Chili Powder

5 Dec

chili powder

I’ve found that making fresh spice mixes is surprisingly easy and yields incredible flavor – much more than with store-bought mixes. This recipe for chili powder can be adapted to your tastes; it currently uses equal amounts of three dried chiles: guajillo, ancho, and arbol. Like your chili powder a little smokier? Add more ancho chiles, toss in some dried chipotles, and/or add extra smoked paprika. Like your chili powder on the milder side? Use more ancho and guajillo chiles and less arbol chiles, and discard the seeds before toasting. Or, conversely, like your chili powder extra spicy? Up the number of arbol chiles.

I would highly recommend making a double batch of this recipe; a single batch makes enough for about four regular batches of chili (about 4 servings each) or two extra-large batches of chili (about 8 servings each) – I love making extra-large batches and having lots of delicious hearty leftovers. If you make a single batch of this recipe, you’ll have just enough chili powder for the two amazing extra-large batch chili recipes I’ll be posting on Wednesday and Friday: a delicious vegetarian chili packed with lots of different beans and grains on Wednesday, then a mouth-watering pot of chile con carne with all the special touches on Friday.

Chili Powder (adapted from Good Eats)
Yield: approximately 1/2 cup chili powder


  • 3 dried guajillo chiles, chopped*
  • 3 dried ancho chiles, chopped*
  • 3 dried arbol chiles, chopped*
  • 2 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika

*The easiest way to chop up dried chiles is with kitchen shears. If you’re going to be using a mortar and pestle, you’ll want to get the pieces on the small side to minimize work later on.


  1. Heat a cast iron or non-stick pan over medium-high heat, then add 3 dried guajillo chiles, chopped, 3 dried ancho chiles, chopped, 3 dried arbol chiles, chopped, and 2 Tbsp cumin seeds. Toast, stirring, until they are very fragrant and the cumin seeds are golden brown.
  2. Remove to a mortar and pestle or food processor, let cool, then add 1 Tbsp garlic powder, 1 Tbsp dried oregano, and 1 tsp smoked paprika. Grind to a fine powder.
  3. Store in a jar or airtight container; this spice mix will stay good for a few months but will lose flavor over time.

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11 Responses to “Chili Powder”

  1. Caroline December 12, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    You can even take this a step further and dry your own chilis. Just string them together and hang them somewhere for a few weeks (they make a pretty decoration too). I also use this method to dry fresh herbs, citrus peels, whatever.

    • Claire December 13, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

      I meant to do this with the massive amounts of jalapenos I was growing this summer (that particular plant seemed to love being neglected), but alas, I let them get all shriveled up on the plant instead. I’m sure this chili powder would be even tastier with chiles you dried yourself though!

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