What's The Difference Between Chile And Chili Powder

Know your spices.

Chile Powders
Photo: Alison Miksch

Yes, there's a difference, and it's not just in the spelling. You'll find these two spicy powders in various dishes across the culinary spectrum, and we love the kick that they bring to all sorts of dishes. So what's the difference?

Chile Powder vs. Chili Powder

Pure ground dried chile peppers make chile powder. Usually, chile powder has no additives. On the other hand, chili powder is a blend of chile peppers and other spices, including cumin, peppercorn, oregano, and salt. The mixture depends on the brand, so check the ingredient label to find the exact spices it contains.

Chili powder is a favorite ingredient for many beloved dishes. We use chile powder in our recipe for West Texas Chili and the intriguing recipe for Fruits and Vegetables with Lime and Chile Powder, a delicious dish from San Antonio chef Johnny Hernandez, inspired by traditional Mexican street food. These spices add just the right amount of heat and memorable flavor to make our favorite dishes utterly show-stopping.

There are several varieties of chile powders, all of which derive from a different Capsicum annum. This genus includes peppers ranging from sweet bell peppers to very hot chile peppers. Here are three of our favorite chile powders to use in the kitchen.

Our Favorite Chile Powders

Chipotle Chile Powder

Dried, smoked jalapeños give this powder its rich, smoky aroma while adding a moderate dose of heat.

Cayenne Pepper

Spicy, pungent cayenne is a good way to increase the heat factor in dishes. Use it in any recipe that calls for "ground red pepper." Whip up our recipe for Sweet Potato Soup or BBQ Brisket to taste the peppery warmth of cayenne pepper.

Ancho Chile Powder

Ancho chile powder, made from the sweetest dried chile, has a slightly fruity flavor with only a mild amount of heat.

Now that you know the difference between chili powder and chile powder, you can start cooking with confidence. Keep these recipes in mind when you're stocking your spice cabinet.

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