Chili powder is an ingredient that is incredibly valuable to any chef when preparing the perfect spicy meal in their kitchen.
However, what many people don’t seem to realize is that there are a massive variety of different powders, all of them coming from different types of chilies.
And, of the many powders out there, there might not be a better type to use for that favorite Mexican dish that you love than guajillo chili powder.
This means that, if you find that your pantry has run dry of it, or your local stores don’t have it, getting the right flavor and fire in your mouth is going to be tricky.
Unless, of course, you know what other options you can use.
With so many different chilies and other sources of heat out there, there are bound to be a few ways to get that same effect in your cooking, or at least, something very similar.
This is where this guide comes in handy. Here, we are going to show you a few substitutes that you can use instead of guajillo chili powder, in case your local spice store has nothing.
We’ll also go into a little detail on what makes guajillo a distinct and useful powder to have so that you can see for yourself what qualities you should be looking for in a substitute.
What Is Guajillo Chili Powder?
So, before we get any deeper into this topic, we should probably explain what guajillo chili is, and more about the powder itself too.
As the powder suggests, this is a chili powder derived from the guajillo chili pepper and plant.
This particular variety of chili is found and used primarily in Mexico, where it is one of the most used dried chili peppers in the country. The only chili that is more commonly used is the ancho chili.
As far as flavor goes, guajillo chili is on the more medium-to-mild level when it comes to spices, making it ideal for people with palates that aren’t quite as tolerant to spicy heat in their food.
These chilies also have a slightly fruity flavor to them when bitten into, setting them apart from other chilies that are used in cooking recipes
Chili Powder Flavor, Texture & Uses
However, those attributes are mainly for the chili plant itself. What exactly is the chili powder itself like?
Well, the powder itself carries much of that spice and fruitiness that it held as a plant in its powdered form, making it the perfect ingredient to add to an enchilada, quesadilla, or taco dish.
However, as you would imagine, the texture is now completely different, with the fine, almost dust-like feel of the spice making it an excellent ingredient to use as part of a paste that you are making.
Alternatively, the powdered form also makes for an excellent rub to use in many types of meat and fish meals that you may want to prepare.
Substitutes For Guajillo Chili Powder
So, with those grounds covered for this ground-up chili powder, let’s start looking at what some of your other options are when it comes to a substitute for guajillo chili powder.
1. Guajillo Chili Pepper
Is it cheating for us to include the guajillo chili on a list of substitutes that you can use instead of guajillo powder? Maybe.
Still, if you’re nearest stores do not have this particular chili powder, they may stock the raw chili pepper itself, so it is still worth considering as an alternative to consider.
After all, in terms of flavor, you can’t get more similar in flavor to guajillo chili powder than the guajillo chili itself, can you?
You’ll still get that right amount of heat that you are looking for in your recipes, while also getting that more fruity flavor that this chili is known for.
If anything, the freshness of the chili will only enhance those qualities over the powdered variety!
However, the fact that is this a full chili, rather than chili powder, means that you’re likely not going to get that same coverage in your food as you would with chili powder unless you are adding this chili to some type of hot stew or soup.
Still, dice this chili up, and you’ll still be able to make a pretty incredible meal with this raw or dried chili!
2. Ancho Chili Powder
Okay, we’ll start covering other chili powders now!
Ancho chili is one of the most popular chilies in Mexico, if not THE most popular chili in the country, and for good reason. Their sweetness makes them a popular pepper for milder Mexican dishes.
This is a quality that the chili powder also shares, meaning that it is a great substitute for guajillo chili powder.
However, it does mean that you will have to add noticeably more powder to a recipe, to get a similar amount of spice to taste.
What’s more, being such a popular chili to use means that you’re more likely to be able to find this chili in stores, whether in chili or powder form.
So, if neither fresh nor powdered guajillo chili can be bought near you this is the chili powder that you should be using.
3. Pasilla Chili Powder
Pasilla chili is the perfect chili for people with a medium-to-mild palate that is looking for a little heat, so you can bet that the powdered chili of this variety will be an excellent substitute for guajillo chili powder too1
While the other chilies that we have covered so far have more fruity tones to their flavor, pasilla chili powder is better known for its more earthy flavor. While this might not be to everyone’s taste, it certainly makes for an interesting change!
4. Anaheim (California) Chili Powder
Next up, we have the anaheim chili as a chili powder substitute, also known as the California pepper. A strange name, considering that it was first cultivated in New Mexico, but that doesn’t detract from its amazing flavor, which carries a little of the fruity flavor of many other chili powders.
This is also a pretty readily available chili to buy, meaning that you won’t have much trouble finding it in either a powered, fresh, or dry form to buy and use.
However, this chili is a very mild variant, only a little hotter than a bell pepper.
Still, if you need just a little spice, this chili powder is your port of call!
So, there you have it. Guajillo chili powder has quite a few qualities that make it stand out from quite a crowded market.
However, if you’re looking for another possible ingredient, your options are open.