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7 Ancho Chile Pepper Substitutes: Transform with Spice

Finding the right ancho chile pepper substitute can transform your dish. We’ve all had that moment in the kitchen—mid-recipe and missing a key ingredient.

First, breathe, we’ve got you. Our spice rack explorations have found seven fantastic alternatives to ancho chile peppers.

Picture it: standing over the stove, realizing you’re out of ancho chiles. They give that smoky, mild heat we love.

Well, these substitutes will keep your meal on track without skipping a beat. We’re sharing the best swaps so you can keep cooking and enjoy every bite.

7 Easy Substitutes for Ancho Chile Pepper

While ancho chile peppers are a staple in many Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes, there are plenty of other spices and peppers that can mimic their flavor.

Here are some easy substitutes you can find in your pantry or at the grocery store.

SubstituteTasteTextureRatioSuitable Dishes
Chipotle Chili PowderSmoky, SpicyPowder1:1Chili, BBQ sauces, marinades
Pasilla Chili PowderEarthy, RichPowder1:1Mole sauces, stews, enchiladas
New Mexico Chili PowderMild, SweetPowder1:1Tex-Mex dishes, salsas, soups
Cayenne PepperSpicy, PungentPowderUse sparinglySpicy dishes, sauces, marinades
Smoked PaprikaSmoky, SweetPowder1:1Spanish dishes, rubs, grilled meats
Jalapeño PowderMild, TangyPowder1:1Salsas, dips, Mexican-inspired dishes
Guajillo Chili PowderFruity, MildPowder1:1Sauces, marinades, Mexican dishes

1 – Chipotle Chili Powder

Chipotle chili powder is smoky with a robust heat. Ancho has a milder flavor, so use half the amount of chipotle powder compared to ancho. This spice gives a spicy kick quickly.

It’s perfect for tacos, soups, and salsas. We’ve used it in chili, and it worked wonders.

For more spicy swaps, check out chipotle powder substitutes.

2 – Pasilla Chili Powder

Pasilla chili powder offers a deeper flavor with subtle earthiness. It’s not as smoky as ancho but works well in stews and sauces.

Use a 1:1 ratio for a balanced substitute. We found it perfect for our enchiladas. Pasilla adds a gentle warmth, not overpowering.

For more spices, see our pasilla pepper substitutes article. We promise it’s worth a look!

3 – New Mexico Chili Powder

New Mexico chili powder is a solid swap for ancho. Its flavor is earthy and slightly sweet. It’s got a good balance without being too spicy.

We use it in a 1:1 ratio, easy peasy. It’s awesome in sauces, stews, and rubs. Once, we added it to our chili and it was a hit.

New Mexico chili powder shines in hearty dishes. It’s versatile and adds depth. For more on New Mexico chile substitutes, check out our helpful guide on chile alternatives.

Simple, tasty, and reliable, New Mexico chili powder is a kitchen staple for us.

4 – Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper adds a spicy kick that wakes up any dish. It’s hotter than ancho, so use it sparingly—about a quarter of the amount you’d use for ancho. We love it in sauces and rubs for a fiery touch.

Its bright red color makes dishes pop visually. And yes, it’s perfect for heat lovers. It’s great in chili, stews, and even sprinkled on pizza. Our go-to for adding some oomph.

For more spicy swaps, check out our cayenne pepper substitutes article for detailed tips and alternatives.

5 – Smoked Paprika

Smoked paprika is our go-to for a smoky flavor. It’s not too spicy, so use a 1:1 ratio for swapping with ancho.

It shines in stews and sauces, adding rich color and aroma. We tried it in chili—delicious.

For those interested in more options, we have a smoked paprika substitutes guide.

It’s versatile and brings depth to dishes. Perfect for any meal needing a smoky touch. We use it in soups, rubs, and even on roasted veggies.

6 – Jalapeño Powder

Jalapeño powder delivers a zesty, medium heat. It’s hotter than ancho, so use about half the amount. The bright green color stands out in any dish.

We love it in soups, stews, and even sprinkled over nachos for a kick. Great for salsas, too. Use a 1:2 ratio of jalapeño to ancho.

It brings a vibrant heat that’s lively. Our experience? Tacos got an instant upgrade. Mix it with a bit of salt for a quick rub.

For more spicy swaps, check this jalapeño substitutes guide. You’ll find versatile alternatives for any meal.

7 – Guajillo Chili Powder

Guajillo chili powder is mild with a slight fruitiness. Replace ancho 1:1 with guajillo for a gentle kick. It’s perfect for smooth, smoky elements.

We used it in our chili, and it tasted rich, slightly sweet. The aroma stood out in every bite. Great in sauces and soups.

Guajillo works well in rice dishes too. It blends smoothly without overpowering other flavors.

For more on guajillo swaps, check out our guide on Guajillo pepper substitutes. It’s packed with handy tips.