I live in Africa, but cook with US recipes often. I have found that the locally available chili powder is MUCH more intense than it is in the US. So much so that making a custom taco seasoning yielded some near-inedible heat. For the moment I have solved this by bringing in chili powder in bulk. For many reasons, this is not ideal.

I have heard that one can mix in Paprika (being a milder chili powder) in order to cut down the intensity. Does anyone have experience with this? Do I just need to experiment with various 1/2-1/2, 1/4-3/4 ratios in an effort to find a suitable level of intensity? Any thoughts on how to do this without going through the process of cooking an entire dish?

  • 5
    I wonder if the chili powders you get in Africa are actually pure powdered chilis, while the recipes are actually expecting a chili powder blend, as in MaxW's answer and my comment to that answer.
    – Jolenealaska
    Sep 26, 2016 at 9:15
  • I would think that should work. Most standard chili powders are made from fairly mild dried chilis (New Mexico and Ancho are the ones I use), that are roasted and ground, usually with some additional cumin and oregano. I don't see why using a completely mild/sweet in conjunction with the hotter chilis available wouldn't work. It might have a sweeter flavor to it, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe we'll have to come up with a special name for your style of chili, once you get this down. Let us know how that works for you. Sep 26, 2016 at 15:04

2 Answers 2


This recipe list chili powder as:

  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)

There are other mixtures, but this one seem basic enough. The "heat" comes from the cayenne pepper. The other spices round out the flavor.

So I'd mix everything but the cayenne pepper and use that mixture to cut your present chili powder.

  • 2
    Long discussion on chilli powder moved to chat: chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/45932/…
    – rumtscho
    Sep 26, 2016 at 20:18
  • 2
    The chat discussion is indeed long, but it seems that the biggest points are (1) sometimes it's a different kind of chili, not necessarily one usually associated with paprika; (2) sometimes it's just the chili, not the other things, and (3) the rest of the blend can of course vary. Would you be okay adding something along those lines into your answer? (or with me doing so?)
    – Cascabel
    Sep 26, 2016 at 23:48

I think your approach is the right one. Chili has flavor, not just heat, so simply reducing the chili added will reduce the flavor and the heat. Using a mild chili powder like paprika will keep the chili flavor there while reducing the chili heat. African chili powder is generally very hot stuff, so I'd try a 7:1 ratio of paprika to african chili powder and work your way up.

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