Chili Powder Substitute – 6 Yummy 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 you may even have already 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.

What Is A Good Chili Powder Substitute?

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

Finding an alternative for chili powder is easy. But none of those alternatives may give you the same heat and distinct flavor you desire.

Here are some replacement ideas in a pinch.

1. DIY Chili Powder

Chili powder is a simple spice blend. It is easy to make 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 would 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 taste 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 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 chili powder according to your taste preferences.


To make 40 grams of chili powder the following ingredients will be good enough:

  • ⅛ cup sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon 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, smoked paprika contains chilies that are smoke-dried and then ground.

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

Compared to the 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, or cayenne powder.

3. Red Pepper Flakes

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

If you wish, you can ground the chili flakes to achieve the consistency of chili powder. Use a mortar and pestle or an electric spice grinder to ground 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 Powder

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

5. Chipotle powder

Chipotle chili powder is purely made of 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 have left with no options for finding a suitable alternative for chili powder, the last resort is hot sauce.

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

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

ladle of chili powder


Can you substitute taco seasoning for chili powder?

Yes, taco seasoning and chili seasoning are essentially the same, with minor differences.

Can I use chili powder instead of paprika?

Yes. Chili powder is hotter than paprika. Paprika provides a sweet flavor to calm 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 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 dish.

What spice is similar to chili powder?

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