Homemade Ancho Chile Powder is easy and inexpensive when you make it at home – just one ingredient! Add it to soups, salad dressings, and marinades for a smoky, spicy heat.

Homemade ancho chile powder.

The problem with Ancho Chile Powder is not its versatility nor its robust flavor. It’s the COST. It’s usually several dollars for a jar, or even more, and I’m guessing you only shell out that kind of money for saffron. And probably not even for saffron.

So the punchline of all this is, homemade Ancho Chile Powder is SO EASY to make, and dirt cheap. So let’s get right to it.

What are Ancho Chiles?

Ancho chiles are ripened poblano peppers that have been dried.  They have a smoky flavor that is common in Mexican and Southwestern cooking. Their flavor is mild (1,000 – 2,000 Scoville heat units). Their skins are wrinkly and look a little bit like giant raisins with a stem.

Poblanos at the store are green because they are harvested before they are ripened. When the poblanos ripen, they turn red. Those red poblanos are then dried to make ancho chiles.

Roasted ancho chiles.

What is the difference between peppers and chiles?

They are the same thing; it’s really just a matter of naming conventions.

“Chile” is the Spanish word for capsicums such as jalapeños, serranos, habañeros, poblanos, and so on.

Americans sometimes spell it “chili” but now we are moving towards “chile” because “chili” is the stew with the meat.

We sometimes say “pepper” in the United States because when Columbus arrived, he thought chiles were “peppers” (as in spicy black pepper, a member of the Piper genus). He was wrong. We always use the word “pepper” for non-spicy peppers such as bell peppers.

What is the difference between chili powder and ancho chile powder?

Chili powder is a blend made from various ground spices including, but not limited to, ground chiles, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and/or cayenne pepper.

Ancho chile powder is just one specific chile, dried poblanos, that have been ground up. It is slightly spicier than regular chili powder.

Note: If you shop at an international food market and buy “chili powder,” sometimes this is just straight-up ground dried red chiles (cayenne pepper), not the Americanized chili powder blend you’re thinking of. You should be able to tell by the color of the powder.

Homemade ancho chile powder in a glass jar.

What is a substitute for Ancho chile powder?

You can substitute regular chili powder plus a small amount of crushed red pepper for heat.

1 teaspoon ancho chile powder = 1 teaspoon regular chili powder + ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. First, remove the stem and seeds from each dried ancho chile.
  2. Then, tear the ancho chiles into pieces. Add to a spice grinder.
  3. Blend the chiles until finely ground. Sift chile powder if desired (and re-grind any large pieces that don’t sift).

I typically buy the chiles in 2 ounce packages, and depending on the size of the chiles, each package contains 2 to 4 chiles.  1 (2 ounce) package of dried Ancho Chiles will yield about ¼ cup ancho chile powder.

Homemade ancho chile powder in a glass jar.

What should I use to grind ancho chiles?

I like to use an electric spice grinder, but a small food processor or a high-quality blender should also be able to handle the job.

Where to Find Dried Ancho Chiles

Ancho dried chiles are always in stock at my local International foods markets and Mexican grocery stores. Sometimes I find them at regular groceries stores too or even Walmart. They usually sell for around $2 or less for a 2-ounce package. You can also buy them online

, although I understand that spending $8 on dried ancho chiles isn’t much better than spending $6 on a bag of Ancho Chile Powder
. Even if it’s a good value, it’s still a lot of money. So, try to find them locally.

Put your Ancho Chile Powder to work:

A closeup of ancho chile powder spilled onto a counter.

Homemade Ancho Chile Powder

Homemade Ancho Chile Powder is easy and inexpensive when you make it at home - just one ingredient! Add it to soups, salad dressings, and marinades for a smoky, spicy heat.
5 from 16 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Servings 8 servings
Course Pantry
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 23

Ingredients 

  • 2 ounces dried Ancho Chiles

Instructions 

  • Open the chile peppers by pulling them apart with your hands or cutting with a knife (wearing gloves is recommended). Carefully pull out and discard the stem. Shake or scrape out all seeds. Repeat with remaining chilies.
  • Tear cleaned chile pieces into 1” or 2” pieces. Place in an electric grinder or small food processor and process in batches until finely ground.
  • Store covered in an airtight container.

