9 Best Ancho Chili Powder Substitutes For You To Try!

Note- This post may contain affiliate links, we earn from qualifying purchases made on our website. If you make a purchase through links from this website, we may get a small share of the sale from Amazon and other similar affiliate programs.

If you are fond of cooking Mexican food often, the ancho chili or chile powder must be a staple in your pantry. But, have you run out at the last moment and wondered what to add to your Mexican feast? Then, look at some of the best ancho chili powder substitutes here! 

Best ancho chili powder substitutes

In most recipes, the best substitutes for ancho chili powder are paprika, cayenne pepper, chili powder, chipotle powder, gochugaru, and guajillo chile powder. 

Ancho chili powder must be one of the most popular spices. The production of this chili powder dates back to the Aztecs, who crushed dried poblano peppers, also known as ancho chilis. This was a way to preserve the chilis. 

Although you may not find most people crushing ancho chilis, the powder has become a staple in specific cuisines. Ancho chili powder is a must in most Mexican recipes. Ideally, chili powder was used for almost every recipe possible. 

Ancho chili powder was a staple in most marinades, sauces, and stews and also worked well as a meat rub. However, you will also find ancho chili powder in chocolates, cakes, and hot cocoa, with a base chili flavor. 

The chili powder tends to have a flavor that is not too hot, which is why many people prefer it. In this blog post, we will be looking at the best substitutes for this chili powder and why all of them would work! 

9 Best Ancho Chili Powder Substitutes

Here are some of the best substitutes you can use instead of ancho chili powder and how and why exactly each would work in different recipes. 

1. Paprika


Paprika is one of the most popular types of ground pepper powders out there. This is one of the main reasons it makes a lovely substitute for ancho chili powder. Paprika also comes in various types with different levels of heat. 

You may find a paprika powder that is mild, hot, and even smoked. Remember that they all have distinct flavor profiles. The best substitute you could go for is mixing equal parts of soft and hot paprika to get a balanced flavor, which can be used in the same quantity as ancho chili powder in any recipe. 

2. Guajillo Chile Powder

guajilo powder in a bowl

This is another type of Mexican chile powder that can work well in most recipes instead of ancho chili powder. However, the thing with Guajillo chile powder is that it has a much more complex flavor profile than ancho chili powder. 

This chili powder tends to have subtle flavors of pine and berry and is also a tad bitter hotter than ancho chili powder. But if a little extra heat does not bother you, then go ahead and replace the ancho chili powder with the same amount of Guajillo chile powder. If you want to control the heat levels, then go for half the quantity of the same as a substitute. 

3. Cayenne Pepper

cayenne powder in a bowl

Just like paprika, this is another staple in most kitchens. What makes it different from paprika is that cayenne pepper tends to have a higher heat level. But this works well in several recipes. 

Cayenne pepper can be much more potent with its heat than ancho chili powder. So, although spice lovers may love this substitute, you should be careful about how much you add to any recipe. I recommend starting with ¼ the quantity of cayenne pepper compared to ancho chile powder in any recipe. 

4. Chipotle Powder

Chipotle Powder

This chile powder is made from dried, ground jalapenos and is another readily available substitute. Chipotle powder also has a much higher heat than ancho chili powder. But, it is not exponentially high like Cayenne pepper. 

Chipotle powder also often carries a slight tang, which adds a lot to specific recipes, especially meat rubs, and marinades. So, if you see this powder in your pantry, don’t shy away from using it in place of ancho chili powder as a substitute in half the quantity.

5. Chili Powder

red chili powder in a bowl

You may think chili powder is another pepper spice made with hot peppers. But that is undoubtedly not the case with this powder. Chili powder has dried chiles as the base but often has many more flavorings added. 

Chili powder, in most cases, also contains cumin, oregano, paprika, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. So yes, using it as a direct substitute for ancho chili powder might be the best idea if you are okay with the complex flavors. If not, mix half of the chili powder with some crushed pepper and then use it as a substitute for ancho chili powder. 

6. Gochugaru

Gochugaru powder

This powder is a staple in Korean cuisine and is often used in most Korean dishes to add flavor. Gochugaru and ancho chili powder may seem worlds apart, mainly because they are used in very different cooking. 

But the good news is that the heat content of Gochugaru is very similar to ancho chili powder. So, that makes it a good substitute for many recipes. As a bonus, Gohugaru’s potent flavor works well in recipes of every cuisine out there! 

7. Chile De Arbol Powder

chile de arbol

These are also quite popularly known as “bird’s eye peppers.” The small, long, and thin chiles are initially from Latin America. But, they are now used quite commonly in Mexican cuisine and several Southeast Asian cuisines. 

These tiny chiles are packed with heat and are moderately hot peppers. So, they are milder than ancho chili peppers. However, if you use smaller quantities and experiment with lightly flavored recipes, this substitute will work perfectly fine. 

8. Pasilla Chile Powder

Along with an earthy undertone in flavor, this chile powder is also mild with heat. So, that makes it a decent substitute for ancho chili powder. Ancho chili peppers can even be a little hotter! 

But, although pasilla chile powder is a good option, it has many complex flavors. You may also come across some nutty flavors in the spice and earthy undertones. So, use it sparingly in recipes, and only if you have no other option. 

9. Mulato Pepper Powder

The chiles used to make this pepper powder tend to undergo a longer maturation process than regular old ancho chili powder. This gives them an intense and potent flavor when powdered, increasing the heat index. 

This pepper powder is also darker in color, which can affect the overall appearance of your recipe. If these things don’t make a difference, then Mulato pepper powder can be used as a substitute for ancho chili powder in half the quantity. 

Short Recap For Best Ancho Chili Powder Substitutes

Here is a little recap of the best substitutes that you can use in place of ancho chili powder. These have been divided into three categories based on certain factors. 

Best Ancho Chili Powder Substitutes In Terms Of Flavor: 

  1. Paprika
  2. Pasilla Chile Powder

Best Ancho Chili Powder Substitutes In Terms Of Availability: 

  1. Cayenne Pepper
  2. Paprika
  3. Chile Powder

Substitutes For Ancho Chili Powder That You Should Consider Using Last: 

  1. Mulato Pepper Powder
  2. Chili Powder

How To Use Ancho Chili Powder Substitutes

9 Best Ancho Chili Powder Substitutes For You To Try

In most recipes, the best substitutes for ancho chili powder are paprika, cayenne pepper, chili powder, chipotle powder, gochugaru, and guajillo chile powder.
5 from 1 vote


  • Paprika
  • Guajillo Chile Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Chipotle Powder
  • Chili Powder
  • Gochugaru
  • Chile de Arbol Powder
  • Pasilla Chile Powder
  • Mulato Pepper Powder


  • Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
  • Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
  • Use the substitute in the required amount and make the dish according to the recipe.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


Ancho chili powder is a great way to add a mild amount of heat to any recipe! Most commonly used in Mexican cuisine, Ancho chili powder also makes a great addition to almost any recipe. 

But, if you have run out of the same, plenty of options can be used instead, which work as substitutes. Based on the flavor and heat you want to add to your recipe, you can pick the best substitute for you! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are all the substitute options mentioned above readily available? 

Not all of them, but most of them are readily available in the market. 

Is chili powder always enhanced with other spices? 

Yes, in most cases, chili powder is enhanced with other spices. 

Is ancho chile powder added to desserts? 

This chile powder works very well in desserts due to its mild flavor. 

Is cayenne pepper powder hotter than ancho chili powder? 

Yes, cayenne pepper powder is hotter than ancho chili powder. 

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating