11 Best Substitutes for Ancho Chili Powder

Best Substitutes for Ancho Chili Powder
Photo by ChiliDrache

The preferred chili powder for real Mexican cooking is ancho. A moderately hot chili powder made from entirely dried ancho chilis is known as ancho chili powder.

One of the most popular chili powders in Mexican cookery is this one. Poblano chilis, also known as ancho chilis, are dried and processed to create powder with moderate flavor and a dark hue.

Pork and beef go well with the ancho chili’s taste, which has a somewhat raisin-like undertone. The flavor of ancho powder is earthy with a hint of spice.

The Poblanos from which it originates have a fruity taste and a mild heat. Dark crimson to nearly black poblanos has a heart-shaped form.

Ancho chile powder is a well-liked Mexican spice, mostly used for flavoring. It is dark, rich, and has a smoky flavor.

But if a dish you’ve wanted to try for a while asks for it and you can’t locate any at home or readily find one, you may make a small concession and use one of the substitutes for ancho chili powder instead.

What is Ancho Powder?

Ancho Powder is a spice made from grinding dried Poblanos or Ancho chili peppers, as was previously explained.

A dark, smoky chili is ancho. It is a fundamental element in most Mexican cuisine and has a sweet, raisin-like flavor.

Ancho chili powder is a well-liked spice that is only composed of dried and crushed ancho chilis. It has mild heat with fruity overtones.

It is frequently used in mole sauce and spice rubs and is occasionally written “ancho chili powder.” Ancho chili powder contains just one chili: powdered dried poblanos.

This contrasts with chili powder, a combination formed from different ground spices, including ground chilis, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and/or cayenne pepper.

Here are some substitutes for ancho chili powder in case you need to replace that moderately spicy ingredient made from whole dried poblano peppers known as ancho chilis.

Substitutes for Ancho Chili Powder

Guajillo Chili Powder

Guajillo chili powder can be used among the substitutes for ancho chili powder. They are just a little hotter than the peppers used to manufacture ancho chili powder, with a medium heat rating of 3,750 Scoville units.

Guajillo chili powder, derived from the second-most popular chili in Mexico after ancho chilis, has an acidic, delightfully spicy flavor with overtones of berry and pine.

The Spanish term “guajillo” refers to the pepper’s resemblance to a “small gourd” in form. Although guajillo powder may be used in nearly any recipe that asks for chilis.

It is most frequently seen in Mexican and Southwestern dishes, where it is used to flavor anything from stews and braises to mole sauces.

Be advised: It has a modest heat but a distinctive flavor. You may use guajillo for ancho chili powder in recipes one-to-one, but you should taste as you go and keep in mind that a little goes a long way to prevent overdosing.

Chipotle Powder

Although a little hotter than ancho chili peppers, the chipotle powder is entirely formed of dried and crushed chipotle chilis and has a mild heat with fruity overtones.

As one of the simplest substitutes for ancho chili powder, it is also the chili powder most frequently found in large grocery shops.

If you want to use chipotle chili powder instead of the ancho chili powder because it is hotter, you might want to taste test it beforehand.

Switch to chipotle if you want to season your meat or shellfish with ancho chili powder but don’t have any on hand. These are fantastic substitutes for traditional chili powder.

Additionally, chipotle chile powder enhances the flavor of any filling in tacos, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, and other foods.


To use substitutes for ancho chili powder, like paprika, is a fantastic option and a good heat match. Choose mild paprika if it is available; it may be a little sweeter than ancho chile powder, but it will do in a pinch.

The genus Capsicum annuum, which also contains red peppers, bell peppers, and chili peppers, is where paprika originates.

Grades describe the heat level and flavor characteristics of various spice mixes. Smoked paprika has a hint of burnt flavor, but sweet paprika, typically referred to as “paprika,” is milder than hot.

Paprika was first grown in what is now central Mexico and was carried back to Spain by Spanish explorers in the sixteenth century.

From then, it gained popularity in various regions of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Use a 1:1 substitution in dishes; add a little cayenne pepper if you want it to be spicier.

Pasilla Chili Powder

The dried chilaca peppers used to make pasilla chili powder have earthy undertones that go well with mole recipes.

Because the chili powder and ancho chili powder have similar characteristics, including a mild heat level (although anchos can be a bit stronger), the chili powder can be used as substitutes for ancho chili powder.

In light of this, be careful to distinguish between the two while shopping because some supermarket stores frequently identify ancho chili powder as pasilla powder.

The hue of ground pasilla chile powder varies from dark purple to black. It has a dark, rich, and nearly chocolatey flavor with undertones of prunes and raisins.

Use this spice sparingly if your meal needs a little chili taste because it is more of a star ingredient than a background accent.

