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Best Substitutes for Chipotle Powder

Lisa Price
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by Lisa Price

You’re ready to make a new fantastic dish, and you realize that you don’t have any Chipotle powder. Before you run to the store or try to make something else, you may want to try a chipotle powder substitute that can give you a similar taste.

Replacements for chipotle powder tend to be other spices that can help you add a little heat to a dish. Replacing the smokey flavor is also essential, so smoked spices are also a good option.

This list is going to be filled with things that you most likely have around your kitchen. However, if you have other hot spices, those will do great also. If you have mixes of peppers, those can get the job done too.

If you are not sure about a pepper, take a small taste. Be careful if you aren’t familiar with hot peppers. It might be a myth that hot peppers can actually burn your mouth, but they can still cause distress. You’re looking for anything that offers a heat level you enjoy and a little bit of smokeless that can round it out.  

If you love heat, feel free to kick it up. You can find smoked versions of most of the peppers. Smoked hot peppers can add more of the heat and replace the smoke. If you don’t love the heat, less-spicy alternatives lean on the sweet and smokey side.

Most of these replacements work fine at a one-to-one ratio with the chipotle powder. If you are using hotter spices, you may want to cut the amount down to find the heat you are comfortable eating.

1. Smoked Paprika

Smoked Paprika
Smoked Paprika

Paprika is an easy and readily available spice for replacing chipotle powder. You can find paprika that hits the heat level you like. It can fall anywhere between sweet and spicy. You can use all versions of paprika to replace the chipotle powder. Use equal parts paprika for chipotle powder when substituting.

Smoked paprika makes the best replacement because it covers both primary tastes you find in chipotle powder. Smoked paprika is also sometimes referred to as Spanish Paprika, but you can smoke all the different types of paprika. It allows you to dial in your heat for a suitable substitute.

If you don’t have smoked paprika, but you have other paprika options, these can work in a pinch. They are solid options if you don’t like smoked flavors in your food. Paprika gives you a lot of control over the specific taste your spices add.

Related Article: Best Substitutes For Paprika

2. Ancho Powder

Ancho Chili Powder
Ancho Powder

Ancho Powder is an excellent alternative to chipotle because it is also a smoked poblanos pepper that gets ground up. It can replace chipotle in equal amounts. For its spice profile, ancho is a much sweeter pepper and lacks much of the heat you can get with chipotle powder.

If you are not a fan of spicy foods, or you want to make your dish just a little less hot, ancho powder is an incredible alternative. It also can add a fruity dimension to the plate, with people comparing the flavor to raisins.

If you want to keep the spice of the dish, ancho powder is not a great option. However, if you use it mixed with other hotter peppers, it can replace the smoke and let the other spices increase the heat.

3. Chili Powder

Regular Chili Powder
Chili Powder

A standard chili powder may be all you need to achieve a perfect chipotle powder substitute. In fact, some chili powders have chipotle powder in the mix. Chili powders use many different peppers as their base. You can use the same amount of chili powder in the recipe to replace the chipotle.

The powder can also include paprika, garlic powder, cumin, and oregano. There are tons of different mixes that give you chili powder, so you have to taste test each powder to know if it will be a good chipotle pepper substitute.

It works best as a replacement spice if it has some smokiness to the taste. There are also different levels of heat chili powders offer. You can find one that you like the most.

In some markets, chili powder is just crushed cayenne peppers without the rest of the mix. You may want to test the powder if you buy it from a different place.

4. Crushed Red Pepper

Crushed Red Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper

Crushed red peppers are a practical option when you are just trying to add heat to a dish. You lose the smokey flavor, but you can kick up the spice. The mix that makes the spice includes jalapeño, Fresno, Anaheim, and bell peppers.

Combining this spice with some of the sweeter but smokey spices on this list, like ancho and smoked paprika, can help make you a perfect option to replace the original. You may want to use a little less of each spice when you mix it like this.

Depending on where you get your crushed red peppers, you can find a smoked variety. If you have that option, you will get many of the same flavor notes as chipotle powder, but it can be a slightly hotter option.

You can also smoke it yourself to add the extra flavor. The pre-crushed nature of the spice allows you to smoke it in less time and at a lower temperature. 

5. Cayenne Powder

Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne Powder

Cayenne powder steps up the heat to another level. These peppers can be ten times hotter than chipotle. You can sometimes find smoked versions of this pepper to get the extra heat and still keep the smokey taste.

To replace chipotle powder, you may want to use a little less in your recipe. It might be too hot if you make an even replacement. You will have to taste test the dish to make sure it gives you the right amount of kick.

People praise cayenne peppers for their health benefits. These include increased energy, decreased appetite, and valuable vitamins.

You can even go higher with the spice factor. There are a lot of hotter pepper powders out there, including habanero and ghost pepper. You want to be careful with these super spicy peppers. You will want to try them before you add them to your dish.

What is Chipotle Powder?

Chipotle Powder
Chipotle Powder

Smoked jalapenos make up chipotle powder. They are one of the peppers that change names when smoked. Creating a proper chipotle pepper can take up to twelve hours to smoke. The smoking process gives the pepper a new distinct flavor that some people love.

Chipotle powder imparts the heat of jalapenos, but it also adds a smoky note. It is a mix of warmth and smokey that adds a unique flavor to a meal. If you’re looking for a substitute, the heat alone won’t work. Finding a replacement for the smoke is essential.

When you’re looking at the heat for a chipotle pepper, it ranks around 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville heat units. The Scoville scale isn’t perfect, but it gives you an idea of relative heat. Other peppers near that level are Guajillo peppers and Hungarian wax peppers. 

Make Your Own Chipotle Powder

If you have jalapenos and a smoker, you can try something before you substitute for chipotle powder. You need a minimum of three hours to smoke the jalapeno, but if you choose to do this, you can make some of the freshest chipotle powder you’ve ever tasted.

Pick ripe jalapenos, but not bruised. If you want a less spicy chipotle, you can cut open the jalapeno and take out the seeds.

The wood should be from a fruit tree, hickory, or a pecan. Then smoke the jalapeno for three to twelve hours. Once it is smoked, you can grind it into a powder, and you’re all set. You are aiming for about 180 degrees, and you want good airflow to roast the jalapenos correctly.

Making your own chipotle powder isn’t time-efficient, but you can control the taste of the powder yourself. It is an excellent option if you want to find the right smokiness or heat of the pepper. If you don’t have the time to make your own, don’t worry; there are plenty of other options. 

Final Substitutions

Fans of the smoky richness chipotle powder adds to a meal may be shocked at how much they like a chipotle powder substitute. The correct replacement will give you a similar taste experience, and you can find one that offers the perfect amount of spice to please your palate.

If you don’t like smokey flavors, you can find a replacement that gives you the extra punch of spice but avoids the smoke. Once you know the notes you are gaining from a spice, you can experiment with other flavors that fit your taste preferences better.

If you have a favorite pepper and a little extra time, you can try smoking and crushing it. You might be able to create an even better flavor for your meal and still keep that smokey goodness.

You can find a substitute as faithful or different from the original as you want. Have fun trying different combinations, and remember what you changed, so you can make the dish again when people love it.  

About Lisa Price
Lisa Price
Lisa is Food Champ's resident fitness enthusiast and nutrition expert. She holds a nutrition degree in her home state of Florida and works for a large health system to ensure sound nutrition and dietetics information is passed on to all members.
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