Food & Drink

Complete Guide to Chipotle Powder Substitutes

Last Updated on February 22, 2024 | 0 Comments
chipotle powder substitute

Trying to find the perfect chipotle powder substitute? Chipotle powder is a flavorful heavy-hitter in the world of Mexican-inspired cuisine, but it isn't always so easy to find. 

Being a home cook can be tricky when you don’t have the exact spice on hand that is called for in the recipe, but that's perfectly fine. Most spices have an equal counterpart that can easily be substituted for the missing ingredient. Read along to discover all the versatile substitutes for chipotle powder.


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What Is Chipotle Powder?

Chipotle powder originated in Mexico and is a popular ingredient in Mexican-inspired dishes across the southwest United States. Sprinkled over taco meat or mixed into rich red enchilada sauce, the chipotle powder is a staple in Mexican street foods and cuisine. 

Traditionally, chipotle peppers are made from aged, dried jalapeños that are smoked over a low-burning wood-fired flame. The peppers are then ground into a fine powder which can be used in a variety of dishes. Since chipotle powder is so popular, it can be challenging to find in local grocery stores; fortunately, there are plenty of substitutes for chipotle chili powder to choose from. In the list below, we’ll explore common substitutes for chipotle seasoning as well as some more obscure and creative chipotle chili substitutes. 

chipotle powder substitute
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What Does Chipotle Powder Taste Like?

Chipotles impart a smoky, slightly spicy taste to dishes. Chipotle is commonly used in adobo sauce and adds a delightful warm depth of flavor to traditional Mexican fare. Chipotle powder has a medium heat, which adds a nice little kick to dishes without being overwhelmingly spicy. Chipotle strikes the perfect balance between heat and smoke and is an easy way to elevate Mexican-inspired dishes. Luckily, there are many chipotle powder substitutes available if you don’t have chipotle powder to hand.

Glass of Chipotle Chili Flakes on Light Background
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Chipotle Powder Substitutes: Ground Spices

1. Smoked Paprika

Smoked paprika is made of dried chili peppers that are smoked over an oak fire and then ground into a fine powder. Smoked paprika is a great chipotle powder substitute for those sensitive to spice. This deep red powder is commonly found in most grocery stores and is an easy swap for chipotle powder. Smoked paprika adds a warm smoky flavor and pop of color to dishes without being too spicy. The substitute ratio for paprika is 1:1; use the same amount you would for chipotle powder.

smoked paprika is a chipotle powder substitute
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2. Chili Powder 

Chili powder is a spice blend of cayenne pepper, paprika and other dried herbs such as cumin. This chipotle powder substitute is the best of both worlds with the slightly nutty, smoky flavor of paprika and the fiery goodness of cayenne. The paprika cuts the spice of cayenne to make a nicely balanced spice blend that is the perfect chipotle powder substitute. The substitute ratio is 1:1.

chili powder
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3. Cayenne Pepper

If you like spicy flavors, then cayenne is the chipotle powder substitute for you. This fiery red pepper packs a punch and is a great substitute for cooks who enjoy a little more heat in their dishes. Cayenne pepper comes in robust flakes or a finely ground powder. Cayenne is a spicy chipotle powder substitute for any dish lacking heat. Because cayenne is spicier, use half the amount you would when substituting for chipotle powder.

cayenne pepper is a chipotle powder substitute
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4. Ancho-Chile Powder 

Ancho-chile powder is made from a similar process as chipotle powder with slow-roasted dried peppers. Ancho chiles are dried and smoked poblanos that are then ground into a fine powder to make ancho-chile powder. The resulting spice blend is mild with a rich smoky flavor that makes a great ground chipotle powder substitute. If chipotle powder is too spicy for your tastes, swap ancho-chile powder into your recipe. This chipotle powder substitute packs all the smoky flavor with less spice. The substitute ratio for ancho-chile powder is 1:1 as it is very similar to chipotle powder.

