10 Best Substitutes for Chili Powder

Chili Powder

Chili powder is a red color mix of few spices. I can’t imagine making barbecue without first rubbing the meat with chili powder. This mix of spices is made from cumin, grounded chili peppers, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and salt.

There are many brands of chili powder. Some of them are spicier than others, depending on the number of peppers added. But most of the brands are relatively mild.

Some mixtures are made only with grounded chili peppers like chipotle, or cayenne. They are very spicy so be careful not to confuse them with the milder.

Chili powder is often rubbed on meats. You can also add it in casseroles, marinades, chili con carne, sauces, beans, and many other dishes. If you are preparing some dish that calls for chili powder but you don’t have it, you can use some of the spices used in chili powder.

Cumin powder and garlic powder are making almost half of the spices in the chili powder mix. Therefore, you can use cumin, garlic, onion powder, or some of the next products as a substitute for chili powder.

Best Substitutes for Chili Powder

Some of the spices used as substitutes for chili powder are also its main ingredients. Thus, you can use cumin powder and add some chili peppers if you like a spicy dish.

Garlic powder mixed with oregano is a good choice too. Add smaller amounts in case you are suspicious and adjust the recipe to your taste.

1. Cumin


Cumin powder is made of the dried seeds of a plant member of the parsley family. There are different types of cumin but the most common type is brown-yellow.

Cumin is one of the most used spices in Middle Eastern, Latin American, Indian, and many other cuisines. It has a very unique warm and sweet-bitter earthy flavor. You can either use the powder or seeds in your dishes.

This powder has a stronger flavor than the seeds therefore you should use less in your dish. For 1 ½ tablespoon, cumin seeds use 1 tablespoon of cumin powder. It is used in soups, marinades, sauces, stews, or as an ingredient in spice mixtures.

2. Garlic powder

Garlic Powder

Garlic powder is one of the ingredients in the chili powder mixture. It is made from dried and ground garlic. Garlic is the ingredient used in almost every cuisine because of the flavor it adds to the food.

It can be used in dishes like soups, marinades, sauces, stir-fries, stews, or added to minced meat for flavor. If you like to use garlic powder as a substitute for chili powder you can combine it with oregano or cumin for better flavor.

3. Onion powder

Onion powder

Onion powder is used in many dishes like sauces, casseroles, soups, vegetables, meats, and salad dressings. It’s made from dehydrated onions.

This powder has a sweet-savory flavor. Add cumin, chili peppers, and onion powder and you will get a pretty good substitute for chili powder.

4. Oregano


Oregano is a herb with a slightly bitter and earthy flavor. The leaves of the oregano are used dried and fresh. Oregano is known as a pizza herb.

It’s also used in other dishes like pasta sauce, beans, chicken, seafood, vegetables, meats, and salads. You can mix dried oregano with garlic powder and grounded chili peppers to get a similar flavor to chili powder.

5. Red pepper flakes

Red Pepper Flakes

Red pepper flakes are made from a combination of dried and crushed chili peppers such as serrano, Anaheim, or jalapeno. They are perfect for spaghetti sauce, soups, sausages, pizza sauce, pickling mixtures, and more. Just add some cumin in the red pepper flakes and use it as a substitute for chili powder.

6. Black pepper

Black pepper

As one of the most used spices black pepper is used for seasoning and as a spice. It has a strong woody, spicy, and piney flavor.

Black pepper is perfect for meats, vegetables, soups, salad dressings, fish, pasta, and other dishes. You can use it with cumin or oregano as a substitute for chili powder. The mixture will be less spicy but it will add a good flavor to your dish.

7. Chili sauce

Chili sauce is made from chili peppers, salt, vinegar, and sugar. They are cooked in a thick mixture with some seasonings and spices added.

It can be sweet, warm, spicy, or hot, which depends on how spicy are the peppers used for the preparation of the sauce. Add cumin and oregano to the chili sauce and you can use it as a substitute for chili powder.

8. Smoked paprika powder

Smoked Paprika

Peppers used for the smoked paprika powder are smoked and dried over an oak fire. This gives the powder a smoky flavor. This powder can be hot, medium hot, and mild.

Smoked paprika powder is great for stews, soups, rice, potatoes, a rub for meat, and in sausage preparation. Try it as a substitute for chili powder. Who knows, maybe you will like it.

9. Caraway powder

Caraway is a spice with a specific mild anise flavor and a hint of pepper and citrus. Use the seeds in baking and for flavoring soups, curries, vegetables, stews, meat, or cheese.

For a stronger taste, you can ground the caraway seeds. They’re ideal for dishes, spice mixtures, and more. Substitute 1 teaspoon of caraway seeds with ¾ teaspoon of grounded caraway.

You can use it as a substitute for chili powder. Just add some garlic powder and a small number of grounded chilies.

10. Homemade chili powder

The best substitute for chili powder is your homemade chili powder. You can use any spice you like as much as you like. Make your spice mixture and use it in your favorite dish.

This is my favorite recipe for chili powder. Just mix the ingredients in a bowl and you will have a mixture full of flavors to use in your dishes.

Homemade chili powder recipe

If you want to make chili powder at home, just gather the following ingredients, mix them, and you will get a chili powder in just minutes. It’s easy to make and tastes just as good.


  • 3 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoons of onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
  • 3 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of ground chili peppers
  • 3 teaspoons of garlic powder
  • Salt and chili peppers (optional)


Mix all the ingredients and you will get a chili powder that you can use in every recipe that asks for this powder. It’s just as good as a store-bought chili powder.

Related Questions

Can you substitute paprika for chili powder?

You can substitute paprika for chili powder. However, your dish will be rather sweet than spicy.

Can I use cayenne pepper instead of chili powder?

You can use cayenne pepper instead of chili powder but you will get a very hot dish that will lack the flavor of the spices in the chili powder.

Can I use red pepper flakes instead of chili powder?

You can use red pepper flakes instead of chili powder because they are also hot like chili powder.

Can you substitute cumin for chili powder?

Cumin is one of the ingredients in chili powder. Therefore, you can substitute cumin for chili powder.


There are many types of chili powder and they all add a very distinctive flavor to dishes. Some types of chili powder contain salt, so you will have to add less salt in dishes when you are using chili powder.

You can rub it on meats before grilling, add it to different soups, stews, sauces, marinades, vegetables. If you decide to make chili powder at home, use fresh spices because they are most flavorful.

Keep your chili powder mixture in glass jars in a cold and dry place. Don’t store chili powder for a long time because it will lose its flavor and strength. Make a small amount so you could always have freshly made chili powder.

We will be glad to know that you used this recipe to make chili powder. Let us know how it turns and did you like its flavor. you can also send us your recipe.

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