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Chipotle Chili Powder Substitute

You often have an idea of where you’re going with a recipe and how to arrive there. And your focus is mainly on the flavor profile, aroma, presentation, and texture of the cooking. But you find yourself worrying about the flavor of the dish more than any other outcome. Plus, lovers of extra flavors know how spices like pepper, herbs, or cumin can lift a recipe from bland to exquisite.


Chipotle chili powder is an example that plays a significant role in recipes. And it’s why many chefs and cooks love the spice. It adds a nice kick to dishes with its medium heat level, incredible taste, and extreme versatility.

Uses of Chipotle Chili Powder

The Chipotle word is derived from “chipotle,” a Nahuatl term for “smoked chili.” And the primary ingredient in its chili powder is jalapeno pepper. The delicious jalapeno pepper flavor brings about another level of lip-smacking experience when smoked, and that’s what chipotle chili powder capitalizes. Smoked jalapeno peppers are dried and then ground to give this fine and spicy powder that brings an earthiness to any recipe. It is one of the peppers whose name changes when smoked. And it doesn’t overpower your dish as it’s mildly hot, at just 2,500-8,000 Scoville heat units on the Scoville scale.

Aside from its medium heat, tastiness, and versatility, chipotle chili powder also has a mild fruitiness and an earthy-smoky flavor. It’s best for people looking for a spice that won’t blow their heads off but still bring an excellent flavor balance to the table. It’s also used in many recipes for its superfine reddish-orange color to add a little color to dishes. And more uses of chipotle chili powder include the following;

  • As a sprinkle on eggs, meat, sauces, or stews
  • As a marinade for meat
  • As a rub for barbecue and kebab
  • As a glaze for stuffed meatloaves

It’s also why you’ll find chipotle chili powder in other recipes like;

Substitutes for Chipotle Chili Powder

Replacing an ingredient this versatile won’t be easy in any way, so we’re going to be discussing all the possible substitutes for this spice in some dishes.

Smoked paprika

Smoked paprika

Smoked paprika is made by drying and smoking red pepper over an oak fire and then ground into powder form. It is very similar to chipotle chili powder as it’s primarily mild in heat and smoky. This substitute also has lots of variants that call for discretion when applying them. And smoked paprika can generally be gentler heat compared to chipotle chili powder and will make your dish less spicy. But this heat difference isn’t a biggie, as you can always turn it up to your satisfaction with some extra additions like cumin or chili powder.

Smoked paprika can be used in equal measurements as chipotle chili powder in your recipes. You can also use any variety of it, including the “Spanish Pimenton de la Vera,” which is very close to the flavor profile.

Chili Powder

Chili Powder

This spice is a very common substitute for chipotle chili powder, especially with its similar appearance. However, as chipotle chili powder is derived from smoked jalapeno peppers, chili powder is just ground chili with other spices like; garlic powder, oregano, and cumin powder. This difference means it can’t bring the same level of heat and smoky flavor chipotle chili powder does. If you must use this substitute, modify your dish to where the amount is acceptable.

In the exact measurement, you can replace chipotle chili powder for chili powder, then add some ground cayenne pepper to give the mixture a smoky flavor.

Cayenne Powder

Cayenne Powder

This spice has a higher heat level than chipotle chili powder- almost ten times hotter at around 30,000-50,000 SHU. It also doesn’t have a smoky flavor, so you might need to get the smoke-dried version. But they both work well to increase the zest level and spiciness of your dish.

Making an exact replacement is also impossible, except you want the chipotle chili powder flavor but way hotter. But if not, then use a little less in your recipe. You’ll also have to taste test the dish to ensure it is the exact amount of kick you need.

Ancho Powder

Ancho Powder

This option is another excellent substitute for chipotle chili powder and is made from grinding smoked poblano pepper. It has a similarly smoky flavor but not as hot as chipotle. But what it misses in heat, it makes up for in sweetness.

Ancho powder possesses a hint of raisin and can add a fruity dimension to the table. It’s an excellent substitute for chipotle chili powder in dishes that don’t need much heat or if you want your food less hot.

Aleppo Pepper

Aleppo Pepper

This ingredient is a spice that appears a lot in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. It has an attractive appearance, with its deep red color. Plus, it’s delicious and mildly hot, not even as hot as chili flakes. Regardless, it’s still an excellent substitute for chipotle chili powder, as it’s traditionally used to season beans, salads, and meats.

As a replacement for chipotle chili powder, it won’t add any smokiness. But Aleppo pepper can bring a blend of mildly hot and tangy flavor through its fantastic chili. If your meal doesn’t have to be spicy, Aleppo pepper is a great alternative.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I substitute cayenne for chipotle chili powder?

Yes, you can use cayenne as an alternative to chipotle chili powder. But it should be applied carefully, as it’s way hotter. It also adds extra zest and spiciness to your recipe and is perfect for dishes that call for more heat.

What is the difference between chipotle chili powder and regular chili powder?

While chipotle chili powder is made from smoked jalapeno pepper, chili powder is chili powder with other spices like cumin powder, oregano, and garlic powder. Chili powder is also of less heat and without a smoky flavor.

Is chipotle chili powder the same as cayenne pepper?

No, it isn’t. Both are culinary spices that work well to enhance the zest level in food, including spiciness. And they’re usually compared with each other, and for good reasons, but they also differ in some ways. Cayenne is hotter than chipotle chili powder and lacks the signature smokiness in its flavor.


Chipotle chili powder is an excellent way to add heat and smokiness to your dishes. But you won’t always have the powder in your spice rack. It’s why these substitutes are available for your consideration. And they can be tweaked to replace the similar flavor expected from chipotle chili powder.