While there are notably hoards of chili powders out there for sale and honestly most of them are just fine. Nearly all of them consist of only one type of dried chili. This is a recipe for creating your own flavor profile that is unique to you. Experiment and take notes on which blends you prefer. I’ve given some tasting notes on the recipe card for what each chili mentioned tastes like. To get a baseline of what a good quality chili powder tastes like try bulk Sandia chili powder from New Mexico. It’s markedly better than the stuff you can buy at the grocery store.
Several types of American chile were first cultivated by the Pueblo Indians, who continue to grow their own varieties such as Zia Pueblo (which has a bittersweet flavor when it matures into its red color), Acoma Pueblo and the Isleta Pueblo. Anaheim’s are named for a California farmer, Emilio Ortega, who brought seeds from New Mexico and settled in Anaheim, CA in 1894. Anaheims should not be confused with New Mexico chiles (Sandia, Big Jim, XXHot Heritage 6-4, ect…), which are the green (unripened) roasted chiles and most favored for making chile verde, green chile pork stew and so forth. They are the same pure chile, technically speaking, but due to the growing conditions in New Mexico, (and to a “chile purist”) there isn’t a comparison.
The New Mexico chile’s have a smoky, garlicky, onion subtlety sweet type flavor. What all of the chiles in this recipe have in common, is the near perfect growing conditions of altitude, soil, and temperature found in the high mountain desserts of New Mexico and parts of California and Colorado. Some peppers have two names (which can create confusion). For example, the Ancho is the dried name for a Poblano. Just as the a Chipotle is the dried name for a smoked Jalapeño. I’ve provided both names in case you can’t find what you are looking for.
In this recipe, I’m using fully ripe (red) dried Hatch Sandia Chiles as the base. I’m mixing in other peppers from Mexico and those that could typically be found along the trail sides in Texas and Oklahoma. This particular mix has been put to together to give a very deep and round flavor of chiles. The Pasilla Negro has an earthy almost mushroom-like flavor, while the Guajillo is fruity and slightly sweet with hints of pine and berries. The Pasilla de Oaxaca is a hard to find chile that has a deep smoky flavor, and the dried Ancho has undertones of plum, raisin, tobacco and is slightly earthy. The heat for the chile powder recipe below comes mainly from the Hatch Luci Fairy or Chile de Arbol. This is just one recipe. You can come up with your own flavor profile as you wish. It’s perfectly fine to use only one type of chile, if that is your preference. I’ve included a quick taste reference as to what each chile tastes like to give you an idea of where I went.
Homemade Chile Powder
- 5 whole Hatch Red "Sandia" Chile, dry roasted, seeded and stemmed Flavorful garlicky, onion and subtlety sweet
- 1 whole Ancho or dried Poblano Chile, dry roasted, seeded and stemmed Undertones of plum and raisin, tobacco and slightly earthy
- 3 whole Guajillo Chile or dried Mirasol Chile, dry roasted, seeded and stemmed Fruity slightly sweet with hints of pine and berries
- 3 whole Pasilla de Oaxaca, roasted, seeded and stemmed Deep smoky flavor (can substitute for Chipotle)
- 2 whole Pasilla Negro or dried Chilaca Chile, dry roasted, seeded and stemmed Rich earthy flavor
- 6 whole Hatch Luci Fairy, dry roasted, seeded and stemmed Bright and hot that can substitute with Chile de Arbol
- First begin by roasting each type of chile until it blisters and starts to smoke over medium high heat. Once all of the chiles have been roasted, remove the tops and shake out the seeds.
- Tear open the pods, pull out and discard the ribs and cut the pieces with scissors.
- Grind the chiles in batches to a fine powder in a coffee or spice grinder.
- Empty each batch into a fine-mesh sieve over a small bowl and sift the chile powder to remove larger bits that won't fit through the sieve.
- Discard the contents of the sieve after sifting each batch.
- When all of the chiles have been ground and sifted, stir the chile powder to ensure that it’s well blended.
- Turn the powder a into labeled or marked jar with a tight-fitting lid. (Good quality ziplock's work great too.)