Chilli Powder Substitute: Best Substitutes for Chilli Powder
What can be a good chili powder substitute? Chilli powder is made from ground chills. Sometimes, a specific chilli is used to make a chilli powder.
For instance, you may have used chipotle chilli powder in Mexican dishes or peri-peri chilli powder to season chicken.
Generic chilli powder tends to be made from red chillies as they are hotter than their green counterparts.
Alongside the ground chills, you’ll find other spices including cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and cayenne pepper. Cayenne pepper is generally used in hotter chilli powders.
Substitutes for Chili Powder: Chilli Powder Substitute
Because each blend is different, the heat of chilli powder varies from recipe to recipe. Store-bought chilli powder tends to be offered in mild, medium, and hot varieties but homemade chilli powder is much more diverse.
If your spice rack is properly depleted, you can scale back the chilli powder recipe even further.
Using just paprika, cayenne pepper and cumin in place of chilli powder will give your food the kick you’re looking for.
It won’t have quite as rich or well-rounded a flavor as you’re used to, but it will do in a pinch.
To get the ratios right, you should substitute 1 tablespoon of chilli powder for 2 teaspoons of paprika, 1 teaspoon of cumin, and ¼ a teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
Of course, if you want to spice things up, increase the amount of cayenne pepper.
Best Substitutes for Hot Chilli Powder
Assuming you don’t have the ingredients to make your own chilli powder, what else can you substitute?
Well, top of our substitute list is chilli flakes. Most household kitchens have a bottle of chilli flakes laying around. It’s the kind of thing you get as part of a kitchen set for Christmas but rarely use.
You can either add a sprinkling of the flakes directly into your food, or you can grind them up.
I find that adding the flakes to soups, chills, or anything liquid based works just fine. The juices soak up the flavor of the flakes and you’re less likely to end up with a mouthful of just flakes!
If you want to create a meat rub or season dry ingredients, you’re better off grinding up the chilli flakes.
You can do this easily enough with a pestle and mortar. If you haven’t got a pestle and mortar, use two tablespoons, and crush the flakes between them.
Chilli flakes whether ground or not, will add more heat than generic chilli powder. You can use fewer flakes to bring the spice levels down if you need to.
What’s In a Chilli Powder? Chilli Powder Substitute
The ingredients in a chilli powder are different kinds of chilli peppers with an addition of other spices that can be cumin, ground oregano, onion powder, and garlic powder.
Other seasonings such as salt and ground black pepper can also be included according to your preference.
Some Chilli Tid Bits – Chilli Powder Substitute
- Before you can identify which ingredient is a good substitute for chilli powder, you should first know the flavor profile of that spice mixture.
- There’s a difference between chilli powder and chilli flakes.
The first one is a blend of spices with chilli pepper as its dominant ingredient while chilli flakes are literally flakes of dried chilli peppers.
- The spice heat level is measured with the Scoville scale and can range from mild to extremely hot.
So if you focus on the heat factor, then you can choose to use spicy chilli peppers as the main ingredient.
Best Chilli Powder Substitutes
- Homemade Chilli Powder – Chilli Powder Substitute
There are a lot of perks that you can get from making your own mix. First, you can be sure that there are NO unwanted preservatives and extra salt in your mix.
Second, you can ensure the freshness of the ingredients (you know where your ingredients came from) and lastly, it saves you more money than buying a store-bought one.
Easy Homemade Chilli Powder Recipe:
- You can easily make it by using a hot variety of dried chilli with a proportion of 1 tablespoon Chilli powder to 1/4 teaspoon of other ingredients like onion powder, garlic powder, ground cumin, oregano powder.
Pro Tip: When starting with whole ingredients, you can roast them first to enhance the taste in your spice mix.
Then grind them together when it cools down. Store in an airtight container and always make fresh batches for maximum flavor.
- Chilli Flakes – Chilli Powder Substitute
That is the way to go if you want to enjoy that same spiciness level. Just look at its bottle’s label and determine what type of chilli pepper it is made of.
- Scotch Bonnet Flakes – Chilli Powder Substitute
My favorite kind of chilli! Its hot and fruity spiciness makes it a good chilli powder substitute.
You know how I love that in most of my Caribbean-inspired dishes.
- Cayenne Pepper – Chilli Powder Substitute
This and chilli powder can be interchanged in any recipe that it’s called for.
Cayenne is spicier than chilli powder but it is also considered to be mild spicy compared to other types of pepper in the capsicum annuum family. (You can check out my taco seasoning.)
- Chipotle Chilli Powder – Chilli Powder Substitute
It’s smoky-sweet and spicier (than ancho chilli) and is made of ripe Jalapeño peppers. This powder is a staple in Mexican cuisine and utilized as a base ingredient for other sauces that they put into tacos, mayo, and enchiladas sauce.
- Ancho Chillies – Chilli Powder Substitute
Also a good substitute for chilli powder, this moderate spicy chilli powder is made of poblano chills.
If you’re going for a Mexican flavor profile, then this one also fits the bill. You can use it in soups, beans, fish, meat, and even cakes.
- Hot and Spicy Tomato Sauce – Chilli Powder Substitute
You can make it by adding coriander, oregano, cumin, hot sauce, and salt. It’s spicy and savory at the same time.
It’s like a hot sauce but it’s thicker. Plus, you’ll get the natural sourness of tomato which is fantastic!
- Hot Sauce
Definitely! This hot liquid is also a good substitute for chilli powder but in “liquid form”.
Don’t sweat it if you can’t find a ground or powdered spices and chillies, this one will work pretty well with stews, soups, marinades, and even to your dressings.
Can You Substitute Paprika for Chilli Powder? – Chilli Powder Substitute
You can use paprika as an alternative to chilli powder because it’s a member of the same family as chilli peppers.
Although the flavor and spiciness of paprika are different from chilli powder.
It’s more on the sweet, smokey, and mild spicy side than spicy-hot. The most you can get of its similarity with chilli is its vivid red color.
What’s not To Use as Substitute to Chilli Powder?
- You surely can substitute chilli powder with another blend of spices that will add heat to your recipe.
But in some recipes where certain flavors are achieved with a good spiciness level, the substitute powder or ingredient SHOULDN’T be overpowering.
- Curry powder has a lot of strong-tasting spices in the mix like cumin, ginger, fennel seed, cardamom, and many more.
Though it’s spicy and hot, all these aromatic flavors will surely change the taste of the food that you’ll add it to.
- Chinese mustard and wasabi are both mainly used as condiments for typical dishes that they’re added to. The main source of heat is the mustard seeds and rootstalk of Japanese Horseradish (wasabi).
The spicy taste and hot sensation come from the chemicals that are developed by mashing or grating it.
What is Chilli Powder Made From?
Chilli powder is made from ground peppers that are combined with several other seasonings. The most common type of pepper used in chilli powder is the poblano pepper.
Poblano peppers are milder compared to other types of peppers, like jalapenos. Poblanos are also referred to as ancho chillies.
Therefore, once the peppers are dried and ground into a powder, it is commonly called ancho powder.
Ancho powder is the base for chilli powder or chilli powder blends.
In addition to the ancho powder, the most common spices added are cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt. These are all common spices used in Latin American dishes.
This combination of ancho powder and other spices is commonly sold as chilli powder.
You can find it sold in single packets, such as McCormick’s chilli powder seasoning that is ready to add, and you may also see it sold in a bottle on the spice aisle.
Typically, the chilli powder sold in the bottle is only ancho powder that has not been mixed with any of the other spices!
Therefore, it is important to determine what type of chilli powder your recipe calls for.
Usually, if it calls for a small quantity like a teaspoon, then you can use just the ancho chilli powder.
However, larger quantities that are the base for something like enchilada sauce will want the chilli powder blend.
Most likely, if you have found your way to this blog then you have a recipe that calls for all the seasonings of a chilli powder!
The combination will give your dish those different layers of flavor and a little bit of heat.
If you found yourself in the middle of a recipe without a packet to grab from the pantry or your store was out of your favourite chilli powder mix, not to worry!
I am going to show you some ways to not only substitute for chilli powder but also how to make your own (already explained above).
Just to warn you though, making your own is so easy you may never buy the pre-made stuff again!
How to Choose the Best Substitute For Chili Powder
Choosing the best substitute for chilli powder really depends on the dish you are preparing. It may also depend on your taste preferences and even allergies.
If you are making a pot of chilli where you want all the different flavor combinations that make chilli, well, chilli, then you most likely want to make your own chilli powder blend.
However, if the purpose of the chilli powder is as a secondary spice or addition to a dish, such as to add flavor to a steak, you may choose to use one or more of the spices common in chilli powder.
Easy Substitutions for Chili Powder
When you need to add a little bit of spice or flavor to a dish and you run out of chilli powder, the easiest substitution is one of the single ingredients used in a chilli powder blend.
In addition, there are several unexpected single seasonings that are great substitutes as well!
- Ancho Powder – Chilli Powder Substitute
If a recipe calls for a chilli powder blend you can use the ancho chilli powder by itself.
However, ancho powder is more potent than a chilli powder blend because it is not mixed with the other spices.
Therefore, start with half of what the recipe calls for and add more if needed.
- Paprika – Chilli Powder Substitute
Paprika is similar in colour to chilli powder as it is also made from ground chilli, making it a great substitute.
The main difference is that paprika is much milder than chilli powder. However, it does have a similar smoky flavor (especially if you use smoky paprika).
If you want a substitute that will provide the smoky elements of chilli powder, without a lot of heat, paprika is a great choice.
Paprika can be used on its own in a 1:1 ratio for chilli powder.
If you want to further replicate the taste of chilli powder, try paprika with added garlic, onion powder, and cumin. Start with ½ teaspoon each per 1 teaspoon you use of Paprika.
