The morita pepper (or chile morita) is a flavor-filled Mexican chile used extensively throughout this cuisine. Learn everything you need to know in this guide, including how to prepare it for recipes.
Table of Contents
📖 What are chiles moritas?
Chiles moritas are one of two main types of chipotle peppers (the other being chile meco). Moritas are formed when ripe jalapeños are dried, then lightly smoked.
These dark red chiles are aptly named after the Spanish word "morita," which means "little blackberry." But the word "chipotle" stems from the Nahuatl word "chīlpoctli," meaning "smoked chile."
So to recap, chipotle morita chiles are small, blackberry-looking chiles that have gone through a smoking process.
Morita chiles are mainly produced in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, which has contributed to their popularity in the United States. More often than not, they're the variety that can be found in items like chipotles in adobo.
What makes the chipotle morita different from the chipotle meco is the fact that it's ripened and smoked for less time, providing a completely different flavor profile.
🍴 Flavor profile
Morita chiles have a subtle smoky flavor with sweet chocolate notes. The milder, more fruity flavor compared to chipotle meco creates a very pleasant taste in dishes like soups, stews, salsas, marinades, and even desserts.
🔥 Spice level
Morita chiles fall into the moderately spicy category, sitting at around 5,000-10,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) on the Scoville Scale.
Not surprisingly, they are slightly hotter than a typical jalapeño pepper because they are left to ripen until red.
🍎 Health facts
Morita chiles don't just add notes of dried fruit and smoke to recipes, they also contain a surprising amount of health benefits.
Morita chiles are high in fiber and filled with B vitamins (like niacin and thiamine), vitamin C, vitamin A, and magnesium.
Chile peppers also house a compound called capsaicin, which is what causes them to be so spicy. Capsaicin has proven to be very beneficial in increasing metabolism, achieving a healthy weight, and even improving blood sugar levels.
How to Rehydate Morita Chiles
- Kitchen shears
- Cast-iron skillet or comal
- 1 package morita chiles ($0.96)
- Water for soaking
- Using kitchen shears, cut off the stems of the chiles and cut them open. Remove the seeds and veins and discard.
- Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium, then dry toast them for ~30-60 seconds per side, or until fragrant.
- Bring a saucepan of water to boil, then turn the heat off, add the moritas in, cover the pot, and let the chiles rehydrate for 10-15 minutes, or until they feel soft and pliable.
- Your chiles are now ready to be used in a wide variety of Mexican salsas, soups, stews, and more.
- The weight used in this recipe is an example only. The amount needed will depend on the size of the recipe.
- You can reserve the soaking water to use in recipes, but some people find it bitter so always taste it first.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe.
- All prices are in USD.
🍽 Morita chile dishes
With so many ways to utilize morita peppers, we've narrowed down a few of our favorite plant-based recipes including:
Morita chiles are best kept in cool, dry, and dark places to ensure the flavors stay fresh for as long as possible. To achieve an optimal seal, we recommend using glass containers or other airtight containers.
If the only available area for storage is your counter, just make sure your container is opaque as light degrades chiles faster.
💰 Buying guide
If a recipe calls for fruity, smoky flavors, the chile morita is going to be your new best friend. There are just a few things to watch out for when buying them.
What to look for
Morita chiles should have a deep reddish-purple hue, and the skin should be wrinkly yet smooth. The best texture will be dry, but pliable enough that you can bend the chiles without breaking them.
If the peppers are overly dry, their flavors will be less intense. As well, check for large amounts of dust and holes in the peppers because this can indicate insect damage.
Where to buy
You may see morita chiles labeled as chipotle peppers, so it's important to know the difference between chile morita and chile meco as they are technically both chipotle peppers.
As we previously mentioned, the tan chipotle meco is a dead giveaway compared to the dark red chipotle morita. For more information on chipotle meco, check out our other post.
Morita chiles can be found in most Latin American or Mexican markets. You may also see them in larger grocery stores. But if you are still having no luck, you can order morita chiles online.
With such a distinct smoky infusion, there are only a few other chiles that would make a suitable substitute for the chile morita. Our top choices include:
- Meco chipotles. The best replacement is meco chiles since they are also jalapeño peppers. Keep in mind that due to the longer smoke time, they will impart a more intense flavor.
- Pasilla de Oaxaca. Not to be confused with pasilla chiles, pasilla de Oaxaca chiles are a smoked pepper with slight fruity notes. These would also make a good substitue, but they aren't very common outside of Mexico.
- Chipotles in adodo sauce. Possibly the easiest option to find, most places carry chipotles in adobe. The only limitation to these is the adobo, so they may not be suitable for all recipes.
🌶 More Mexican chiles
If you're interested in learning about more popular chiles used in Mexican cooking, check out our other detailed guides:
If dehydrated peppers are toasted for too long, they can burn and cause the taste to turn very bitter. If the bitterness is too strong, it's best to start over.
Yes, morita chiles are a type of chipotle pepper that are dried and smoked.
If you have access to jalapeño pepper seeds, you can grow your own (leaving them on the plant until red). You will need access to a smoker though, so it may be more convenient to purchase them.