I'm having trouble converting the chili recipes I find to use something other than of-the-shelf chili-powder. Thanks to a simply wonderful local spice shop, we have several different kind of chili-flakes. We've already learned that grinding them and substituting 1:2 with powder is ("$@$^@ ow, pass the milk") not correct. What is the ratio-neighborhood we should be exploring for this substitution?

2 Answers 2


Chili powder is typically a blend of ground chilies and other spices (and maybe even herbs).

I'd go with a blend of:

  • paprika (smoked if you can find it)
  • cayenne
  • cumin
  • oregano
  • garlic powder

You can also try mixing in onion powder, other chilie powders, and black pepper. Some pre-mixed blends also include salt. If you have access to other dried chilie powders, you might consider using ancho or new mexico chilies for a 'dark' chili powder, as opposed to the more red powder you'll get from the cayenne. (but cayenne's more available)

Search online for recipes -- you'll find lots of variation out there.

  • 1
    It is a lot better to use Mexican oregano rather than traditional Mediterranean oregano. See thekitchn.com/thekitchn/… for the difference. Commented Oct 3, 2010 at 14:41
  • So that's why "chilli powder" is never spicy!
    – Arafangion
    Commented Oct 4, 2010 at 14:02
  • @Arafangion: It depends - you can get powders based on different ground chilies, and some are hotter than others. But yes, in general, it's about flavor, so it's not just heat like red pepper flakes.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Oct 20, 2010 at 19:02
  • 2
    I don't know how likely it is, but you might be able to find dried whole peppers, and grind them yourself to get some more good flavor in there.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Oct 20, 2010 at 19:03
  • I believe I've seen ancho powder at Target. @Jefromi, Whole Foods (in Louisiana) has had whole dried chiles in the past, although I haven't seen them in a while.
    – rcollyer
    Commented Oct 21, 2010 at 3:14

Coriander, cilantro, and sage are more standby's for a good chili powder as well. Nanami-togarashi is an asian chili powder with a citrusy flavor from lime [peel?]. Also, dont be afraid to get some sinusy piquant goodness in there with a little ginger or mustard or turmeric (only a pinch or it may get closer to curry).

You may also like to source the chiles you are using. You may find that getting a dried tien tsin (the hot peppers from asian cooking) and a dried bell pepper, and milling these with a mortar and pestle is a good way to play with the spectrum of spice in your powder.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.