There are several good substitutes for chili powder, depending on your dish and what qualities of chili powder you want to replace. Whether you’re looking for heat, smokiness, or earthy notes, here are some great substitutions.
Similar Flavor Profile
This is often the main ingredient in chili powder, so it’s a natural substitute. Sweet paprika will give you the smoky, earthy notes, while smoked paprika adds an extra layer of depth. Use equal amounts as chili powder, but adjust according to your preferred heat level.
Cumin & Paprika Blend
Combine 2 parts paprika with 1 part cumin for a well-rounded substitute. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper for extra heat if desired.
Ancho Chili Powder
Made from dried poblano peppers, it has a deep, fruity flavor and slightly less heat than regular chili powder. Use a 1:1 ratio, but be mindful of its smokiness.
For pure heat, a small amount of cayenne pepper can replace chili powder. Start with a very small amount (1/4 to 1/8 teaspoon per tablespoon of chili powder) and adjust cautiously.
Red Pepper Flakes
Similar to cayenne, but with a bit more texture. Use in even smaller amounts than cayenne and adjust to taste.
Other Ground Chilis
Aleppo pepper, chile de arbol, guajillo, or chipotle offer different heat levels and flavor profiles. Experiment to find your preference.
If you frequently cook Mexican-inspired dishes, taco seasoning can be a convenient substitute. Remember it already contains chili powder, so use less (start with half the amount) and adjust for salt content.
Homemade Chili Powder
Make your own blend with paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and cayenne to customize the heat and flavor.
- Consider the other spices in your recipe when choosing a substitute.
- Start with less than the recipe calls for and adjust to taste.
- Be mindful of any additional salt or heat the substitute might bring.
No substitute will perfectly replicate chili powder, but with these options and some experimentation, you can find a satisfying replacement for your recipe.
Here are some recipes that use chili powder:
- Dry Rub for Chicken Wings
- Oven Baked Tortilla Chips
- Smoked Pork Belly Strips
- Simple Seasoning for Pinto Beans
- Mexican Carrots
- Easy Roasted Chicken
- Traeger Smoked Tri-Tip
The BEST Chili Powder Substitute
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- Use 1/2 teaspoon cumin PLUS 1/2 teaspoon paprika in place of 1 teaspoon of chili powder.
- Enjoy in your favorite recipe that calls for chili powder.