This homemade chili powder recipe with flavor beyond spicy heat is superior to anything you can buy. Do it yourself and design a blend that is all your own.
Making your own chili powder? It's more than a cooking vanity project. It makes a difference! And, given how easy it is to make, I really don't know why I resisted this so long.
Don’t know about you, but I realize that I’ve been blindly buying chili power for far too long. And when I started thinking about making my own blend, I started by scanning my cache of various prepared jars.
I learned a lot from that bit of research.
Some of those jars amounted to ground chilis (of undetermined varieties). Several of the 'hot' brands were overwhelmed with cayenne pepper and very little else. Some were so hot that any intended flavor was undetectable.
Then I considered the way I was using chili powder. That was primarily for the heat (or because I thought I should). I was then adding to it cumin, smoked paprika, oregano – all sorts of things.
Why? Because I didn’t have the mix ‘right’.
And now, I’m moving on. Ok, slightly forward. I won’t tell you that you’ll never see another recipe that calls for chili powder and additional spices. Many recipes, including chili, might need a top-up of individual spices or new flavors like cocoa powder. But food will taste better if you start with a great chili powder.
What’s in chili powder?
It depends on who's making it. Seriously. A survey of my own stash revealed a few non-negotiables like chili and cumin. The rest of the ingredients were basically a chili powder free-for-all.
That was another motivation for making my own - quality control.
Here's what I used in my personal chili powder blend. And like all cooking, you can modify this as you like. This is a bit on the spicy side, so you may want to tone it down depending on your preferences.
- 1 tablespoon of hot smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon of sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon of oregano
- 1 ½ teaspoon of cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon of onion powder
- 1 teaspoon of ground chipotle pepper
- 1 teaspoon of ground ancho pepper
It’s critical when you use spices or make blends that you check the expiration dates. Your chili powder is most potent before the expiration of the oldest ingredient. I try to date, not when I made a blend, but that oldest ingredient date. That keeps your spices reliably potent.
If you don’t have (or don’t like) chipotle or ancho chilis, you can always make substitutions. If you find chilis already ground, grab a tablespoon. If you find them as chili flakes, grab a spice grinder and pulverize them. If you find whole, dried chilies, they are best if you toast them first, deseed them if you don’t want too much heat, then grind them.
You could also use this process for the cumin if you only have seeds. If that’s the case, you may want to toast the cumin seeds before grinding them. Toasting cumin seeds will release their flavor.
I used 2 types of paprika, smoked and sweet. Before confusion ensues in front of the store shelf sets in, let’s talk paprika.
There are three basic kinds.
1. Sweet paprika. If you find a jar labeled ‘paprika’ that’s the sweet or basic stuff. Sweet paprika has no heat, just a sweet pepper flavor. It’s the best for garnishing potato salads, even hummus. Any place you want a little red pepper flavor, without spice.
2. Smoked paprika. Sweet paprika is used to calm down the spiciness of a dish. On the other hand, smoked paprika, or smoked Spanish paprika, adds a smoky flavor. The flavor comes from roasting red peppers before drying them and grinding them. The smokiness of paprika is not as overpowering as liquid smoke. Smoked paprika adds a charcoal flavor that can be delightful for foods such as tofu bacon or recipes where you want to deepen the flavor.
Here’s the tricky part and where you want to watch your labels. Smoked paprika comes in three heat waves – mild, medium, and hot. This is an ingredient that might assist in toning down your chili powder. If you use mild smoked paprika, it could offset the chipotle and ancho chilis. You could also use mild smoked paprika in place of the sweet paprika. The result will be slightly more of a smoky flavor.
3. Hot paprika. If someone mentions Hungarian paprika, chances are, they are referring to hot paprika. This is the 'good' stuff and is more than a color booster paprika. It gives anything you add it to a peppery kick.
How to use chili powder
Cayenne pepper is not a substitution for chili powder. But as I always advise, when using any spicy ingredient (or salt), you want to test it. Start by adding half of what your recipe calls for and give the spice time to mix with your ingredients. Taste it and then adjust with more if desired.
Chili powder is a must for obvious things like chili. But a good chili powder is also an easy flavor remedy for cauliflower tacos or a twist-up for burgers. Have you tried our cilantro-lime salad dressing? A chili powder with flavor can even be sprinkled over veggies before roasting.
Those days are behind me.
My homemade chili powder now has a place on the shelf alongside all my other prized blends. Moved from the back of the cupboard. Proudly on display. That’s how we should treat everything we love. Peace.Print
homemade chili powder recipe
This homemade chili powder recipe with flavor beyond spicy heat is superior to anything you can buy. Do it yourself and design your perfect blend.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 0 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 5 Tbsp. 1x
- Category: Essential Ingredients
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Diet: Low Salt
- 1 Tbsp. of hot smoked paprika
- 1 Tbsp. of sweet paprika
- 1 Tbsp. of dried oregano
- 1 ½ tsp. of ground cumin
- 1 ½ tsp. of garlic powder
- 1 tsp. of onion powder
- 1 tsp. of ground chipotle pepper
- 1 tsp. of ground ancho pepper
- Grind the chili if you buy it whole or as chili flakes.
- Mix all the ingredients and store in a sealed container.
- Homemade chili powder stays as potent as the oldest spice included in the mix.
- Control the flavor and heat by experimenting with different kinds of paprika or chilis.
- Store homemade chili powder in a sealed container in a cool place, away from heat sources (your stove). That will keep it fresher for longer.
Keywords: homemade chili powder recipe