Known for its interesting balance of earthy smokiness and just the right amount of heat, chipotle powder is commonly used not only in Mexican fares but in American dishes as well.
It is a spicy powder that is produced when jalapeno peppers are smoked, dried, and crushed until extra fine in texture.
Chipotle powder is always sought by cooks, but there are moments when you may run out of this spicy flavor-booster. It is a good thing then, that there are many great substitutes you can turn to, and you will find them all right here!
Having the perfect substitute for chipotle powder at the drop of a hat is a walk in the park (or your kitchen) when you arm yourself with this list of the best stand-ins for your favorite spice. Crushed red pepper, hot paprika, and chili powder made the cut, and so did plenty of other smoky spice flavor boosters you may not even have thought of.
Good To Know!
To make the real deal chipotle powder, ripe jalapenos are smoked for 3 to 12 hours before being ground into powder.
Comprehensive List of the Best Chipotle Powder Substitutes
Just when you were all fired up to cook up a storm, you find out that you ran out of your beloved chipotle powder. The good news is that you do not have to settle with making an entirely different dish or dashing out of the house to buy the spice; it is very likely you have a thing or two in your pantry that can serve as a fantastic chipotle powder substitute.
You will find this list particularly helpful as the included replacements are able to do the job in a simple 1:1 situation. Just keep in mind that when opting to use a fierier substitute for chipotle powder, it helps to reduce the amount to lessen the heat. But if heat is what you are looking for, you can always turn it up a notch.
Crushed Red Pepper
Crushed red pepper is your best bet if you are whipping up a dish that needs just enough heat to fire up your taste buds, but without the smoky undertone.
A lot of eating places that serve Italian fare, such as your local pizzeria, usually have tiny containers of crushed red pepper ready for enjoyment by their spice-loving customers.
This chipotle powder substitute is commonly made from combining several kinds of peppers, which is why it boasts of flecks of different colors like bright red, light yellow, and even dark red violet.
You will find this mixture appealing to your palate if you prefer spicy dishes that do not necessarily have a smoky taste, but still have a slightly complex profile.
Crushed red pepper can serve as a suitable garnish for certain dishes, including pasta and salads, because its larger flakes make it a breeze to distribute compared to spices that are finely ground.
Because this spice lends just about the same amount of heat that chipotle powder does, you can simply use a teaspoon for each teaspoon of chipotle powder that you need in your recipe.
There are different kinds of paprikas out there to give you the spicy kick you long for, but this particular paprika is the hottest of them all. If big-time heat, coupled with a delicately sweet taste, is the name of your food game, then hot paprika is exactly what you want.
You can use it to impart a mouth-watering reddish hue to your favorite soups, stews, curries, and other dishes that lean more towards surprisingly tangy and super spicy. Feel free to also add hot paprika to meats and veggies to really take their savory flavors to the next level.
Chili powder works well as a substitute for chipotle powder for smoky spice-loving home cooks who may not prefer to experiment with different condiments and would rather not go about creating new spice mixtures.
This is actually a seasoning blend containing ground chilies, with cumin, oregano, and other spices to ensure that your recipe gets some added delicious flavor on top of a spicy kick.
If you are fond of the smoky quality that chipotle powder is known for, make sure to check the ingredients label of the chili powder you are planning to use. You are looking for a chipotle powder substitute that contains ancho chilies to guarantee that smoky flavor.
A direct swap works best when it comes to replacing chipotle powder with chili powder, so it is truly easy to use this substitute in any of your chipotle-inspired recipes.
Just remember to adjust the amount of chili powder to add when using other spices in certain dishes; you may have to exclude cumin from your recipe since chili powder already contains cumin.
A good candidate for the best chipotle powder substitute is ancho powder, with its backstory of starting out its life as a poblano pepper and ends up smoked and ground up, which is pretty much the same as what happens when making chipotle powder.
This makes it easy to just let ancho powder act as a chipotle powder replacement in the same amounts.
In terms of spiciness, ancho powder slightly steers away from chipotle powder, in that it tastes a bit sweeter and possesses just a hint of chipotle powder’s stronger spicy punch and noticeably smokier notes.
But other than that, this substitute really does have much in common with the real deal, as they both are similar in color and in their usefulness in Mexican cooking.
The thing to keep in mind when using ancho powder in your chipotle powder-based recipe is to adjust the amount according to your desired taste. Increase the amount of ancho powder if you are going for how the spice level of the original dish should be, and reduce as needed if you are partial to enjoying a milder version of the same dish.
Another staple in Mexican cuisine is guajillo pepper, a dried-up version of mirasol pepper that, in powdered form, lends a luxurious tart flavor to your dishes. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised by the complexity of its taste, luring your palate in with hints of berries, green tea, and pine nut.
Try using a teaspoon of guajillo powder for each teaspoon of chipotle powder needed in your dish. Take a taste test, then modify the amount as desired.
