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Ancho Chile Powder

Homemade Ancho Chile Powder is a quick way to bring smoke, spice, and even a touch of sweetness to your dishes. It’s great to have on hand to add depth to rubs, chilis, marinades, or sauces. Read on to learn more!

A glass spice jar filled with ancho chile powder.

Homemade Ancho Chile Powder

If you love adding smokiness and spice to your dishes, then homemade Ancho Chile Powder is a must-have in your kitchen.

This spice, deeply rooted in Mexican cuisine, offers a wonderful blend of fruity flavor, earthy, mild heat, and slightly sweet notes that can elevate the taste of a wide array of dishes, ranging from soups and sauces to meat and vegetable-based recipes.

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Five ancho chile peppers laying on a light tan surface surrounded by seeds.


Ancho chiles come from the dried poblano pepper, scientifically known as Capsicum annum. The word “ancho” itself means ‘wide’ in Spanish, a fitting name due to its broad, heart-shaped appearance.

The chile is a commonly used dried chile in Mexico and traces its roots back to Pueblo, Mexico.

Traditional Uses

It is is deeply tied to Mexican cuisine and has been long used to enhance the flavors of dishes. It plays a vital role in creating classic dishes such as chiles rellenos, tamales, adobo marinade, and red mole sauce.

Its thickening properties make it a great choice for sauces and stews, giving them a rich and flavorful texture.

Flavor Profile

Ancho chiles are known for its mild spice level which makes it approachable even to those who are sensitive to heat. Its flavor profile is a delightful combination of fruitiness, with underlying hints of coffee, tobacco, wood, and plum or raisins.

On the Scoville scale, which measures the spiciness of chili peppers, it typically ranges between 1000 to 2000 heat units, which most would consider a pleasant but not overwhelming level of heat.

A wooden cutting board with a cut ancho chile pepper and a knife.


When freshly dried, Ancho chiles have a deep purple or deep red color to black color and measure between 3 to 4 inches in length. They should still retain some flexibility which shows they are not completely dried.

Spice Pairing

Ancho Chile Powder pairs well with other spices such as cumin, garlic, orange peel, and oregano.

One combination worth highlighting is using it alongside paprika. This combination brings out the best in both spices, creating a delightful symphony of flavors.

Food Pairing

It’s versatility allows it to be used in a wide range of dishes.

It complements the flavors of cashews, sauces – especially mole sauces or enchilada sauces, soups, turkey, chile con carne, taco seasoning, tortilla soup, salad dressings, as well as eggs, potatoes, pork, and chicken dishes.

A spice grinder with blended ancho chile powder.

How to Store

To maintain its freshness and flavor, store homemade spices in an airtight container, away from direct sunlight, heat, and moisture. Proper storage will ensure the spice retains its quality for several months, if not longer.

Substitute for Ancho Chile Powder

If you can’t find Ancho Chiles or simply want to try something different, you can use pasilla chiles, Mulato chiles, Chipotle chile, or Guajillo chiles as substitutes. These chiles offer similar flavor profiles and low to medium heat levels, making them suitable replacements in most recipes.

Depending on the dish, chili powder may be a good alternative, but since the flavor profiles of both vary widely, you’ll want to consider how it may change the overall dish.

Where to Buy

Look for Ancho Chile Powder in specialty grocery stores, Mexican markets, and online spice retailers. Look for reputable brands that offer high-quality, authentic spices for the best results.

A small white plate with blended ancho chile powder next to a spice grinder and a small mesh sieve.

What does Ancho Chile Powder taste like?

Ancho Chile Powder adds a complex and balanced taste to your dishes. Its fruity notes complement a variety of ingredients, while the subtle smoky flavor enhances the overall depth of flavor of the dish.

The mild spice level makes it a versatile spice suitable for a wide range of recipes, from delicate soups to hearty homemade chili.

What is the difference between Ancho Chile Powder and Chili Powder

It’s important to note that Ancho Chile Powder is not the same as Chili Powder found in grocery stores.

While both contain ground chiles, chili powder is typically a blend of spices like cumin, garlic powder, Mexican oregano, cayenne pepper, and paprika. Ancho Chile Powder is made only from dried Ancho chiles. They have a milder heat level and a fruity, slightly sweet flavor profile with notes of coffee, tobacco, wood, plum, or event faint raisin taste.

If a recipe specifically calls for chili powder, it likely requires the specific blend of flavors that come from the other ingredients. In such cases, using only Ancho Chile Powder may result in a slightly different taste, as it lacks the additional spices found in chili powder.

Recipes with Ancho Chile Powder

If you’re eager to try out Ancho Chile Powder in your cooking, check out these recipes:

A small white plate with blended ancho chile powder next to a spice grinder and a small mesh sieve.

Ancho Chile Powder

Yield: 4 ounces
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Homemade ancho chile powder is a quick way to bring smoke, spice, and even a touch of sweetness to your dishes. It’s great to have on hand to add depth to rubs, chilis, or sauces.


  • 4 oz. dried ancho chiles


    1. You’ll want to destem and deseed the chiles by cutting into them with a knife, or using your hands. Set the stems aside and shake out the seeds. You may need to use a knife or the side of a spoon to scrape out any stuck seeds.
    2. Cut or rip the chiles into smaller pieces to fit into your spice grinder, or food processor.
    3. Using a spice grinder or food processor, blend the chiles well. You may want to do it in batches depending on the size of the blender you have. It also helps to stop and stir once or twice through the process to help make sure the chiles are ground evenly.
    4. This is optional, but depending on how fine you’d like your powder, you can run the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to help catch larger pieces or seeds.
    5. Store in an airtight container out of the sun and in a cool location.


    • A coffee grinder may make for a great alternative to grind spices.

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As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 2Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

Nutrition provided is only an estimate.

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