Ancho Chili Substitute – 5 Best Options That You Can’t Miss

People have long favored using chili powder for dishes to stimulate their taste buds. There are many popular chili powders globally, such as ancho chili – one of the elements that make Mexican cuisine unique.

However, you won’t always see it in your house. To make up for this, you can get help from any ancho chili substitute. We have prepared a few suggestions for you below.

What Is Ancho Chili?

substitute for ancho chili
Ancho Chili

Before finding out what can substitute for ancho chili, we need to know exactly what it is. Ancho chiles (or chili) is the name used to refer to the Poblano chiles pepper after it is ripe and dried. This is a popular Mexican chili, which is why you will find the dishes here often spicy!

The drying process gave it wrinkled skin like those of larger raisins and helped it last longer. For the Southwest and Mexican people, the spicy taste of this spice is an indispensable flavor in Mexican cuisine.

Ancho chiles powder is its finished product after pureeing. It has an eye-catching dark color, mild spiciness (about 1,000 to 2,000 Scoville heat units), and a hint of fruit flavor. These characteristics contribute significantly to creating the unique appeal of the dishes using it.

Currently, this spice is not only available in one country but also in many other places around the world. You can use it when you want to cook a dish with a Mexican flavor or use it as a common condiment.

How To Choose An Ancho Chili Substitute?

Needless to say, you must consider the spicy levels and taste of the dish you cook before choosing a suitable alternative! 

For the easiest and quickest choice, go for the red peppers and chili powder. If you aim to get the perfect taste, opt for the Guajillo powder! The ingredient is especially suitable for dishes that require sweetness.

Ancho Chili Substitute

Although it has become more popular, many still wonder, “what can I substitute for ancho chili powder“? Here are a few suggestions for ancho chile replacement that you might consider:

1. Chipotle Powder

Chipotle Powder
Chipotle Powder

This is certainly no longer a strange name in the spice world. It has long been the favorite choice of many, from professional chefs to ordinary homemakers.

If you wonder about the difference between ancho vs chipotle, it all started in the production process. You will likely experience a more earthy taste when trying chipotle. Still, they are all favorable additives in Mexican cuisine.

After drying and grinding the jalapeños, you get jars of pungent chipotle. You should choose the right flavor depending on the type of food you are going to cook.

For example, for everyday dishes, you can use flour from Morita jalapeños. Meanwhile, a chiles meal from Meco jalapeños would be the perfect condiment for more special dishes.

However, note that this ancho substitute has a higher spiciness. You should only use half the amount of flour compared to the original recipe and adjust as needed when seasoning food.

2. Harissa


When it comes to the ancho chili powder substitute, many chefs consider Harissa one of the top choices. This is a typical spice in the cuisine of the Middle East and North Africa. Being a blend of roasted red peppers, olive oil, red peppers, and other spices like garlic, cumin, etc., it certainly won’t let you down.

In addition, its spiciness is not the same, so carefully review the notes on the label to choose the right choice. If you’ve used this ancho chiles substitute but still haven’t reached the desired level of spiciness, add some red chiles or cayenne pepper.

The form you use also matters. It’s up to which dish you’re preparing that you should choose dry or paste. Sometimes, you can also find this variant in powder form.

3. Pasilla Powder

Chile Pasilla
Chile Pasilla

If you’re looking for an ancho chili pepper substitute, there’s nothing better than seeing a jar of pasilla right in your home. People make this spice by drying Chilaca and then crushing it. The eye-catching dark color is its special highlight.

Chilaca has a low spiciness, so that you can use its powder for a variety of dishes. Then, what is the usage rate? Don’t worry, this ancho chili paste substitute is not too spicy! You can apply the same ratio as the recipe.

4. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper Flakes
Cayenne Pepper Flakes

Cayenne is found in many chiles and is very useful as an ancho pepper substitute. When you combine it with other seasonings, you will probably find it not very spicy.

However, if you use Cayenne alone (without other additives), its spiciness can startle you. Do not use these chiles in a 1:1 ratio if you do not want your tongue to burn. You should only use 1/8 of the amount of chiles powder written in the recipe. Then, you can add more if needed.

In fact, it can only create the spiciness of chili powder, so it cannot give you other flavors like cumin, garlic, etc. If you want to use Cayenne as a dried ancho chili substitute, use other ingredients to add more flavor to the dish.

5. Guajillo Pepper Powder

Guajillo Pepper Powder
Guajillo Pepper Powder

It would be remiss to list ancho chile powder substitute and forget about Guajillo. If you want to enjoy the taste of Mexican food in your own home, this is the spice that you cannot ignore.

Guajillo is ground from dried Guajillo and has a strong spicy taste. You can use this ancho powder substitute to replace the ancho according to the original ratio.

Homemade Ancho Chili Recipes

Ancho chiles are one of the elements that make up the characteristics of Mexican cuisine. It’s easy to combine with other ingredients of any dish, thanks to its mild spiciness. You will also have no trouble combining it with other spices. Not only that, its fruity taste will surely make many people fall in love once they taste it.

Ancho chiles recipes are the favorite choice of many chefs because of their delicious taste and convenience. That’s right! Its spiciness will stimulate your taste buds just enough without burning your mouth from being too spicy or not feeling any taste because the spiciness is too low.

Some people think this only works for professional chefs. It’s totally wrong. Anyone can use ancho chiles or other ancho chili powder substitute as a daily spice in the family. It doesn’t matter whether it’s boiled, grilled

  • Chicken Enchiladas with Mole Sauce (Enchiladas De Mole): A traditional Mexican dish emphasizing a sauce made with bananas, almonds, Canela, bananas, garlic, Mexican oregano, and ancho chili.
  • Chamorro de Cordero En Barbacoa: Steamed lamb with banana leaves and chiles sauce.
  • Enchiladas Zacatecas: A popular Mexican dish with delicious chorizo ​​and potato fillings with sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions  

What’s The Difference Between Regular Chili Powder Vs Ancho Chili Powder? 

Although their names are quite similar, there is a big difference between ancho chili powder vs chili powder.

Chili powder is a mixture of many other spices such as garlic, ground chili, onion powder, paprika/cayenne pepper.

Ancho chiles powder is simpler. It is just a spice ground from dried poblanos peppers and has a spicier taste.

Are Poblano And Ancho Peppers The Same? 

Ancho chiles peppers or Ancho peppers are both derived from poblano peppers. They are made by grinding dried poblano peppers.

How To Make Ancho Chili?

The process is quite simple and you can get a perfect homemade Anchor Chili without the need of substitutes.

  1. First of all, dry the chili! After tying the peppers’ sterms, hang them several weeks until they completely dry out.
  2. Remove the stems and membranes.
  3. Put them on a skillet at low heat level.
  4. Use a spice grinder to grind the chili until they turn into powder.

Final Thoughts 

In this article, we have suggested a list of the most popular ancho chili substitute today. You can choose from the suggestions above or any other spice that has the same taste as it. Yet, pay attention to the ratio to ensure your dish has the perfect taste.

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Kevin Richard

Hi all! I’m Kevin. I spend plenty of time in the kitchen every day because I love cooking healthy and delicious foods for my family and friends. Cooking gives me a chance to be creative and fun. It’s also one of the most meaningful ways to express my love and take care of my little family.

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