Are you looking for a substitute for chili powder? We’ve got you covered. Chili powder is a staple in many Tex-Mex recipes, but you might sometimes run out and need an alternative. Discover the best ingredients to use in its place in this guide.
Below, we detail how to use each substitute. But first, here’s a quick list of our top picks
Key: c = cup; T = tablespoon; t = teaspoon
|Chili Powder Substitutes||Ratio for 1 t Chili Powder|
|Homemade Chili Powder||See Recipe Card. Ingredients include: paprika, cumin, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, allspice and cayenne pepper.|
|Paprika||1 to 2 t|
|Ground Red Pepper Flakes||¼ to ½ t|
|Chipotle Powder||¼ t|
|Old Bay Seasoning||¼ t|
|Hot Sauce||1 dash|
|Taco Seasoning||1 t|
Chili Powder Flavor
Chili powder has a mild to moderately spicy flavor, depending on the quantity of cayenne pepper used in the powder. The flavor profile of chili powder is widely known as Tex-Mex owing to the savory and aromatic nature of the blend of spices used to create chili powder.
It has a tinge of saltiness to it as well and has hints of garlic, oregano, cumin, and cayenne pepper in its flavor.
Chili Powder Substitutes
Here are some ingredients that you can use instead of chili powder:
1 Homemade Chili Powder
It is surprisingly straight forward to make your own chili powder, if you have the spices on hand your best option is to make homemade chili powder. To make homemade chili powder gather the following ingredients: paprika, cumin, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, allspice and cayenne pepper. (The full recipe is below in the recipe card.)
Paprika has a chili pepper base, which makes it a good chili powder substitute. It can range from mildly spicy, with a pimento pepper base, to quite spicy, with a cayenne pepper base.
So, make sure to check which pepper is used to make the paprika powder and then add it to your dish accordingly. Because paprika has mixed spices, using it might change your dish’s taste slightly.
Replace a teaspoon of chili powder with 1 or 2 teaspoons of paprika
3. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
You can use crushed red pepper flakes as a chili powder substitute. If you want a finer texture, grind the flakes with a mortar and pestle.
Also, make sure to adjust the ratio of the powder in the dish. It is spicier in taste, so you can reduce its quantity.
Replace a teaspoon of chili powder with ¼ to ½ teaspoons of ground red pepper flakes.
4. Chipotle Powder
Chipotle powder is made from ground chipotle peppers, and it has a rich smokiness that will add a burst of flavor to your dish.
Since the chipotle powder is hotter than chili powder, use less of it in your dishes.
Replace a teaspoon of chili powder with ¼ teaspoons of chipotle powder. (This is spicy so I recommend adding trace amounts to taste and working up to the ¼ teaspoons.)
5. Old Bay Seasoning
You can use this seasoning instead of chili powder in specific cases. Old Bay seasoning has quite a distinct flavor, which is used to bring out the flavor in a crab or lobster dish.
Old Bay seasoning is great for seafood dishes. You can use it as a chili powder substitute when cooking seafood.
Replace a teaspoon of chili powder with ½ teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning.
6. Hot Sauce
If you’re making a stew, soup, sauce, or any other dish with a liquid base, then you can easily use hot sauce as a substitute for chili powder.
Just add a dash or two of hot sauce, such as Sriracha or Tabasco sauce, to your dish to add a spicy element to it.
Replace a teaspoon of chili powder with 1 dash of hot sauce.
7. Taco Seasoning
Taco seasoning has many ingredients like chili powder, but it lacks the darker Mexican chili peppers.
This is why taco seasoning adds quite a similar blend of flavors to your dish as chili powder. However, taco seasoning can be a bit salty. If you are going to use this look at your taco seasoning ingredients and then adjust other seasonings accordingly.
Replace a teaspoon of chili powder with 1 teaspoon of taco seasoning.
Tips and Tricks
When you have to cook a dish that requires large amounts of chili powder, then it’s best to use seasonings that match its flavor profile, such as taco seasoning or ancho powder. If you’re out of chili powder for a seafood dish, it’s best to use Old Bay seasoning. For dishes that have a liquid base, you can add hot sauce instead of chili powder.
The Bottom Line
I hope you enjoyed reading this guide on the best ingredients that you can use as a chili powder substitute. Make sure to follow the tips and tricks that I’ve mentioned and use the right proportions for the seasonings and spices so that your dish ends up with the perfect chili powder-like flavor.
- 1 T paprika
- 2 t cumin
- 2 t dried oregano
- 1 t garlic powder
- 1 t onion powder
- ¼ t allspice
- ¼ t cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
- Mix all ingredients