Chili Powder Substitute – 6 Easy Options For You

While cooking, you may suddenly realize that you have run out of an important ingredient like chili powder. That shouldn’t worry you at all. Fortunately, there are a few fantastic chili powder substitutes that are easy to find.

Some of those possible replacement ingredients may even already be in your pantry.

Chili powder is commonly used in traditional Latin American dishes like tacos and enchiladas. Many popular Asian recipes also make use of chilies a lot.

A spoonful of chili powder can add a satiating hot kick to soup, grilled meat, a pot of beans, stew, or vegetables.

Best Substitutes For Chili Powder

Chili powder gives a classic, vibrant red color to your dishes and has a distinct taste and aroma.

When you have run out of chili powder, finding an alternative to it is easy. But none of those alternatives will give you the same heat and distinct flavor you desire.

Here are some replacement ideas in a pinch.

1. Homemade Chili Powder

It is easy to make your own chili powder and you may already have those spicy ingredients in your pantry.

You can simply combine the necessary spices in a bowl and mix. Store it in a sealed jar (preferably in a glass jar) and it will stay good for several months.

Paprika, made from dried and ground peppers (bell peppers), is the chief ingredient in this spice mix. Ground paprika gives a blend of pungent and sweet tastes to the mixture. If available, use smoked paprika. This can give a lovely smoky depth of flavor to the blend.

Another important ingredient in chili powder mix is cayenne pepper. Add just a few pinches of cayenne according to the level of pungency you prefer. People averse to high pungency should avoid it altogether.

You can vary the other ingredients in the chili powder recipe according to your taste preferences.

The flavor will vary according to the type of pepper used to make chili powder or the pepeprs used as a substitute.

A standard seasoning blend of generic chili powder is made with the following ingredients (recipe for 40 grams):

  • ⅛ cup of sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin.
  • ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika (optional)

2. Smoked Paprika

Paprika is a good choice instead of chili powder. You can use either regular or smoked paprika. Normal paprika is crushed and dried chilies. Paprika is made of smoke-dried and then ground chilies.

Most people prefer to use smoked paprika for its strong flavor and aroma.

Compared to chili powder, the heat level of paprika is mild but somewhat hot and sweet.

By adding a few other ingredients to ground paprika, you can achieve a replica of chili powder. You may also try smoked paprika substitutes like Gochugaru, Sambal oelek, cayenne powder, or ancho powder.

3. Red Pepper Flakes

Red pepper flakes or chili flakes are made from a mix of dried peppers from the capsicum annum family. Crushed red pepper is a kitchen spice rack staple in most homes. These flakes can be used in place of chili powder mixture.

If you wish, you can grind the chili flakes to achieve the consistency of chili powder. Use a mortar and pestle or an electric spice grinder to grind the flakes into a fine powder. By the way, equivalents of red pepper flakes such as ground cayenne pepper, Gochugaru, or even hot sauce can be used to replace chili powder.

4. Ancho Chili Powder

Ancho chilies are a type of dried chili pepper commonly used in Mexican cuisine. It is the dried version of the poblano pepper. This chili is best known for its sweetness and earthy flavor.

The poblano pepper is used in several chili blends. It has a complex and distinguishable flavor that stands out from the rest.

Undoubtedly, ancho pepper works well instead of chili powder in most recipes. It is enough to use approximately half the portion of chili powder to produce the same level of pungency. Also, see if ancho powder substitutes like Guajillo pepper powder, Pasilla powder, or chipotle powder are usable in recipes that call for chili powder.

5. Chipotle powder

Chipotle chili powder is made from dried and ground chipotle chilies. This smoke-dried ripe jalapeño chili pepper is commonly used for seasoning.

Also, its smoky heat makes it a great ingredient in barbecue sauces and grilling rubs.

Jalapeno chili is hotter than most of the chili powder blends available to you. Use it sparingly. Preferably, chipotle chili powder in 1/3 quantity of chili powder is enough to give a good hot kick to your dishes. You may also consider ingredients similar to chipotle powder such as Chipotle Powder, Chipotle Adobo Sauce, and Pasilla de Oaxaca.

6. Hot Sauce

When you are left with no option to find the best chili powder substitute, the last resort is hot sauce.

Hot chili sauce works great for adding a hot kick to soups, stews, and sauces.

Just a spoonful of hot sauce will be good enough to give a hot flavor to two servings of your dish.

ladle of chili powder

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you substitute taco seasoning for chili powder?

Yes, taco seasoning and chili seasoning are essentially the same except for a few minor differences. But the Cajun seasoning is a better alternative.

Can I use chili powder instead of paprika?

Yes. Chili powder is hotter than paprika. Paprika provides a sweet flavor to cool down the heat, but smoked paprika will add a delicious, subtle smokiness.

Can I use fresh red chili instead of chili powder?

Fresh chili peppers are versatile but not a great substitute for chili powder and vice versa. Chili powder contains a blend of different hot ingredients and gives a stand-alone flavor to your dish. Fresh chili is used mainly for adding heat to a recipe calls for it.

What spice is similar to chili powder?

Similar ones are the ingredients that go into the making of chili pepper powder: cumin, cayenne pepper, oregano, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder.