Homemade Chili Powder

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Jar of homemade chili powder

With winter in full swing, it’s chili season around here — time for our favorite cold-weather dish. But after recently running out of chili powder, we decided to make our own, and I’m so glad we did.

This homemade chili powder takes just 15 minutes to make when using whole dried chiles, and just 5 minutes to make if using pre-ground chiles. And we must say, it’s so fresh and much better than store-bought, so there’s no going back! Let us show you how it’s done!

Dried ancho, New Mexico, and guajillo chilies

Origin of Chili Powder

Chili powder (also sometimes labeled “chili powder blend”) is a combination of dried chiles and other complementary spices. Its exact origin is debated, but it’s believed this spice mix was invented in Texas. The key ingredients, chiles, are native to Mesoamerica (a region that includes parts of Mexico and Central America).

Chili Powder Ingredients

The primary ingredient in chili powder is dried chiles. It’s best to use ones that are smoky, flavorful, and not too spicy. We recommend guajillo, ancho, or New Mexico varieties (pictured above, in that order from top to bottom).

Cumin and smoked paprika add more smokiness, while garlic powder adds a savory element. Oregano and coriander provide earthiness. And cayenne adds heat and is adjustable depending on your preference for spice.

Cinnamon adds a hint of sweetness, and cocoa powder is a secret and optional ingredient for deeper flavor (similar to what we recommend in our Easy 1-Pot Black Bean Soup).

Toasting dried chilies in a cast iron skillet

How to Make Chili Powder

Chili is only as good as your chili powder. So if you’re looking to win a best chili contest or just love really delicious food, it’s worth making a batch to have around! It’s super simple to make (5-15 minutes) and lasts a long time (6-12 months).

For maximizing flavor, it’s best to use whole dried chiles and to toast and grind them yourself. They’re readily available at most grocery stores. Simply toast them in a dry skillet, let them cool a little, and blend up with the other spices (cumin, garlic powder, oregano, smoked paprika, coriander, cayenne, cinnamon, and optional cacao). It’s that easy!

But if you want to make it even simpler, you can buy a pre-ground mild red chile powder (such as ancho) and mix all the spices up in a bowl or jar.

Toasted dried chilies in a blender for making chili powder

We hope you LOVE this homemade chili powder! It’s:

Smoky
Earthy
Spicy
Hearty
Customizable
& SO delicious!

It’s perfect for making chili, BBQ sweet potato croutons, chili fries, vegan taco meat, chickpea kale salad, fish tacos, pumpkin black bean soup, burrito bowls, and beyond! It goes well in any recipes that call for chili powder.

Bowl of toasted ground chilies, oregano, cumin, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, cocoa powder, and cinnamon

More DIY Spice Mixes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Jar and bowl of DIY chili powder

Homemade Chili Powder

Easy DIY chili powder for all your chili, taco, and soup needs and beyond! Quick, simple, and adaptable with the perfect amount of smokiness and spice.
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Spoonful and jar of chili powder for our guide on how to make chili powder
4.67 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 10 (1-Tbsp servings)
Course Helpful How-to, Spice Blend
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Southwest, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 year
Does it keep? 6 months

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce dried mild red chiles, such as ancho, guajillo, or New Mexico (or sub 1/4 cup ground mild red chile powder as original recipe is written // adjust amount as needed)
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp ground cayenne (optional for heat)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder (optional // Dutch processed for deeper flavor)

Instructions

  • If using whole dried chiles, remove the stems and seeds and discard. If using ground chili powder, skip to step 4.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add dried chilies and toast for 1-2 minutes per side, or until fragrant. Be careful not to burn, reducing the heat if needed. Remove peppers from heat and let cool slightly.
  • IF USING WHOLE CHILES: Once cool, transfer toasted chiles to a small blender (or use a spice grinder and work in batches). Blend into a powder. Then add cumin, garlic powder, oregano, smoked paprika, coriander, cayenne, cinnamon, and cocoa powder (optional) and pulse to combine.
  • IF USING GROUND CHILES: Add chile powder to a small bowl or jar along with cumin, garlic powder, oregano, smoked paprika, coriander, cayenne, cinnamon, and cocoa powder (optional) and stir or shake to combine.
  • Leftovers will keep in a sealed container for 6 months at room temperature. Or, refrigerate or freeze to keep fresh even longer (up to 1 year).

Notes

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without optional ingredients.
*Recipe adapted from Alton Brown.

Nutrition (1 of 10 servings)

Serving: 1 tablespoon Calories: 18 Carbohydrates: 3 g Protein: 0.8 g Fat: 0.5 g Saturated Fat: 0.1 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.18 g Monounsaturated Fat: 0.53 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 4 mg Potassium: 107 mg Fiber: 1 g Sugar: 0.9 g Vitamin A: 859 IU Vitamin C: 0.21 mg Calcium: 19.83 mg Iron: 1.29 mg

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  1. Dani says

    This chili powder is fantastic! I adjusted the ingredients to my taste and what I had on hand. I used it to make my tofu chili and it was soooo good! Thanks, friend!

  2. Loni Gofran says

    I am making this now, with dried chili peppers and I took as many seeds out I could get out, and then heated the pan and cooked them just a minute or so, while stirring them around. The air is now burning our throats! I probably shouldn’t have sniffed to see if it was fragrant, but my husband was having problems too, from the living room! I had to turn on the air purifier and open windows. Apparently cooking chilies even slightly puts Capsaicin into the air and I essentially pepper sprayed myself and my husband. I was so thrown off by it that I moved it to a burner that was off, but didn’t take them out of the pan and they continued to cook and I think I burnt them :(

    I may try to salvage some once cool and still make the chili powder- I need it for tomorrow’s church chili cookoff and I can’t have store bought chili powder because I’m allergic to garlic.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Oh no! Sorry that happened, Loni. We’ve never had that experience! What type of chilis were you using?

      • Loni Gofran says

        I’m not even sure what kind, thankfully still had the package- Arbol chiles. They were fairly old, my husband grabbed them quite a while ago. The package was in spanish so I didn’t even know what kind until I looked it up!

        But when it happened, I did look it up and see and it’s apparently a thing that happens when cooking chilies- idk if it depends on the type or not.

        That being said, it was SO SPICY, even with making your chili with half the chili powder called for!

        • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

          Hi Loni, arbol chiles are very spicy and have more capsaicin, so that’s the issue! This recipe calls for using dried mild chiles such as ancho, guajillo, or New Mexico. Hope that helps for next time!

  3. Kristina says

    Will be trying this out as soon as I can find where to find the chili peppers in Austria…Have recently done Moroccan and Curry blends from whole spices, am excited to try this as well (including using freshly toasted whole cumin and coriander). Will rate as soon as I do it!

  4. Michele M. says

    I made this spice mix (with ground guajillo) and used it in your red lentil / black bean chili recipe….delicious! Such depth of flavour.
    Thanks so much for all the recipes you so generously share!