Last Updated: April 13, 2022

Get-at-able Substitutes for Chili Powder

Substitutes for Chili Powder

Chili powder is one of the key ingredients in many dishes. It is also used for seasoning many other dishes.

Be it when you’re entirely out of it or when you’re planning to bring some changes to the dish’s taste. Therefore, let’s know about the chili powder substitutes.

[The following list is for you if only you are in a rush, but if you read the full content, you will thank me later!]

Some Great Substitutes for Chili Powder include: 

  1. Cumin
  2. Garlic Powder
  3. Ancho Chili Powder
  4. Onion Powder
  5. Chipotle Pepper Powder
  6. Oregano
  7. Paprika
  8. Cayenne Pepper
  9. Red Pepper Flakes
  10. Taco Seasoning and more…

Now, let’s dive into the details you need to know.

Available and Convenient Substitutes for Chili Powder

Here are some best substitutes and how to use them.

1. Cumin

Cumin is a primary ingredient in chili powder, so it can be handy when you can’t find any chili powder near you. It has a warm, rich, and sweet-bitter flavor. It is one of the most used ingredients in Mexican, Latin American, and Middle Eastern cuisines.

The brown-yellow cumin is more used than other ones, and you can use either cumin seeds or powder in your dish to make it much more flavorful.

Suppose you plan to use cumin as a substitute for chili powder. In that case, you can double the amount of cumin for the amount of chili powder required because cumin lacks the heat of chili powder. But as ground cumin has a strong flavor, start with the same amount that the recipe calls for chili powder and add more if needed.

Along with cumin, you can also add garlic powder, cayenne, or paprika for more flavor, spice, and color.

2. Garlic Powder

Garlic powder, one of the common ingredients in the chili powder blend, is used in almost every cuisine as it adds flavor to the food. Though it’s an excellent spice for seasoning meats, stir-fries, or to add into soups or sauces, only using garlic powder will not add as much flavor as chili powder.

So, suppose you want to use garlic powder to substitute for chili powder. In that case, you can mix it with cumin or oregano to enhance the flavor.

3. Ancho Chili Powder

You can use ancho chili powder instead of chili powder for a recipe. Chili powder is a blend of many other spices, but ancho powder is made from long, dark green papers, which is stronger in flavor than chili powder.

Cayenne pepper is included in most chili powder blends. Using ancho chili powder will add that earthy pepper flavor to your recipe and a hint of smokiness. So, it’s suggested to use half of the ancho powder compared to the amount of necessary chili powder for a recipe.

4. Onion Powder

Onion Powder
Image Credit: shutterstock

It’s another common ingredient in chili powder seasoning. Onion powder is always used in dishes like sauces, vegetables, meats, casseroles, soups, and salad dressings to enhance the taste and flavor.

Like garlic powder, using onion powder alone will not add the required spice or chili flavor. Onion powder works best if combined with other spices.

A combination of onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, chili peppers, or paprika will be a decent substitute if you’re running out of chili powder.

5. Chipotle Pepper Powder

Chipotle powder, made from smoked, red, and dried jalapeno peppers known as chipotle peppers, is a mildly spicy chili powder. Its heat and red color make it a perfect substitute for chili powder for adding smokiness and flavor to many dishes.

But chipotle’s distinctive sweet and smoky flavor makes it different from regular chili powder. That’s why you are recommended to start with half the amount of chipotle pepper powder in place of the required chili powder, then see if your dish needs more or not.

6. Dried Chili Peppers

Like ancho powder and chipotle pepper powder, dried chili peppers also work well as a chili powder substitute because of their smoky and spicy flavors. Also, all three were dried peppers before they were bottled.

In the case of dried chili peppers, the amount of heat varies with each type of dried chili pepper. For example, the pequin peppers are spicier than cascabel and guajillo.

However, if you are going for spicy dried peppers, start with half the amount and taste your dish before adding more.

7. Oregano

Oregano, commonly known as a pizza herb, has a slightly bitter and earthy taste. Mexican and Latin American dishes always include this popular spice.

You can find the flavor of oregano in many chili powder recipes. However, suppose you mix dried oregano with garlic powder, grounded chili peppers, and/or paprika. In that case, the flavor will be close to chili powder, making it a pretty good substitute.

