What Is A Substitute For Guajillo Chili Powder? (Quick Answer!)

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What would Mexican cuisine be without guajillo chili powder?! Well, your craving for a traditional Mexican mole sauce, enchilada, or taco may miss this essential ingredient. 

Don’t worry; we understand your favorite meal needs to satisfy your craving. After all, Mexican food is widespread globally for its distinct taste that keeps you returning for more.

If you love spicy food, odds are you will have a chili powder of sorts in your spice collection. Yet, what you want is the unmistakable bite and flavor guajillo chili powder brings to your meal.

So, what is a substitute for guajillo chili powder, and will it offer a similar flavor?

Keep reading to find which chilis and chili powders can save the day and please your tastebuds.

What is Guajillo Chili Powder?

Guajillo chili powder is the dry version of the mirasol pepper, a variety of chili pepper that belongs to the Capsicum annum species. The Scoville heat units range between 2500 – 5000 units, putting it on the mild chili scale.  (*)

What does guajillo chili powder taste like? This spice has a slightly sweet and tangy flavor with notes of berries and pine. It is the main ingredient in traditional Mexican mole sauces and is common in Peruvian cuisine. Also, some have detected subtle hints of tea and mild smokiness.

This delicious and versatile spice adds flavor to meat, chicken, pork, fish, vegetables, sauces, soups, stews, and condiments. In particular, it pairs exceptionally well with chocolate.  

The berry tang enhances the richness of the chocolate, taking it to new levels. For the experimental epicures, try it in cookies or ice cream for a heightened sweet taste sensation. 

Hot Tip: 1 Dried Guajillo Chile Equals How Much Powder?

When you dry a chili pepper, you can grind it into a powder. One chili pepper will give you about one and a half teaspoons of this powder.

This ratio can help you make marinades, sauces, or rubs that have the perfect balance of hot and flavor.

The 8 Best Substitutes For Guajillo Chili Powder

If you don’t have guajillo chili powder on hand, try using some of these alternative substitutes to make your dish taste just as good.

Chili PowderHeat Level Range (SHU)Flavor ProfileUsage Percentage in Blend
Guajillo Chili Powder2500 – 5000Mild, sweet, tangy with a hint of smokinessN/A
Ancho Chili Powder1000 – 1500Mild, sweet, fruity50%
Pasilla Chili Powder250 – 2500Mild to medium, earthy25%
Dried Hatch Chilis (New Mexico)1500 – 2500Medium, smoky15%
Cascabel Chili Powder1000 – 2500Medium, smoky, slightly fruity15%
Anaheim Chili Powder500 – 2500Mild, slightly sweet1-5% (Optional)
Puya Chili Powder (Pulla)5000 – 8000Medium to hot, fruity5-10%
Gochugaru Powder4000 – 8000Medium to hot, smoky, slightly sweet5-10%
Jalapeno pepper2000 – 8000Medium to hot, bright, slightly grassy flavor1-5% (Optional)
This comparison table provides an overview of the different chili powders and their heat levels, flavor profiles, and suggested usage percentages in a blend to substitute for Guajillo Chili Powder. You can use this table to create a custom blend that suits your desired heat level and flavor profile.

DIY: Make Your Own Substitute for Guajillo Chili Powder

Making your own guajillo chili powder is simple and you can easily customize it to your taste.

Hot Tip:

You can adjust the spiciness of the powder by adding more or fewer chilies.

How To Make Guajllo Chilli Powder

  • First, you need to find dried guajillo chilies and remove the stems and seeds.
  • Then, toast the chilies in a dry pan until they become fragrant and slightly browned.
  • Allow them to cool and then grind them into a fine powder using a blender or a spice grinder.
  • Store the powder in an airtight container in a cool, dry place and enjoy the delicious, versatile flavor that guajillo chili powder adds to your meals.

Whole Dry Guajillo Chili Pepper

The best alternative is a whole dry guajillo chili pepper. It is a quick and easy solution, and the flavor is identical.

We recommend one whole dry guajillo pepper per teaspoon of powder.

