buds.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 4 Servings


  • Caribbean Curry
  • Cajun Seasoning
  • Caribbean Jerk Seasoning
  • Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce
  • Adobo Paste or Adobo Sauce


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword substitutes for adobo seasoning
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