13 Best substitute for Chili Powder

An ideal kitchen pantry is incomplete without chili powder. It stimulates your tastebuds with its hot and spicy flavors that are hard to resist. Read on to know some of the best substitutes for chili powder if you have run out of it.

Chili powder is a mixture prepared from dried chili pepper that can be used with other herbs and spices. It has the perfect flavors that add smokiness and spice to your bland dish.

Chili powder is so commonly used in the kitchen that running out of it in a week or two is a frequent scenario. So what do you do in this case? Using substitutes for chili powder is not a bad option.

Here is a list of 13 best substitutes for chili powder that can ideally replicate its flavors.


13 Best Substitutes for Chili Powder

1. Paprika

Paprika - Substitutes For Chili Powder

The first ingredient that comes to mind while looking for a chili powder substitute is paprika. With a similar red appearance and flavor profile to chili powder, it can easily spice up the taste of your dish.

Belonging to the plant group Capsicum annuum, paprika is found in three forms, smoky, fiery, and sweet. The heat in paprika also ranges from mild to intense. Hence the quantity utilized will depend on the type of paprika you are using for your recipe. 

How to substitute: An equal amount of smoked or sweet paprika can replace chili powder. However, reduce the quantity to half when using fiery paprika. 

2. Chipotle Powder

Chipotle Powder - Substitutes For Chili Powder

Prepared from dried and smoked red jalapenos, chipotle powder serves as a great replacement for chili powder. It has a vibrant red color and heat that adds similar smokiness and flavor to your dish. 

It goes well with barbecue recipes and Mexican cuisine because of its moderate heat and robust taste. But unlike conventional chili powder, chipotle has a smoky and unique sweet flavor that one should be cautious of while using it as a replacement. 

How to substitute: Begin by adding half the required amount of chili powder. Further, you can add more as per your taste and requirement. 

3. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper - Substitutes For Chili Powder

Cayenne pepper is a fantastic substitute for chili powder that adds enough heat and spice to your dish. Although it has a similar flavor profile, its taste is much stronger than chili powder. 

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Cayenne pepper works even better when mixed with onion and garlic powder. Additionally, you may combine it with paprika to make the best chili powder alternative. 

How to substitute: Start by adding one-fourth of the amount of chili powder called for in the recipe. You can further add more as per the requirement. 

4. Ancho Chili Powder

Ancho Chili Powder - Substitutes For Chili Powder

Prepared from dried poblano peppers, ancho chili powder is another fiery ingredient that can effectively replace chili powder in any recipe. It is derived from dark, long green peppers and has a stronger flavor than chili powder.

It comprises a little heat, a mild smokey flavor, and fruity undertones. This alternative works wonders in adobo dishes, spice rubs, and chili pastes. It works as a good substitute for any food that demands a smoky scent and flavor. 

How to substitute: Half the amount of ancho chili powder can best substitute chili powder in any recipe. 

5. Red Pepper Flakes

Red Pepper Flakes - Substitutes For Chili Powder

Most commonly used in Italian dishes as a topping on pizza and pasta, red pepper flakes can be used as a chili powder substitute in a pinch. Since they are prepared with powdered cayenne peppers, they lend sufficient heat to your recipe.

However, the seeds distinguish this condiment from other ground chili peppers as they provide a distinct texture that may not work for all dishes. We suggest crushing it in a spice grinder to give this product a finer texture that mimics chili powder.

How to substitute: An equal quantity of red pepper flakes can replace chili powder.

6. Hot Sauce And Chili Sauce

Hot Sauces - Substitutes For Chili Powder

Prepared from a blend of chili peppers and vinegar, you can use both hot and chili sauces to substitute chili powder in your recipe. Although offering flavor and heat, these sauces might not have the smokiness that barbecue recipes and spice rub demand. 

The final flavor of your dish depends on the peppers used. However, in the case of sauces, you must also check the sugar content. Tasting the sauce by itself before adding it to your cuisine is preferable. 

