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12 Best Guajillo Chiles Substitute To Impress Your Mexican GF

Guajillo chiles are also called Guajillo peppers. They are the most popularly used chiles in Mexican cooking. Each chile is about 4 to 6 inches long. It is tough and has a shiny red color. You can also think of them as dried mirasol chiles.

Aside from being used in baking recipes, guajillo chiles may also be used in soups, marinades, salsas, meat, pastes, etc. You can use it in dishes that need a little spice, but not too much. If you happened to run out of them, here are some alternatives to consider.

  1. Ancho Peppers
  2. California Chiles
  3. Chile de Arbol Powder
  4. Cascabel Chiles
  5. Chipotle Chili Peppers
  6. Dried New Mexico Chiles
  7. Gochugaru

Before we discuss more about the potential alternatives, let us understand a bit more about these popular mexican peppers.

12 Best Substitute For Guajillo Chiles 

Guajillo Chiles Substitute

Guajillo chiles have mild to medium heat. However, if you need a more objective measurement, the Scoville scale has them at 2500 to 5000 SHU. Even with its heat, a guajillo chile can also deliver other distinctive flavors, a blend of fruity, smoky, and sweet that reminds you of berries and tea.

You will find this chile used in various Central American and Mexican dishes.

Your choice of mild or medium is guaranteed because the chiles come in two heat varieties. The Guajillo puya may be smaller, but it is hotter.

As a whole, guajillo chiles will rate a 4 in a scale of 1 to 10 (Team, 2020).

Guajillo chiles are sold in their powder forms. They are sold in dry variations that can be ground and toasted into powder. The powder and dry forms may also be rehydrated to be used as sauce or paste.

In terms of spiciness, some of the best substitutes includes Ancho Peppers and California Chiles.

Ancho Peppers


Ancho peppers also have a sweet and smoky flavor. However, instead of reminding you of berries and tea, it will give you a chocolate and raisin blend. These peppers are meatier, too. Their sweeter flavor may take out some of the heat you may like.

In fact, ancho peppers are low on the Scoville scale at 1000 to 2000 SHU. However, they are great for marinades, soups, and sauces. You may also use them to substitute for guajillo when needing some meat rubs.

California Chiles

Dry and ripened Anaheim peppers make up California chiles. Their heat levels are pretty mild, and they are also mildly sweet. People choose it for its sharp flavor and hint of acidity. It is at 500 to 2500 SHU on the Scoville scale.

They are best on sauces, soups, and stews like Ancho peppers. You may also use this substitute for casseroles.

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Chile de Arbol Powder


You may also choose chile de arbol powder. It comes from tiny and bright red chiles. However, you must only use this if you want to pack on the heat. This substitute does not mess around with a 15000 to 65000 SHU in the Scoville scale.

Because it is much hotter than most other substitutes, chile de arbol powder should be used sparingly. You can use ¼ of it for every serving of guajillo required for your recipe first. This way, you can be sure you don’t make the dish too hot. Of course, you can add a little more if you feel more adventurous.

Cascabel Chiles

Cascabel chiles are brownish red in color. They are also rounder and shorter. So, if it’s just appearance alone, they already fail in being substitutes.

However, they do have an excellent mild heat with a smoky taste. Cascabel chiles are at 1500 to 2500 SHU on the Scoville scale. They can also be used for stews, soups, sauces, etc.

While these Chiles are not obvious substitutes, they can deliver the woodsy taste you are familiar with in guajillo chiles 

Chipotle Chili Peppers


Chipotle chili peppers are made from smoked, dry jalapeno. So far, they are hotter than the aforementioned substitutes, with heat levels at 2500 to 8000 SHU on the Scoville scale. They can also recreate the smoky flavor of guajillo chiles.

They can be used in various forms, such as marinades and sauces or flakes and powders.

Dried New Mexico Chiles

Dried New Mexico chiles have shiny skin like guajillo chiles, but they are pretty long, at 12 to 17 cm. They are not very hot at 800 to 1400 SHU on the Scoville scale, relatively mild compared to guajillo chiles.

They have a sweet and earthy flavor, however, like guajillo chiles. You don’t get berry and tea, but you will get a taste of dried cherry. These chiles are versatile, like guajillo chiles, working well with rubs and chutneys aside from sauces and salsas.



This Korean red chile pepper is often used for making kimchi. So, you may not expect it here. But yes, it is spicy. It is sun-dried and packs a lot of heat in its small size. You can use it in its flake or powder form.

Gochugaru is as hot as jalapeno, at 5000 to 8000 SHU on the Scoville scale. It also has sweet and smoky flavors added to make it close enough to guajillo. It is hot enough that you need to take half of it for every one serving of guajillo peppers.

