meet guajillo powder – a staple in Tex-Mex cuisine

guajillo powder
Guajillo powder is a spice made from ground-dried guajillo chilies (Capsicum annuum). These dried chili peppers are common in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. Guajillo powder is a versatile spice in various dishes, including soups, stews, salsas, sauces, and meat rubs. It pairs well with other Mexican spices, such as cumin and oregano.

What is guajillo powder?

Guajillo peppers
Guajillo peppers

Guajillo powder is chili pepper powder made from dried guajillo peppers ground into a fine powder. The guajillo pepper is a common chili pepper used in Mexican cuisine and is native to Mexico.

Is guajillo powder spicy?

Guajillo powder is generally considered to be moderately spicy. It has a Scoville rating of around 2,500 to 5,000, which puts it in the same heat range as jalapeño peppers.

It has more spiciness (but also sweetness) than Ancho chile powder, which has a range of 1,000-1,500 Scoville heat units (SHU).

For comparison, Jalapeño peppers have a range of 2,500-8,000 Scoville heat units.

Pasilla has a range of 1,000-2,500 SHU.

OriginNative to Mexico
CuisinesUsed in dishes from Mexico’s central and southern regions
AppearanceDeep reddish-brown
Flavor profileHas a slightly sweet and smoky flavor with mild to medium heat


Guajillo chilies are native to Mexico and have been used for centuries in traditional Mexican cuisine. They got the name after the town of Guajillo in the state of Zacatecas, where they are commonly grown.

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Guajillo powder is present in Mexican cooking, particularly in dishes from Mexico’s central and southern regions. People use it in mole sauces, stews, soups, and marinades to add flavor and heat to meat dishes, such as carne asada and barbacoa. It is also used to make traditional Mexican dishes like Enchiladas, Mexican mole, Tamales, and adobo.


Guajillo powder is deep reddish-brown and has a slightly sweet and smoky flavor with mild to medium heat. The fine powder can be a seasoning or rub for meat, poultry, or fish. You can buy it in small jars or bags in most grocery stores close to other Mexican ingredients.

Flavor profile

Guajillo chiles have a great flavor complemented by a good dose of sweetness and heat.

The flavor profile of guajillo powder is complex, with a mildly sweet taste balanced by a moderate heat level. It has a fruity and slightly acidic flavor with hints of smoke and a mild earthy undertone.

The flavor of guajillo powder comes from the natural compounds found in the guajillo pepper, including capsaicin, which gives it heat, and other volatile oils that contribute to its flavor.

Ground guajillo peppers are the only ingredient in guajillo powder, making it a pure and natural spice.

Nutritional Benefits of guajillo powder

Just like any other pepper, Guajillo chili contains a substance called capsaicin. Capsaicin is an irritant that can provide several health benefits. These benefits may include reducing pain, curbing your appetite, and regulating blood sugar levels. They’re famous for promoting vascular and metabolic health.

Guajillo chili is a superfood that contains many beneficial nutrients such as dietary fibers, antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and K. 

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These nutrients work together to help improve various health conditions like skin problems such as psoriasis, metabolic disorders like diabetes, and auto-immune disorders such as arthritis.

Top 3 recipes that call for guajillo powder

Here are the top 3 recipes that call for guajillo powder:

Slow-Cooked Beef Tacos with Guajillo Powder: This recipe involves cooking beef in a slow cooker with guajillo powder, cumin, garlic, oregano, and other seasonings. The result is tender, flavorful beef you can serve in tacos with your favorite toppings.

Guajillo chile Enchilada Sauce: This recipe uses guajillo powder to make a homemade enchilada sauce. The powder is mixed with tomatoes, chicken broth, onions, and other spices to create a rich and flavorful sauce that can be used for enchiladas or as a dip.

Guajillo Powder Rubbed Pork Tenderloin: Add guajillo powder as a rub for a classic pork tenderloin. The powder is mixed with brown sugar, cumin, and other spices and rubbed onto the pork before it is cooked. The result is a juicy, flavorful pork tenderloin perfect for serving rice, beans, or vegetables.

How to make guajillo powder at home?

To make guajillo powder at home, you need dried guajillo chilies and a spice grinder or blender. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start by removing the stems and seeds from the guajillo chilies. You can do this by cutting the stem with scissors and shaking out the seeds.
  2. Heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Add the guajillo chilies and toast them for a few minutes, occasionally stirring, until they are fragrant and slightly softened.
  3. Remove the chilies from the skillet and let them cool completely.
  4. Once the chilies are cool, break them into small pieces and transfer them to a spice grinder or blender.
  5. Grind the chilies until they form a fine powder. If using a blender, you may need to pulse the mixture a few times for consistent texture.
  6. Once the powder is ground, transfer it to an airtight container and store it in a cool, dry place.
  7. Your homemade guajillo powder is now ready to use in your favorite recipes.
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What are the best guajillo powder substitutes?

Other chili powders and paprika are ideal replacements
Other chili powders and paprika are ideal replacements

If you’re unable to find guajillo powder, here are three substitutes you can use:

  • Ancho chili powder
  • Chipotle (Morita) chili powder
  • Paprika
Ancho chili powderHas a sweet, smoky flavor with a mild heat level
Chipotle (Morita) chili powderMade from smoked jalapeño peppers and has a smoky flavor similar to guajillo powder
PaprikaA milder alternative to guajillo powder

Ancho chili powder is another Mexican cuisine staple with a flavor profile similar to guajillo powder. It has a sweet, smoky flavor with a mild heat level. Substitute ancho chili powder in equal amounts for guajillo powder in recipes.

Chipotle chili powder is made from smoked jalapeño peppers and has a smoky flavor similar to guajillo powder. It also has a slightly higher heat level, so use it sparingly if you’re sensitive to spice. Substitute chipotle chili powder in a 1:1 ratio for guajillo powder.

Paprika is a good choice if you’re looking for a milder alternative to guajillo powder. It’s made from ground sweet peppers and has a slightly sweet flavor. Substitute paprika in equal amounts for guajillo powder in recipes that only require a little heat.

Poblano chile powder and Pasilla chile powder can also be great replacements.


Alexandra is a passionate writer with a deep appreciation for food - not just as nourishment but as an expression of culture, a reflection of history, and a celebration of life. She knows that everything in life requires a little spice - and gets a kick (get it?) every time she achieves the perfect combination of heat and depth.

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