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How to substitute: Begin by adding a small quantity of sauce which you can increase depending on the flavor you desire for your recipe. 

7. Cumin

Cumin - Substitutes For Chili Powder

Being a key ingredient in chili powder, cumin can easily work as its substitute. It has a rich and warm taste that makes it a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern, Mexican, and Latin American cuisines. 

Though sufficient in itself, we suggest mixing it with ingredients like onion and garlic powder to come closer to the flavor profile of chili powder. All you need to do is add an equal proportion of each ingredient and then use it in the same amount mentioned in your recipe. 

How to substitute: Use a 2:1 ratio to replace cumin for chili powder. 

8. Black Pepper

Black Pepper - Substitutes For Chili Powder

Next on the list of substitutes for chili powder is black pepper. It has a spicy taste and intense, earthy aroma that can ideally replicate the flavors of chili powder. 

Remember to choose high-quality black pepper with a bright black color while replacing it in a recipe. The darker these peppers are, the tastier your food will be. 

Meats, seafood, vegetables, spaghetti, soups, and salad dressings taste better when prepared with black pepper. You can also combine it with oregano or cumin to make it a better replacement for chili powder. 

How to substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio to replace black pepper for chili powder.

9. Onion Powder

Onion Powder - Substitutes For Chili Powder

A staple in most households and easily available in your nearest supermarket, onion powder is another fantastic ingredient that can efficiently substitute chili powder. 

It is an important ingredient in chili powder mix and can considerably improve the flavor of your dish. It works magic when added to sauces, meats, vegetables, casseroles, salad dressings, and soups.

To yield the finest flavors of onion powder, you can blend it with cumin, paprika, garlic powder, or chili peppers. 

How to substitute: An equal quantity of onion powder can replace chili powder.

10. Seasoning Mix

Seasoning Mix - Substitutes For Chili Powder

An easy-to-use and extremely effective substitute for chili powder is a seasoning mix. If your kitchen cabinet has a pack of seasonings like peri-peri, taco, cajun, or creole handy in your kitchen, you are good to go. 

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Taco seasoning is ideal for chili con carne since it resembles chili powder. However, barbecue dishes are better suited to the garlicky and smokey spiciness of both creole and cajun seasonings.

How to substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio to replace a seasoning mixture for chili powder.

11. Garlic Powder

Garlic Powder - Substitutes For Chili Powder

Another typical ingredient in the chili powder blend, garlic powder can serve as a great replacement for chili powder in any recipe.

Even though it is a fantastic spice for stir-frying, adding to soups or sauces, and seasoning meats, chili powder has a stronger flavor than garlic powder. Hence, to use it as a replacement, you need to mix it with cumin or oregano. This will enhance its flavor profile, making it a better substitute. 

How to substitute: An equal quantity of garlic powder can replace chili powder.

12. Kashmiri Chili Powder

Kashmiri Chili Powder - Substitutes For Chili Powder

If you can comprise a little with the spiciness of your dish but want its vibrant color intact, Kashmiri chili powder might work well for you. It is a staple in Indian cuisine and is prepared from the ground and dried Kashmiri chilis.

Being one of the milder chili powders, it is commonly used to provide a rich, red color to the dish. However, it also adds a slightly spicy flavor to your recipe. 

How to substitute: Use double the amount of Kashmiri chili powder to replace the chili powder mentioned in your recipe. 

13. Homemade Chili Powder

Homemade Chili Powder - Substitutes For Chili Powder

Making your own chili powder is always the best alternative. Nothing can replace the flavors and smokiness of homemade chili powder. All you need are some dried peppers mixed in appropriate amounts.

Mix three teaspoons of cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, two teaspoons of oregano, and one teaspoon of chili peppers to make the perfect chili powder at home. Also, do not hesitate to improvise your mix according to your taste and preference. 

How to substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio to replace homemade chili powder for chili powder.

So, here you have it, your best substitutes for chili powder that will never let you compromise on its smoky and spicy flavors. So, go ahead and choose your ideal chili powder substitute.

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