Hot Tip:

Crush the whole dry pepper with a pestle and mortar or finely chop. Add a little extra virgin olive oil and a tiny pinch of salt to bring out the flavor.  

Ancho Chili Powder – Same Type Of Chili Pepper But Milder In Heat

Ancho chili powder is relatively easy to find in local grocery stores. It is made from dry poblano peppers and offers a similar sweetness and smokey flavor. 

Compared to guajillo chili, it is slightly milder on the heat scale ranging between 1000 – 1500 units. For this reason, double the amount used in your recipe.

On the other hand, if you enjoy milder heat in your meals, a 1:1 ratio works well.  

Hot Tip: 

Pop a bit on the Tip of your tongue to get a sense of the heat factor before deciding on the ratio.

Pasilla Chili Powder – Similar Smoky Flavor But Not As Much Heat

Pasilla chili powder is an excellent guajillo chili alternative if your recipe includes red meat or pork. Equally, it pairs well with honey and fruit.

This spice is a rich reddish brown with smokey and berry notes. It is ideal for spicing up a fruit salad or adding to a honey-based red meat marinade.

Pasilla chili power is very mild, ranging between 250 – 2500 Scoville units. If you prefer a higher heat factor, consider doubling the amount in your recipe. Again, we suggest a 1:1 ratio.  

Hot Tip:

For breakfast, sprinkle pasilla chili powder on your eggs and bacon. A delicious spicy way to start your day!

Dried Hatch Chilis (New Mexico Chilis)

Hatch chilis, also known as New Mexico chilis, are cultivated near the village of Hatch in New Mexico.  

This spice has a light pungent flavor similar to garlic or onion. It offers a smokey meets earthy taste with a hint of cherry in the background.  

In particular, it makes an excellent guajillo chili substitute in tamales, soups, stews, and mole. As for the heat factor, hatch chilis usually ranged between 1500 – 2500 Scoville units.  

However, depending on the cultivation process, some harvests can go as high as 8000 units. We recommend you start with half the suggested amount in your recipe and taste as your dish cooks.

Cascabel Chili Powder

Cascabel chilis are small and round, dark burgundy chilis. When dried, the seeds loosen and make a rattling sound if you shake them. For this reason, cascabel chilis are also known as “rattle” chilis.

Although this chili powder lacks a “fruity” taste, it adds a smokey, earthy, and nutty flavor. 

Cascabel chilis offer mild heat and range between 1000-2500 heat units on the Scoville scale. Therefore, we suggest you double the amount in your recipe. 

That said, the lack of fruity flavor can enhance the heat for sensitive palates. In that case, start with a 1:1 ratio and taste before you add more while cooking.

Hot Tip:

Cascabel chili powder is an excellent alternative when preparing salsa.

Anaheim Chili Powder

When looking for this spice in your supermarket, it falls under several names, including:

  • California Chilis
  • Green Chilis
  • Chilacas

Anaheim chili powder joins the list as one of the best substitutes for guajillo chili powder with its similar fruity flavor.  

Also, it is a mild chili ranging between 500 and 2500 Scoville units. For this reason, a 1:1 ratio is ideal when adding it to your dish.

For all Mexican cuisine fans, this spice is a must-have alongside guajillo chili powder in your spice collection as a readily available alternative.  

Puya Chili Powder (Pulla)

Let’s move into hotter alternatives, with puya chili powder first up. Also known as pulla, this spice resembles the guajillo pepper in appearance.

Certainly, it is not for the faint-hearted, ranging between 5000 – 8000 Scoville units. Similar to a jalapeno pepper heat factor.  

If you enjoy an extra heat kick in your meal, puya chili powder is an excellent alternative. It aligns well with guajillo chili powder offering a robust fruity flavor. Of course, you can use a 1:1 ratio to enjoy the extra heat.

However, if you have puya chili powder available and want a similar heat factor to guajillo chili powder, in that case, we suggest using half the amount for your recipe.

Gochugaru Powder

Surprisingly, this spice used in traditional Korean cuisine makes a fantastic substitute.  

Gochugaru powder is sweet and fruity with a mild smokiness. As with puya chili powder and jalapeno pepper, it packs a high heat punch on the Scoville scale, ranging between 4000 and 8000 units.  

