Best Substitute For Ancho Chili Powder

Best Ancho Chili Powder Substitute: Top Results Out

While it might not be possible to entirely replace the ancho chili powder, an important ingredient in any Mexican food, you can however find a few substitutes that do a fairly decent job.

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Dark, rich with a smokey flavor, the ancho chili powder is a popular Mexican ingredient, mainly used for seasoning. However, if you don’t have any at home or can’t find one easily, and a recipe you’ve been wanting to make for a while calls for it, you can make a little compromise and resort to one of the substitutes for ancho chili powder.

What Is Ancho Chili?

Ancho chili is the dried version of the poblano chili peppers. When the ancho chili is powdered, you get a dark red, moderately hot chili powder that Mexican food relies on quite heavily. Dried poblanos have a higher vitamin A and B2 content than the fresh ones and can be quite healthy. Authentic Mexican dishes such as the like Chile Relleno have this powder as their prime ingredient. You can easily prepare this taste maker at home itself. Grind some dried poblanos or anchos into a fine powder, however after removing the stem that holds the seeds. You have to however make sure that the chilies are completely dry.

However, if you can’t find ancho chili powder anywhere, look for a good substitute. Here’s a list.

The best substitutes For Ancho Chili Powder:

Guajillo pepper powder

Guajillo (big pod in Spanish) chili powder is sometimes used in food in place of ancho chili powder. If you do not have the exotic ancho powder at home and a recipe is on your mind, opt for this substitute. It’s one of Mexico’s most popular chilies and has a smokey-sweet flavor, which is also the reason why it can be used as a substitute for ancho chili powder, especially if you are making tomato-based recipes such as gravies and soups.

Guajillo peppers are another popular spice mix to replace ancho chili powder

Pasilla Powder

Chilaca peppers, when dried and ground, are called pasilla powder. Pasilla is another word for ‘little raisin’ in Spanish, and the powder carries a berry-like taste, something that even the ancho chili powder has. In fact, chefs around the world often use these two chili powders in place of each other.

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Chipotle powder

Chipotle is yet another famous ingredient from Mexico, and can be used as a good substitute for ancho chili powder. Many cooks consider chipotle as a first substitute due to its smokey properties. Chipotle powder is made from nothing but the popular jalapeño chilis after they are dried and smoked. Between the Meco and Morita – two varieties of jalapeños – the chipotle made from the Meco is more popular because of its high smokey flavor.

Mulato pepper powder

Replacing ancho chili powder with Mulato powder is also a great substitute. In fact, the Mulato chili also comes from the poblano pepper, but are made from picking aged poblano. The end result is a darker chili, which is a lot hotter than its younger cousin – the ancho.

Replacing ancho chili powder with Mulato pepper powder is also a great substitute

Red Chilli Powder

Ancho chilies are often sold as chili powder blends in the market. This is an obvious indication that red chili blends can be used as a substitute for ancho chili powder. This popular seasoning contains red chili powder and spices such as oregano and cumin.

Where Can You Find A Substitute For Ancho Chili Powder?

Any well-stocked supermarket will probably have all the alternatives you’re looking for, especially if they stock up on Mexican ingredients. You might however need to look in their exotic food section, if there is one. But then again, if you find ancho there, you won’t need a substitute.

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And if you’re the quintessential online shopper, there are several websites that will sell you either the ancho or its various substitutes. However, whether you’re buying it online or from a store, just make sure there are no additives in your product. Looking out for organic brands might help. And always read the label. After all, it’s as important to keep your health in mind as well.

Ancho chilies are mostly sold as chili powder blends in the market

Uses Of Ancho Chili Powder

  • Ancho chili powder can be an amazing taste maker in most dishes that require a little heat. You don’t necessarily have to add it only in Mexican food.
  • It works brilliantly in soups and even something as basic as a vegetable stew, enhancing their flavors immensely.
  • Ancho chili powder is sometimes added to even desserts, cinnamon truffles or even brownies for instance, for that extra bite.
  • While making a hot chocolate espresso, a pinch of this powder can give your recipe an awesome twist.
  • To make fajitas, you can add some colorful peppers, tequila splash, and a pinch of ancho chili powder.

Can Ancho Chili Powder Cause Allergies?

Although it is very uncommon for people to develop any allergy after consumption of this spice, it is not impossible. Many people are spice sensitive. This means they develop symptoms such as sneezing or nose blocks when exposing to certain spices, especially if the spice has a strong and smokey aroma. One way to circumvent this problem is to find an appropriate substitute for ancho chili powder.

How To Make Ancho Chili Powder At Home

You can easily find ancho chilies in the market. They are dried dark reddish-brown peppers, about 3 inches wide and 4 inches long. They have a sweet and smokey flavor. The fresh version is called a poblano. The ancho chili has a distinct characteristic to it. It is wide, wrinkled and somewhat heart-shaped. For sauces, it is soaked for around 30 minutes in warm water and then ground into a paste.

You can easily find ancho chilies in the market


Preparing this smokey chili powder is not so difficult. To make this, take ancho chilies and cut it from the top. Now remove the vein that contains the seeds. You can use a dry blender or even your coffee grinder to process the chilies.


The ancho chili powder is one ingredient that needs to be on almost all kitchen shelves. It accentuates the flavor of almost any dish that requires a little heat. And if you can’t find the chili, you already have our list of substitutes for ancho chili powder.

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