Homemade Ancho Chile Powder Recipe

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 + 1/8 to 1/4 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 1/4 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 Recipe

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 12 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Pantry
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 23kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

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: 23kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 6mg | Potassium: 133mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1877IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @CulinaryHill or tag #CulinaryHill!

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  1. Faith

    Easy and so incredible.5 stars

  2. Johnny

    Very easy and very delicious!5 stars

  3. Don

    Great! Easy5 stars

  4. Russ

    Fantastic!5 stars

  5. Mike

    Good stuff, keep it coming.5 stars

  6. GB

    Was at the market today and the store that sells the spice is out of stock with both. Go figure! Anyways this recipe is good and will make it once i find the Ancho
    Why do people always want to take over the recipe from the author? I wish they would upload their own recipe like you have. That is so rude!

  7. Tony Dadd

    I’ve found that if you shop around, you can find ground ancho chile from mail order sources for the same or less than buying whole at the dollar per ounce price (with stems, seeds, and labor!) you cite. For example, my source currently sells it for $8.55 per pound, and at the rate I go through spices it’s easy to get their $30 per order required for free shipping.

  8. Anastasia Beaverhausen

    The problem with Ancho Chile Powder is not it’s versatility nor it’s robust flavor. 

    ITS, not IT’S
    IT’S means it is
    ITS is possessive, like his, hers, theirs, etc.

  9. Robert Martinelli

    My ancho chilies have instructions to “wash thoroughly before use.”  I found that washing allows water to hide in all the little wrinkles and crevices, making them extremely hard to dry.  I may end up needing to place them in a low oven to dry them thoroughly — which reminds me:  once on a Mexican cooking show, they seared the chilies in a skillet to achieve another layer of flavor.  I’m thinking this might be a good idea for the powder!5 stars

  10. David Head

    Ancho chilies are the main ingredient in American chili powder like you can get in the spice section at grocery stores. I stopped buying ready made American chili powder because the producers were putting more and more salt into them. I couldn’t make a decent tasting batch of chile without getting it way too salty for my taste. I was able to order salt free chili powder online but figured why not make my own! There are numerous good recipes out there for chili powder. American chili powder includes, along with the powdered ancho chilies, cumin powder, garlic powder, sweet paprika, oregano, and black pepper. Also, prior to grinding up the ancho chilies, try putting the seeded peppers on a baking sheet in the oven at about 250 degrees for about 5 or 6 minutes. This will enhance the fragrance of the peppers and when they cool they will be a bit crispy and easier to grind up.

  11. Colleen

    Are these Poblano chilies dried and roasted, or just dried? When I raise them in my garden, do I have to roast them before use?

    1. meggan

      Hi Colleen, I think just dried, but the tutorials I’ve seen online show people using dehydrators. So I’m not sure if that’s required. I’ve never tried it! This article looks promising: http://www.shizzling.com/2011/10/drying-poblano-chilies-to-make-anchos.html

  12. Meggan, you too? You’re from Wisconsin? My friend is from Wisconsin, and she can’t stop bragging how great everything is there, from the cheese to the beer to something about creamy custard. Now it seems everything I discover that has the most wonderful flavor is stamped “Made in Wisconsin”: Dang That’s Good Butterscotch Root Beer, Soda Fountain Malted Milk Powder, Steele Reserve Malt Liquor, Redd’s Wicked Black Cherry Ale, Silver Springs coarse cut horseradish (along with the National Mustard Museum in Middleton), and the most insane pizza box you’ve ever seen – Screamin’ Sicilian (the pizza’s pretty good too, for frozen). The only thing my friend Kimmy says that Wisconsin doesn’t have is her! (But she still goes back to see her family and get some of that custard.)

    Here’s a compliment for you that has nothing to do with Wisconsin, but with what I do which is branding and advertising: Your website refreshingly reflects your tagline of “modern home cooking with a midwestern heart.” The graphic design, both layout and typography, is indeed very modern and appealing. The photos are bold and colorful, and I can’t wait to try out some recipes.

    Your quick, personal, unexpected reply & the fact that you actually checked out AmperArt (thanks! – hope you subscribed) says something about your “midwestern heart” too, Meggan. Okay, so I guess that goes back to Wisconsin again.

    Those ribs I made with the Ancho powder? Amazing.5 stars

    1. meggan

      Ha ha, gotta love the Wisconsin pride! I don’t live there anymore (or at least, not right now but I’ll find my way back!) but everything she said is true, especially about the frozen custard. I’m actually headed there today for a video workshop and a breath of crisp, fresh fall air. I will definitely look for the Screamin’ Sicilian. I always look for the Lozza Mozza frozen pizza when I get into town, but it’s good to try new things! Thanks for your compliments on my logo and tagline. I had help with both. :) I shared your poster on my FB page too. I think my followers will love it! Take care Chaz and hope to talk to you again. :)

  13. 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. meggan

      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!

  14. Pauline

    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. meggan

      Here’s a couple more!

      http://www.fireworksfoods.com.au
      http://heneedsfood.com/2010/02/fiji-market-newtown/

      These suggestions are from my friend Nagi at RecipeTin Eats… she’s amazing! She’s the #1 Food Blogger in Australia, so you might already know about her. Anyway. Glad something will work out for you!! :)

  15. Pauline

    Hi Meggan. I live in Australia so which peppers could I use to make this???? Love the recipes. X

    1. meggan

      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.

  16. Isela

    No worries. Thank you so much for your prompt response. : )

  17. Isela

    Is it necessary to wear gloves?

    1. TNflash

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

    2. meggan

      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!

  18. Tricia

    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. meggan

      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!

  19. Emily

    Can you use a food processor if you do not have a grinder?

    1. meggan

      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!

  20. Jennifer B

    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. meggan

      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! :)

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