You are halfway into a recipe and it calls for chili powder, but you realize that there is none of it at home. This situation is common, happens to anyone and, if now you are wondering what the best substitutes for chili powder are, we will list the best ones below.
Chili powder (also known as chile, chili or powdered chili) is a dried pulverized type of chili pepper with spices. It is largely used in Mexican, Chinese, Indian, and Thai cuisines, and adds to the recipes an incredibly unique and pungency flavor.
Substitutes For Chili Powder
Some recipes require the chili powder to work well, since this ingredient will be the protagonist of it with its particular taste. But, if the recipe just uses the chili powder as a seasoning and the other ingredients allow you to replace it without compromising the recipe, then the ingredients we mention in this article will work more than well for you.
1. Red pepper flakes
Every kitchen has a bottle of red pepper flakes stored and ready to be used. This spice is largely used by everyone in all cuisines and it is made of dried and crushed red chili peppers.
To work perfectly as a chili powder replacement, you will need to crush the red pepper flakes even more, until they have a powder texture – you can use a food processor to help in this process.
The red pepper flakes can be a little hotter, so add a few pitches, taste your recipe, and then add more if needed. The secret is to balance it. But this will be the go-to replacement since it will not change the taste of the other ingredients and just add the heat and flavor.
2. Hot Sauce
If your recipe requires the chili powder to be diluted – like soups or sauces – then liquid hot sauce will be the best substitution.
Also known as chili sauce or pepper sauce, this liquid seasoning is made from pepper as a base with water and vinegar.
It is also a popular ingredient, easy to be found at any grocery store, not expensive and it is probably already sitting in your cupboard ready to be used.
Pay close attention to the type of hot sauce you have at home to see if it will add more piquancy than the chili powder would add to the recipe.
The proportions will depend on the flavor and grade of piquancy, but if the hot sauce and chili powder are similar in flavor, then you can replace them in a 1:1 proportion.
If you are wondering what paprika is doing in this list, we will explain why: paprika has pepper on its base.
So, that paprika you probably have at home is also a good replacement for chili powder.
The only watch out here is that paprika can have many ranges of heat and spiciness, so you need to see which one you already have or is purchasing to proportionally replace the chili powder. The most common in the United States is the Hungarian sweet paprika, which has a mild piquancy in it.
But try before adding to your recipe and see how much it will be needed not to change so much the final flavor of the other ingredients.
Harissa is a hot chili pepper paste mainly produced in Tunisia and it is made of roasted red peppers, spices, and herbs such as garlic, coriander, cumin, and olive oil.
Since it has a paste texture you can add in recipes where the chili powder was going to be diluted and used in liquid form, such as sauces and soups.
But it is a great replacement to keep the chili and heat flavor provided by the chili powder.
5. Chipotle powder
The chipotle powder, or sometimes just “chilpotie”, is a smoked-dried ripe jalapeño chili pepper used primarily in Mexican cuisine and Mexican dishes.
It has a mild but earthy spiciness combined with a smoky flavor. It is also a perfect replacement for chili powder, since it can be baked, stuffed, and added to all types of recipes – even cakes and brownies, for example.
But, because of the jalapeños, the chipotle powder will be hotter than the chili powder, so be careful with the quantities so as not to let your recipe get too hot. For every tablespoon of chili powder add half of it of chipotle powder. If you feel that is not enough you can add more carefully.
6. Ancho powder
Ancho powder is ground ancho peppers in powder form. Ancho chili is a dark smoky chili with a sweet and fruity hot flavor with a medium heat.
It is very versatile and can be used for pasta, pizza, popcorn and anywhere else you may need.
Ancho powder also tends to be hotter than chili powder, so start the recipe with half of the quantity needed and you can increase from there if needed.
Chili powder may not normally be an ingredient purchased and stored at home by everyone. So, if you saw yourself needing to do a recipe that has chili powder in it, do not worry, there are plenty of good substitutions.
The secret is to understand what role the chili powder has in each recipe and you can start from there. But usually it is used to season the dishes and add its heat and spicy flavor, which gladly can be done by many other ingredients.
Chili powder is not the strongest when it comes to spiciness – since it is a blend of many spices – so you can work with a large range of mild pepper powders, pastes and sauces to replace this flavor.
We recommend experimenting previously with the options listed above to see which one will suit best for your recipe and how the different heats and flavors will work with the other ingredients. Some of the replacements suggested here can be sweeter or have a stronger characteristic flavor.
We hope that the suggestions above helped you and made your recipe delicious. Let us know which one you chose and why.