Learn more about Red chili powder

red chili powder
Red chili powder is made from seeded or deseeded ground dried red peppers, with or without additional spices. It usually has a bright red color and varies in flavor depending on the flavors of the integral red peppers and additional spices. People use it to spice up chili con carne—a spicy meat stew.

What is red chili powder?

Red chili powder
Red chili powder

Pure red chili powder is a spice from ground dried red chili peppers. It’s one of the three types of chili powder — the other two being regular chili powder and chili seasoning mix.

Red chili powder or ground red pepper is the generic name for chile powders made using ground dried chilies, with or without additional spices.

Pure red chili powder is made from ground dried, seeded red peppers of only one or several types. On the other hand, regular chili powder is made from ground, dried but deseeded red peppers of one or several types with no additional spices.

Chili powder seasoning is a spice blend featuring one, or several types of ground dried red chile peppers with additional spices such as:

  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Salt
  • Mexican oregano

The chili powder blend is common in the US and features red chile peppers, oregano, and cumin.

See Also:  What is a puya chile pepper?

Is red chili powder spicy?

Red chili powder is spicy as it derives from ground dried, fully ripened red peppers. 

The spiciness of the powder depends on the heat levels of the red peppers used to make it and whether or not it has additional spices. Most powders have moderate or mild heat.

For example, pure red chili powder made from Cayenne peppers, which score 30,000-50,000 Scoville Heat Units, is hotter than chili powder from ancho peppers, which score 1,000-2,000 SHU.

Red chili powder blends featuring additional spices are less spicy. The heat level reduces with the presence of other spices.

OriginMost likely origin – New Braunfels, Texas, 1896
AppearanceHas a bright red color
Flavor profileDepends mainly on the flavor of the individual red pepper used to make it and other added spices


There are conflicting beliefs on the origin of chili powder. The most prevalent one states that German immigrant William Gebhardt made the first chili powder in New Braunfels, Texas, in 1896.

Mr. Gebhardt pulverized Mexican dried chili peppers in a meat grinder. He called the product Tampico Dust before renaming it Gebhardt’s Eagle Chili Powder — the name by which you know it today.

Red chili powder is today a staple ingredient in American (Tex-Mex), European, Chinese, Korean, Asian, Thai, and Indian cuisines. In American cuisine, red chili powder usually seasons chili con carne — a spicy meat stew.

You’ll find different names for different varieties of red chili powder, depending on the cuisine and the origin of the peppers used to make it. Kashmiri chili powder and Chinese red chili powder are used in Indian and Chinese cuisine with red peppers from those areas.

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Pure and regular red chili powder has a bright red color. Red chili powder blend may be dark red or lighter, depending on the color of the ground chili peppers and the other spices added.

Flavor profile

The flavor profile of red chili powder depends mainly on the flavor of the individual red pepper used to make it. Additional spices also affect its flavor profile.

For example, red chili powder from pure Cayenne peppers takes on the neutral peppery flavor of ripened Cayenne peppers. Pure chipotle red chili powder takes on the smoky flavor of smoked chipotle peppers and dried red jalapeno peppers.

You may also notice the flavors of the additional spices in red chili powder blends, such as oregano, cumin, and garlic powder.

Nutritional Benefits of red chili powder

You may enjoy the following health benefits when you incorporate red chili powder in your recipes:

  • Reduced physical pain: The capsaicin found in fruits in the Capsicum family has anti-inflammatory properties and soothes pain.
  • Improved heart health: Capsaicin may also help improve heart health by reducing bad cholesterol and triglycerides and preventing blood clots.
  • Manages blood pressure: The potassium in red chili powder could control blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels.
  • Improved immunity: The vitamin C in red chili powder helps strengthen the body’s immune system.
  • Better skin and hair: Vitamin C promotes collagen production for nourished skin and hair. Vitamin A keeps your hair healthy and moisturized.

What is the difference between red chili powder and red chili flakes?

Red chili powderHas a smoother texture, made from dried red chile peppers ground to a fine powder, with or without the seeds, full flavor
Red chili flakesHave a coarse texture as they are made from dried red peppers ground into small pieces, keep the flavor of the main pepper

Red chili powder has a smoother texture, made from dried red chile peppers ground to a fine powder, with or without the seeds. Red chili flakes have a coarse texture as they are made from dried red peppers ground into small pieces.

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The flavor of red chili powder is fuller, especially if it includes other ingredients like cumin, salt, oregano, and garlic powder. Red chili flakes have no additional spices and retain only the flavor of their constituent red peppers.

Chili powder vs. cayenne pepper: a brief comparison

Cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper
Chili powderLess spicy than Cayenne peppers, many red chili powders feature Cayenne peppers
Cayenne peppers/powderHave a heat level of 30,000-50,000 SHU, Cayenne powder contains only red Cayenne chili peppers

Cayenne peppers are generically associated with red peppers and red chili powder. The main reason is that most red chili powders feature Cayenne peppers as the only red or one of the mainly used red peppers. Cayenne powder contains only red Cayenne chili peppers.

Red chili powder is usually less spicy than Cayenne peppers and Cayenne chili powder. Cayenne peppers have a heat level of 30,000-50,000 SHU, much higher than most peppers used to make chili powder.

10 types of red chili powders and their uses

Depending on the types of red peppers used and where they come from, you may come across different types of red chili powders. Below are common red chili powder types and common chili recipes in which to use them:

1.Cayenne chili powderFrom Cayenne peppers onlyUsed in dry rubs for meats, homemade candy, sausage stuffing, and garnish on pizza, popcorn, eggs, and sandwiches
2.Kashmiri chili powder/Lal mirchFrom Indian Kashmiri peppers onlyUsed in Indian tandoori chicken or turkey, garam masala blends, dry rubs, kebabs, curries, and stews
3.Ancho chili powderFrom ancho peppers onlyUsed in spice blends, marinades, soups, and mole sauce
4.Pasilla chili powderFrom pasilla peppers onlyUsed in homemade soups, Mexican rubs, and marinades
5.Chipotle chili powderFrom chipotle peppers onlyUsed in stews, soups, tamales, fajitas, tacos, enchiladas, and garnish on eggs
6.Gochugaru chili powder (Korean chili powder)From dried, deseeded Korean peppersUsed in gochujang chili paste, Korean stews, cucumber salads, and soups
7.Chinese red chili powderFrom different red chiliesUsed in cooked vegetables, stews, or dry rubs and marinades for meats
8.Indian red chili powderFrom different red peppersUsed in desserts, meat stews, and soups
9.Chile de Arbol powderFrom chile de Arbol peppersUsed in pizza toppings, hot sauces, brownies, cakes, soups, and stews
10.Mexican red chili powderFrom different red peppers, which may influence the name, such as ancho, cascabel, pasilla, guajillo, and chile de Arbol powderUsed in various sauces, enchiladas, tamales

Alex Maina

Since discovering how well spices transform a dish from bland to enjoyable in seconds, Alex became sold on using spices to better three of his major passions—gardening, cooking, and writing. When he is not tending to his spice crops, you'll find him trying a new recipe, writing for the Spice Gourmand, or serving a second helping of his spicy food!

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