Dried chiles are an essential part of global cuisine. They’re popular because they add heat and spice to the food, but more importantly, because dried chiles have a longer shelf life. A wide variety of red chiles are available because of their use globally. Some prominent examples are Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine and Indian, Thai, and Chinese cuisine.
Most of us expect dried red peppers to be hot, though several types of dried chiles are mild. Some of the most famous dried chiles tend to be milder, though you’ll also experience plenty of fiery hot chiles.
Let’s take a look at some famous types of dried chiles.
7 Famous Dried Chiles That Leave An Impression
1. Pasilla Chile Pepper
Pasilla peppers are almost black, somewhat dark brown, and have wrinkly skin. The word pasilla is Spanish and translates to “little raisin,” which is an adequate representation of the appearance of this pepper. Though, these chile peppers aren’t exactly little – a pasilla chile pepper can be 8-10 inches long.
On the Scoville Scale, pasilla peppers hit somewhere between 1000-2500 SHU, characterized as mild to moderate. The peppers show off sweet and fruity taste undertones that are loosely similar to raisins.
Pasilla chile peppers are prized in Mexican cuisine and bring their taste to several recipes.
2. Chile California (Anaheim Pepper)
Here’s another flavorful and mild chile pepper that works wonderfully with several recipes. Conventionally green anaheim peppers are allowed to ripen and then dried. Once complete, you get the burgundy-colored chiles known as Chile California.
Being on the mild side of things, the pepper packs about 500-2500 SHU heat. Chile California peppers are usually mild with a hint of acidity and a sharp flavor. This pepper is a common ingredient in several recipes. It can go with almost any dish.
There is much more about California chiles as this versatile ingredient presents several uses. It’s great for recipes and spice blends. Dried California Chile is good to go as whole peppers and when ground to flakes or chile powder.
It’s about time we had a hot and spicy pepper on this list, and pequin fits that role. This spicy and short chile clocks 40,000 to 60,000 SHU and packs a punch. Pequin chile is also known as pequeño and bird pepper. Its name translates to “little pepper.” The name holds – an average pequin chile pepper rarely hits an inch in length.
The spicy pepper takes on an orange-brown color when dry. Though pretty hot, it is slightly lower than cayenne peppers on the Scoville scale. It finds plenty of use in recipes like salsas, hot sauces, and spicy soups.
As with other chile peppers, it is being hot isn’t the only skill for pequin. It has fruity and smoky taste notes that give it an excellent flavor. We usually don’t associate sweetness with chile peppers, but many peppers have sweet notes.
Even with super hot chile peppers like ghost pepper and Carolina reaper, the first taste note is the fruity sweetness. Of course, that’s immediately followed by the lava-like heat from these peppers!
4. Chipotle Chile Pepper
Chipotle is the famous chile pepper that also gives the Chipotle restaurant chain its name. The pepper is famous for its use in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. Chipotle pepper is a ripened jalapeno that’s wood-smoked until dry.
It usually has deep red skin, though you can have chipotle peppers that are dried for longer and end up with a slightly gray color. It’s a moderately spicy pepper with a heat score of 5,000 to 10,000 SHU, much like conventional jalapenos.
Chipotle peppers find several uses in recipes, including barbecue sauces.
5. Ancho Chile Pepper
Poblano peppers and ancho peppers are the same with different harvesting and processing. Poblano peppers are harvested when green, though as the pepper is allowed to ripen, it gets a red color. Harvested and dried, this pepper is known as the ancho chile pepper.
Ancho chile is amongst the most used peppers in Mexican cuisine. Pasilla, ancho, and guajillo peppers make the “holy trinity” of Mexican peppers used in several recipes like mole sauce.
Usually, ancho peppers grow to about five inches long and are three inches wide. The word ancho translates to “wide.” Ancho is a mild pepper that hits somewhere between 1000 to 2000 SHU. The mild chile has a sweet and smoky flavor that goes well with many dishes.
6. Guajillo Chile Pepper
Guajillo peppers are one of the “holy trinity” of Mexican peppers and the spiciest of the trio. Going up to five inches in length, the peppers have a deep red color and a lovely flavor. It hits 2,500 to 5,000 SHU, putting it in the mild to moderate category. This makes it a versatile and excellent way to add heat to a recipe without going overboard with the spiciness.
The pepper shows off a complex smoky taste that adds a depth of flavor to most recipes. Its unique flavor profile is what makes the guajillo chile pepper so desirable. While it does add heat to recipes, it’s more prized for the complex flavors it brings along.
7. Chile de árbol
As one of the more famous and flamboyant peppers, Chile de árbol is tough to miss. The slim and spicy peppers show a vivid and bright red color and pack serious heat. Their color, shape, and heat come to mind when we think of red hot chile peppers – usually right along with the band!
Chile de árbol scores about 30,000 to 50,000 on the heat scale. It’s a great way to add heat to recipes; often, just a pinch will do the trick. Chile de árbol often finds use in spice mixes, hot sauces, and crushed chile flakes.
As these different types of dried chiles show, there’s more to them than merely adding heat. Often, they bring along excellent flavors that add a lovely touch to the recipes. Many famous chile peppers are mild, but plenty excels in their heat and spiciness.