- Cayenne Pepper – Chilli Powder Substitute
On the opposite side of the spectrum from paprika, cayenne pepper will give you a lot of heat!
A dried and ground pepper, cayenne pepper is a good substitute if you want to intensify the spiciness of a dish.
However, its heat profile is higher than poblano peppers, therefore, be mindful of starting in small quantities.
Start with a ¼ of the requested amount of chilli powder and then add more as needed.
Sometimes the heat from cayenne kicks in after the initial taste, so take a minute before adding more.
Cayenne plays well with garlic and onion powder and can even be combined with paprika to create a spicy substitute.
- Red Pepper Flakes – Chilli Powder Substitute
Commonly seen in little round shakers on the tables in pizza parlors, red pepper flakes can be used as more than a pizza topping.
A dash of these fiery flakes can add the heat and flavor you need in a dish when you don’t have ground chillies.
If you don’t want the flakes to be visible, crush them up or grind them in a blender before using them.
You can substitute red pepper flakes in a 1:1 ratio for the chilli powder.
- Cumin – Chilli Powder Substitute
Cumin is the seasoning that smells like all your favorite Mexican dishes. Next to ancho powder, it is one of the most popular seasonings in Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes.
With such a distinct flavor, even without the chilli powder, cumin will still give you a hint of the authentic flavor you are looking for.
If using cumin on its own, you can use a 2:1 ratio of cumin in place of chilli powder.
However, if you want to combine cumin with other seasonings like garlic and onion powder then use a 1:1 ratio of cumin to chilli powder and then add in an additional ½ measurement of each additional spice.
- Garlic Powder – Chilli Powder Substitute
Garlic powder is a common ingredient in chilli powder seasoning.
While using it alone will not provide the spice and heat of chilli powder, it is still a wonderful option for seasoning on meats or added into soups or sauces.
Garlic powder can be quite potent and without the balance of other flavors you don’t want to overdo it.
Therefore, begin with a ½ serving of garlic powder in relationship to what the recipe calls for in chilli powder. You can always add more if needed!
- Onion Powder – Chilli Powder Substitute
Like garlic powder, onion powder is used in chilli powder mixes. Using it alone will also not provide the spice and chilli flavor.
While garlic powder is often used on its own, onion powder tends to do better when combined with other flavors.
Even if you don’t have chilli powder to mix it with, a combination of onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, or cayenne can offer a similar flavor experience.
Start with a ¼ serving of onion powder and then add more as needed.
- Oregano – Chilli Powder Substitute
You may associate oregano more with Italian cooking, but it is also a popular spice in Mexican and Latin American dishes.
Many chilli powder recipes include oregano. Just like the many other seasonings included in chilli powder mix, oregano can also be used on its own.
However, like garlic and onion powders it will not have the heat and spice of chilli powder.
Oregano is best used as an addition to soups and sauces. It is suggested to start with ½ the ratio of oregano to chilli powder that the recipe calls for.
Adding in additional spices such as garlic powder and paprika will help elevate the flavour profile to be more like chilli powder
- Hot Sauce – Chilli Powder Substitute
Hot sauce is a condiment you may already have in your fridge that you can use in a pinch if you run out of chilli powder.
However, hot sauces have a distinctly different flavour profile due to the acidic taste that comes from combining chillis with vinegar.
Can I use cayenne pepper instead of chilli powder?
However, the majority of ground red chilli pepper products found in the spice aisle, including Mccormick’s popular spice, are made from ground cayenne peppers.
In general, red chilli powder and ground cayenne can be used interchangeably when a recipe calls for one or the other.
What can I do with chili powder?
It’s famously added to rubs, soups, stews, chilli (of course), and a variety of Latin dishes. For example, you can use it to make your own enchilada sauce.
It’s a versatile spice that works well with meat, whether grilling chicken or slow-cooking pork shoulder. It’s even great in pasta sauces.
Can you just use chilli powder for chilli?
Using Chilli Powder
Chilli powder is also an ingredient in chilli made without a packet of chilli seasoning. Depending on the recipe, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of chilli powder at the start of cooking to add a bit of heat and impart a peppery taste to a dish.
What seasonings go well with chilli powder?
Cinnamon and Chilli Powder
Mixing cinnamon with chilli powder adds unexpected delight, the chilli powder adds a bold punch of spice that complements the zip of the cinnamon.
Use cinnamon and chilli powder to season Cincinnati Chilli or combine them to make a rub for chicken, fish or tofu.
Can you substitute paprika for hot chilli powder?
You can use paprika as an alternative to chilli powder because it’s a member of the same family as chilli peppers.
Although the flavor and spiciness of paprika are different from chilli powder. It’s more on the sweet, smokey, and mild spicy side than spicy-hot.
Is chilli powder healthy?
The herbs and spices in chilli powder are great sources of several minerals including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
A 1-tablespoon serving provides 26 mg of calcium, which is 2.6 per cent of your daily recommended intake.