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!
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).
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.
We hope you LOVE this homemade chili powder! It’s:
& 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.
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!
Homemade Chili Powder
- 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)
- 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 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).
*Recipe adapted from Alton Brown.