9 Best Guajillo Pepper Substitutes That Spice Up Your Recipes

Guajillo Pepper Substitute

If you love to cook and eat Mexican food, you may know about the “Holy Trinity” of peppers. These chilies are a part of almost every savory Mexican recipe. Guajillo peppers are the spiciest of the trio. They bring hotness along with a fruity and smoky flavor. But what if you realize you’ve run out of them while cooking? These guajillo pepper substitutes will save your recipe! 

Best Guajillo Pepper Substitutes

Guajillo chilies are made by drying mirasol chilies. They are 2 to 6 inches long with shiny and tough deep-red colored skin. Along with its spicy, sweet, fruity, and smoky taste, you’ll also find hints of berries and tea. 

On the Scoville scale which measures the pungency of chilies, guajillo ranges between 2500 to 5000 SHU. Hence, it is considered only mild to medium-hot. It is available in powder, paste, or whole dried form. 

Try out these alternatives to replace guajillo peppers. 

1. Ancho Peppers

Ancho is a part of the “Holy Trinity” of Mexican chilies. This pepper can be found more easily than guajillo peppers. Hence, it is among the best alternatives to use. 

These peppers are made from dried poblano peppers. They are meatier and juicier than guajillo chilies and have an almost round shape. These chilies have a SHU ranging between 1000 to 2000.

Use ancho peppers when preparing soups, stews, miles, sauces, marinades, or meat rubs. Due to their milder and less complex taste, you’ll need to use twice the amount as guajillo peppers. 

Learn more: Best Ancho Chili Substitutes That Are Worth A Shot

2. Pasilla Peppers

The third member of the Mexican “Holy Trinity” is pasilla pepper, also known as pasilla negro. In terms of flavor, it is the closest to guajillo peppers.

Pasilla Peppers range from 1000 to 2500 SHU on the Scoville scale. So although they are less spicy, they are close to guajillo peppers. 

You can use pasilla peppers in sauces, stews, soups, or moles. Follow a 1:1 ratio when substituting it for guajillo peppers. But if you prefer your food to be spicier, you can increase the amount. 

3. New Mexico Chiles

Like guajillo peppers, these peppers also have hints of earthy sweetness. You’ll also get undertones of acidic and dried cherry flavors. On the Scoville scale, New Mexico chiles have a SHU between 800 to 1400. So, although they are considerably less hot and pungent, these peppers are packed with flavors and spiciness. 

Use New Mexico chiles in chutneys, chili sauces, stews, salsa, soups, seasonings, or dry rubs. You can use it in equal measure as guajillo peppers. It’ll add the right amount of flavor and spiciness to your recipe. 

4. Puya Chilies

Puya chiles are smaller in size but a lot spicier than guajillo peppers. This pepper has a fruity and intensely spicy flavor without being overpowering. It differs a lot from guajillo peppers in terms of taste. But due to its hot and fruity zest, it can replace guajillo in almost every recipe. 

Puya chilies have a SHU between 5000 to 8000. Hence, add only half the amount of guajillo peppers you use. If it’s too spicy for you, use 1⁄4th the amount. 

5. Cascabel Chilies

Cascabel and guajillo peppers are as far in appearance as two could be. These chilies are short and round, almost like berries. They lie between 1500 to 2500 SHU on the Scoville scale. Their smoky, nutty, and woodsy flavor can replace guajillo peppers in almost every recipe. 

Use cascabel chilies when preparing stews, sauces, salsas, and soups. You can use it in equal amounts as you would guajillo peppers. 

6. Mulato Chilies

Their SHU ranges between 1500 to 2500. These chilies also have a sweet, fruity, and smoky flavor. However, they lack the tea and berry-like taste. Still, they add a similar flavor in a recipe as guajillo peppers. 

Mulato chilies are available in the market in powder, flakes, or whole form. You can use any of the forms while cooking. These chilies work well in recipes like soups, sauces, moles. Use these chilies in equal amounts as guajillo peppers.

7. Regular Chili Pepper

Dried regular peppers are bright red with tough skin. They are available as a powder, flakes, or whole. When shopping for these peppers, choose the ones with darker and tougher skin. Such varieties are usually spicier than the others. 

If you use guajillo or other related peppers regularly, these regular peppers might be too mild for you. So, use them considering how spicy you want the food to be. 

8. Gochugaru

Here’s a unique substitution to consider. Gochugaru is a Korean chili with a vibrant red color and excellent heat. It is commonly used to make Kimchi and plays a key role in the flavor and hotness of this famous Korean dish.

It usually gets a rating of 5000-8000 on the Scoville scale, making it hot enough to work as a decent substitute to the famous Guajillo.

9. Chile De Arbol Powder

Chile De Arbol is another Mexican chili well regarded for its pungency and sharp taste. Also known as bird’s beak chile and rat’s tail chile, this pepper is very hot and shows up between 15,000 to 65,000 Scoville heat units. 

It is much hotter than Guajillo, so start substituting in small amounts. Use about ¼ the amount of Chile De Arbol as compared to Guajillo. You can always add more =if necessary, though it’s smarter to start small.

Learn more: Chile California VS Guajillo Pepper: Spicy Pepper Showdown

Related FAQs

How To Buy Guajillo Peppers

Guajillo peppers with smooth and shiny skin are often fresh while the wrinkled and cracked ones are old. Older peppers don’t have as intense and good flavors as the fresh ones. However, fresh peppers don’t have a long shelf life. The older ones are wrinkled and dried, so they’re likely to last longer.

Is Guajillo the same as Chili Powder?

While guajillo can make chili powder, not all chili powder is guajillo. A chili powder can use any of the chili peppers (including guajillo) or mix several peppers and spices together. Guajillo powder, however, must always come from dried and ground guajillo chilies.

Which Is Hotter Jalapeño Or Guajillo?

The answer carries a bit of nuance, but we can say jalapeno peppers edge out guajillo, but only ever so slightly. Guajillo peppers usually have a Scoville scale rating between 2500 to 5000 SHU. On the same scale, jalapeno peppers score between 2500 to 8000.

Between two randomly chosen jalapeno and guajillo peppers, there’s a good chance that either of them is hotter. But considering the Scoville scale, it is likely that jalapeno is the hotter one. For practical purposes, we can consider these peppers to be equivalent in heat. 

Read more: Substitute For Green Chilies That Your Recipes Will Love

Choose The Best Guajillo Pepper Alternative For Your Recipe

When choosing between a selection of peppers, consider their hotness and pungency. These factors affect your food the most. Guajillo peppers are used in several recipes and have a range of different alternatives.

For intensely flavored and spicy meals, puya chilies are the best. On the other hand, New Mexico chilies have a milder yet potent flavor. However, if you want to replicate the flavor with guajillo pepper substitutes, it is best to use ancho or pasilla peppers.

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