Dried Chile Guide

Cook, Ingredient Spotlight, Learn, Primers


Traditionally used in Southwestern and Latin American cooking, dried chiles add a depth of taste that just can’t be matched by ground chile powder. Each variety, from the woodsy pasilla to the smoky chipotle, has its own unique flavor, so try them all – or mix several in a dish for maximum effect. Read on to discover our favorite kinds and how to prepare them.


1. Ancho

The ancho is a dried poblano. It measures around 4 inches long, and has wide shoulders, wrinkled, deep reddish brown skin, and a mild, bittersweet flavor reminiscent of chocolate.


2. Chipotle

The smoke-dried form of the ripened jalapeno, this chile is rich in flavor and very hot. Sold in its dried form, it is typically a leathery brown, although some varieties are a deep burgundy.


3. Arbol

This smooth-skinned, bright reddish-orange chile measures about 3 inches long, is narrow in shape and is fiery hot.


4. Pequin

Oval-shaped, light orange-red, and small, this chile is fiery, but the heat is short lived.


5. Guajillo

Moderately hot, this burgundy chile is about 5 inches long, tapered and with rather brittle smooth skin and a sharp, uncomplicated flavor.


6. Pasilla

This skinny, wrinkle, raisin-black chile is about 6 inches long, with a sharp, fairly hot flavor.


Prep tips: After you buy them, store all types of chiles in a plastic bag 
in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. A compound called capsaicin gives chiles their heat. It is concentrated inside the chiles, so to lessen their heat, trim 
off membranes and scrape away seeds. Since the heat from chiles can linger for hours on your skin, wear thin gloves or thoroughly wash your hands along with the cutting board and the knife as soon as you’ve finished working with them.


Uses: Dried chiles add a depth of flavor and spicy, smoky heat to sauces, soups, stews, salsas, marinades and rubs. See more chile recipes here.

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