The smoky, sweet, earthy flavor makes Ancho Chile Powder a favorite in authentic Mexican cooking and many other dishes. All you need are dried chiles to make your own chili powder with mild heat level and gorgeous deep red color.
Homemade Ancho chili powder is a versatile and flavorful spice blend made from dried Ancho chili peppers. Ancho chili peppers are the dried form of poblano chiles, which are mild in heat and impart a rich, smoky, and slightly sweet flavor to dishes. Creating your own Ancho chili powder allows you to control the ingredients and customize the heat level to your preference.
Ancho chili powder is prized for its complex flavor profile. It is known for its mild to moderate heat, which is significantly milder than many other chili powders. The dominant flavors of Ancho chili powder are smoky, sweet, and slightly fruity flavor with subtle earthy and raisin-like undertones.
Why make it?
- Customization: Making your own Ancho chili powder allows you to customize the flavor and heat level to your liking. You can control the spiciness by adjusting the number of seeds you include.
- Freshness: Homemade spice blends are often fresher and more potent than store-bought alternatives. You can ensure the quality of the ingredients and avoid added preservatives or fillers.
- Cost-Effective: Buying dried Ancho chili peppers and making your own powder can be more cost-effective in the long run compared to purchasing pre-made spice blends.
In summary, making homemade Ancho chili powder is a rewarding culinary endeavor that offers customization, freshness, and a delicious flavor profile. It's a great way to elevate your cooking and add a touch of homemade charm to your dishes.
Recipe Ingredient Notes
Dried ancho chiles. The only ingredient in this recipe is dried ancho chile peppers. They can be found at major grocery stores in the international section or online. The recipe can be scaled for any amount but for a base we are using 2 dried ancho peppers.
How to Make
STEP 1. Preparation
Remove the stem (photo 1) and seeds (photo 2) from the ancho chiles.
STEP 2. Grind
Tear the dried whole ancho chiles into pieces and add them to a spice grinder (photo 3) or small food processor. NOTE: we use a dedicated inexpensive coffee grinder used only for grinding spices. Any spice grinder can be used.
Grind until finely ground ancho powder (photo 4). For extra fine ancho chile powder, sift and re-grind until desired consistency.
- Make it spicier. The seeds of chile peppers are what create the most spicy heat. If you want your ancho chile powder to have some heat, you can leave some seeds when griding into a powder.
- Mixing in other spices. Depending on your taste, you can add other ingredients like garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and salt to enhance the flavor.
How to Store
Store in an airtight jar or container away from direct sunlight and heat source. Use within 6 months.
Spices don't 'go bad' like other foods but their flavor will lessen over time. If you're unsure about the freshness of your Ancho chili powder, give it a quick sniff. Fresh chili powder should have a strong, aromatic scent. If it smells weak or stale, it's time to replace it.
How to Use
Ancho chili powder is often used as a substitute for other chili powders in recipes when a milder, smoky flavor is desired. It can be used to add depth and complexity to dishes without overwhelming them with spiciness.
Ancho chili powder is a versatile spice used in a wide range of authentic Mexican cuisine and Tex-Mex dishes. It is commonly used to season soups, stews, sauces, marinades, and rubs for meats, including chili con carne. It can also be used as a flavorful seasoning for roasted vegetables and even in salad dressings.
Here are some ideas for using it in lower-calorie recipes and dishes:
- Spice Up Vegetables: Sprinkle a pinch of Ancho chili powder on roasted, air fryer or grilled vegetables like zucchini, cauliflower, or sweet potatoes. It will enhance their natural flavors and give them a smoky kick.
- Light Soups and Stews: Add a teaspoon or two of Ancho chili powder to broths, tomato-based soups, or vegetable stews to create a warming, spicy flavor without adding many calories.
- Homemade Salsas: Create a low-calorie salsa by mixing diced tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime juice, and a dash of Ancho chili powder. This zesty condiment pairs well with grilled chicken, fish, or as a topping for salads.
- Spice Rubs for protein: Use Ancho chili powder as a rub for lean proteins like chicken breasts, turkey cutlets, or tofu. Combine it with other spices like paprika, garlic powder, and cumin for a flavorful rub.
- Marinades: Create a flavorful, low-calorie marinade by combining Ancho chili powder with ingredients like olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, and a touch of honey. Marinate your protein or vegetables for a burst of flavor before cooking.
- Seasoning for Avocado: Sprinkle Ancho chili powder on sliced avocado for a spicy and creamy snack or side dish. It's a tasty way to enjoy healthy fats.
- Spicy Hummus: Add a pinch of Ancho chili powder to homemade or store-bought hummus for a spicy twist. It's great for dipping raw veggies or whole-grain pita.
- Salad Dressings: Incorporate Ancho chili powder into homemade salad dressings. Combine it with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, and a touch of honey for a flavorful vinaigrette.
- Low-Calorie Sides: Toss Ancho chili powder with low-calorie sides like quinoa, brown rice, cauliflower rice or couscous to infuse them with a smoky, spicy flavor.
- Garnish for Soups: Sprinkle a pinch of Ancho chili powder on top of lower-calorie soups like black bean soup, butternut squash soup, or gazpacho for an added layer of flavor.
