Considering the level of spiciness, it’s not quite the typical Mexican spicy food, but still very popular in Mexican cuisine, and recently also in other world cuisines.
This amazing pepper belongs to the so-called “Holy Trinity” of Mexican Chilies, which speaks for the important place this type of pepper occupies in Mexico.
These chilies are dried mirasol chiles that have unique shiny skin, with a specific fruity flavor and, as I already mentioned, with less than ordinary spiciness. This makes them an ideal choice for people who like to spice things up a bit, but not to the point of turning red like a bell pepper.
It should also be emphasized that these peppers are best suited for dishes such as soups, salsas, marinades, and stews. They are also good options in most Mexican dishes like enchiladas, tamales, etc.
As you can see, this is all great, but what if you find yourself in a situation where you want to make one of these listed dishes, but you don’t have guajillo peppers on hand, or you can’t find them at the grocery store or the supermarket?
Of course, you won’t be unnecessarily annoyed or angry with yourself for not thinking about it earlier, but together with me, you will find the best substitute for guajillo chiles. And you will see that there are plenty of great options.
13 Options To Find The Ideal Substitute For Guajillo Chiles
What should be kept in mind is that this type of pepper is definitely unique. The reason for this is the unique combination of sweet and fruity flavor mixed with a slightly spicy one. So, let’s move to our 13 exciting guajillo chile pepper substitutes.
1. Ancho Peppers: Rich And Flavorful
Ancho chile peppers are also in the elite group of Mexican most precious peppers, the so-called “Holy Trinity” group. This, of course, tells us that this type of pepper also contains a certain quality and that it can serve as a guajillo pepper substitute.
Of course, this is not the only reason why this pepper got its place on the list of potential alternatives for guajillo chili peppers. Another very important reason is the fact that this type of pepper is relatively easy to find in the grocery store.
Also, ancho chili has that similar earthy flavor as guajillo chili peppers, but with a little less spiciness. On the Scoville Scale, it counts only about 1000 to 1500 Scoville Heat Units.
These peppers are best used in dishes like stews, marinades, moles, and soups.
2. Pasilla Peppers: Delicious And Versatile
Another member of the distinguished society of Mexican spices deemed the “Holy Trinity”, this pasilla pepper, or pasilla negro as it is also known, may not look the most attractive, but it can certainly serve as a good substitute for guajillo chiles.
This dried chile is dark brown in color, and it grows from 8 to 10 inches long.
It possesses a similar sweet flavor, and on the Scoville Scale, it is close to guajillo peppers since it contains a level of heat between 1000 and 2500 SHU.
3. New Mexico Chiles: Extra Smoky Flavor
This type of chili pepper originates from the southwestern part of the USA. It is made from dried chili peppers.
The other name for this type of pepper is red chile or Hatch chile. They are 5 to 7 inches long and 2 inches wide, and they have a deep red color and smooth skin.
These are mild heat chiles with a heat level less than guajillo chiles, about 800 to 1400 SHU. But, when it comes to the flavor profile, they have some similarities with guajillo peppers, and those are sweet and earthy flavors with hints of dried cherry.
They are preferable in dishes like soups, stews, salsas, and sauces. They are also a good ingredient in seasonings.
4. Cascabel Peppers: Unique Nutty Flavor
Cascabel chili pepper is one very popular pepper in Mexico. It is also called by other names such as “chile bola” and “rattle chile” because of the rattling sounds of the dried pods.
Cascabel chilies are very small and round. When it comes to color, they vary from green to deep reddish-brown.
They possess sweet and smoky flavors, as well as unique nutty flavors. Based on this, they can be a good substitute for guajillo chiles, Though the level of heat is a little bit lower, ranging from 1500 to 2500 Scoville Heat Units.
They can contribute to good flavor in soups, stews, sauces, and salsas.
5. Chili Peppers: Easy To Find Alternative
Just like ancho peppers, chili peppers are relatively easy to find in almost any grocery store or supermarket. You can find them in the form of chili powder, or in the form of sauce. And certainly, this is one of the most important reasons why it found its place on this list.
Another thing that makes chili peppers a great substitute for guajillo chiles is the similar level of heat. They have a medium heat level, just like their guajillo counterparts. Of course, we cannot ignore the health benefits and nutrition of chili peppers.
You can use chili peppers in almost any dish that you can imagine, with the form of the chili making a difference to how you use it. For example, chile powder is best used in stews, beans, and meat dishes. It is also used to make chili sauces.