When you hear its name, aleppo pepper can sound a bit exotic. This may not be too far off, given that it is a mainstay in Mediterranean as well as Middle Eastern dishes. The fact that the aleppo pepper is in a vibrantly deep red color certainly adds to its exotic appeal.
As if this chipotle powder substitute is not already interesting enough, it has the uncanny ability to have a mild and hot flavor all at once.
But keep yourself from having high hopes if you desire to have aleppo pepper provide the same smokiness factor that chipotle powder does. Instead, count on aleppo pepper to be chipotle pepper’s perfect stand-in when cooking tangy and moderately spicy dishes.
Pasilla powder’s smoky flavor is what makes it a worthy contender in the best substitutes for chipotle powder arena. It may not be as spicy as chipotle powder, but it does have an earthy, fruity quality that can elevate your dishes’ overall flavor. To use this spice, simply do the one-to-one route.
Its only drawback may be the fact that you cannot really find it as easily as other chipotle powder alternatives. But if you are able to purchase one in your local grocery store, it would be worth your while, as pasilla powder lets you prepare dishes that taste authentically Mexican.
The name itself betrays its fruity taste, but you will be surprised to know that sweet paprika actually has a slightly bitter side to it, which is easily kept in check by its spicy, earthy, and tangy qualities. Use this spice to lend your meats, eggs, chicken and potatoes that extra delicious punch of flavor.
The award for working hard as a chipotle powder substitute goes to adobo sauce! Sadly, some dishes require an entire can of adobo sauce-soaked chipotle peppers, but more often than not, you actually just need to use a little of the stuff, so that you usually end up with a sizeable amount of chipotle peppers or adobo sauce.
The good news is that you can turn this dilemma into a blessing! Place that leftover sauce in the freezer, then simply add to whatever it is you are preparing that calls for the taste of chipotle powder.
Even if you have no spare left of the spice, you can still keep on cooking your dish to a spicy, smoky perfection, thanks to your good old adobo sauce.
Also, any remaining chipotle peppers can be blended along with the sauce so that you end up with a flavorful puree that can easily be added to any dish as a hot dressing.
Smoky and spicy best describes smoked paprika, so much that it practically rivals chipotle powder when considering this delicious duo of primary flavors. Also called Spanish paprika, the powdered version of this spice makes for a suitable replacement for your usual seasoning blends and dry rubs.
The key is to remember that smoked paprika, however closely it may resemble chipotle powder in taste, still falls behind the latter in terms of the spice factor. This is why it is best to pair it with another chipotle powder alternative when using it in your Mexican-inspired dishes.
This Korean staple is one of the basic ingredients of the more familiar gochujang paste, which is known for its full-on flavor and intense heat.
Although not easily accessible, grab a jar of gochugaru powder if you ever come across one, as it promises not just the same smoky spiciness that chipotle powder has, but it lends any dish a mildly sweet, delicious flavor.
Gochugaru powder is what you get when chili peppers are dried under the sun, and it gives any recipe about the same heat intensity as chipotle powder. With this in mind, you can add it by the teaspoonful to a dish that is otherwise calling for chipotle powder of the same amount.
Piri Piri Powder
This may be hard to believe, but there will be moments when you do crave for a spicy kick, just without the smoky profile that you always look for in good old chipotle powder.
Maybe you are simply longing for an elegantly flavored spice that excites your taste buds just enough to better accommodate a specific dish’s medley of delightful flavors, and you think any whiff of smokiness will distract you from that.
This is where piri piri powder comes to the rescue: Made from blending cayenne pepper, ginger, and paprika together, this chipotle powder replacement ensures a strong spicy flavor without the smoky notes, which could be wonderful for a change.
You absolutely need cayenne powder in your cooking arsenal if chipotle powder’s kick is what you live for. The fact that it is neutral in taste makes its natural heat intensity all the more stand out. You can just mix cayenne powder with other strong spices to make your own blend that resembles chipotle powder’s earthy, smoky flavor.
Keep in mind that cayenne powder can be pretty intense as a spice, so you may want to apply caution when adding it to your dishes. Start with using just half as much cayenne powder as you would when using chipotle powder, and bit by bit, add more as desired.
Naturally aromatic and wonderfully spicy, what else would you do but be drawn to harissa, which is another great substitute for your chipotle powder. This condiment is a regular in Middle Eastern and North African cuisines, with its spicy appeal utilized in adding a rich flavor to couscous, soups and stews.
You can mix harissa with some olive oil and instantly have a delicious dip at your fingertips. Available as a paste and also in powdered form, harissa is a delight to have as another go-to chipotle powder replacement.
You may treat chocolate habanero as a more subdued version of chipotle powder, but prepare to be amazed by its perfect balance of the right amount of spicy, smoky, and earthy flavors. Plus, the hint of chocolatey fruitiness it leaves in your mouth is simply divine, especially when you use it in the right proportions in your dishes.