Pasilla Negro Chiles
Pasilla Negro Chile
Pasilla Negro Chiles (pronounced "pah-SEE-yah"), Capsicum annuum, are also referred to as Pasilla, chile negro, chile pasilla de Mexico, Mexican negro or pasilla bajio. Pasilla translates to "little raisin" due to its dark, wrinkled skin. Many dried chiles are called one thing when dried and another when fresh, this chile is known as Chilaca (“Cheh-lah-cah”) chile when in its fresh state.
There are approximately 2 dried Pasilla Chiles per oz.
What is a Pasilla Chile
Pasilla Chiles are one of the famous "holy trinity" of chiles used in Mexican moles, along with Ancho Chiles and the Guajillo Chiles. This dried pepper is about 1 to 1-1/2” wide and 6-8" long. Top quality Pasilla chiles will be somewhat soft and pliable. Older Pasilla chiles will be hard and brittle.
Throughout the US (but especially in California) this dried chile has been constantly mislabeled by wholesalers and grocery stores as a Poblano, which is a fresh green pepper that is known as an Ancho Chile when dried. This has been further compounded over the years by Cal-Mex and Tex-Mex fusion recipes that have made the Ancho and Pasilla Negro Chiles interchangeable.
Pasilla Negro Chiles have a close cousin from the Oaxacan region of Mexico that is known as the Pasilla de Oaxaca. The Oaxaca is a smoked version of this chile, and it is also a bit hotter.
What Do Pasilla Negro Chiles Taste Like?
The flavor of the Pasilla Pepper is pungent and tangy with chocolate and raisin notes, rich in flavor with woodsy undertones.
Are Pasilla Chiles Hot?
Pasilla Chiles have a heat range of 1,000 to 2,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units) and are considered a mild heat chile.
Is Pasilla Chile the Same as Ancho Chiles?
These chiles actually often paired together in Mexican dishes. Pasilla chiles tend to be a bit milder in heat, and their flavor is more tangy, woody and rich while the Ancho Chile has similar heat (1,000-1,500 SHU), and is a little fruitier with bitter undertones. Per ounce, Ancho Chiles provide much more pulp than Pasilla Chiles.
How to Use Pasilla Chiles
They’re the signature flavor in tortilla soup; crumble on top for maximum flavor. Whole Pasilla peppers can be rehydrated and stuffed with flavorful blends of meats and cheeses; try stuffing with pork and raisins, or a mix of cheeses like queso fresco and asadero. Blend into adobos, cream sauces or seafood chowder, salsas, enchilada sauce, mole sauce, Texas chili, or use with rich meats like duck or lamb.
Pasilla Chile Substitutions and Conversions
The easiest substitute to find is the Ancho Chile, as they are often used together anyway but the Ancho does pack a bit more heat. The one with the closest heat level is the Cascabel Chile.
1 Pasilla Negro Chile is equal to 1 tablespoon of Pasilla Negro Chile Powder
History of Pasilla Chiles
The word "chilaca" is from the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs and it translates to mean "gray hair" or "old” and was used to reference the pepper’s wrinkled appearance1. Chilaca chile peppers are thought to be indigenous to the Puebla region just south of Mexico City and have been cultivated since ancient times, radiocarbon dating has chiles being cultivated 6,500 B.P. (before present) in this region of Mexico2.
The Franciscan friar and historian Bernardino de Sahagún, who arrived in Mexico, from Spain, in 1529 spent more than 50 years studying the Aztec people of the region. He noted how the Aztecs consumed chile peppers in nearly every dish they prepared, and he described how the market places of ancient Mexico overflowed with more than 20 varieties of chile peppers of all sizes and shapes! The Aztecs classified chiles into six categories based both the level of pungency (high to low), and also on the type of pungency (sharp to broad)3.
Pasilla Chile Cultivation
Approximately 7,500 acres are devoted to the cultivation of chilaca chiles in Mexico and these are primarily in the Aguascalientes, Jalisco, Guanajuato, and Zacatecas regions4.
Chilaca chiles grow best in arid climates and the best tasting of these chiles are grown in the fertile soil of south central Mexico. The Chilaca cultivar reaches a height of three feet or more. The primary branches begin more than five inches from the lowest stem so that the pods do not touch the ground. The plant has green stems and green leaves that are about three inches long and one and ahalf inches wide. The flowers have white corollas without spots4. The plant produces good yields of chiles that taper from 1-1/2" at the top down to a little less than 1" at the bottom and are about 6" long5. These chiles ripen until their color is a dark greenish brown that borders on black and they’ll have a flattened shape while its skin will be somewhat wrinkled and the pod will be a bit twisted. They mature in about 80 -90 days.
Where are Pasilla Negro Chiles From?
Our Pasilla Negro Chiles are grown in Mexico.
|Also Called||Pasilla, chile negro, chile pasilla de Mexico, Mexican negro or pasilla bajio|
|Recommended Uses||Use in cream sauces, Mexican moles, salsa, and tortilla soup|
|Flavor Profile||Pungent and tangy with chocolate and raisin notes, rich in flavor with woodsy undertones.|
|Scoville Heat Units||1,000-2,000 SHU|
|Botanical Name||Capsicum annuum|
|Cuisine||Mexican, American Southwest|
|How To Store||Airtight container in a cool, dark place|
|Shelf Life||1-2 Years|
|Country of Origin||Mexico|
|Dietary Preferences||Gluten Free, Kosher, Non-GMO|
Hungry for more information?
1 Andrews, J. (1999). The Pepper Trail: History and Recipes from Around the World (Revised, Subsequent ed.). University of North Texas Press.
1 Perry, L., & Flannery, K. V. (2007). Precolumbian use of chili peppers in the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(29), 11905–11909.
2 Kraft, K. H., Brown, C. H., Nabhan, G. P., Luedeling, E., Luna Ruiz, J. D. J., Coppens d’Eeckenbrugge, G., Hijmans, R. J., & Gepts, P. (2014). Multiple lines of evidence for the origin of domesticated chili pepper, Capsicum annuum, in Mexico. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(17), 6165–6170.
3 Sahagún, B. D. (2021). Historia general de las cosas de la Nueva España I (Spanish Edition). Linkgua Ediciones.
4 Dewitt, D. (1999). The Chile Pepper Encyclopedia: Everything You’ll Ever Need To Know About Hot Peppers, With More Than 100 Recipes (1st ed.). William Morrow Cookbooks.
5 DeWitt, D., & Bosland, P. W. (2014). The Complete Chile Pepper Book: A Gardener’s Guide to Choosing, Growing, Preserving, and Cooking (New ed.). Timber Press.
Serving Size1 chile, 10g
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*