What’s the difference between chili (with
Homemade chile powder is easy to make, inexpensive, tastes better than national brands, and is a necessity if you want to elevate your chili game.
Start with dried chile peppers. These come in little cellophane packages in the spice section of most grocery stores in Texas. Fiesta brand is widely available in the south. If the chile gods favor you, you may find a store that has loose peppers in a bin.
Ancho, Guajillo, and Pasillas are my three favorite peppers for chili. Guajillo is also known as
If you can’t find any dried peppers in your local grocery store,
move they are available over the internet from places like Spices, Inc. While tempting, avoid pre-made chile and chili powders: 1). You never know how old it is, 2). You can’t control what peppers are in it, 3).
If you must purchase pre-made chile powder, Mild Bill’s Gunpowder Foods, Spices, Inc., and The Spice House are good options.
Look for peppers that are pliable. If they break in half when folded or crumble when squeezed, they are old and flavorless. (A little cracking is OK.)
To toast the peppers, heat a dry pan over medium heat, then start preparing the peppers by cutting off the stem end, split the pepper down one edge, then remove the seeds and ribs. (Keep the waste for your compost!)
Once cleaned, toast them in the dry pan for about 30 seconds per side. (If your stove has an exhaust fan that vents to the outside, you may want to turn that on.)
After toasting, let them cool, then cut into 1″ pieces. Place the toasted, cut peppers in a spice grinder, and turn it on until the peppers are ground into a fine powder. (I found that shaking the grinder and turning it upside down speeds the
I have a Krups coffee grinder dedicated to this purpose, which is available from Amazon for about $15.
Whole dried chiles will last about 3 years if properly stored, while ground chile powder stays potent for about 6 months in the pantry and about a year in the freezer. A word of caution: Even if the original package the peppers came in is unopened, I recommend placing them in a storage bag or sealable plastic bin. Moths love chile peppers and will ruin them if given the chance.