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Substitute for Pasilla Pepper

If you’re a chili lover, then you must know about the dried wrinkled rich flavored pepper called this pasilla pepper, nicknamed the little raisin, which is the English translation of Pasilla. These pepper are famously produced and used in Mexico. It introduces an earthy, mildly peppery, and smokey flavor into recipes; it is used mostly in Mexican recipes like moles and salsas but still pairs well with sauces, soups, poultry, vegetable dishes, etc.

Pasilla peppers have a unique flavor, so they are used in many recipes, but these peppers are easy to find in Mexico but would be challenging to locate in other places outside Mexico. Having a substitute would be important when making a recipe containing pasilla pepper. Luckily people can use other peppers in their place, and I will discuss this in this article.

What is Pasilla Pepper?

Pasilla peppers, pronounced by the Mexicans as “pah-SEE-yah,” are a popular spice cultivated in Mexico. It has a dark green color which changes to dark brown when mature. Pasilla has a spicy, earthy, fruity, tangy, and mild pepper flavor. The spiciness of Pasilla is usually low compared to its cousin Ancho chilies (dry poblano peppers) which it is often paired within recipes.

Like most spices, the pasilla peppers come in fresh, dry, and ground forms; when fresh, it is referred to as chilaca pepper. The dried form (Pasilla) from the chilaca pepper has a longer shelf life and can be further processed to fine grounded powder.

Pasilla Pepper’s cultivation and use date back to ancient times, about 6,500 B.P. by the people of the Puebla region located in southern Mexico. Currently, pasilla Peppers are cultivated in Michoacan, Valisco, Zacatecas and Guanajuato regions.

Pasilla Pepper Nutrition Facts

Pasilla Pepper Nutrition Fcats

Pasilla Pepper uses in Recipes

Pasilla peppers are incorporated in many Mexican and non- Mexican dishes; Pasilla also acts as a mild spicy alternative for people who cannot withstand much heat from peppers. When used in meals, these peppers help in improving the overall flavor and texture, leaving sweet and savory notes to the taste buds. Some recipes that contain these peppers include;

  • Cauliflower And Cheese Cakes In Chili Ancho Sauce
  • Slow cooker barbacoa
  • Tortilla Soup
  • Real Chile Chili
  • Onion And Pepper Stir Fry With Chicken Sausage
  • Fava Bean Soup
  • Kiva’s Mole Sauce
  • Chili Mulato Beef Flaken Short Ribs
  • Cream Of Chicken Verde Soup
  • Chili Chicken Stew
  • Wild Hog en Salsa Roja (wild hog in red sauce)
  • Slices Of Fresh Pasilla Chilies
  • Nopales And Pork Stew
  • Baked Short Ribs And Pasilla Pepper Sauce
  • Garlic And Pasilla Chili Soup
  • Steak And   In Pasilla Sauce

Pasilla Pepper Substitutes

The culinary world is a massive space, and new recipes come to light over time. Mexican delicacies have gained popularity in other countries. And this has led to higher demand, Mexicans are known for their use of peppers to enhance flavors in recipes, and the pasilla pepper is one of the famous ingredients in some of these recipes.

So, suppose you’re trying out a recipe that calls for this pepper, and they are not readily available to you. In that case, there’s no need to worry as other alternatives have almost similar flavors to the pasilla pepper that would work great in your recipe. Some of them include;

1. Ancho Chilies

Ancho Chilles

The Ancho chili is often paired with the pasilla pepper in recipes. The two dried peppers almost look alike but are slightly different in flavor. The Ancho pepper has a more fruity taste with earthy notes, and it’s is a bit spicy than the pasilla pepper, but it would still give the pasilla pepper taste to a recipe.

The Ancho Chile is also known as the poblano peppers; the Mexicans have separate names for the fresh and dried peppers. The Ancho is the dried ones, and the poblano is the fresh ones. Ancho can be further processed into grounded powders. When substituting Ancho for Pasilla, the exact measurements can be applied but keep in mind that the Ancho peppers are a bit spicy, so you may want to reduce it by taking half off or starting in smaller portions if you’re not a fan of spicy foods.

2. Mulato Peppers


The Mulato peppers are a good alternative for Pasilla peppers, with the same mild peppery, smokey, fruity taste with hints of chocolate flavors. The Mulato peppers are considered a different version of the Ancho Chile. Although they are harvested differently, the mulatto peppers have a mild spicy flavor than the Ancho. The mulatto pepper is sometimes used alongside the Pasilla and the ancho peppers in recipes.

The Mulato peppers may be difficult to find in some physical stores, especially in the U.S. but can be searched for in Mexican spice stores. When substituting the mulatto pepper for the pasilla pepper, the chef can apply the same measurements in any recipe.

3. Chipotle Powder


Chipotle powder is a fine reddish-orange grounded powder from crushed dried and smoked jalapeños peppers. This spicy powder would add a smokey and earthy taste to your meal without overwhelming it. They can be used to season fresh meat, fish, and poultry. They are also used in making sauces, tacos, curries, quesadillas, soups, stews, etc.

The spiciness of chipotle powder is not as strong as other chilies and would fit well when subbing it for Pasilla. A ratio of 1:1 can be applied when cooking.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can you store pasilla peppers?

Fresh pasilla peppers can last up to a year when stored correctly in the refrigerator, and dry pasilla peppers can be stored in air-tight containers. The ground pasilla would last for a much more extended period. The fresh pasilla peppers should not be stored for too long to lose their flavors.

What is the heat level of pasilla peppers?

According to the Scoville Heat Unit used in measuring the hotness of peppers, pasilla peppers have a mild heat range of 1000 to 2500 SHU.

Is pasilla chili powder mixed with other ingredients?

Most pasilla chili powders only contain grounded dry Pasilla, and other spices are omitted.


Pasilla peppers are among the most used spices in many Mexican cuisines, and when you’ve run out of these peppers, there are a few other spices that can be used to substitute them. These spices would bring the pasilla flavors and add some delicious flavors of their own.