Adobo seasoning is an all-purpose dry spice blend often found in Caribbean and Latin American cuisine. It typically contains salt, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, cumin, and oregano. The exact mix can vary—some adobo blends may contain turmeric, touches of fiery heat like cayenne, or citrus elements such as dried lemon zest.
It’s widely used as a base seasoning for meats, fish, stews, sauces, beans, stock, vegetables, and it is always used in dishes such as pastelón, Its flavor profile is garlicky and salty— a great stand in for other poultry seasonings.
This easy-to-make adobo seasoning can be made in less than 10 minutes flat. This recipe makes about 1/2 cup of spice blend, which yields 8 tablespoons. Adobo will keep for about 2 to 4 years in an airtight container (as it is a ground spice mix). This will be enough to use in several dishes before you will need to make another batch.
All About Adobo
You may have heard of adobo across other cuisines and in other forms (such as a wet marinade). The name adobo comes from the Spanish word “adobar,” which means to marinate. There are wet and dry forms of adobo—the adobo most commonly associated with Filipino cooking is a wet marinade, primarily vinegar or other liquids with lots of garlic and assorted other seasonings to flavor chicken, beef, pork, fish, or even vegetables.
There are also canned chipotles in adobo, most commonly associated with Mexican cuisine. This is usually a canned thick, spicy, and smoky red sauce with whole chiles. Many Mexican dishes use canned chipotle in adobo like chicken adobo and rice and enfrijoladas, to Mexican-inspired recipes like a spicy bloody Maria cocktail and turkey tortilla soup.
These members of the diverse adobo family are all great, but today we’re here to make adobo spice mix, so let’s get to it!
Adobo Seasoning vs. Sazón Seasoning
You may be wondering how adobo is different from sazón, another popular Latin American spice blend. The primary flavor profile of adobo is garlicky and herbaceous, while sazón has more citrus notes, a sweet peppery profile, and contains coriander and achiote or annatto (which makes the spice blend a beautiful red hue).
Adobo can range from pale white to yellow to red, depending on the proportions of garlic and onion, plus the amount of turmeric or amount of paprika added. Using a predominant amount of garlic and onion powder will yield a paler spice blend, while adding a significant amount of turmeric creates a pigmented yellow spice blend. For more paprika dominant adobos, the color will near the red-brown of sazón.
Adobo Seasoning Variations
You can adjust adobo seasoning to make your favorite elements in the mix pop, or address any dietary needs, such as reducing sodium.
Some blends have fiery spice introduced to them, others ease up on the spice or completely forgo pepper altogether. Other blends include citrus elements like orange or lemon pepper.
How to Store Adobo Seasoning
Keep adobo in an airtight container away from heat, light, and moisture. You can store it indefinitely in a room-temperature pantry. That isn’t to say that over time the flavor will not fade, but it will not “go bad” or rancid.
More Savory Spice Blend Recipes
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
Make the seasoning:
In a medium bowl, combine the salt, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, and chili powder.
Store the seasoning:
Store in a sealed jar in a cool, dry place. Keep away from heat, light, and moisture. You can store it indefinitely in a room-temperature pantry. That isn’t to say that over time the flavor will not fade, but it will not “go bad” or rancid.