I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of adobo seasoning substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or seeking an alternative tailored to your specific dietary requirements, rest assured that I’ve got you covered.
The best substitutes for adobo seasoning are making your own homemade version or using adobo paste. If you need a stand-in for marinades, try adobo mojado. Or try sazon, which another Latin American spice blend. If you want something different, try Greek seasoning. And for a spicier kick, go with chili powder.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I made grilled pork chops to test 11 adobo seasoning substitutes.
Adobo seasoning is a dry spice blend that’s a staple in Latin American and Caribbean cuisines.
There’s no exact recipe, so everyone will have a different version, but this all-around spice blend typically includes bold ingredients like dried lemon zest, cayenne pepper, and tumeric.
I was looking for a substitute that could replicate the intense and moreish flavor.
Here’s what I tested and the verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Homemade adobo seasoning||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Adobo paste||1 tsp adobo paste = 2 whole chipotle peppers, blended||10/10|
|Adobo mojado||1 tsp adobo paste = 1 tbsp adobo mojado||9/10|
|Sazon seasoning||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Fajita seasoning||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Greek seasoning||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Chili powder||Replace and adjust the amount to heat preference||7/10|
Common uses for adobo seasoning and the best substitutes
Here are some popular ways to use adobo seasoning and the best substitutes for those situations:
- Marinades and meat rubs: Try using homemade adobo seasoning, adobo paste, adobo mojado, or sazon seasoning. Adobo mojado is great as a wet rub.
- Soups, stews, and casseroles: Try using homemade adobo seasoning, adobo paste, or sazon seasoning. If you’re in a real bind, use chili powder.
- Sauces and vinaigrettes: Try using Greek seasoning or fajita seasoning. Greek seasoning will bring freshness to your dish.
Homemade Adobo Seasoning
You can create your own homemade adobo seasoning in under five minutes (and don’t worry, all the spices you’ll need are very common)!
There are loads of recipes you can try, each with slightly different ingredients and measurements.
But the common denominators are the garlic powder, black pepper, and onion powder.
Follow Chili Pepper Madness’ more garlic-forward blend.
Or go with Sweets and Beyond’s version (this is the one I used), which includes turmeric for a vibrant twist.
How to substitute: replace adobo seasoning in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with adobo paste.
Meet adobo seasoning’s smoky sibling: adobo paste.
This flavorful blend added a nice twist to my pork chops, thanks to the dried chipotle peppers that brought a rich, smokey note and a subtle hint of spice.
This tasty paste is widely available in grocery stores, but you can also make your own with a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
Blend the peppers into the sauce, and you’ve got a fantastic chili paste you can use for marinades, dips, and more.
Read next: best chili paste substitutes
How to substitute: 1 tsp adobo paste = 2 whole chipotle peppers, blended
Say hello to adobo mojado, a wet rub made of fresh garlic cloves, black peppercorns, dried oregano, and vinegar.
It boasts the same zesty, savory goodness as adobo seasoning with an added fresh twist.
This recipe from Food.com uses mortar and pestle to make this vibrant rub, but I made mine in a food processor and it turned out great (it was faster too).
The only catch with this substitute is it’s not as versatile as adobo seasoning – it only really works as a rub.
How to substitute: 1 tsp adobo paste = 1 tbsp adobo mojado
Sazon seasoning is another staple in Latin American cuisine usually used to make yellow rice.
It shares lots of ingredients with adobo seasoning, with the main difference being the addition of achiote powder, which has a deep red tinge. Sazon also tastes slightly more peppery.
Psst… can’t find achiote powder? You can substitute it with saffron or a mixture of turmeric and paprika.
How to substitute: Replace adobo seasoning in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with Sazon seasoning.
Fajita seasoning echoes the taste of adobo seasoning but adds an extra layer of earthiness and heat, thanks to cumin, paprika, and chili powder.
It’s a no-brainer to use in Mexican themed food, but don’t limit yourself to one cuisine.
I love the kick it gave my grilled pork chops, and you can also sprinkle it over your roast potatoes, or add a pinch to your creamy alfredo sauce to jazz up your pasta dinner!
How to substitute: Replace adobo seasoning in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with fajita seasoning.
Greek seasoning is veering away from adobo seasoning’s flavor, but it’s a solid option if you want to shake things up.
This delightful blend starts off with garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper, just like adobo seasoning.
But the addition of herbs like dried mint, dill, and oregano is gives it more of a refreshing flavor.
I’ve found Greek seasoning to be an absolute lifesaver for everything from grilled meats and seafood to roasted vegetables and salad dressings.
How to substitute: Replace adobo seasoning in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with Greek seasoning.
Chili powder may not be an exact match for adobo seasoning, but it has a special place in my heart for its convenience and flexibility.
It packs a fiery kick, but you can easily adjust the heat level by using it sparingly or combining it with milder spices like paprika.
Combining it with another herb or spice will also give the chili powder more complexity – if you just use chili, you might find your meal lacks the depth of adobo seasoning.
How to substitute: Replace adobo seasoning in your recipe with chili powder, adjusting the amount to your heat preference.
Other substitutes to consider
The substitutes mentioned above are my top picks as substitutes for adobo seasoning, but here are other spice blends you can use:
- Cajun seasoning – this has similar savory notes as adobo seasoning but with a prominent spicy kick. Again, you might want to use it sparingly if you don’t like too much heat!
- Chipotle seasoning – this Tex-Mex spice blend boasts a spicy, savory flavor with a hint of smokiness. It doesn’t taste like adobo seasoning, but it was fantastic with my pork!
Substitutes to avoid
These spice blends are undeniably tasty, but I thought they were both a bit bold to replace adobo seasoning in most dishes.
- Jamaican jerk seasoning – Jerk seasoning has a bolder flavor profile than Adobo seasoning and includes spices like cayenne, red pepper flakes, and allspice. It’s spicy! You can defiantly use it as a rub, but it would be overpowering in things like stews.
- Jamaican curry powder/sauce – this spice blend is similar to jerk seasoning. Spices like fenugreek, allspice, and clover bring a complex flavor profile that might not work in harmony with the other ingredients in your dish.
Homemade Adobo Seasoning + 8 other substitutes
- 3 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tsp paprika, optional
- Combine all ingredients together in a small bowl. Make sure to mix the spices well. Transfer to a spice container and use as needed.