Chili Powder

Chili powder is a blend of dried chilies and spices that include oregano, cumin, and paprika. There are as many different chili powder recipes as there are cooks. Even commercially produced powders will vary greatly among brands

Quite often, the purpose of a good chili powder is to go beyond enhancement and become the “main” ingredient. That explains its integral part of chili con carne, a favorite Southwestern U.S. “stew.” However, it can also be used in lesser quantities to flavor ground beef and roasted chicken.


Chili powders, which are sometimes called “chili mix,” range from very mild to hot. The level of warmth is determined by which dried pepper is used. These would normally include anchos, which are a mild Mexican pepper (dried poblano) or chile de arbol, a much hotter variety.

It should not be confused with “chile” powder, which refers to ground peppers – usually cayenne or “red” - with no additives.

Buying Tips

When purchasing commercial brands, read the labels. Salt content will vary from “free” to 30% or more. Also, many include “free-flowing agents” along with additional preservatives.

Storage Tips

Chili powder has a long shelf life. Store away from light and heat in airtight containers. Refrigerated, it will be good for at least one year and if kept in the freezer up to two years.

Usage Tips

  • Mix chili powder with flour when making pizza dough, tamales, and tortillas.
  • Include in any pot of beans or with baked corn and casseroles.
  • Add to rice before it cooks for a nice red color and a little kick.
  • Chili powder can be used as a rub or mixed with oil for marinades on meat, seafood, poultry, or sliced vegetables.
  • It adds a wonderful “bite” to tomato-based sauces.
  • A teaspoonful mixed with cornmeal will spice up fried foods.