8 Best Ways To Substitute For Chili Powder

Making a recipe that calls for chili powder but you’ve just ran out? If you are and you’re looking for a substitute for chili powder, here, I’ve listed 8 alternatives to chili powder that will work well in just about any recipe that calls for chili powder.

chili powder

What is chili powder?

Chili powder, also called chili powder blend or chili seasoning mix is a blend of one or more varieties of red chili peppers – such as cayenne peppers, paprika peppers, Aleppo peppers, ancho peppers or jalapeños – combined with spices like cumin, onion and garlic powder, oregano and salt.

Chili powder is a mild to moderately spicy powder depending on how much cayenne pepper is used in the mixture and adds rich flavor in many dishes.

Uses of chili powder

Perfect for adding a rich smoky balanced flavor and color to Indian and Mexican recipes like chili, baked beans, beans, burgers, dips, tacos, guacamole, chicken, pork or beef, sauces and more. 

Now for the best substitutes for chili powder listed below:

Chili powder substitutes

Cayenne pepper (and some other spices)

cayenne pepper

Cayenne pepper is one of the types of red chili peppers used to make chili powder blend.

Cayenne pepper is more than 5 times hotter than chili powder and its flavor is not very similar to chili powder.

So, when asked, 

can I substitute cayenne pepper for chili powder?
The answer is yes and no. Cayenne pepper can replace chili powder, but not on its own.

However, cayenne pepper with a mixture of some other spices can make a really good substitute for chilli powder, but it won’t work as a replacement on its own. Here’s how to make it work:

Pair the cayenne pepper with some paprika, cumin and oregano for the best results.

A good substitute ratio for chili powder and cayenne pepper is as follows: For every 1 tbsp chili powder needed, replace with 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp paprika, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp oregano.

This mixture will make a mild to moderately spicy mixture with a flavor similar to that of chili powder.

 

Chipotle Seasoning (or chipotle chili powder)

Chipotle powder is the powder that results from drying, smoking and grinding ripe jalapeño chiles. Chipotle seasoning on the other hand, is the seasoning mixture made from mixing together chipotle powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, oregano and sea salt. 

Thus, chipotle seasoning is a great replacement for chili powder as most of the ingredients used in each are quite similar. So, chipotle seasoning would work in recipes like salsas and stews and soups to replace chili powder.

Substitute ratio is 1 tbsp chili powder to 1/2 tbsp chipotle chili powder. (expect a bit more spice from the chipotle seasoning and adjust accordingly based on your recipe.)

You can also purchase chipotle seasoning in most grocery stores or even online.

 

Ancho Chile Powder (and other spices)

If you have some ancho powder also called ancho chile powder in your spice cabinet, go ahead and grab it to use as an okay replacement for chili powder. 

Ancho peppers are made from dried ground poblanos and are often one of the peppers used to make chili powder. Therefore, ancho powder is a good way to replace chili powder in a pinch.

Ancho powder is mildly spicy, like chili powder. It also has a nice smoky deep rich flavor that is similar to chili powder. Use ancho powder to season Mexican recipes, chicken, stews, vegetables, soups and more.

For the perfect substitute, use 1/2 tsp ancho powder together with 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp paprika and 1 tsp garlic powder to replace 1 tbsp chili powder. 

 

Taco seasoning 

Taco seasoning is another good alternative for chili powder in recipes like burgers, for seasoning meats, adding to vegetables and more.

Because taco seasoning is made with ingredients like chili powder, onion and garlic powder, paprika, cumin and salt, it is good to add to recipes like chili, stews and soups when you’re out of chilli powder. 

Taco seasoning can have a similar flavor to chili powder as taco seasoning is made with a high concentration of chili powder.

Substitute on a 1:1 ratio is most recipes. 

Fajita seaosning

fajita seasoning

Fajita seasoning is made from cumin, chili powder, salt, paprika,  onion powder, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Like taco seasoning, it can be used to substitute chili powder in soups, soups and marinades and sauces

Because most of those substitutes listed above are peppers/powders that you can find in chili powder mix, they are easy to substitute for chili powder. They work great on their own. But they work really well as a substitute. Especially if you take the extra step and add in some cumin, oregano, paprika or garlic powder.

But, the best substitute for chili powder in any recipe still remains your very own homemade chili powder. So, i’ll share how to make an easy DIY chili powder recipe below.

How to make your own homemade chili powder

The best substitute for chili powder is a homemade chili powder mix. To make it you’ll need ingredients such as:

Chili powder ingredients

  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix them all together in a bowl or small jar and use as desired.

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