9 Guajillo Chili Substitutes To Try

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Want to make enchiladas but don’t have guajillo chilies on hand? No worries, we’ve got you covered. Guajillo chilies are dried mirasol chilies that are popular in Mexican cuisine. But what if you don’t have them right now when you need them? Try guajillo chili substitutes instead.

Guajillo Peppers

There are fantastic guajillo chili substitutes such as ancho chili powder, pasilla chili powder, anaheim chili powder, cascabel chilies, puya chilies, and Chipotle chili peppers.

Guajillo chilies are often used in Mexican dishes to add spice. You can find these chilies in two forms: dry and powder form. If you want powdered guajillo, toast them in the pan and grind them in the blender. 

Guajillo chilies are mild to medium-hot chilies with 2,500-5,000 SHU on the Scoville scale. If you have started making any dish with guajillo but realized they are out of stock, fret not. We have covered the list of 9 guajillo chili substitutes that will work the same way as guajillo. 

1. Ancho Chili Powder 

Anaheim Chili Powder In Round Bowl

A well-known chili substitute for guajillo is ancho chili powder. Ancho chili powder is commonly used in Mexican cuisine and has a similar flavor profile to guajillo. So, you can easily replace guajillo powder with ancho chili.

Ancho chili powder is made from dried poblano peppers. The peppers are picked ripe and then dried. The drying process gives them a sweet and smoky flavor. Scoville heat units range from 1,000 to 2,000 for ancho chili powder.

So, you can easily substitute ancho chile powder as it’s versatile and flavorful. It’s sweet taste and smoky flavors add depth to dishes. 

2. Ancho Peppers

Ancho Peppers On Surface

You can use ancho peppers when guajillo chili is not available. Ancho peppers are dried poblano peppers with a sweet, smoky flavor and mild heat. They are a staple in Mexican cuisine and are often used in sauces, salsas, and marinades. Ancho peppers are also used to make chili powder.

Remember that they have a different flavor profile when using ancho peppers as a substitute for guajillo chili. Guajillo chili has a fruitier and tangier flavor, while ancho peppers taste sweeter and smokier. However, the two can substitute with each other.

To use ancho peppers in your cooking, rehydrate peppers by soaking them in hot water for about 20 minutes. Once soft, remove the stems and seeds and then puree them. 

3. Pasilla Chili Powder

Pasilla Chili Powder

Pasilla chili powder is made from dried pasilla peppers that have been ground into a powder. They are often used in Mexican cuisine. They have a dark, almost black color, and medium heat level. 

The flavor of pasilla chili is earthy and smoky. Pasilla chili powder works well in chili, sauces, marinades, and rubs for meats. Also, it’s great for adding depth of flavors to soups and stews.

4. Anaheim Chili Powder

Anaheim Chili Powder In Round Bowl

Anaheim chili powder is derived from dried Anaheim peppers. These peppers are medium-sized, mild in spice level, and commonly grown in California and Mexico. You can make a fine powder by grinding the dried Anaheim chile peppers.

Anaheim chile powder has a mild, sweet taste with an earthy undertone. It’s not as spicy as other chili powders, such as cayenne or chipotle, but it still adds heat to dishes.

Anaheim chile powder can work in a pinch if you want a substitute for guajillo chili. Remember that the flavor won’t be the same, so you may need to adjust the other spices in your recipe accordingly.

Anaheim chili powder can be used in Mexican-inspired dishes, such as enchiladas, tacos, and chili. It’s also a great addition to soups, stews, and marinades.

5. Cascabel Chili Peppers

Cascabel Chili Peppers

Cascabel chilies are an excellent substitute for guajillo chili if you need help finding guajillo pepper in your local market. Cascabel chilies originate from Mexico, and they feature a unique flavor. They have a nutty and smoky flavor, which makes them perfect for stews, sauces, soups, and marinades.

These chilies are shorter and rounder than guajillo peppers, with a dark brown-red color. They don’t look like guajillo peppers but can be used similarly.

Cascabel chilies have a heat level between 1,500-2,500 SHU, less than guajillo peppers. So if you prefer a mild spicy taste in dishes, cascabel chili is a great option. 

To use cascabel chilies as paste, toast them first, remove the stem and seeds, and then soak them in hot water for around 20 minutes. Once soft, you can blend them into a paste or use them in your recipe.

6. Puya Chilies

Puya Chilies

Puya chilies are dried chili peppers primarily used in Mexican cuisine. They are smaller and spicier than guajillo peppers and have a heat level between 5,000-8,000 SHU. Puya chilies have a light fruity flavor with hints of licorice and cherry. 

When it comes to substituting puya chilies for guajillo chilies, keep in mind that puya chilies are spicier than guajillo peppers. However, both chilies have a similar flavor profile so you can use puya chilies as a substitute in many recipes.

