We bet you’re here because you’re tired of using store-bought chili seasoning blends that are often filled with additives and preservatives. Our easy homemade chili seasoning recipe is made entirely from scratch using whole, dried Mexican chile peppers. Not only is it simple to make, but it allows you to control the level of heat and adjust the flavors to your liking plus it’s more cost effective than grocery store varieties. Get ready to elevate your chili game with this all-natural and flavorful seasoning blend.
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What is Chili Powder?
Chili powder is a blend of ground spices commonly used to add flavor and heat to dishes, particularly in Tex-Mex, Southwestern and Mexican cuisine. The exact blend of spices can vary depending on the recipe, but it typically includes chile peppers, cumin, garlic and onion. Some blends may also include other ingredients such as salt, pepper, and paprika. Chili powder can be used to season meats, soups, stews, and other dishes, and is a key ingredient in many chili recipes.
Why You Should Make Your Own Chili Powder
- Customization: Making your own chili powder seasoning allows you to tailor the blend to your personal taste preferences. You can adjust the heat level, add more of a certain spice, or omit one that you don’t like.
- Freshness: When you make your own chili powder, you know that the spices are fresh and haven’t been sitting in a warehouse or on a store shelf for months. This can result in a more flavorful and aromatic seasoning.
- Control over ingredients: You have control over the ingredients, including the quality and source of the spices. This allows you to choose organic, non-GMO and high-quality ingredients.
- Cost-effective: Making your own chili powder can be less expensive than buying pre-made blends, especially if you buy spices in bulk.
- Variety: You can experiment with different types of chile peppers, herbs, and spices to create unique blends. This can add variety to your cooking and allow you to explore different flavor profiles.
- Versatility: Chili powder seasoning can be used in a variety of dishes, not just chili, and when you make your own, you can create blends that suit the specific dish you’re preparing.
- No preservatives: When you make your own seasonings, you know exactly what’s in it and you can avoid any unwanted preservatives, artificial colors, and other additives that are often found in store-bought seasoning blends.
What chile peppers should I use in my chili powder?
Choosing chilies to use in your chili powder depends on your personal tastes and the level of heat you want in your seasoning. Here are a few tips to help you choose:
Consider the heat level: Different chilies have different heat levels, so it’s important to consider how hot you want your chili powder to be. Chilies like Ancho and Mulato will provide a mild heat, while chilies like Chipotle and Arbol will provide a lot of heat.
Think about the flavor: Each type of chile has its own unique flavor profile, so it’s important to think about what flavors you want to highlight in your chili powder blend. For example, Ancho chilies have a sweet, fruity flavor, while Chipotle chilies have a smoky flavor.
Use a blend of chilies: One way to achieve a well-rounded flavor and heat level is to use a mix of chilies. A combination of mild, medium-hot and hot chilies will give you a balance of sweetness, tanginess and heat. This is why we chose to use ancho (mild, sweet, fruity), guajillo (med-hot, sweet, tangy) and arbol (hot, smoky, nutty) in our chili powder blend.
Ingredients Needed to Make This Homemade Chili Powder Recipe
See the recipe card for exact measurements and see notes below for substituting the chile peppers.
Ancho Chile Peppers: Ancho chilies are dried poblano peppers. They have a mild to medium heat level and a fruity, raisin-like flavor. They add a smoky, sweet taste to chili powder blends.
Guajillo Chile Peppers: Guajillo chilies are dried mirasol peppers. They have a medium heat level and a tangy, slightly sweet flavor. They add a fruity, slightly spicy taste to chili powder blends.
Arbol Chile Peppers: Arbol chiles are small, thin, dried chili peppers with a bright red color. They have a high heat level and a smoky, nutty flavor. They add heat and a smoky taste to chili powder blends. In the past, we’ve also used cayenne pepper to add heat to our chili powder when out of Arbol chilies.
Garlic Powder: Granulated garlic works as well.
Onion Powder: You can also use dried minced onion.
Cumin: Cumin is a spice made from the seeds of the cumin plant. It has a warm, earthy flavor and is used to add depth and complexity. You can use whole seeds or ground cumin.
Oregano: Oregano is a herb with a strong, pungent flavor and is used to add a slightly bitter, slightly spicy flavor to chili powder blends. If you can get your hands on Mexican oregano, we suggest using this variety.
Paprika: Paprika is a powder made from ground sweet peppers, it’s used to add color and a slightly sweet, slightly smoky flavor to chili powder blends.
Coriander: Coriander is a spice made from the seeds of the cilantro plant. It has a lemony, slightly bitter flavor and is used to add a fresh, citrusy flavor to chili powder blends. You can use whole seeds or ground coriander.
Optional: Sea salt and black pepper. We chose to leave these out because we prefer to season our final dishes with salt and pepper to taste.
Each ingredient brings its own unique flavor, heat level and level of complexity to the blend and together, they form a harmonious blend that provides a perfect balance of heat, sweetness, smokiness, and earthiness.
How to Make Homemade Chili Powder
Using kitchen shears or your hands remove the stems from the dried chilues. Cut them open and discard the seeds and scrape away the membrane. The membranes can be very bitter.