Mulato Chiles

Another substitute that is not that hot is the Mulato chile. It has a 2500 to 3000 SHU on the Scoville scale, which is pretty good compared to the milder variation of guajillo chiles. It also has a good blend of sweet, smoky, and fruity.

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Mulato chiles are pretty standard as an ingredient and are used for most dishes. So, you may at least have an easy time looking for this particular substitute.

Pasilla Peppers


Pasilla Peppers have a slightly sweet flavor profile. They have a dash of berry and cocoa flavor. They are long, thin, and wrinkled. They are much darker than the guajillo chiles. So, appearance-wise, they don’t seem like a good fit.

However, the flavor is similar enough to guajillo peppers. The heat level is pretty mild on the Scoville scale at 1000 to 2500 SHU. These peppers are great for the usual: sauces, stews, soups, etc.

Piment d’Espellete

The Espellete pepper is of moderate heat level. A sweet and fruity flavor adds to its profile. It is more versatile than guajillo chile, and can be used to substitute the ingredient in any recipe. There is a slight difference in the flavor, and you will feel it right away.

This particular pepper’s availability is better than that of guajillo peppers. They can be bought in most grocery stores and can be ordered online, too.

Puya Chiles


You may go on the spicier end if you want to go for puja chiles. They are smaller and pack more heat than guajillo peppers. You may also find an exciting flavor profile in them with hints of cherry and licorice.

The 5000 to 8000 SHU heat level on the Scoville scale means that only those who want more fire will go for this substitute. Puya is common in several spicy Central American dishes. It can even be used on cooked veggies.


This spicy condiment comprises of tabasco peppers, salt, and vinegar. Like guajillo peppers, it is commonly used in Mexican dishes. You will taste a change in flavor and heat level, but it is a good substitute.

When do you need guajillo substitutes?

You need guajillo substitutes when:

  1. You ran out of the peppers.

You could be right in the middle of cooking at home. So, you cannot leave the house fast enough to buy something to use. More likely, you will scramble for something similar in your kitchen.

  1. You don’t have any seller nearby who can provide you with the ingredient.

Guajillo peppers may not be available near you. They can be hard to find (What Can I Substitute For Guajillo Chili, n.d.). So, you may need to order and wait for the product, but you need something now.

  1. You need a similar taste but with a higher or lower heat level.

Not everyone is happy with the same heat level. Some may want something milder and sweeter. Guajillo chiles are sweet and mild enough, but some may want a completely different flavor profile to accompany the heat. On the other hand, some people may want to go for something hotter on the Scoville scale.

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Guajillo Chiles Substitute Related FAQs

Are Guajillo peppers the same as ancho peppers?

Guajillo and ancho peppers may be similar in taste, but they are different from each other. Ancho peppers may have been used if you are tasting a more chocolatey and raisin-like flavor.

On the other hand, guajillo has a more berry and tea flavor.

Are Guajillo chiles the same as New Mexico chiles?

Earlier in this article, you’ve read that New Mexico chiles are suitable substitutes for Guajillo chiles.

In Mexican cooking, these two types of chiles are each other’s best substitutes. New Mexican chiles are darker than guajillos.

However, they are both on a mild scale in terms of taste. New Mexican chiles do go even milder than guajillo chiles.

Where can I find guajillo peppers near me?

Guajillo peppers are more often available at online shops and Mexican grocery stores. So, you may need to buy your supply in advance.

What do you use guajillo chiles for?

Guajillo chiles are used as a base for Mexican sauces and salsas. They add a nice, fruity flavor with some heat. Usually, cooks add them to chile de arbol to make the dish hotter.

The chile is mild, though. So, you won’t miss the actual taste of the meal.

Are guajillo chiles considered hot?

Well, they are hot. However, they are not as hot as some peppers out there. They are only meant to give some spice to make a dish more interesting.

On an objective level, guajillo chiles are mild. There is a variety that leans more towards medium heat.

Are guajillo peppers good for chile?

Yes, they are. In fact, guajillo peppers are included in some of the leading Mexican ingredients for salsas, soups, and sauces. The list includes chili. Guajillo has just the proper heat and sweetness for the dish.

How do you cook dried guajillo chile peppers?

Boil water in a saucepan. After you have turned off the heat, you can add the guajillos. Then, cover the pot and let the chiles rehydrate for 10 to 15 minutes. Wait until the peppers are soft and manageable.

You can then use them for any of your hot recipes.

How do you use guajillo chiles?

You can use guajillo chiles in salsas and many other Mexican dishes. They can be spooned over your tortilla chips, enchiladas, tacos, and tamales. You can even add them to your adobos and sauces.