Ancho Chili Peppers (dried poblanos)
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5. Gochugaru 

Gochugaru is a Korean spice powder made of sun-dried Korean red chilis without the seeds. It is a staple in Korean food and is often used in traditional dishes such as kimchi, cucumber salad and other famous Korean spicy foods. Gochugaru is traditionally used in Korean food but also makes a great chipotle powder substitute in all dishes and adds a satisfying kick of heat to dry rubs and marinades. Gochugaru can add an interesting twist of flavor when used as a chipotle chili powder substitute in traditional Mexican cuisine. The substitute ratio is 1:1.

gochugaru is a great chipotle powder substitute
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6. Peri Peri

Opt for peri peri if you're seeking a spicier alternative to chipotle powder. Peri peri is translated into "very hot sauce" in English, and it definitely lives up to its namesake. With a Scoville rating 20 times hotter than a jalapeño pepper, this ground chipotle pepper substitute is not for the faint of heart. Peri Peri comes from the African Bird's Eye chile, which is dried and then ground into a fine powder. Peri Peri is common in African and Portuguese cuisine and was made famous by the popular chicken chain, Nandos. Peri Peri is a wonderful chipotle powder substitute for cooks who crave much more spice in their dishes. Due to the high spice level, use half the amount of peri peri that you would chipotle powder. 

peri peri chillis
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7. Pasilla Powder  

Pasilla powder is made from ground-dried pasilla peppers. It can be dark brown to black in color and has a rich, nutty and slightly sweet flavor, similar to a raisin. It serves as a handy chipotle powder substitute for cooks who appreciate complex flavor-building in dishes. It offers a subtle sweetness in its depth of flavor and is commonly added to compound butter and cream sauce. Pasilla powder is delicious when mixed into a simmering pot of beans or chili. This chipotle chile substitute has very little spice and is quite versatile, usable across a variety of recipes. The substitute ratio for pasilla powder is 1:1.

pasila peppers are a chipotle alternative
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8. Aleppo Pepper 

Aleppo pepper is a bright red, dried pepper flake commonly used in Middle Eastern dishes. It has a medium spice level and no smokiness. If you are using Aleppo peppers as a chipotle powder substitute, it is recommended to combine it with smoked paprika to add a little smokiness with the spice. Aleppo is a versatile chipotle chili substitute for those who don’t enjoy smoky flavors in their dish. The substitute ratio for Aleppo is 1:1; use the same amount as chipotle powder. 

aleppo pepper
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9. Guajillo Powder 

Guajillo powder is a common ingredient in authentic Mexican cuisine. This chipotle powder substitute is made from dried mirasol peppers that originated in the Zacatecas, Durango region of Mexico. This vibrant red powder has a slightly sweet and tangy flavor with tasting notes of green tea, pine nuts and berries. Guajillo powder has a medium spice rating and is not overwhelmingly spicy when used in cooking. Substitute guajillo powder 1:1 when swapping it for chipotle powder. 

guajillo powder is a chipotle powder substitute
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Chipotle Powder Substitutes: Other Seasonings

10. Adobo Sauce 

Adobo sauce is a smoky, savory sauce made of puréed ancho and guajillo chilis, vinegar, tomatoes, garlic, onions and a mix of various spices such as paprika, oregano, cumin and cinnamon. The sauce is then simmered down into a thick paste-like sauce rich in flavor. This substitute for chipotle seasoning is easy to find in grocery stores and is commonly sold canned. A big perk of adobo sauce is that it contains many flavorful ingredients and is a great base for a savory meal. This liquid chipotle powder substitute can be used to flavor red enchilada sauces and soups and is even used as a marinade for meats. 

adobo sauce
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11. Whole Chipotle Peppers 

If you prefer the DIY route when it comes to your chipotle powder substitutes, you can grab smoked and dried chipotle peppers and use them as you please. They can be simmered in soups or finely ground in a food processor to make your own homemade chipotle powder substitute. Grinding down whole chipotle peppers at home can be a cost-effective option if you are making a recipe that requires a large amount of chipotle chili powder.

whole chipotle peppers
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12. Peri Peri Sauce

Peri Peri sauce is a flavor-packed sauce that includes African bird's eye chiles, garlic, paprika, cilantro, basil, olive oil and lemon juice. This mouthwatering substitute for chipotle seasoning is fresh, flavorful, full of spicy goodness and has a tang of citrus. Peri Peri sauce makes an easy wet marinade perfect for seasoning any cut of meat. This sauce can also be added to many dishes such as soups, tacos, wraps and chicken wings for a quick and easy upgrade. 

peri peri sauce is a chipotle powder substitute
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Our Favorite Recipes Featuring Chipotle

Now that you are armed with a deep knowledge of peppery spice blends and chipotle powder substitutes, go forth and cook! Try out some of our favorite recipes featuring chipotle seasoning below. The possibilities are endless and delicious.

Experience novel spices from realms all across the globe with this list of chipotle powder substitutes.  From Korean gochugaru to African peri peri the options for new flavors are limitless. Chipotle powder substitutes are a convenient way to spice up your favorite Mexican-inspired dishes. How many of these substitutes have you tried? Let us know which substitutes are your favorite in the comments.

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