11 Substitutes for Chili Powder

Substitutes for Chili Powder
Photo by stevepb

Chili powder, also known as red pepper or cayenne pepper, has gotten some bad press lately thanks to the fact that it’s one of Whole30’s list of restricted food items.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy that spicy kick! With careful planning and clever substitutions, you can still eat your favorite meals without feeling like you’re missing out on anything.

Here are the substitutes for chili powder.

1. Ancho Chile Powder

Ancho chile powder is made from dried, ground ancho chiles. It has a mild heat with fruity undertones and a slightly sweet flavor. This makes it a great option for those who want to add a little heat to their dish without overwhelming it. 

You can find ancho chile powder at most Mexican grocery stores or online. If you don’t want to buy the whole container of ancho chile powder, you can also purchase it in bulk from Amazon.

2. Chipotle Pepper Powder

Chili powder is one of the most common substitutes for chili powder used in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. It’s a blend of dried chili peppers, cumin, garlic powder, and oregano. 

If you’re out of chili powder or can’t find it at your local grocery store, don’t worry! To make your own, mix equal parts dried chipotle chiles (smoked jalapeños work well) and ancho chiles (dried poblano peppers). This is one of the substitutes for chili powder that will work just as well in your recipe.

3. Paprika

Regarding substitutes for chili powder, paprika is probably the most similar to chili powder in terms of flavor. It’s made from dried peppers and has that characteristic heat and smokiness.

Paprika is also reasonably easy to find; you can usually find it in the spice aisle of your local grocery store. Paprika is also a good source of antioxidants and can help improve circulation. 

It’s worth noting that if you use this spice to replace chili powder, you may want to adjust your recipes accordingly.

For example, instead of using one teaspoon of chili powder, try substituting with 1/2 teaspoon paprika and adding more cumin or coriander if needed. If you’re looking for a chili powder substitute, paprika is a great option.

4. Harissa

A North African paste made with chili peppers, garlic, olive oil, and spices like cumin and coriander. It can be used as a condiment, marinade, or sauce. You can find it in Middle Eastern markets or online. Try red pepper flakes mixed with paprika and ground cumin in a pinch. 

5. Oregano

Oregano is an excellent option if you’re looking for substitutes for chili powder that will give your dish an herby flavor. Just be aware that it is much more potent than chili powder, so you’ll want to use less of it. 

To substitute, start by using 1/4 teaspoon of oregano for every one teaspoon of chili powder called for in your recipe. Taste and adjust as needed.

You can also try adding ground cumin or coriander if you want the same smoky spice of chili powder without the heat.

6. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is a type of chili pepper that can be used as a spice or condiment. It is usually ground into a powder form. The cayenne pepper plant is native to Central and South America. 

The peppers were brought to Europe by Christopher Columbus in the 15th century. Cayenne peppers are used in many cuisines, including Cajun, Creole, Chinese, Thai, and Indian dishes.

They are often used as an ingredient in spicy sauces, but they also make an excellent addition to any dish with tomato sauce.

7. Ground Ginger

Ground ginger is an excellent option if you’re looking for substitutes for chili powder. It has a similar heat level to chili powder but a slightly different flavor profile. 

To use ground ginger as a substitution, start by mixing it with other spices to create a blend that suits your taste. Then, use this blend in place of chili powder in your recipe.

You may need to experiment with the ratio of ginger to other spices to find the perfect balance for your dish.

8. Sea Salt and Pepper

This is probably the most common substitution for chili powder. Simply combine equal parts salt and pepper, and voila! You have a perfect stand-in for chili powder. You can adjust the ratio of salt to pepper depending on your preferences.

The more salt you use, the spicier it will be. Conversely, adding more pepper will make it less spicy but more flavorful. If you’re looking for something with a little more flavor than just salt and pepper alone, try adding cumin or onion powder to taste.

9. Hot Sauce

Using hot sauce as a substitute for chili powder has become increasingly popular. This is because it allows people who don’t like spice (or even want to avoid it) to enjoy chili recipes by providing that milder heat without the high levels of capsaicin found in chilies themselves.

10. Cajun Seasoning  

Cajun seasoning is among the great substitutes for chili powder because it has a similar flavor profile. Plus, it’s easy to find and relatively inexpensive.

Try paprika or smoked paprika if you’re looking for something with a little more heat. Or, if you want to add some sweetness to your dish, try using ancho chili powder.

Whatever you choose, adjust the amount you use since these substitutes can be more potent than chili powder.

11. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes  

Crushed red pepper flakes are common in pizzerias, making a great chili powder substitute. They have a similar heat level to chili powder, but they also have a sweetness and fruitiness that can add depth to your dish. Just be careful not to use too much, as the flakes can be pretty spicy!


While there are many substitutes for chili powder, the best option depends on what you’re looking for. Cumin is a good choice if you want something with a similar flavor.

For heat, try paprika or cayenne pepper. And if you’re looking for an all-purpose seasoning, try garlic powder or onion powder. Whatever your needs, there’s sure to be a chili powder substitute perfect for you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like