Guajillo peppers or guajillo chiles are dried mirasol chiles.
Together with ancho chiles and chiles de Arbol, guajillo chiles are one of the most used chiles in Mexican cuisine. They are about 4-6 inches long with tough and shiny deep red skin.
These peppers are mild to medium-hot chilies with 2,500-5,000 SHU on the Scoville scale. They deliver a sweet, smoky, and fruity flavor with hints of tea and berries. Guajillo peppers take place in many Mexican and Central American dishes.
These peppers come in two types with different sizes and heat levels.
Guajillo puya is hotter and smaller whereas guajillo is longer and less spicy with a richer flavor. Guajillo peppers are sold as dry and in powder form. The dry chiles can be toasted and ground into powder or they can be rehydrated and used as a paste or sauce.
Thanks to their unique flavor guajillo peppers, you can use these peppers in sauces, chili, salsas, soups, stews, marinades, dry rubs for meat, pastes, and moles.
However, if your recipe calls for guajillo peppers and you don’t have it at home or you can’t find it at the local store you can use some other type of peppers as a substitute for guajillo peppers.
Let’s learn more about each substitute.
Best Guajillo Pepper Substitutes
It is not easy to find any other peppers with a flavor that is the same as the unique flavor of the guajillo peppers. However, you can try to use some of these peppers to get a similar flavor and add a little spiciness to your dish. Use the one that you think is the best for your taste.
1. Ancho peppers
Ancho peppers are dry poblano peppers. They are meatier, sweeter than guajillo peppers with a sweet, smoky flavor with hints of raisins and chocolate.
Ancho peppers are low in the heat with 1,000-2,000 SHU. They perform well in stews, soups, sauces, moles, marinades, and meat rubs.
2. Pasilla peppers
Pasilla negro chiles are long, thin with wrinkled very dark skin and a slightly sweet flavor with hints of cocoa and berry. Their flavor is similar to the flavor of the guajillo peppers.
Pasilla peppers have a level of heat between 1,000-2,500 SHU. And they work amazingly in different sauces, stews, moles, soups, and other dishes.
3. Cascabel chilies
Cascabel chilies do not look like the guajillo peppers. They are shorter and rounder with dark brown-red color.
They have a level of heat between 1,500-2,500 SHU and a nutty and smoky flavor. You can use these peppers to give flavor to different sauces, stews, soups, and salsas.
4. Dried New Mexico chiles
Dried New Mexico chiles are long from 12-17 cm and have shiny red-brown skin. They are not very hot chiles and their level of heat ranges from 800-1,400 SHU.
Dried New Mexico chiles have a sweet and earthy flavor with traces of acidity and hints of dried cherry. They work well in sauces, stews, soups, salsas, chutneys, dry rubs, and seasonings.
5. Puya chilies
Puya chilies are smaller and spicier than guajillo peppers. They have a light fruity flavor with hints of licorice and cherry, and a heat level between 5,000-8,000 SHU.
They are a common ingredient in many dishes like sauces, salsas, dips, enchiladas, stews, soups, casseroles, and cooked vegetables.
6. Mulato chilies
Mulato chilies are not very hot peppers with a fruity, sweet, and smoky flavor.
Their heat level is between 2,500-3,000 SHU and can be found as a whole, flakes, and in powder form. Mulato chilies are a common ingredient in sauces, soups, moles, and many other dishes.
7. Chipotle chili peppers
Chipotle chili peppers are smoked and dry jalapeno chiles. They are medium-heat chilies with a heat level of 2,500-8,000 SHU and a typically smoky, earthy flavor.
You can use them as powder, flakes, pods, marinade, chipotle base, or canned chipotles in adobo sauce. They give flavor to many dishes like soups, sauces, stews, marinades, and salsas.
8. California chiles
California chiles are dry and ripen Anaheim peppers.
They are very mild chiles with a heat level between 500-2,500 SHU and a mildly sweet and sharp flavor with an acid hint.
California chiles are used in sauces, stews, soups, and casseroles.
What kind of pepper is guajillo?
Guajillo pepper is dried Mirasol chile and one of the most used chiles in Mexican cuisine. It has a unique sweet, smoky, fruity flavor with hints of tea and berries and mild-medium heat.
Is there another name for guajillo chiles?
Guajillo chiles are also known as chileguaco,or in Spanish chile guajillo.
Is guajillo and California chiles the same?
Guajillo and California chiles are not the same. California chiles are dry and ripen anaheim peppers and are less hotter than guajillo chiles, which are dried mirasol chiles.
Can I use California Chile instead of guajillo?
You can use California chile instead of guajillo chile. You will not get the same flavor as with guajillo chiles but you will improve the flavor of your dish and give it some spicy notes.
Guajillo pepper has a unique flavor that is hard to substitute.
Cascabel chilies have similar flavor and heat even if they are more fruity. Puya chiles are hotter than guajillo peppers and have a sharper but similar flavor.
It is best to combine pasilla negro chilies and cascabel chilies to get a smoky and earthy flavor similar to the flavor of the guajillo peppers.
You can also combine ancho chilies and cascabel chilies to get a sweet, smoky, and nutty flavor with hints of raisins and chocolate. This combination can give a pretty good flavor, similar to the flavor of the guajillo peppers.
You can also use some of these chilies mentioned in this article depending on that how hot and what flavor you prefer in your dish.
Let us know which chilies work best in your dish in the comments below.