One can use Puya chilies in various dishes, such as enchilada sauce, salsa, and mole sauce. They can also add flavor and heat to stews, soups, and marinades.

7. Mulato Chili Peppers

Mulato Chili Peppers

Another substitute for guajillo chilies is mulato chilies. They are named after their dark brown color, which in Spanish means ‘mulatto’. These chilies are mild in heat level compared to other chili peppers, with a Scoville heat unit range of 2,500 to 3,000. This makes them an excellent option for those who prefer less spicy food.

These mulato chilies are fruity, sweet, and smoky. They are often described as having a raisin-like taste with subtle chocolate notes. The smokiness of these chilies comes from drying them, which involves smoke-drying over a wood fire.

Mulato chilies are the same size and shape as guajillo chilies. However, they are darker, with deep brown skin that is slightly wrinkled. You can find them in whole form, flakes, or powder form.

8. Chipotle Chili Peppers

Chipotle Chili Peppers

Chipotle chili peppers are smoked and dried jalapeño peppers. They have a dark brown to black color and a wrinkled, leathery texture. They come in powder, flakes, or whole pods and can be found in adobo sauce.

Chipotle chili peppers have a deep, smoky taste with a bit of sweetness and medium heat. They have an earthy and woody aroma.

The heat level of chipotle chili peppers ranges from 2,500 to 8,000 on the Scoville scale. This puts them in the same range as a jalapeño pepper but with a milder flavor due to the smoking process. You can use chipotle chili peppers in marinades, dry rubs, stews, and soups. 

9. California Chili Peppers

California Chili Peppers

California chili peppers are dry and ripened Anaheim peppers. They are grown in California and named after the city of Anaheim.

California chilies are mild in heat, ranging from 500 to 2,500 Scoville heat units. They are long and slender, measuring around 6 to 10 inches long, and have a tapered shape with a curved tip. The skin is waxy and thin, ranging from light green to bright. When it is fully ripened, the color changes to deep red.

In terms of flavor, California chilies have a sweet and fruity taste with a mild smoky flavor. Due to their similar flavor profile, they are often used in Mexican cuisine as a substitute for guajillo chilies.

You can use California chiles in various recipes, such as soups, stews, sauces, and salsas. They are usually sold dried and can be found in the dried pepper section of most grocery stores.

Short Recap Of Guajillo Chili Substitutes

Here is a quick peek at guajillo chili Substitutes. I categorized these into three categories so it becomes easy for you guys to find your desired alternative.

Best Guajillo Chili Substitute In Terms Of Flavor and Texture

Pasilla Pepper

Best Guajillo Chili Substitutes That Are Easily Available

Ancho Peppers 

Unique Guajillo Chili Substitute 

Cascabel Pepper 

Guajillo Chili Substitute Should Be Least Considered 

Mualto Chili Peppers 


So, now we have found many substitutes for the guajillo chili. Several options are available such as ancho peppers, puya chilies, cascabel peppers, California peppers, mulato peppers, and pasilla peppers. However, the peppers closest to replicating the flavor of guajillo peppers are ancho peppers, pasilla peppers, and cascabel peppers.

Whether cooking up a spicy chili or a delicious salsa, having the right ingredients is essential. But when you don’t have guajillo peppers available, don’t worry. These substitutes can help you achieve the same flavor and spiciness in your food.

This guide has helped you find your fix for chilies. Experimentation is essential, and you may find the best substitute for your dish.

So, go ahead and try out these substitutes and let your taste buds be the judge. And if you have any other suggestions or tips for substituting guajillo peppers, feel free to share them in the comments below. Thank you for reading.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What can I use as a substitute for guajillo chili?

If you don’t have guajillo chili, you can use ancho chili, pasilla chili, or New Mexico chili.

Can I use paprika as a substitute for guajillo chili?

While paprika can add color and flavor to a dish, it is not a good substitute for guajillo chili. Paprika has a different flavor profile and is not spicy so it will provide an extra heat than guajillo chili in your dishes.

What dishes can I use guajillo chili substitutes in?

Guajillo chili substitutes can be used in various dishes, such as soups, stews, sauces, and marinades. They also suit Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes, such as enchiladas and chilaquiles.

Can I use chili powder instead of guajillo chili?

Chili powder contains ground chili peppers, which is not a good substitute for guajillo chili. Chili powder usually includes a blend of spices, including cumin, oregano, and garlic, adding a different flavor profile to your dish. 

How much of a guajillo chili substitute should I use?

The amount of guajillo chili substitute you should use will depend on the recipe. Generally, start with a small amount and add more gradually until you achieve the desired heat level. 

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