Chili Powder and Chile Powder – What is the Difference?

I don’t know about you but sometimes when cooking there will be a reference to chili powder and chile powder. Questions come up often on what is the difference between these two chilis.  So here is a bit of reference to the difference between the chili’s and the chile’s.

In most cookbooks and recipes, plenty of references are made for using chili powder.  This is a traditional spice that can be found in your spice section produced many major manufacturers.  It consists of a blend of various chili peppers, cumin, oregano, salt and dehydrated garlic.  It isn’t a true chili powder per se, but rather a mixture intended to be a time saving mix or flavors needed to make chili con carne.

To find pure chile or chili powder, you will want to search for ground chili such as Ancho Chili powder which is made from smoked pablamo peppers, which is not overly hot or look for Chipotle powder, which can be hot.  These are true ground chilis that you can use to get the true flavor of the pepper. Ground cayenne is another great choice as this will give you more heat  but yet will allow you to control the amount of heat easier.  Using Crushed Red Pepper, which is a dried product, you will get a different flavor altogether and not be able to control the overall heat quite as well as with a ground pepper.

Peruse your Mexican and Asian sections in the grocery store or if you are in a town that has Mexican and Asian markets, you will be able to find a larger selection that what is available just in your traditional spice section at the store. You can also look in the produce sections for packages of dried chile pods and try your hand at grounding these and experimenting.  Most of these type peppers are not overly spicy unless they are tiny and red, then you will want to use them sparingly.

I hope this helps you determine what chili powder or chile powder you need for your next dish!  Enjoy!


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