Ancho chilies are dried poblano peppers that are green, which means they are not ripe. The best type of ancho chilies to use is sun-dried chilies. Ancho chilies are about 3-4 inches long, and relatively large. In Mexican cooking, they are one of the most popular peppers used.
It is advisable that when shopping for ancho chilies, choose the pliable and soft ones because peppers that are hard and brittle most times do not have the best taste. But if, for any reason, you couldn’t find anchor chilies, you can always settle for other substitutes for ancho chilies.
Paprika, mulato pepper powder, chipotle powder, pasilla chili pepper, guajillo chile pepper, and gochutgaru are some of the popular alternative you can use when you don’t have anchor chilies.
These peppers are very good choices because they could be stored for a very long time without traces of turning bitter or rotten and if you wish to maximize their shelf life a little more, store them in a freezer.
What Are Ancho Chilies?
Ancho chili is a form of dried Mexican chili pepper mostly used in Mexican and southwestern US cuisines.
It is named after its relatively large size because ancho means wide. It can be purchased wholesale or in smaller sizes, although it is usually sold in bags by weight or dozen.
The upturn of this is that it is usually available all year round. It is commonly added to sauces, soups, and even marinades to flavor your meals.
What Are Ancho Chilies Used For?
Ancho chilies can be used dried or rehydrated as spices for foods and vegetables, and it is also used as a base for stews or soups. You can also sprinkle it on meats and fish to give them a very sweet and spicy flavor.
You can also use it in sprinkled forms on portions of pasta, baked potatoes, soups, vegetables, popcorns, and even pizzas.
Best Substitutes for Ancho Chilies
Paprika is a solid and good choice for ancho chilies because it is equally as spicy.
Sweet paprika is more subtle than the spicy ones, while smoked paprika has a charred flavor. Even if mild paprika is slightly sweeter than ancho chilies, substituting it in just a pinch would do.
When swapping paprika chilies for paprika, use it in a ratio of 1:1, and you could also add a dash of cayenne pepper for an extra tinge.
2. Pasilla Chili Pepper
Pasilla chili pepper is made from dried chilaca peppers, which has a tasty undertone that works quite well in mole sauces and it’s one of the best substitutes for ancho chilies.
This pepper stands in for ancho chilies because they share two very powerful ingredients in common. The two can be confused while shopping due to their striking resemblance.
Before using this ingredient, note that it appears in dishes more like a star ingredient, not a background ingredient, so if you want to use it in your words as a background ingredient, then just a teaspoon would do.
3. Chipotle Powder
One good thing about this substitute is that it is almost available in most grocery stores you check in. Since the chipotle powder is made from dried and smoked jalapenos, this heat has a Scoville heat rating of about 2500- 8000.
This substitute is also spicier than ancho chilies and should also be used in relatively small amounts.
Gochugaru is a Korean chili pepper with a mix of fruity, sweet, and smoky flavors.
Its flavor is similar to that of kimchi, and it is also used to give most staple Korean dishes its heat and color while delivering your meals with that hot and sweet taste that makes you enjoy every bite.
Gochugaru is readily available in Asian stores and specialty supermarkets. Gochugaru is about four times hotter than ancho chilies and when substituting it in a meal that requires 1 tbsp of ancho chilies, use ¼ tbsp of gochugaru instead.
5. Guajillo Chile Pepper
Guajillo Chile pepper is a great substitute for ancho chili peppers whit about 3750 heat Scoville. After the ancho chilies, guajillo is considered the second most popular chili used in Mexican dishes. This pepper has a pleasing and tangy sharp taste with hints of berry and pine.
Another good thing about guajillo is that you can add it to almost any meal that calls for chilies. When replacing it with ancho chilies, use in a ratio of 1:1.
6. Mulato Pepper Powder
Mulato appears darker and about five times hotter than the normal ancho pepper. Ancho chilies have a longer maturation period because their qualities are more intense.
Both ancho peppers and Mulato peppers are dried versions of the poblano peppers and can be used either chopped or whole. This powder should be used in a ratio of 1:1 when they are being substituted for ancho peppers.
You can substitute several other peppers for the ancho chili pepper, so you should not limit your search to these chili peppers mentioned above.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Store My Ancho Chilies?
Ancho chilies are best stored in an airtight container and should be kept away from direct sunlight, and when stored properly, they can be kept for as long as two to three months—keeping the air out when storing helps to retain its sweet, chewy and leathery nature.
If you want to store your peppers for more than 3-4 months, the best option is to freeze them and later rehydrate them when you add them to your dishes.
Is Ancho Chili Pepper Spicy?
Ancho chili pepper is made from the sweetest dry chili and has a moderately sweet and spicy flavor. This pepper is also confused with ordinary chili pepper sometimes because its spiciness equals that of the ancho chili peppers.
What Is a Good Substitute for Ancho Chili Powder?
If you can’t find ancho chili powder, you can substitute it with crushed chili powder or a little crushed red pepper since red peppers are sometimes hotter.
If you’re going to be needing 1 tsp of ancho chili pepper, you can substitute it for either 1 tsp of regular chili peppers or 1/8 or ¼ tsp of crushed red peppers.
What Is the Difference Between Ancho Chili Pepper and Regular Chili Pepper?
The only difference between ancho chili pepper and regular chili pepper is that ancho peppers are slightly spicier than ordinary chili peppers.
Even if ancho chili is made of just Chile and dried poblanos, it is considered hotter than chili pepper made of just spices like paprika and cayenne peppers with a mix of garlic powder.
What Peppers are Closest to Ancho Peppers?
If you don’t have ancho peppers, you can substitute equal amounts of Mulato chiles, guajillo chiles, and even ancho powders if you have. Don’t bother if you can’t get these mentioned around where you stay.