Guajillo Chile Powder
Guajillo chiles, Capsicum annuum, are the dried version of the Mirasol chile. Pronounced "wha-hee-oh", the name translates to "little gourd" because of the rattling sound the seeds make when the dried pods are shaken. Guajillo Chiles are the second most popular chile in Mexico surpassed only by the Ancho chile. While Guajillo chiles may not be a staple in your pantry they are absolutely worth seeking out. These leathery, dark reddish brown chiles are ideal for dishes where one doesn't want to overpower other flavors but desires a solid chile presence.
If you like your chiles on the slightly sweeter side, then you will find the Guajillo Chile an excellent pepper to experiment with in your kitchen. It has surprising range and a heat most everyone can enjoy.
History of Guajillo Chile Powder
By the time that Columbus arrived in the Americas, the Azetcs were already cultivating jalapeno, chilaca, poblano, serrano, de arbol and mirasol chiles. Bernardino de Sahagun, a Franciscan friar, missionary priest and pioneering ethnographer arrived in New Spain, which is modern day Mexico, in 1529. He quickly learned the native Nahualt language and spent the next 50 years studying the Aztecs and their culture. He wrote of the typical Aztec market's inventory as "hot green chiles, smoked chiles, water chiles, tree chiles, flea chiles and sharp-pointed red chiles." He then talks of the greater classifications; "To further illustrate the importance the Aztecs placed on chiles they classified them into 6 categories based not only on level of pungency on a scale of low to high, but also on type of pungency on a scale of broad to sharp." Chiles were considered so important and so necessary for everyday life that Aztec, Mayan, and Incan civilizations would exclude them from their diets during religious fasting periods as a symbol of great devotion to their gods.
The Aztecs were one of the first people to discover that you could preserve chiles quickly by smoking them over a fire. The dried mirasol chile, also known as the guajillo, has been consumed for hundreds of years, likely beginning with the Aztecs. Today, there are plenty of chile farmers who still use traditional drying methods to produce their dried chiles. Guajillo remains an extremely popular chile in chilehead circles for its interesting flavor and mild heat, making it the perfect chile to introduce newcomers to the chilehead way of eating.
Guajillo Chile Cultivation
The name Mirasol means "looking at the sun" in Spanish, which describes the way these peppers grow on the plant. Mirasol chiles are native to the central and northern Mexico states of Aguascalientes, Durango and San Luis Potosi. Guajillo chiles are also cultivated in China, Peru and the US (New Mexico, Colorado and California).
Mirasol chiles grow best in arid climates and the best tasting of these chiles are grown in the drier climate of north central Mexico. These chiles love direct sunlight and cannot be over-watered or root rot can occur. The chile plant produces good yields of 4-6" long by ¾-1" wide hot peppers that grow upright, pointing towards the sun. This is an elongated chile that tapers to a point and is sometimes slightly curved. Phyiscally, the look of this chile can vary greatly depending on where it's grown. The highest quality Guajillos are shiny, smooth, and pliable. Harder or drier chiles can still be used, but they may be less flavorful. The color matures into a deep burgundy from a light green. Once they are dried, they are referred to as "guajillo chiles."
Where is Guajillo Chile Powder from?
Our Guajillo Chile Powder is from Mexico.
How Hot is Guajillo Chile Powder?
Guajillo Chile Powder has a heat range of 2,500 to 5,000 SHU.
Cooking with Guajillo Chile Powder
Guajillo Chile Powder is often combined with ancho and pasilla chile powders to make Mexican moles. Guajillos can be added to a variety of Mexican dishes to add flavor, mild heat, and color. This chile powder can even be used to make a paste for meats, and it is a popular paste choice for chicken. This chile powder can also be used in enchiladas, salsas, sauces, soups, stews, tamales, tacos, burritos, or as a topping on roasted vegetables.
While guajillos are legendary in Mexican cooking, they are also popular in North African and Peruvian cooking. The North African spice blend Harissa usually contains guajillo. The unique flavor of this chile makes it fun to experiment with. It suits sweets well, and can even be used as a topping for cheesecakes or ice cream. It pairs beautifully with chocolate.
One of our favorite recipes using dried Guajillo chiles is Pozole Rojo.
Whole vs Ground Guajillo Chiles
Whole, dried chiles can be ground up and used to make fresh chile powder or they can be rehydrated and used similarly to fresh chiles. Guajillo Chile Powder is less versatile in that way, as it can not be rehydrated. Depending on your recipe, chile powder may be more convenient, but what you keep on hand is up to you!
What Does Guajillo Chile Powder Taste Like?
Guajillo Chile Powder is slightly fruity and slightly spicy. It is tannic with hints of pine, tart berries, and some light smoky undertones.
Substitutions and Conversions for Guajillo Chile Powder
An easy to find substitute for the Guajillo is the Ancho Chile. The chile with the closest flavor profile and heat however is the Pasilla Negro.
Guajillo chiles look very similar to the harder to find Puya Chiles which tend to be a bit smaller and pack more heat (5,000 to 8,000 Scoville Heat Units). Puya chiles are used by chefs of authentic Mexican cuisine who are searching for a little bit more unexpected kick.
1 Guajillo Chile is equal to 1 teaspoon of Guajillo Chile powder.
Can I Substitute Guajillo Chile Powder for Ancho Chile Powder?
Yes you can substitute Guajillo Chile Powder for Ancho Chile Powder and vice versa. The same goes for chile flakes made from either of these types of chiles, or the whole chiles themselves. They can be used interchangeably.
** This product is certified kosher.
Serving Size1 tsp
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*