We love this alternative. It is remarkably similar in flavor and ups the heat factor for those needing an extra hot chili fix. As with puya chili powder, you can opt for a 1:1 ratio or half the amount for less heat.  

And it doesn’t stop there!

Bonus Substitute Suggestion: Mulato Chili Powder

Fresh mulato chili is a fully matured poblano pepper. When ripe, it turns a deep brown. Also, it is a mild chili, ranging between 2500 – 3000 Scoville units.  

Once dried or in powder form, it has rich chocolate and cherry notes. You can use it in savory dishes, including mole, soups, and sauces. We recommend a 1:1 ratio.

That said, mulato chili powder enhances sweet treats like ice cream or dark chocolate mousse. The chocolate and cherry notes add an exciting and hot twist.  

Hot Tip:

Add a pinch or two to your hot chocolate to spice it up.


What Are The Benefits of Eating Chilis?

Chilis, chili peppers, and chili powder offer fantastic health benefits.  They are high in Vitamin C, an essential Vitamin to boost your immune system to fight colds and flu. Moreover, they can assist with weight loss. While chili may not suit everyone’s dietary requirements, it contributes to our health.  

How To Use Guajillo Chili?

For optional results, toasted guajillo peppers enhance the flavor of your dish. It is a quick and easy process. Heat a non-stick pan on a medium setting and toast the peppers for about 20 – 30 seconds. Take care not to burn them, as this will make them unpleasantly bitter.  

What Is The Fresh Version Of Guajillo?

The mirasol pepper is a variety of chili pepper that belongs to the Capsicum annum species. Once dried, it is guajillo chili powder.

Can I Use Jalapeno Instead of Guajillo?

While you can use jalapenos to add heat and flavor to your meal, it lacks the sweet and tangy flavor, mild smokiness, and fruity notes of Guajillo essential in Mexican cuisine.

Spices such as ancho, anaheim, or pasilla chili powders offer similar qualities to Guajillo and are a better substitute to consider.  

Can I Use Chile California Instead of Chile Guajillo?

Are you wondering if you can substitute Chile California for Chile Guajillo in your recipes?

Chile Guajillo and Chile California are both types of peppers used in Mexican cooking.

Chile Guajillo is hot and smoky-tasting, while Chile California is milder with a sweet taste.

If you want to use one instead of the other, you may need to adjust the amount or combine it with other peppers. You can experiment to find the best flavor for your dish.

Where Can I Find and Buy Guajillo Chiles Powder?

Look no further than your local grocery store or online retailers for these flavorful peppers.

Final Chili Thoughts

Have you decided what guajillo chili powder substitute is best for your dish? 

Next time you visit your grocery store, stock up on your guajillo chili powder and grab one or two substitutes to keep for emergencies.

We would love to know which guajillo chili powder substitute you think works best.  Get in touch!

What is a Substitute for Guajillo Chili Powder?

Struggling to find the right substitute for guajillo chili powder in your recipes? We give you simple alternative ingredient options plus helpful tips on how to make sure they work with your recipe.
Prep Time 9 minutes
Cook Time 9 minutes
9 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes
Servings 4


  • Whole Dry Guajillo Chili Pepper
  • Ancho Chili Powder
  • Pasilla Chili Powder
  • Dried Hatch Chilis (New Mexico Chilis)
  • Cascabel Chili Powder
  • Anaheim Chili Powder
  • Puya Chili Powder (Pulla)
  • Gochugaru Powder
  • Mulato Chili Powder


  • To use the table and provided information to create a substitute for Guajillo Chili Powder, follow these steps:
  • Determine the total amount of chili powder needed for your recipe.
  • Refer to the ‘Usage Percentage in Blend’ column in the table to decide the proportion of each chili powder to include in your blend.
  • Calculate the amount of each chili powder based on their respective usage percentages.
  • Mix the chosen chili powders together according to the calculated amounts.
  • Use the blend in place of Guajillo Chili Powder in your recipe, adjusting the amount as needed to reach your desired heat level.

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