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Chipotle peppers in adobo (Recipe: chipotle turkey meatballs)

Chipotle turkey meatballs

A few evenings ago, the friends who come to eat the food I cook and photograph for this blog -- friends who don't mind meals that are cold, poorly timed, mismatched cuisines, with portions missing out of every dish -- were talking about a cachepot (cash-POH), the decorative pot that holds a flower pot.

Somehow the conversation veered away from trying to convince our friend Bob to make cachepots for an upcoming flower show. Instead, we ended up talking about pronounciation.

That got me thinking about some food words that trip people up.

Words like mascarpone, quinoa, and chipotle.

Poor chipotles. One of my favorite pantry ingredients, chipotle peppers in adobo have such a beautiful name, so often mispronounced.

Chih-POTE-lay peppers are smoked jalapeños, or chiles ahumado. The Aztecs in the area north of Mexico City first smoked jalapeños to preserve them, because the peppers' thick skin inhibited the natural drying process and the peppers would rot before they dried.

Chipotle peppers in adobo

Smoky and medium-hot, chipotles are the size and shape of sun-dried tomatoes, and like tomatoes, they come dried, in bags. However, I'm partial to the canned peppers in adobo, a sauce made of vinegar, tomatoes and garlic, which further preserves the chipotles. It's like getting two ingredients in one; the peppers, and the sauce, which stands on its own.

Once you've opened the can, transfer the chipotles and adobo sauce (don't waste a drop!) to a container with a tight-fitting lid. Keep the container in the refrigerator; the vinegar is a natural preservative, and the peppers will last for a couple of months.

Chipotle turkey meatballs

Chipotle turkey meatballs

Makes 18 large meatballs, or 30 small ones.


1-1/4 lb ground turkey (93% fat free)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced, plus 1 Tbsp adobo sauce (or more, to taste)
1-1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried epazote
1 pinch mild red pepper flakes (optional, to taste)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper


Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. With your hands, mix just until the ingredients are combined; do not overmix.

Heat a small nonstick frying pan, and add a drop or two of oil. Break off a small piece of the meatball mixture, and fry it until browned on both sides. Taste, and adjust the seasoning before forming the rest of the meatballs.

Using an ice cream scoop (the kind with a release, called a "disher"), form the meatballs and place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a Silpat (silicone mat) or parchment paper. You should get 17-18 large meatballs.

Place the baking sheet in the middle of the oven, and bake for 18 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Greektown turkey meatballs
Curried turkey meatballs
Turkey meatballs with pasta
Turkey, cranberry and basil meatballs
Green chile turkey meatballs

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Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Chipotles are a great addition to any number of dishes. I love their subtle, sweet-smoky, spiciness.

I keep mine wrapped in individual little wax paper packets in the freezer. That way I can pull out one pepper at a time if I need it. They always seemed to get shoved the back of the fridge only to surface months and months later covered in fuzzy green!

I do the same as you do for saving the leftovers from the can - the unfortunate part is when they are forgotten in the fridge! Oops. Anyway, love these meatballs. I'm always ho-hum about turkey meatballs, but chipotles would really kick up the flavor. Yum.

Great tip about storing an opened can in an airtight container. (and freeze too!) I always feel like I have to meal plan several things to cleverly use up the whole can! now I won't.
can never have too many meatball recipes!

Glad to know you can store the peppers and sauce after you've opened the can. I've wasted much good sauce in the past. I remember first seeking out chipotles for a Bobby Flay recipe, when they were very scarce. Fortunately they are much easier to find now, and your turkey meatball recipe has already got me hungry!

Oh Lydia, how I love chipotles in adobo! And how I wince every time someone pronounces it "chipolte!" I will definitely try this meatball recipe - I even bought epazote on my last trip to Penzey's - and adding Greek yogurt sounds deliciously tangy. The meatballs are in my comfort zone, since you form and bake them like cookies! The chipotle-sweet potato soup recipe is calling to me, too...Thanks!

I love chipotle peppers in adobo. I always mean to keep some on hand, but they seem to go from my pantry quickly. I didn't know they would last a few months though! I am stoked.

Ooh yum. Officially hungry now.

Yum! Chipotle is as fave of ours.
Those tv chefs like to add extra letters and syllables to the words. Paprika too. :)

Thank-you, thank-you so much on the tip on storing the opened can in an airtight container not to mention and freeze. I have always felt like I had plan several meals to use up the whole can.

Thank you for introducing me to chipotles in adobo! It's amazing how a touch of that sauce can liven up any number of dishes. Cachepot is definitely on my top ten list of words I love to say because they sound good.

Nate, I think the flavor of chipotles is addictive (in a good way).

Pam, that's a great idea for storing chipotles. I'm going to try it.

Alta, turkey can be so bland. I love creating meatballs that have lots of flavor. I think you'll like these.

Carol, I go through phases where I'm making a lot of things with chipotles. Then, for a while, everything starts to taste the same, so I hide them in the back of the fridge. After a few months, I'm back on the chipotle bandwagon.

TW, you know chipotles have gone mainstream when I can find them in the market in our village. I love using a bit of the sauce in mayonnaise and slathering that on chicken sandwiches.

Judy, yes, "chipolte" -- poor mispronounced peppers! But they are so darned delicious.

Katerina, definitely don't toss the leftovers. They will last for many months as long as they're in the adobo sauce.

Maris, these meatballs are pretty good when they're cold, too (i.e., perfect for snacking).

Natashya, I know exactly what you mean. It drives me crazy.

Kim, I used to feel the same way. Then one day I discovered some chipotles in their adobo sauce, in a plastic container in the back of my fridge. I realized they'd been there for many months -- and were perfectly fine. Voila!

Lucia, thanks for bringing cachepot to our dinner table. It's one of my favorite words, too.

I love love love chipotle peppers in adobo. Thank you for this recipe!

that is absolutely lovely - how can you not like chipotle and turkey and meatballs...all in one? i've got to try seasoning my meatballs with chipotle next time i whip some up.

Chipotles are, to me, survival food! And my leftover turkey meatballs are in the fridge -- too bad I didn't have this recipe 4 days ago! Oh well - next time.

Ah, meatballs... reminds me of our lunch together last fall. Still trying to take your photography tips and apply them to my own blog photos, but I have a long way to go. The first time I used chipotle peppers I added too much and the dish was way too hot. Live and learn! Thanks for another great recipe.

Striving Bean, you're welcome! Hope you enjoy these meatballs. I love 'em.

Krissy, turkey can be so flavorless. The chipotles really brighten them up.

Toni, when I think about all of the years I wasted not knowing about chipotles... I'm making up for lost time now!

Janice, I haven't gotten turkey meatballs out of my system yet. Next time we have lunch, let's try these.

These look really good! I love chipotle peppers in adobo but somehow never liked turkey, so I think this is the perfect excuse to change that!

These are great! Just one serious caution, make sure all turkey ingredients are throughly cleaned from the ice cream scoop - check underneath the release.

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