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Chipotle Chicken- Too spicy! How to cool it down?

  • s

Made a chipotle chicken last night, used 3/4 can of chipotle in adobo sauce, blended it with tomato sauce and sour cream, then poured over chicken and baked.

The flavor is great, but the spicyness level is astronomical!! How do I tame the spice without losing all the flavor?


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  1. Too much chipotle, was my first reaction. Alternatively, what you might try is opening up the peppers and removing the seeds and fleshy innards, because that's where most of the heat is, then using just the smoky outside where most of the flavor is. And remember, rubber gloves are your best friend...!

    4 Replies
    1. re: Will Owen

      Thanks for the good advice for next time...but any thoughts on what to do with the pot of spicy chicken??

      1. re: sds

        Shread it and make burritos out of it. The letuce, tomato, sour cream and cheese will mean that you don't need a lot and of course will help to cool it down.


        1. re: Davwud

          Yes, sour cream (not reduced fat) is the best way I know to dilute excess heat. Yogurt can do it too, I've heard; I think that's why Indian restaurants always have some kind of yogurt on the table.

    2. Obviously that was way too much chipotle, only use 1 to 3 for a dish unless you are a serious chilehead. The is no way to remove spicyness. You can dilute the dish. The best thing to do is to make a duplicate dish but use no chipotles, then combine the dishes. It will still be hot, but not as bad, probably just right. Then you can freeze half to eat in a month or so. If you don't want to do that then you will just have to eat it with cooling things, sour cream, glasses of milk, avocado. Chile oil is not water soluable, but will dissapate in things with fat in it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: coconutz

        Good idea if you really have a lot that will go to waste. I've had to do the same thing (make another batch or partial batch with no salt/heat/whatever to counterbalance the first batch) on several occasions.

      2. Maybe reheating with some coconut milk and salt to taste to keep the flavor up. Coconut milk adds the creaminess that can help tame heat, and also adds a sweetness. Also since you are trying to keep the smoky pepper flavor you might consider some paprika heated in the "cream" of the coconut at the top of the can to get the rawness out, then add back in your chicken and sauce, and finish with more coconut milk to taste.

        1. I find cold sour cream cuts the spiciness. Also, serve it over a starch which will help absorb some of the oil.

          1. Full-fat dairy reduces spiciness. It bonds with capsaicin and prevents the molecules from tickling your heat sensors.

            You already have some dairy, but not enough for that much heat. Try adding lots of melted cheese and more full-fat sour cream.

            1. bendito, 3/4 of a can?? That's some nuclear reactor chicken. Rinse most of it off then shred it. There will still be plenty of heat. I love hot and was eating chipotes many years ago before they got discovered on this side of the boarder.

              1. Instead of sour cream you could add in yogurt, a little easier on the love-handles.

                1. honey, the great equalizer.

                  1. I have a delicious recipe for chicken baked in a simple sauce of Mexican-style crema, roasted garlic, and chipotle. White cheese (I used Mexican manchego) is baked on top. I think the crema would cut the heat perfectly. You can add more garlic or other spices to maintain a deeper flavor. Cheese on top couldn't hurt either!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: maestra

                      Maestra, can you post this in recipes or home cooking? I'd love to try it!

                    2. Do not rinse it! What a waste that would be. Dilute it as suggested above. Either add more meat (recommended) or more dairy. Serve atop a simple rice which will absorb flavors. Chipotle is wonderful and you don't want to lose any of it.

                      1. When I was in college I made my boyfriend (now husband) chipotle fajitas from a recipe. It said one chipotle in adobo for the recipe, but I misread it and used the whole can of chipotles. oops...it was good but nuclear hot. My boyfriend ate it and said it was great, but later when all the chipotle headed south he was not a happy camper.

                        Maybe you can make enchiladas suizas.

                        1. Make something that can be eaten room temp. Food that makes smoke come out of my ears when heated is considerably more bearable when cooled down.

                          And follow the other recs to dilute with vegetables, sour cream, etc. The tacos are a great idea.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Louise

                            I quite recently did a cookbook signing at the Union Square Whole Foods. The prepared foods kitchen there decided to prepare a recipe from the book, samples of which I would dispense. They made my Spicy Tomato Shrimp Soup, and used 3 of the recommended "2-3" habanero peppers per quart of soup. A piping hot tureen was brought and put on a hot plate at the table where I was signing books. My friend ladeled out samples, and, while most people really loved the soup, a few turned bright red and looked like they were going to fall on the floor of Whole Foods and DIE! What to do, other than warn people? New Yorkers are famously timid about spicy food. We decided to leave the burner off and let the soup cool, and as it did, the spiciness was definitely lowered (I kept tasting). So yes, if you serve your chicken at room temperature--or even chilled, if that appeals--it won't be AS spicy, but you really did go to town with those chipotles!

                            1. re: Tom Steele

                              Thanks for all the good suggestions...Yeah, instead of using the rest of the can for later, I thought I could tame the chipotle...lesson learned for next time!

                          2. When we cook with too much spice, chipotle and otherwise, I find that mexican table cream or Crema works really well to help cool the dish down. My husband is Mexican and we cook authentic foods all the time and remember the first time I tried duplicating a favorite dish and added too many chipotles....
                            The Crema is sold in pint jars and is thinner than sour cream and doesn't have the sour aftertaste. Beware the Crema Agria, as that can come across pretty sour. You would probably find it in a little Mexican bakery or grocery store, but I have also found in may large supermarkets near the cheese or sour cream sections.

                            FYI, salt tends to cause spicy dishes to seem spicier in my opinion.
                            Good luck!

                            1. The spiciness comes from the compound capsaicin, which is a base. So, any acid will help neutralize it. That's why crema/cheese/milk help balance spicy food, the lactic acid from the dairy helps balance it out. You can also use citric acid, lime is a popular choice in Mexican cuisine. But if it's astronomically spicy, then you might have to add so much cream or lime that you'll completely change the flavor of the dish, but that may not be a bad thing.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: sgwood415

                                Thanks for all the suggestions...the end to this spicy story is that I added more sour cream, little more tomato sauce...but in the end, it was too much for my taste buds! So i took out the chicken, shredded it, and made burritos instead (still using some of the sauce) DE-LISH.
                                Next time, I will be sure to use 1/4 of what I did this last time...yowza!

                                1. re: sds

                                  Your post inspired me to make a chipotle mac and cheese. I gotta say, I was licking the spoon every time I dunked it in that adobo sauce. But I like spicy!

                                  1. re: mojoeater

                                    I'll bet that chipotle chicken might have been good in mac and cheese.

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      mmmm. Mac N Cheese....Next time, that will be dinner....

                              2. I'm glad I read this board. I just bought a can myself and probably would have used the whole thing too.

                                1. I almost killed my doesn't like hot husband using adobo sauce. i was trying to come up with a chicken dish I had a a favorite Mexican place (he had stayed home). So anyway I wimped out and used canned enchilada sauce (mild .. sigh) and it was still pretty good. Trader Joe's has a Mexican red sauce that comes in a bottle that I use now. I make mine in a skillet with boneless breasts.

                                  Ginny in New England

                                  1. For future chipotle user: You definitely need to cut open the chiles and rinse out the the seeds and membrane inside which is where all the spice is. I also usually rinse most of the adobo sauce off because I want to add chipotle (not adobo) flavor to what I'm cooking. You can then add the sliced chiles to whatever you are making and it add a smoky, sweet and complex spiciness and chili flavor to your dishes rather than just inducing a chemical burn and deadening your taste buds.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: dinnerbell

                                      Keep the adobo sauce though. It's good stuff too.