Chile Morita: Smoked Chipotle From The Overripe Red Jalapeno

morita chile
Morita chile is the dried and smoked form of overripe red jalapeno peppers. It is one of the two varieties of chipotle peppers that has become a staple in authentic Mexican and Latin American cuisines.

What Is A Morita Pepper?

Morita peppers are red jalapeno peppers of the capsicum annum species, which are dried and smoked. Chile Morita originated from the Chihuahua State in northern Mexico, and it is a native Mexican pepper popularly used in traditional local dishes. Together with chipotle Meco, Morita is one of the two chipotle pepper types.

Also known as chipotle Colorado, Mora chile or Black dash red chile, chile Morita presents a reddish-brown color with a raisin-like texture. It retains a fruity flavor from the long maturing process, while the brief smoking gives it a slightly smoky taste.

Due to the short smoking time, they remain soft, pliable and easy to bend without breaking.

The chiles are small, with a length of 1.5-3 inches. Morita chile is also available in dried and crushed forms. Re-hydrating Morita chiles make them easy to use in recipes, such as the famous Adobo sauce.

morita chiles
Morita chiles.

How Hot Are Morita Chilies?

Morita chiles range between 2,500-8,000 SHUs on the Scoville scale. This is the same level as the typical fresh red jalapenos, though sometimes moritas have more spiciness (up to 10,000 SHUs) due to staying longer on the vine.

Ancho chiles (1,000-2,000 SHUs) are over four times milder than Morita peppers. The hottest Pasilla chile (250-2,500 SHUs) has the same heat level as the mildest Morita pepper.

Hungarian wax peppers (5,000-10,000 SHUs) are slightly hotter than Morita chiles.  

What’s the Difference between Chipotle Mecos And Chipotle Moritas?

Moritas and Mecos are both types of chipotle chiles (smoked, dried jalapenos), but they have a few differences.


Chipotle Mecos are smoked two times longer than Morita, giving them a more intense smoky flavor. Further, chipotle Mecos brings a deep fruitiness because the jalapenos used are harvested when they are almost overripe. Morita chiles are less smoky and not as fruity as Mecos.


Morita peppers are slightly smaller and shorter than chipotle Mecos since they’re harvested sooner. Chipotle Mecos are left on the vine longer, so they grow larger and longer.


Morita chiles have a deep red color with occasional shades of purple and brown. In contrast, chipotle Mecos can have a dusty brown, tan or pale grey hue.

Texture and appearance

Morita is soft and pliable with a raisin-like texture, unlike Mecos, which are often likened to a stiff cigar butt.

Chipotle Morita versus chipotle Meco.
Chipotle Morita versus chipotle Meco.

Degree of ripeness

Morita pepper is harvested once the fresh jalapeno turns red, so it retains some moisture when dried. Comparatively, chipotle Mecos are left on the vine until they are overripe and begin to lose moisture.


Chipotle Mecos are what most people are more familiar with and what is used in commercial chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in cans. They work well in any chipotle recipe. Morita chiles are used more in traditional sauces, soups and stews for their intense smoky flavor and higher heat level.

Is Chile Morita The Same As Chile Ancho?

No. Both are dried peppers but from different fresh chiles. Chile Morita is the dried and smoked version of an overripe red jalapeno pepper, while Ancho chile is a dried poblano pepper.

Secondly, Morita pepper is over eight times hotter than chile Ancho. Morita is small, about 2-4 inches in length, whereas Ancho is wide and 3-4 inches long.

Morita chiles are also smoked during the drying process because jalapenos have such thick walls and a lot of moisture. Ancho chiles are simply dried, so they don’t have the same intense smoky flavor.

How To Re-hydrate Dried Morita Peppers

For easy cooking, re-hydrate Morita pepper using the following steps:

Step 1: Using kitchen shears, cut off the stems, slit the pepper open, and remove the inner seeds and veins.

Step 2: Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and add the peppers. Let the chiles heat for 30-60 seconds while flipping sides. When the peppers become fragrant, they are ready for soaking.

Step 3: Use a separate saucepan and put enough water to cover your peppers. Once it boils, turn off the heat, add your Morita peppers to the hot water. Cover them with a lid and allow them to soak for 15-20 minutes until tender.

Voila! You can now use the soft moritas in making your favorite Mexican food, salsa, stew, or marinade.

What Is The Best Way To Use Chile Morita?

Chile Morita is versatile, making it a popular dried chile in various Mexican cuisines:

  • Morita salsa – Along with plum tomatoes, garlic, and onion, Morita is the main ingredient in a thick, spicy, smoky Morita salsa that’s perfect with tacos, quesadillas, and even drizzled over eggs.
  • Tinga de Pollo – Use Morita chile to heat this Mexican stew containing chicken, tomato and peppers.
  • Mole poblano sauce- This sauce is a blend of Pasilla, guajillo, poblano and morita peppers. This turkey mole poblano mixes Morita’s fruity, smoky flavor with other chiles to produce a deeply flavorful authentic sauce for your turkey.
  • Camarones a la diabla Morita chile adds mild heat and a smoky flavor to this traditional Mexican saucy shrimp.
  • Adobo sauce – While chipotle Mecos makes the best addition to adobo sauces, Morita chile adds a more intense smoky flavor and more heat.
  • Mojos and marinades Pozole Rojo is another Mexican stew that uses a variety of smoky, dried chiles to deeply flavor the pork shoulder and hominy in the dish.

Where To Buy Morita Peppers

If you live in Mexico, you can find chipotle Morita chiles in farmers’ markets and grocery stores. In countries with Latin/ Hispanic markets, chiles are usually easy to find in these specialty stores.

You may also check the international aisles in your supermarkets. Online retailers like Amazon and Walmart stock this dried chile and can often ship to any destination.

Substitutes For Chile Morita

If you can’t find any Morita chile peppers, here are three peppers you can use instead:

Chipotle Meco chile

Meco and Morita are closely related, making them excellent substitutes for each other. If you love the fruitiness and smokiness of Morita chile, chipotle Meco gives more of both. However, prepare for a higher heat level.

Chipotles in adobo sauce

This is the chipotle Meco chili canned in adobo sauce. The peppers have already been rehydrated and are canned in a sauce, so adjust your recipe for the extra moisture.

Guajillo pepper

Guajillo chile is another good substitute for Morita pepper. With a range of 2,500-5,000 Scoville heat units on the Scoville scale, it offers heat closer to Moritas.


Aside from being a writer, Regie is a food lover. She loves adding chili to almost everything – apart from tea. Within her small compound, she has lots of red and green chilis that grow throughout the year. She looks forward to sharing her love and passion for pepper through crafting informational pieces that you’ll love. Happy reading!

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