8. Paprika

Image Credit: shutterstock

Paprika is an excellent alternative to chili powder as it is also red and made from ground chilis. But chili powder is stronger in flavor than paprika.

Depending on the variety, paprika can add flavor, spiciness, or a bright red color to a dish. You need to see first which paprika you have in your hand.

However, suppose you want to have a smoky flavor from paprika, just like chili powder. In that case, you can opt for smoky paprika. Moreover, unlike chili powder, it lacks too much heat, but it’s a useful substitute.

You can use paprika on its own in a 1:1 ratio instead of chili powder. But to add more flavors, you can use garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin with paprika.

9. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper, a good substitute, provides a lot of heat and can easily intensify the spiciness of any dish. Since it has a higher heat level, it would be wise to start with a small amount of cayenne pepper.

To be safe, you can start with a ¼ of the requested amount of chili powder and then feel free to add more if needed.

If combined with garlic and onion powder, cayenne pepper performs even better. And you can also mix it with paprika to create the ultimate chili powder substitute.

10. Red Pepper Flakes

Red pepper flakes are commonly used as a pizza topping and can easily be a good substitute for chili powder. It has the necessary level of flavor and heat.

You can use red pepper flakes in a 1:1 ratio for the chili powder. And to get an even better result, you can add some cumin with it.

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11. Taco Seasoning

Suppose you have taco seasoning in your kitchen without any second thought. You can use it if you don’t have chili powder because taco seasoning blends have many common ingredients like chili powder, including cumin, garlic, paprika, and ground chili peppers.

So, you can use the same amount of taco seasoning as chili powder to give your dish a boost of flavor.

12. Black Pepper

As black pepper is one of the most widely used spices, it is used for seasoning and spice.

Black pepper enhances the flavor of meats, fish, vegetables, soups, pasta, salad dressings, and other dishes. To use it as a substitute for chili powder, combine it with cumin or oregano.

Although the mixture will be less spicy, it will add a nice flavor to your dish.

13. Chili Sauce & Hot Sauce

You can easily find either chili or hot sauce in your refrigerator. Both sauces have a mixture of chili peppers and vinegar. These may not bring smokiness to your dish but will add spice and heat. Chili sauce sometimes includes sugar too.

But it may vary depending on the peppers used, and in the case of chili sauce, you need to see the sugar level. You can just taste the chili sauce alone before adding it to your dish.

You can add the sauces little by little to ensure the flavor they are providing is what you need.

14. Homemade Chili Powder

Homemade chili powder is the best chili powder substitute because you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen to make it. You can use any spice according to your preference, blend them, and use the mix in your recipe. The more spices you will mix, the better flavor your dish will have.

So, to make homemade chili powder, mix the following ingredients.

  • 2 teaspoons of dried oregano.
  • 3 teaspoons of paprika or ancho chili powder.
  • 3 teaspoons of ground cumin.
  • 3 teaspoons of garlic powder.
  • 3 teaspoons of onion powder.
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of ground chili peppers.

    Use this mix in an equal 1:1 ratio in any recipe that calls for chili powder!

Now you know what to use instead of chili powder when you are out of it. These substitutes are very easy to get and are very convenient to use. So, by using one of these substitutes, you can get the flavor you need in a recipe.

Bonus: Now, you may want to know what the substitute for red chili pepper can be if you're a lover of spicy dishes. Well, here are some alternatives for you.

Substitute for Red Chili Pepper

1. You can use Serrano peppers, one of the hottest chili peppers with a milder taste. Try using this spice little by little to adjust the difference in heat level.

2. Another substitute can be Chinese red peppers. They are red and are extremely hot.

3. Jalapeno peppers can be an excellent substitute for red chili peppers. Depending on the type, its heat level can vary from medium to very hot.

4. Cayenne pepper and Pequin chili pepper also work well as a substitute for red chili pepper.

The Ultimate Takeaway

  • Cumin
  • Garlic Powder
  • Ancho Chili Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Chipotle Pepper Powder
  • Dried Chili Peppers, Oregano, Paprika
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Black Pepper
  • Chili Sauce & Hot Sauce
  • Homemade Chili Powder

are all the great substitutes for chili powder but choose the right one as per your need.

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