We love spice in our household! We use chili powder in everything- that and cayenne pepper! So it is helpful to know that chili powder is actually a blend of different spices, including cayenne pepper. This can be tricky when you are out of chili powder because you may want to grind chiles as a substitute, but that will not cover the flavor that chili powder adds to your dish. We often run out of chili powder so I have started keeping the spices on hand to make my own chili powder as a substitute. I have included the recipe for homemade chili powder below with a tutorial. But first, here are some other great chili powder substitutes.
Chili Powder Substitute #1 Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
This is one of my favorite chili powder substitute because it is readily available. You probably have some packets lying around from the last time you ordered pizza. The red pepper flakes will cover the heat of the chili powder, but will not add as much flavor. You should use a mortal and pestle to grind the red pepper flakes as close as possible into a powder. You will want to use a bit less than what is called for unless you like it spicy.
CHILI POWDER SUBSTITUTE #2 Ancho Powder
Ancho powder is made from ground poblano peppers. It has a smoky flavor, but has some sweet notes. Ancho powder is included in many chili powder blends and gives a lot of the flavor to chili powder, which is why ancho powder is a good chili powder substitute. However, it is more potent so you will want to add about half of the amount of the chili powder in your recipe.
CHILI POWDER SUBSTITUTE #3 Chipotle Powder
Another decent chili powder substitute is chipotle powder. Chipotle powder has the smoky, mildly spicy flavor because it is made from smoked (and dried) jalapenos. Because cumin is one of the main ingredients in chili powder, chipotle powder can cover its earthy flavor with its smoky flavor.
CHILI POWDER SUBSTITUTE #4 Paprika
Paprika is a large component of chili powder. Paprika can be a substitute for chili powder all on its own. However, my preference is to make your own chili powder from paprika, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and oregano.
You can combine 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of cumin, and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, oregano, cumin, and onion powder. Place them in a jar and shake it up. Now you have your own chili powder! Check out the tutorial below- she uses a few more ingredients, but it is equally as easy.
CHILI POWDER SUBSTITUTE #5 Hot Sauce
This substitute for chili powder is only good if you are making a soup or sauce. Many hot sauces have the blend of spice and smoky flavors. Even tabasco could cover you, but again, you would want to match the flavor profile of your dish. I would recommend the Chipotle Tabasco sauce, but of course that is only if you already have it on hand.
The best substitute for chili powder is the homemade version listed in #4. It is easy and is really just recreating the blend of spices already contained in chili powder. So if you have cumin, paprika, oregano, onion and garlic powders on hand, then you can easily make a substitute for chili powder.