9 Best Guajillo Chile Substitutes

Guajillo Chile, pronounced as gwa-hee-yo, is a Mexican chili rapidly gaining popularity in many Mexican cuisines.

They are usually known for their sweet and smoky flavor; guajillo Chile is probably one of the hottest peppers you would come across, with a Scoville heat of about 1000-2000 SHU. These peppers are usually 2-4 inches long and have smooth and reddish skin.

Guajillo chiles are also very available in many countries like Europe, Asia, Mexico, and the United States, and they are found in stores in many forms, either as fried pepper flakes or in powdered form. Guajillo chiles are very good for use in your soups and stews, and if you want to add a spicy tanginess to your salads, these chiles would be perfect for the job.

But what will you do if you want to prepare a recipe that calls for guajillo Chile and you have none at home and in the grocery store?

Well, you can simply use other guajillo chile substitutes, such as mulato pepper, Pasilla de Oaxaca, cascabel chilies, jalapenos, poblano pepper, mirasol peppers, and serrano pepper.

Best Guajillo Chile Substitutes

There are many chilies that can replace guajillo chile in your dishes, and even if they do not make the dish taste the same as guajillo chile would, their taste is near that of guajillo chile.

1. Ancho peppers

The ancho pepper is part of the holy trinity in Mexican chilies, and of that fact, you shouldn’t be shocked or surprised at how this is a top substitute. The new form of ancho pepper is the poblano pepper, and when it gets dry, it is renamed ancho pepper.

The ancho peppers are very good substitutes for the guajillo chile just that it is said to be sweeter than the guajillo peppers.

Ancho peppers are relatively low in the heat with a Scoville heat unit of 1000-2000 SHU. They are perfect replacements for guajillo chiles in stews, soups, salads, and marinades.

2. Pasilla Chile

Pasilla chile is a Mexican chili extensively used in many Mexican cuisines. They are usually black and long and can be found in groceries or supermarkets, as they are quite popular in Mexican dishes.

Pasilla chilies have a Scoville heat of about 1000-2500 SHU, and you should be careful when adding them to your dishes because a little excess pasilla chile can make your meal too spicy and completely inedible.

3. Cascabel chilies

The cascabel chilies look like the pasilla pepper but are much hotter with a Scoville heat unit of 1500-2500 SHU. They are shorter and rounder than the guajillo pepper, with a dark brown-red-like color.

It is advisable that when using cascabel as a substitute, you should be mindful of how much of it you should use in your dish because just a slight mistake in the amount can make your dish a lot hotter. Cascabel Chile is nutty and smoky, giving them the ability to enrich and food.

4. Pasilla De Oaxaca

Pasilla de Oaxaca is like a different version of the pasilla Chile with a smokier flavor than the pasilla chile.

Pasilla de Oaxaca has the same SHU as pasilla chile, giving it an advantage over other substitutes because you can always use it comfortably in pasilla chile. However, pasilla de Oaxaca is more expensive than the normal pasilla chile.

Pasilla de Oaxaca is perfect for making stir-fries, soups, and stews as it adds a nice delicious and smokey taste to these dishes, so when you want to spice up your salad, you can always use this, and the ratio of substitution can remain the same since they both have the same SHU.

5. Mulato Peppers

Mulato peppers are similar to guajillo peppers, but they are milder in taste and flavors. These peppers are best eaten when dry or ground and have a 2500-3000 Scoville heat unit.

They can be used as salad toppings to add a bit of spice to your veggies, or you can also use them in your cooked dishes and soups.

These peppers are considered very different from other peppers because they have a cherry-flavored and mild chocolate taste that you would not find in any other pepper.

6. Poblano Peppers

Poblano peppers are green with a Scoville heat unit of about 1000-2000 Scoville heat unit. They can successfully replace guajillo chile pepper in any dish, and not only that, and they can give a bright outlook to your soups and salads.

Poblano peppers are very good for stuffing; apart from that, you can chop them into tinier pieces for soups and stews. They are not great in sauces, so if you’re looking for a spice that can work well in sauces other than pasilla Chile peppers, you should consider other substitutes instead.

7. Jalapeno Pepper

Jalapeno is one of the popular peppers used in Mexican dishes, and it can also serve as a great substitute for guajillo chile. Finding them in grocery stores worldwide is very easy, and they add a lot of nutrients to the body.

Having a Scoville heat of about 2500-8000 Scoville heat units, these peppers will satisfy all your taste desires. They can be added as toppings for pizzas, portions of pasta, and even salads, and they can also be used as a side dish next to your favorite stews.

8. Mirasol Peppers

Mirasol peppers are mostly used in making the famous mirasol mole sauce. They bring the same heat level as the jalapenos with a Scoville heat unit of 2500-8000 Scoville heat unit.

Mirasol peppers are bright red and would look great in soups and stews and can also be used as toppings for various foods.

9. Serrano Peppers

Serrano peppers have been in use for several decades worldwide and are used to date in many Mexican cuisines. These peppers are the perfect ingredients in salsas, sauces, and garnishing, and these peppers are more enjoyable when roasted.

The serrano peppers are very hot as they have a heat level of 10000-25000 Scoville heat unit; when using this dish as a replacement for guajillo Chile, you should do it in a ratio of about 4:1(serrano peppers: pasilla Chile).

Related Questions

Is guajillo the same as pasilla in Chile?

Pasilla chile and guajillo peppers are not the same, even if one can be used as a substitute for the other. Pasilla Chile comes from the pasilla peppers, while guajillo peppers are the dried version of the mirasol peppers making their color different and their taste slightly different. Guajillo is hotter than the pasilla Chile pepper and should be used instead when a hotter pepper is required.

Can I substitute chili powder for guajillo?

Yes, you can use the chili powder in place of the guajillo Chile as it has a relatively similar heat profile.

Is chili powder and Chile powder the same thing?

Not exactly. The major difference between these two is that while Chile powder is made of pure chili peppers that are then ground, chili powder is made with a blend of Chile powder and several other spices and ingredients like cumin and oregano peppercorn, and salt.

Can I substitute cayenne for chili powder?

Yes, chili powder is a very acceptable substitute for cayenne peppers as it is made with a variety of chili peppers that were dried and then ground. Cayenne powder is similar to that and has a relatively similar scotch Ville heat unit as the chili powder.

What can I use instead of guajillo chilies?

The closest in flavor to the guajillo chili is pasilla pepper. The spiciness is the major reason guajillo and pasilla are similar and can be used interchangeably. Aside from that, its flavors and texture are similar, but pasilla is said to be sweeter with hints of cocoa and berry.


When it comes to Mexican peppers, the funny thing is that everyone you come across can be able to replace the other if they are used in the right quantity.

So, when shopping for peppers, consider researching first to be sure of what would fit the pepper you want to replace perfectly, both taste and flavor.

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