Cooking Hacks: Best Guajillo Pepper Substitute?


Guajillo Chili Pepper is a staple in Mexican cuisine and is gaining popularity in the culinary world. Many recipes call for this pepper as it is one part of the holy trinity of Mexican chiles in mole. These peppers are tricky to source as they are not available in all supermarkets.

Guajillo peppers measure around 2 - 4 inches and has a smooth and deep red color. These peppers are available in powder and paste form, although contains preservatives in these forms. The Guajillo pepper boasts a unique fruity, yet smoky flavor with its heat ranging from mild to medium. These peppers are best used for salsa and sauces.

Substitutes for Guajillo Chili Peppers

Ancho Pepper

Ancho peppers are another part of the holy trinity of Mexican chilies and are much easier to find in stores. Many specialty Mexican groceries and some supermarkets may carry ancho pepper powder. This is an excellent substitute as it also has some sweetness and earthiness to its flavor, but the downside is that it is not as hot as the Guajillo pepper. These chilies are sweeter and meatier but aren’t as complex as Guajillo.

Pasilla pepper

Also known as chile negro, these peppers are also one leg of the holy trinity of Mexican chili peppers. The Pasilla has a comparable heat to the Ancho but can reach the heat level of guajillos. The flavor of this pepper is a better substitute for the guajillo rather than the Ancho as they are slightly sweet with notes of berry and cacao. It is not as earthy as the Guajillo, but very close.

Cascabel pepper

Known as the rattle chili because of its loose seeds, this chili has an earthy and nutty flavor that can imitate the flavor profile of the guajillo. These peppers are not as sweet, but the flavors compare well to the undertones of tea in guajillo peppers.

Chili Peppers

This is found almost everywhere across the country as they are widely available anywhere. This pepper matches the heat level of Guajillo peppers. Look for vivid and deep colors with the stem being fresh when looking for these peppers.

New Mexico Chiles

These chiles do not have the heat level of the Guajillo pepper but have an earthy and sweet flavor similar to it. This is a great substitute when looking for something that won’t make a dish too hot. These peppers are usually toasted before using.

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