Chipotle is the smoked form of jalapeños, and there are two main types: meco and morita. What’s the difference? Chipotle morita is peppers that are harvested while they are red and ripe, while chipotle meco is peppers that are harvested once they have already started to dry on the bush. The morita variation is more common in America, while both morita and meco are used widely in Mexican cuisine.

The word “chipotle” comes from the Nahuatl word chilpoctli, which means smoked chili. “Meco” chipotles are also referred to as chipotles tipicos. After the overripe jalapeños are picked, the meco peppers are also smoked for twice as long as moritas, creating a richer and more intense flavor.

How hot?

2,500–10,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU)

Scientific name

Capsicum annuum


Chipotle meco has a deep, rich, smoky flavor, and packs a spicy punch comparable to jalapeños (from which they derive). You might also notice grassy or fruity notes.


Chipotle meco is a very common pepper used in Mexican cuisine. They can be toasted or rehydrated and diced or blended into a sauce, ground into a powder, or ground more coarsely into flakes. You can use chipotle meco in sauces and moles, chilis and soups, tacos, or in spice rubs for meat and fish.

Products that use chipotle meco

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Whole dried peppers

Powdered chipotle meco

Seeds to grow at home

Keep in mind, chipotle meco refers to overripe and then slowly smoked jalapeño peppers. Grow jalapeño peppers and leave them on the vine until they begin to dry while still on the plant.

Hot sauces using chipotle meco

Main image photo credit Badagnani under the CC BY 3.0 license. The image was not modified.