Chili powder is a rich, bittersweet blend of ground chiles and other spice ingredients such as paprika, cumin, garlic, oregano, and more. It is a star ingredient in many Tex-Mex recipes and in barbecue meat rubs. You can also find chili powder used in chili con carne, Spanish rice, and tacos. The spice level in chili powder can range anywhere from mild to hot.
Chili Powder Alternatives
Chili powder is a crucial ingredient in many dishes, but if you’re banking on making a special dish like Dad’s Favorite Chili, and realize you’re out of chili powder, here are some alternatives you can use without compromising too much flavor:
- Ancho chile powder
- Cayenne powder
- Chipotle powder
- Crushed red chiles
- Hot sauce
- Harissa Paste
How to Make Chili Powder
Because chili powder is a blend of herbs and spices, when you make your own you can control the flavor profile and spice level. When a recipe calls for “chili powder” vs “chile powder” it is in fact calling for the blend of spices as opposed to ground chiles. Below is a suggested recipe, but the ground chili powder you use is up to you based on what you have and how spicy you want the blend to be.
Chili Powder Recipe
2 parts chile powder of choice (Ancho, guajillo, etc.)
2 parts Garlic powder
2 parts Mexican oregano, crushed
1 part Ground cumin seed
1 part Cayenne pepper
1 part Black pepper
½ part Onion powder
Mix all ingredients together until well combined and store in an airtight container.
Chili Powder Substitution FAQs
Can You Substitute Paprika For Chili Powder?
You can use paprika in place for chili powder and achieve a similar effect, but you should know when using paprika you’ll get less heat and a milder spice than when using chili powder
What Are Some Ways I Can Use Chili Powder?
Chili powder was invented for making chili con carne, a Tex-Mex dish that's name literally means, 'chile peppers and meat.' The powdered ingredients were sold as a blend to save people from using traditional cooking method that take longer to prepare. Today, chili powder is used in many other recipes like barbecue, tacos, and corn on the cob. Learn more about how to use chili powder in our Spice Spotlight Chili Powder blog.