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Chili Powder vs. Ancho Chili Powder — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on November 5, 2023
Chili Powder is a blend of various spices, while Ancho Chili Powder is made from dried, ground poblano peppers. Both add a spicy kick to dishes.
Chili Powder vs. Ancho Chili Powder — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Chili Powder and Ancho Chili Powder


Key Differences

Chili Powder, a multi-spice blend, incorporates various dried, ground peppers and additional spices like cumin and garlic, offering a multi-layered, somewhat milder flavor. On the contrary, Ancho Chili Powder derives its flavor solely from ground, dried poblano peppers, which provide a sweet, somewhat earthy and mildly spicy taste.
The versatility of Chili Powder allows it to complement a variety of dishes, often being a staple in diverse cuisines, particularly in Mexican and Tex-Mex preparations. Contrarily, Ancho Chili Powder, with its distinct, somewhat fruity profile, plays a pivotal role in certain sauces and dishes, accentuating them with its unique flavor characteristics.
Chili Powder might contain spices like oregano, paprika, and garlic powder, giving it a complex flavor profile suitable for various culinary applications. Meanwhile, Ancho Chili Powder, being a singular pepper powder, delivers a direct and uncomplicated flavor, contributing predominantly to the spicy and slightly sweet elements in a dish.
For those exploring a broad, universally spicy flavor, Chili Powder serves as a reliable and accessible choice due to its widespread availability and general-purpose usage. Ancho Chili Powder, while not as commonly found in every kitchen, offers a specialized, slightly smoky sweetness that can elevate specific recipes, like mole sauce, that seek its distinct flavor.

Comparison Chart


Blend of various spices
Ground dried poblano peppers

Flavor Profile

Complex, varied spiciness
Sweet, mild, slightly smoky

Usage in Recipes

General-purpose spice
Specialized usage in certain dishes


Commonly available
Might be less widely available

Heat Level

Varies, generally milder
Mild to medium

Compare with Definitions

Chili Powder

A versatile spice blend with variable heat.
Add a teaspoon of Chili Powder for a flavorful stew.

Ancho Chili Powder

Sometimes combined with other chilies for nuanced heat.
Blend Ancho Chili Powder with guajillo for a multifaceted spicy note.

Chili Powder

Known for adding both color and spice to dishes.
A dash of Chili Powder brings vibrant red hues to the sauce.

Ancho Chili Powder

Ground from dried poblano peppers.
Ancho Chili Powder infuses the soup with a mild, smoky sweetness.

Chili Powder

Widely used in rubs, marinades, and chili.
Chili Powder provides the spicy depth to our meat marinade.

Ancho Chili Powder

Recognized for its dark, rich color.
Ancho Chili Powder imparts a deep, reddish-brown tint to the dish.

Chili Powder

Often used to create a base flavor in Tex-Mex cuisine.
Chili Powder adds a zesty kick to our taco mix.

Ancho Chili Powder

Offers a distinctly mild and slightly sweet heat.
Utilize Ancho Chili Powder for a subtly spicy chocolate dessert.

Chili Powder

Can contain spices like cumin and garlic.
The Chili Powder enhances the beans with its rich complexity.

Ancho Chili Powder

Predominantly used in traditional Mexican sauces.
Ancho Chili Powder forms the flavorful backbone of this rich mole.

Common Curiosities

What is Ancho Chili Powder?

Ancho Chili Powder is made from ground dried poblano peppers.

How hot is Chili Powder?

Chili Powder’s heat can vary, typically offering a milder spice due to mixed ingredients.

What is Chili Powder?

Chili Powder is a blend of assorted ground spices and chilies.

Can Chili Powder replace cayenne pepper?

Yes, but Chili Powder is milder and has a different flavor profile than cayenne.

Are there seeds in Ancho Chili Powder?

Generally, no. The peppers are usually seeded before grinding.

Is Ancho Chili Powder common in Mexican cuisine?

Yes, it’s a staple in various dishes, especially in traditional sauces like mole.

How hot is Ancho Chili Powder?

Ancho Chili Powder offers mild to medium heat with a slightly sweet note.

Can I substitute Chili Powder for Ancho Chili Powder?

Substitution can work but will alter the flavor due to their distinct profiles.

What are common uses for Chili Powder?

Chili Powder is widely used in chilies, stews, and as a meat seasoning.

What dishes commonly contain Chili Powder?

Dishes like chili con carne, curries, and various marinades often contain Chili Powder.

How do I use Ancho Chili Powder in cooking?

It can be added directly to dishes, in marinades, or mixed with other spices in recipes.

Is Chili Powder spicy?

Chili Powder provides a moderate heat, which can vary based on the brand and blend.

Does Ancho Chili Powder contain additives?

Pure Ancho Chili Powder should contain only dried, ground poblanos, but check labels.

Is Ancho Chili Powder suitable for vegetarians?

Yes, it’s made from dried peppers and is suitable for vegetarians.

How should I store Chili Powder?

Store Chili Powder in a cool, dark place, in a sealed container.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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