What is a puya chile pepper?

Puya chile
Puya chile is a Mexican pepper, smaller and spicier than the guajillo. Also known as pulla, the puya chili is popular for its fruity flavor, making it perfect for sauces, as a pizza topping, or in meat dishes.

What is puya chile?

Puya chile
Puya chile

The puya chile is one of Mexico’s more popular chile peppers that belongs to the Capsicum annuum family, just like pasilla, guajillo, and ancho.

It is often diced, mashed, or pureed into a sauce. You can also soak the dried red chilies in warm water to remove their flavor and use the liquid in your cooking.

OriginNative to Mexico
AppearanceLong and slender, crimson
Flavor profileStrong fruity flavor, with hints of smokiness


The puya chile (pulla) is native to Mexico. These hot peppers have been cultivated since ancient times and are widely grown in Mexico’s Central Valley. This area surrounding Mexico City is a vast, fertile highlands plateau hugged by mountains and surrounded by volcanoes.

You can also use the puya pepper in stews, soups, enchiladas, burritos, tacos, and other dishes.


The puya chile pods are long and slender, usually about 2 to 4 inches long. As the name pulla implies, these chili peppers have crimson red to sometimes purplish skin. 

Flavor profile

Puya chiles are known for their strong fruity flavor, with hints of smokiness, licorice, and cherry undertones.

See Also:  Chile Ancho: Heat, Comparison to Other Chiles & Recipes

It gives dishes that pop of heat but does not overpower the flavors of other ingredients. Some describe the taste of the puya pepper as close to guajillo peppers and Chile de arbol.

Nutritional Benefits of puya chile

Like most chili peppers, puya chile is abundant in capsaicin.

Because of this, and it may help prevent lifestyle diseases by boosting your immune system. Likewise, chile peppers have been linked to weight loss and lowering the risk of diabetes.

How hot is the Puya chili pepper?

Cascabel peppers1,000 – 3,000 SHU
Mexican chiles1,000 – 5,000 SHU
Guajillo chiles2,500 – 5,000 SHU
Jalapeño peppers2,000 – 8,000 SHU
Puya peppers5,000 – 8,000 SHU
Chiles de arbol15,000 – 30,000 SHU
Pequin40,000 – 60,000 SHU

Puya peppers are fairly hot. The puya’s heat is 5,000 to 8,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). This makes them a bit spicier than jalapeño peppers that range between 2,000 to 8,000 SHU on the Scoville Scale. 

The heat of the puya is more intense that other popular dried Mexican chiles like the ancho (1,000 to 5,000 SHU), cascabel (1,000 to 3,000 SHU), guajillo (2,500 to 5,000 SHU).

The puya, however, is milder than the Chiles de arbol (15,000 to 30,000 SHU) and pequin (40,000 to 60,000 SHU).

What is Chile Puya used for?

Puya chile peppers are widely used in Mexican cuisine. They are a common spice in bean burritos and even cocktails.

A recipe to try out: Puya Chili Salsa – Blend dry roasted chile puya with garlic, tomato, cilantro, vinegar, water, and salt. Finish the dish by cooking the salsa on low heat for two minutes.

See Also:  Arbol Dried Chiles Uses, Heat & Recipes

Is chile puya the same as Guajillo?


Both chili peppers are native to Mexico and are widely used in Mexican cooking. Guajillo chiles are often mistaken for chile puya, but the latter is often smaller in appearance and fairly spicier compared to the former. The guajillo is milder in terms of heat level.

Along with pasilla and ancho peppers, the puya forms part of the holy trinity of Mexican chiles essential when making traditional mole. 

Can I use Puya instead of Guajillo?

Chile puya is a good substitute for guajillo peppers. You might want to hold back because the former is spicier than the latter.

You may add some ancho chile to boost the fruity flavors without making a dish too spicy.


Randell loves experimenting in the kitchen (with his family and friends as willing victims). He sees cooking as a great adventure. To enjoy that, he believes this is the recipe: a tad of creativity, a dash of courage, a pinch of humility, and a ton of love.

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