It enhances compound kinds of butter, which may be used on anything from bread to vegetables, in addition to complimenting mole sauces and recipes that use beans. Replace ancho powder in recipes with pasilla powder, 1:1.

Mulato Pepper Powder

Mulato Chili is a mild to moderate chili with a taste comparable to ancho chili peppers. It is used in soups, stews, and a mole the most frequently, much as the ordinary Mexican chili powder.

Mulato peppers, however, have a deeper shade and a richer flavor when compared to ancho chili powder.

Mulato pepper powder has undertones of licorice and chocolate, which is why it’s frequently used to provide a tingling heat to sweeten foods and sweets.

If you want to make baked goods or ice cream with chili tastes, you may use Mulato pepper powders as substitutes for ancho chili powder.

New Mexico Chili Powder

Dried New Mexico chilies are ground to create New Mexico chili powder. New Mexico chilis are six inches long and two inches broad compared to ancho peppers.

Additionally, it smells like dried fruits and herbs. These ought to work perfectly as substitutes for ancho chili powder.

Although immature (green) and fully matured (red) New Mexico chilis can be ground, red chilis, such as dried anaheim chili, are often used to make the powder.

The New Mexico chili powder may have a different flavor, but it should provide ancho chiles with a well-matched heat level.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is a member of the Capsicum family of fiery chilies, typically used to season food. The tiny, slender, and long chilies make cayenne pepper chili powder.

You might need to combine cayenne chili pepper with other, sweeter varieties of chili powder to substitute ancho chili powder because it is significantly hotter than ancho chili. It can be a good idea to combine it with pasilla powder or New Mexico chili powder.

Indian, Thai, Chinese, Korean, Creole, and other cuisines frequently employ cayenne chile powder. If you use cayenne pepper substitutes for ancho chili powder, make sure to use a smaller amount.

Red Chili Powder

In the market, mixtures of chili powder frequently include ancho chilies. This proves that red chili powder mixes may be used as substitutes for ancho chili powder. This well-liked condiment includes cumin, oregano, and red chili powder.

Chili Powder And Ground Red Pepper

Ancho chili powder may be replaced in various recipes with ordinary chili powder and a tiny amount of ground red pepper. Because red pepper is so hot, add a little of it.

In place of one teaspoon of ancho powder, use one teaspoon of ordinary chili powder and either a 1/4 or a 1/8 teaspoon of powdered red pepper.

Even though ancho chili and chili powder can be used interchangeably, it’s crucial to understand that they are two different spices.

Poblano peppers are used to make ancho chili, whereas the ingredients for chili powder include pulverized chilies, garlic, onion, and other spices.

Consequently, the tastes won’t be the same. Additionally, it’s crucial to taste the chili powder first to determine how much ancho chile it tastes before adding it to your cuisine.

Arbol Chili Ground

This spicy chili powder is created by crushing dried entire chile de Arbol pods. Rat’s tail chili is another name for chili de Arbol, which translates to “tree chili.” It is a little but extremely strong chili pepper.

Initially, green chili de bol matures to a fiery red color. Although they are used to adorn wreaths, their culinary use includes vinegar flavoring, etc.

Ancho chili powder can be substituted in Mexican dishes, even though it is typically used in Southwestern cuisines. This spice is quite hot and has a distinctive kick to it.

Because it contains 15,000 to 30,000 SHU, use caution when substituting it for ancho powder. Therefore, a pinch would be sufficient to replace one teaspoon of ancho powder.

It may be included in Mexican cuisines like salsa and chili. It is a good dietary fiber source, like most chili peppers. De Arbol also has a high vitamin A content and a moderate level of vitamin C.

Chili de Arbol should be kept in a pantry or cabinet in an airtight container. You may freeze it to maintain the flavor’s full strength; doing so will extend its shelf life to up to a year. Normally, I’d advise using it 3 to 6 months after opening.

Chili Flakes

Ancho chili powder may easily be replaced with chili flakes. The finest aspect is that they are readily available in all shops worldwide. Like ancho chili, they are likewise composed of dried peppers, but because they may be hotter, use fewer of them.


If you’re creating Mexican cuisine, ancho chili may offer just the perfect amount of flavor and spice, but if you don’t have any, you can always substitute another spice from our list.

You could even opt to use some of them instead of the original ancho chili component because some have an even stronger flavor.

Hopefully, this collection of ancho chili alternatives can assist you in discovering the ideal substitutes for ancho chili powder. They could be available at grocery shops or internet retailers.

All are simple to locate possibilities. But be aware that the spice level may differ depending on the cultivars.

Pepper should always be used sparingly, then progressively increased to taste. You can never go wrong using those alternatives to ancho chili powder in this way.

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