Best Chili Powder Substitute?

Chili powder is the dried, pulverized fruit of varieties of chili peppers. Some Chili powders have an addition of other spices, called a chili powder blend. It’s used to add pungency and flavor to dishes. It’s used in many cuisines, such as Tex-Mex, Indian, Korean, and Portuguese.

If you have a love for cooking, you most likely had to deal with running out of an ingredient that your recipe calls for. Most Tex-Mex dishes like tacos or Chili con Carne calls for chili powder, but what if you forgot to buy some in the grocery store? There are a few substitutes for chili powder that are relatively easy to find and you may even have some of them already in your kitchen!

Substitutes for Chili Powder

Red Pepper Flakes

Most kitchens would have a stock of red pepper flakes lying around somewhere, and it substitutes well for chili powder, especially when ground up further. Use an electric spice grinder or mortar and pestle to grind them up finely until they turn into powder. This is slightly hotter than chili powder and may have less flavor, but it will do.


Smoked paprika is a staple in many kitchens and its base is also the chili pepper. The heat level ranges from mild to spicy and is a great choice when you run out of chili powder. There are some spices mixed with Paprika, so it may slightly change the flavor of your dish.

Ancho Powder

Ancho peppers are a part of the holy trinity of Mexican chilies and have a complex flavor on its own. Many specialty Mexican groceries and some supermarkets may carry ancho pepper powder. This is an excellent substitute as it also has some sweetness and earthiness to its flavor. Ancho powder has a moderate heat and can give a bit of a kick. This consists of ground poblano peppers and nothing else. If substituting for chili powder, add half the amount that the recipe calls for.

Hot Sauce

If you have nothing else in the cupboard or refrigerator, hot sauce can be used as a substitute. This is especially great if you’ll be adding chili powder in soups or sauces. Use a couple of dashes to the dish to add some heat. Original Tabasco or Sriracha is most recommended.

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