Nutrition

Calories: 23kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 6mgPotassium: 133mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 1877IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 3mgIron: 1mg
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Meggan Hill

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

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Comments

  1. If you like low & slow barbeque beef ribs, my go-to bbq expert, Meathead, has a killer rub for beef ribs which uses Ancho chile. He says “I’m looking for complexity with two different flavors and two different levels of heat. Most American chili powders and ancho powders do not have a lot of heat, but good flavor. In fact, ancho is usually in a lot of American chili powders. Go with ancho if you can find it. It has a nice raisiny character. With chipotle or cayenne I’m after a kiss of heat. Chipotle has better flavor though.” His rub recipe is at http://amazingribs.com/recipes/rubs_pastes_marinades_and_brines/big_bad_beef_rub.html. I’m smoking my ribs right now.
    In the near future I’ll be creating one of my monthly posters featuring “the ampersand as fun & fabulous art” entitled “Low & Slow” for bbq fans and ampersand fans. But one poster that I created a few months ago is for “Hot & Spicy” fans: http://amperart.com/91-hot-spicy/ See the tail of the ampersand?

    Thanks for your tasty site, Meggan.5 stars

    1. Hey Chaz! Thanks for the great comment. A recipe recommendation AND tasty art in one, it’s my lucky day! Your Hot & Spicy piece is pretty sweet. Well done. Thanks for the best comment ever, I appreciate it! I’m looking forward to seeing your Low & Slow poster when it’s ready. Take care!

  2. Thanks for the fast reply. I looked on the web site….WOW!!!! What a great site. I’ll be using that for sure, some good products there.
    Thanks Meggan X

    1. Hi Pauline! I am not sure if this is actually helpful, but I found this Australian Mexican Food store: http://www.montereyfoods.com.au/home.php They sell dried ancho chile peppers. If not this grocery store, perhaps there is another Mexican grocery store that you know of? I could suggest other dried chiles, but truly if you want to make ancho chile powder it has to be made with dried ancho chiles. For obvious reasons. :) Good luck! If I find out anything more I’ll be sure to let you know.

    1. No, it is absolutely not necessary to wear gloves. I’m kind of obsessed with wearing latex gloves in my kitchen because I have small children, and if I have to attend to them suddenly, I don’t want to hurt them with some random piece of spicy food. It’s easier to just rip off the gloves. But no. I am going to go back and revisit this post and make sure the wording is clearer about that. Sorry for the confusion!

    2. Wear gloves. The oil gets in your skin and afterwards, if you touch your eyes, man of man, it will burn!5 stars

  3. I am definitely going to try this.  Does a regular grocery store sell dried ancho chile peppers or will I need to go to a specially store?

    1. Hi Tricia, it’s hit & miss for me. Sometimes regular grocery stores have them, or maybe they sell other dried chiles but not anchos. Walmart has them sometimes too but not always. If I absolutely need them and can only make one stop, I go to my local international food market. So that would probably be a “specialty” store. I do know that when I find them, they are always cheap (under $2). So I tend to stock up and keep some packages in the freezer. Good luck!

    1. Hi Emily, if you can get a find grind, then yes you can. I haven’t tried it, but I am definitely willing to do so and report back. It’s certainly worth a try!

  4. Thanks for this good practical advice!  It’s easy to find the whole dried ones and the ground stuff is hard to find and expensive.5 stars

    1. Thank you, Jennifer! I agree, the jarred ancho chile pepper is way more expensive compared to the peppers. It’s crazy! Glad you found this to be useful! :)

  5. Really nice post, Meggan! Very informative (as usual) and it’s a nice touch to include the recipes from other bloggers. I’ll take a look!5 stars

  6. Great way to get fresh seasonings and not spend a lot of money. Spices are expensive! Does this smell really spicy when you grind it up or just fragrant? 5 stars