Chili powder is one of those pantry essentials that help give dishes like chili, enchiladas, chicken tortilla soup, and other Mexican American–inspired dishes their signature flavor. If you open your kitchen cabinet and discover that you’re out of chile powder, you can use a few alternatives.
Best Substitutions For Chili Powder
When you need to add a little bit of heat or flavor to a dish but are out of chili powder, the most straightforward replacement is one of the individual ingredients in chili powder.
Additionally, several unanticipated single seasonings make excellent substitutes!
1. Ancho Powder
If a recipe calls for a chili powder blend, you may substitute ancho chile powder alone. However, ancho powder is more potent than a chili powder blend because it is not mixed with other seasonings.
Therefore, begin with half the quantity specified in the recipe and add more as necessary.
Paprika resembles chili powder in color because it is also produced from ground chilis, making it a suitable substitute.
The primary distinction is that Paprika is significantly less spicy than chile powder. However, it has a comparable smoky flavor (especially if smoked Paprika is used). Paprika is a beautiful substitute for chili powder because it provides the smoky elements without heat.
Paprika can be used independently in a 1:1 ratio for chile powder.
If you want to replicate the flavor of chile powder more closely, combine Paprika with garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin. Begin with 1/2 teaspoon of each per 1 teaspoon of Paprika.
3. Cayenne Pepper
On the opposite end of the spectrum from Paprika, cayenne pepper is extremely spicy! Cayenne pepper, a dried and ground pepper, is an excellent substitute for increasing the spiciness of a dish.
However, its heat level is greater than that of poblano peppers, so commence with small quantities.
Start with a quarter of the chile powder called for, then add more as necessary.
After the initial flavor, the cayenne pepper’s heat can sometimes intensify, so wait a minute before adding more.
Cayenne pairs well with garlic and onion powder and can also be mixed with Paprika to create a substitute for heat.
4. Red Pepper Flakes
Red pepper flakes, commonly found in small round containers on pizza restaurant tables, can be used for more than just pizza.
When you don’t have powdered chilis, a pinch of these fiery flakes can provide heat and flavor. If you don’t want the chips visible, you can pulverize or blend them before using them.
It can substitute chili powder with red pepper granules in a 1:1 ratio.
Cumin is the seasoning that makes your beloved Mexican dishes smell delicious. It is one of the most prominent seasonings in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, alongside ancho powder.
Cumin has such a distinct flavor that, even without chile powder, it will hint at the authentic taste you seek.
A 2:1 ratio of cumin can be substituted for chile powder if using cumin alone.
However, if you wish to combine cumin with other spices, such as onion powder and garlic powder, use a 1:1 ratio of cumin to chile powder and add 12 measurements of each extra kick.
6. Garlic Powder
Chili powder frequently includes garlic powder as a constituent. While using it alone will not provide the spice and heat of chili powder, it is still a fantastic option for seasoning on meats or added into soups or sauces.
Garlic powder can be pretty potent, so you should use it sparingly in the absence of other flavors.
Therefore, commence with a half serving of garlic powder relative to the amount of chili powder called for in the recipe. If required, you can always add more!
7. Onion Powder
Onion powder, like garlic powder, is used in chili powder blends. It cannot provide the spice and chile flavor when used alone.
While garlic powder is frequently used alone, onion powder is typically more effective when combined with other flavors.
Even if you don’t have chile powder, onion powder, garlic powder, Paprika, or cayenne can provide a similar taste.
Start with a 14 teaspoon of onion powder and add more as necessary.
Oregano may be more commonly associated with Italian cuisine, but it is also a prominent ingredient in Mexican and Latin American dishes.
Numerous chili powder formulas contain oregano. Oregano can be used independently, like the countless other seasonings in chile powder blends.
As with garlic and onion powders, however, it will need more flavor and spice than chili powder.
Oregano is most effective when added to soups and sauces. It is recommended to begin with half the amount of oregano and chile powder called for in the recipe.
Adding in additional seasonings such as garlic powder and Paprika will help elevate the flavor profile to be more like chili powder.
9. Hot Sauce
If you run out of chili powder, you may already have hot sauce in your refrigerator that you can use in an emergency. However, spicy sauces have a distinct flavor profile due to the acidic flavor resulting from combining chilies and vinegar.
Therefore, while it will give the desired spice and heat, it will lack the smokiness.
A few dashes of hot sauce can lend the necessary kick to a sauce or soup.
Start with a quarter of the chile powder called for in the recipe and add it slowly. Remember that it will impart heat and alter the flavor profile.
10. Chili Sauce
The ingredients for chili sauce are chili chilies, salt, and vinegar. It often contains sugar as well. These ingredients are combined and cooked to form a viscous sauce or paste.
Chili sauce’s heat and flavor can vary depending on the varieties of peppers used and the amount of sugar added. Therefore, I recommend tasting the chili sauce on its own before adding it to your recipe to ensure you appreciate its flavor profile.
Follow the same slow progression indicated for the hot sauce if using chili sauce.
11. Black Pepper
Black pepper that you undoubtedly have on your kitchen counter is, in my opinion, one of the most underutilized seasonings.
Frequently left on the table or counter, it is not a conspicuous ingredient in many dishes. However, it can enhance the flavor of a word.
While black pepper cannot replace the distinct and complex flavor profile of chili powder, if it is all you have on hand, you can use it to season meat and sauces with a delectable kick of flavor.
In an emergency, combine it with garlic powder and any other seasonings listed above to create a flavorful herb.
There are numerous alternatives to chile powder, depending on personal preference and availability. Chili powder can be substituted with Paprika, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, or a blend of cumin and cayenne, maintaining the desired heat and flavor while accommodating various spice profiles.
Thank you for reading……