- Healthy Snacks: Dust Ancho chili powder on air-popped popcorn or roasted chickpeas for a spicy and satisfying snack that won't break your calorie budget.
Remember that Ancho chili powder can vary in heat intensity, so start with a small amount and adjust to your taste. It's a versatile spice that can add a delightful kick to your lower-calorie dishes without adding many extra calories. Enjoy experimenting with it in your cooking!
How spicy are ancho chile peppers?
Ancho chili peppers are relatively mild on the Scoville Heat Scale, which measures the spiciness of chili peppers and their products. They typically range from 1,000 to 2,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).
For comparison, cayenne pepper, which is commonly used to add spiciness to dishes, can range from 30,000 to 50,000 SHU or even higher
As a result, Ancho chili powder is not very spicy and is well-suited for those who enjoy the flavor of chili peppers without the intense heat.
Difference between ancho chili powder and regular chili powder
Ancho chili powder and regular chili powder are both spice blends used in cooking, but they have some key differences in terms of ingredients and flavor profiles. The main difference follows:
- Main Chili Pepper Used:
- Ancho Chili Powder: Ancho chili powder is made primarily from dried Ancho chili peppers, which are the dried version of poblano peppers. Ancho peppers are mild in heat and have a sweet, smoky flavor.
- Regular Chili Powder: Regular chili powder, often labeled as just "chili powder" in the United States, typically contains a mixture of chili peppers, including spicier varieties like cayenne or red pepper, along with other spices like cumin, garlic powder, oregano, and sometimes salt.
- Heat Level:
- Ancho Chili Powder: Ancho chili powder is known for its mild heat. It imparts a subtle warmth to dishes without being overwhelmingly spicy. The focus is more on the smoky and sweet flavors.
- Regular Chili Powder: Regular chili powder can vary significantly in heat, depending on the blend and the types of chili peppers used. It often has a spicier kick due to the inclusion of hotter chili varieties.
- Flavor Profile:
- Ancho Chili Powder: Ancho chili powder has a rich, smoky, and slightly sweet flavor profile. It is often used to add depth and complexity to dishes without overpowering them with heat.
- Regular Chili Powder: Regular chili powder has a bolder and more complex flavor profile due to the combination of various spices. It typically has a stronger earthy, spicy, and sometimes slightly tangy taste.
- Ancho Chili Powder: Ancho chili powder is well-suited for recipes where you want to enhance the smokiness and mild chili flavor, such as in Mexican mole sauces, chili con carne, or for seasoning meats and vegetables.
- Regular Chili Powder: Regular chili powder is a versatile seasoning that can be used in a wide range of dishes, including chili (of course), Tex-Mex cuisine, tacos, and various meat rubs. It adds a robust and spicy kick to recipes.
- Ancho Chili Powder: Ancho chili powder is typically made solely from dried Ancho chili peppers, which are ground into a powder.
- Regular Chili Powder: Regular chili powder contains a mix of chili peppers and other spices, which can include cumin, garlic, oregano, and more.
In summary, the main differences between Ancho chili powder and regular chili powder are the type of chili peppers used, the heat level, and the flavor profile.
Ancho chili powder is milder, smokier, and sweeter, while regular chili powder can vary in heat and has a more complex flavor due to the blend of spices.
Depending on the recipe and your taste preferences, you may choose one over the other to achieve the desired flavor and spice level in your dishes.
How to substitute it
Substituting Ancho chili powder for other chili powders in recipes can be a great way to add a smoky, sweet flavor without increasing the heat level significantly. Ancho chili powder is milder than many other chili powders, so here's how you can make the substitution:
- Determine the Heat Level: Before substituting Ancho chili powder, consider the heat level of the original chili powder called for in the recipe. Ancho chili powder is relatively mild, so if the recipe requires a hotter chili powder like cayenne or chipotle, be prepared for a less spicy result.
- 1:1 Substitution: In most cases, you can use Ancho chili powder as a 1:1 replacement for other chili powders. This means that if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of regular chili powder, you can use 1 tablespoon of Ancho chili powder instead.
- Adjust for Heat: If the recipe requires a spicier chili powder and you want to maintain some level of heat, you can mix Ancho chili powder with a small amount of cayenne or another hotter chili powder to achieve the desired level of spiciness.
- Flavor Adjustment: Keep in mind that Ancho chili powder has a distinct smoky and slightly sweet flavor. It can enhance the flavor of your dish, but it may change the overall taste profile if the original chili powder had different spices like cumin, garlic powder, or oregano. You can compensate for this by adding a pinch of those spices separately.
- Taste and Adjust: After adding the Ancho chili powder, taste your dish and adjust the seasoning as needed. You can always add more chili powder or other spices to suit your preferences.
- Consider the Color: Ancho chili powder can also affect the color of your dish, as it tends to be reddish-brown. This may not be a concern in most recipes, but it's something to keep in mind if color is important.
Remember that Ancho chili powder is prized for its smoky and sweet flavor, so the substitution can introduce a unique and enjoyable twist to your recipes. Adjust the heat level and other seasonings as needed to achieve the desired taste profile for your dish.