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What Exactly Is Ancho Chili Powder?

Maria Foster
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by Maria Foster

Should you be new to Ancho Chili Powder then you should be ready to change up your spice game.

While not as hot as many other chili powders, it can add a deep flavor with sweet, flavorful notes and still add that rich red color to your dish.

What Exactly Is Ancho Chili Powder

That could be a revelation in such recipes as Chili Con Carne or simply as a dry rub to be applied to meats. You can leave the Chili Powder on your spice rack and reach for the Ancho Chili Powder instead.

In this guide, we will ask; what is Ancho Chili Powder?

We will look at the taste of Ancho Chili Powder and compare Ancho Chili Powder with regular Chili Powder.

Also, we will detail how you can make your own Ancho Chili Powder from a few poblano peppers, and the recipes you can use Ancho Chili Powder in.

What Is Ancho Chili Powder?

Ancho Chili Powder is a little different from other chili powders as it is made specifically from dried poblano peppers.

That solitary ingredient still gives the powder a complex yet earthy flavor that can work well in many dishes that you intend to be spicy.

If you are cooking a Tex-Mex or Mexican dish, you may be tempted to reach for the Ancho Chili Powder for a slightly different flavor profile.

That may be in a sweet or savory dish yet its use can be incredibly rewarding when compared to more traditional chili powders.

The poblano pepper is known as the most popular one that is found in Mexico and with good reason too.

You can find it in powder form though the chili is invariably used in condiments.

It should give any dish a deepness that comes from its smoky flavor that even has a somewhat rewarding sweet taste.

This is also a chili that comes with comparatively less heat which lends itself well to be used in a mole sauce, chilies, stews, salsas, and sauces.

The Taste Of Ancho Chili Powder

While some chili peppers can rank up high on the Scoville heat scale, Ancho Chili Powder should have a milder flavor.

The taste should have hints of a sweet fruitiness that can work well if you do not want your final dish to be incredibly spicy and too hot to be fully enjoyed.

Once ground up into a powder, you can dust meats such as beef and chicken prior to cooking and use it as a simple dry rub. You can even use Ancho Chili Powder as a seasoning over your roasted vegetables.

Ancho Chili Powder Vs. Chili Powder

There should be a distinctive smoky yet sweet flavor that comes purely from ground-down dried poblano peppers.

Chili Powder is more of a blend that comes from various components.

The list of ingredients that goes into Chili Powder should still include ground chilies but can also include cayenne pepper, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder in the mix too.

In terms of a flavor profile, you should expect Ancho Chili Powder to be complex when compared to Chili Powder, even if it uses a single ingredient.

Be wary that should you buy your Chili Powder from an international grocery store then it may not be quite what you expect.

This can be plain dried and then ground-up red chilies like cayenne pepper.

This is obviously not the Chili Powder blend you would have expected which is almost Americanized, and it should be clear by the shade of red that the powder comes in.

Looking at the Scoville scale, you can expect Ancho Chili Powder to be between a bell pepper and a mild jalapeño pepper.

That comes down to the potency of the poblano pepper. Similar to Chipotle Chili Powder, you can judge the hotness of Ancho Chili Powder by checking how high the pepper it is made from ranks on the scale.

For Chipotle Chili Powder, you have to check the scale for chipotle peppers whereas for Ancho Chili Peppers it is poblano peppers you should be looking for.

How To Make Your Own Ancho Chili Powder

You only need a single ingredient to create Ancho Chili Powder yet it may be difficult to source.

Poblano peppers, especially dried ones, can be incredibly expensive and in its powdered form, you can be looking at several dollars for each jar.

If you are used to paying for saffron then you should have similar expectations for the cost of Ancho Chili Powder.

That may mean you want to make your own Ancho Chili Powder and you will need some ripened and dried poblano peppers.

Try not to be spooked by using a pepper in its dehydrated form as they only rank as mild on the Scoville scale.

That’s at around 1000 to 2000 Scoville heat units. You can also judge how ripe the poblano peppers are by how wrinkly their skin is as they should look like large raisins that come with a stem.

When you do buy your poblano peppers, you should note that they are green. This is because they are harvested prior to being fully ripened.

As the ripening process continues, the poblano peppers turn red which is what you should expect. Once they have turned red and then dry out, you can make your Ancho Chili Powder.

  • Use a handful of dried and ripened poblano peppers, you should get between two and four dried chilies in each 2oz pack.
  • Remove the stems and seeds from each chili pepper though it is recommended that you wear gloves.
  • With your hands, tear each chili into one or two-inch-sized pieces and add them to your spice grinder.
  • Grind the chili pieces until they are finely ground.
  • You can sift the pieces for a fine texture and then grind any larger remaining pieces again.
  • Transfer the ground peppers into an airtight container and store the powder next to your dry rubs and spice blends.

If you do not have a hand-powdered spice grinder, you can use an electric grinder like the one you may use to grind coffee beans.

You could even use a food processor or a top-quality blender if you have one.

Be wary that you should store Ancho Chili Powder in your airtight container and then leave it in a cool and dark place for around six months.

Following this period, the potency of the powder should begin to diminish.

Occasionally, you can find dried poblano peppers at your regular grocery store or even a large one like Walmart. However, the best places to find them tend to be Mexican grocery stores and international food markets.

For a 2oz package, you can expect to pay a couple of dollars.

If you do tend to do your shopping online, you can expect to pay a bit more for the dried peppers and it may prove simpler to buy a jar of Ancho Chili Powder rather than making your own.

The Recipes You Can Use Ancho Chili Powder In

If you are used to using Chili Powder in your recipes, then you can try using Ancho Chili Powder instead.

That should include recipes like Chili Con Carne, Turkey Chili, Beef Chili, and Vegetable Chili.

You can also include it in Chipotle recipes like Chipotle Sofritas, Chipotle Barbacoa, Chipotle Steak, and Chipotle Chicken.

For a tasty dip, mix some Ancho Chili Powder with mayonnaise or sour cream or simply use the Ancho Chili Powder as a dry rub for meats like chicken and pork chops.

Final Thoughts

As Chili Powder is cut with other ingredients, it can prove difficult to compare it to Ancho Chili Powder. Having said that, poblano peppers are relatively mild, certainly when judged against a cayenne pepper.

That’s part of the appeal of Ancho Chili Powder as it proves so versatile with a fruity heat as opposed to one that can prove overpowering.

If you want some heat in your spicy dish that comes with a complex and earthy flavor then consider opting for some Ancho Chili Powder.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can You Use As A Substitute For Ancho Chili Powder?

If you do not have either a jar of Ancho Chili Powder or dried poblano peppers to hand, you can use a substitute ingredient. Simply use a teaspoon of chili powder and mix it with between an eighth and a quarter teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes.

What Is The Nutritional Value Of A Teaspoon Of Ancho Chili Powder?

Each teaspoon of Ancho Chili Powder contains around 15 calories, three grams of carbohydrates, and a single gram of protein.

There should be no more than 0.3g of fat, of which 0.04g is saturated fat, 0.1g is polyunsaturated fat, and 0.02g of monounsaturated fat.

The teaspoon should have 4mg of sodium, 88mg of potassium, a gram of fiber, two grams of sugar, 1mg of vitamin C, 2mg of calcium, and 0.3mg of iron.

About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
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