In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the dried chile peppers. If using coriander and/or cumin seeds, add these to the pan as well. Toast for 1-2 minutes on each side or until fragrant. You don’t want the chilies to burn because this will cause them to become bitter.
Remove peppers from pan, set aside and allow to cool completely.
Add garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, paprika, coriander, cayenne powder and ground cumin to a blender or spice grinder along with the cooled chilies. If using coriander and/or cumin seeds add these to the blender as well.
Pulse until you have a fine powder. Be careful not to remove the lid before the dust has settled! This usually takes a good 30 seconds.
Store spice mix in an airtight container and dark cook place for up to 6 months at room temperature. If refrigerated this blend will last up to a year. See more storage info below.
Heat Levels of Various Chiles
- Mild chilies: Ancho, Mulato, and Pasilla chilies have a mild to medium heat level and a sweet, fruity flavor.
- Medium-hot chilies: Guajillo and New Mexico chilies have a moderate heat level and a tangy, slightly sweet flavor.
- Hot chilies: Chipotle and Arbol chilies have a high heat level and a smoky, nutty flavor.
- Very hot chilies: Cascabels and Pequin have an intense heat level and a strong, pungent flavor.
How to Store Homemade Chili Powder
- Use an airtight container: Transfer the chili powder to an airtight container, such as a glass jar or a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. This will help to keep the powder fresh and prevent moisture and air from getting in.
- Keep it in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight: Store the container of chili powder in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cupboard. Avoid storing it in a place that gets a lot of light or heat, as this can cause the powder to lose its potency over time.
- Keep it away from moisture: Make sure the container is completely dry before storing it, and avoid storing it in a damp area, as moisture can cause the powder to clump or spoil.
- Label and date: Label the container with the date when you made the powder, this will help you to keep track of its freshness.
- Use within 6 months: Homemade chili powder will usually last for about 6 months if stored properly. After that, it may start to lose its potency and flavor.
Homemade Chili Powder Tips for Success
Use fresh, high-quality ingredients: Using fresh, high-quality ingredients will result in a more flavorful and aromatic chili powder. Make sure to select the right type of chilies, and buy spices in whole form, and grind them yourself to ensure the freshest powder.
Toast the chilies: Toasting the chilies before grinding them will help to bring out their flavor and aroma. We toast ours in a pan on the stovetop but you can also dry roast in the oven.
Grind the chilies and spices in small batches: Grind the chilies and spices in small batches to ensure that they are ground evenly and to prevent the spices from grinding too coarse.
How do I use chili powder?
Chili powder can be used in a variety of dishes to add flavor and heat. Some popular uses include:
Chili: Chili powder is a key ingredient in chili recipes, where it is used to season the meat and add a complex, spicy flavor. Check out our wagyu beef chili recipe!
Tacos: Use this blend to season the meat or vegetables used in tacos, or it can be added to the salsa or guacamole for an extra kick of flavor.
Soups and stews: Adding to soups and stews can add depth and heat.
Rub for meats: Use as a dry rub for meats such as chicken, pork, and beef before grilling, roasting or smoking.
Vegetable dishes: Chili powder can be used to season vegetables, such as baked potatoes, roasted vegetables or corn for a spicy and flavorful side dish.
Eggs: Season your scrambled eggs, omelets, or frittatas for a spicy breakfast.
Dips and spreads: This Chili powder blend can be added to dips, such as queso and cream cheese spreads.
In conclusion, making your own chili powder seasoning from scratch is a great way to customize the flavor, spice levels and quality of the ingredients to your liking. It also allows you to experiment with different types of chilies and other ingredients to create unique and flavorful blends. By following the tips above, you can ensure that your homemade chili powder will be fresh, flavorful, and aromatic. Proper storage is also important to preserve the powder’s flavor, color, and potency. The key is to use high-quality ingredients, grind them in small batches, and adjust the seasoning to your taste. With homemade chili powder, you can add a unique and delicious touch to a variety of dishes and take your cooking to the next level.
Looking for More Spice Blends and Sauces?
Homemade Chili Powder – Using Dried Mexican Chile Peppers
- 4 ancho chiles
- 4 guajillo chiles
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper or 2 dried arbol chiles
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp ground cumin or cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground coriander or coriander seeds
- Using kitchen shears or your hands remove the stems from the dried chilies. Cut them open and discard the seeds and scrape away the membrane. The membranes can be very bitter.
- In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the dried chile peppers. If using coriander and/or cumin seeds, add these to the pan as well. Toast for 1-2 minutes on each side or until fragrant. You don’t want the chilies to burn because this will cause them to become bitter.
- Remove peppers from pan, set aside and allow to cool completely.
- Add garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, paprika, coriander, cayenne powder and ground cumin to a blender or spice grinder along with the cooled chilies. If using coriander and/or cumin seeds add these to the blender as well.
- Pulse until you have a fine powder. Be careful not to remove the lid before the dust has settled! This usually takes a good 30 seconds.
- Store spice mix in an airtight container and dark cook place for up to 6 months at room temperature.
Thanks Dee for this great homemade chili powder blend. The other ones I’ve tried were too blend and one dimensional. This one was perfect!!
Those who love spicy dishes or dips will love this recipe! Can’t wait to try making this!