6. Puya Chilies: Extra Spicy Option
Puya chiles originate from Central America, and they are one of the most used ingredients in Mexican dishes. They have a lot in common with guajillo chiles, with the exception that they are slightly smaller in size and at a slightly higher level of heat.
They possess a heat level of about 5000 to 8000 Scoville Heat Units. When it comes to taste, it has a fruity flavor with undertones of cherry and licorice.
These puya chilies can be used in many dishes such as stews, soups, cooked vegetables, dips, salsas, and sauces.
7. Mulato Chilies: More Fruity Than Spicy
This type of pepper is not very hot. This is actually a mild dried poblano pepper with the amount of about 2500 to 3000 Scoville Heat Units. It has a dark brown color and it is about 4 inches long and 2 inches wide.
The flavor profile of the Mulato chili includes sweet flavor, smoky flavor, and fruity flavor. Based on this, it can be concluded that the flavor profile of this pepper is very similar to the flavor profile of the guajillo chili, which, of course, makes it a very good substitute for guajillo chiles.
This pepper can be found whole, in a form of flakes, and in powder form. It can be used in moles, sauces, and soups.
8. California Chilies: Dry Anaheim Peppers
California chiles are actually ripened and dry Anaheim peppers. With only about 500 to 2500 Scoville Heat Units, these types of chiles represent a very mild alternative to guajillo chiles.
Not only are they a mild alternative in terms of the heat level, but also when it comes to sweeteness. It can therefore be said that this is a sort of mild substitute for guajillo chile in almost every important aspect.
This chile is best used in casseroles, soups, sauces, and stews.
9. Chipotle Chili Pepper: Jalapeno Chilies Product
These are smoked and dried jalapeno peppers and one thing that they certainly share with jalapeno is heat level, which ranges from about 2500 to 8000 Scoville Heat Units.
So, when comparing the level of spiciness with that of guajillo chile, it can be said that chipotle is quite a good substitute for guajillo chiles.
These peppers possess a specific smoky and earthy flavor. When it comes to cooking, they are really very versatile, because they can be used in lots of dishes and in a variety of ways.
They can be used as an ingredient in BBQ sauces, in many Mexican dishes, as well as in some snacks like popcorn. They can also be used in marinades, salsas, soups, and sauces.
10. Chile De Arbol: Top Of Scoville Scale
An interesting study, done by psychologists, showed that the more you like hot and spicy food, the more adventurous you are. Knowing this fact, I could easily say that chile de Arbol powder is only for the most adventurous.
It has some serious heat levels, ranging from about 15000 to 30000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). That is about 3–5 times hotter than guajillo chile. When it comes to flavor, it can still be compared to guajillo chile, although it has a slightly smoky and nutty flavor.
Chile de Arbol is perfect for hot salsas and, to some extent, it can be also used in some sweet dishes like chile-infused brownies and cakes.
11. Chipotle Chili Peppers: Made From Dry Jalapeno
This pepper is actually a smoked and dried version of jalapeno. This means that they share some significant characteristics with jalapeno peppers.
One of them is certainly the level of heat, which ranges from 2500 to 8000 SHU. The lower limit of 2500 SHU is the same as for guajillo peppers, with the upper limit being slightly higher.
But overall, these two types of peppers share very similar heat levels. When it comes to its taste, what characterizes this type of pepper is its smoky and earthy flavor.
You can grind these dried chipotle peppers into chipotle powder and use it in salsas, sauces, and soups.
12. Piment d’Espellete: Moderate Heat Level
There are several things that brought this one to the list. One of them is certainly availability, as this pepper can be found in almost any grocery store.
Another one is its versatility. Piment d’Espellete can be used in almost any dish. Since this type of pepper originates from Basque Country, it is logical that it is used the most in Basque cuisine.
Its flavor is very unique, since it is warm, deep, and fruity. When it comes to heat level, it is not very high, but it is rather moderate.
13. Tabasco: Mexican All Favorite
Tabasco is mainly used in the form of a sauce. This all-favorite Mexican spice is made from tabasco peppers, vinegar, and salt.
Just like guajillo peppers, it is one of the most used ingredients in Mexican cuisine and it can also be very versatile. When it comes to heat level and flavor, there are slight differences that you might experience.
You can find it in most grocery stores and supermarkets, or you can buy it online or on Amazon.
But, all in all, it can be a decent alternative for guajillo chiles.
What Can I Substitute For Guajillo Chiles In Birria Tacos?
The best substitute for guajillo chiles in Birria tacos, by far, are ancho chiles. This is certainly no wonder, given that these peppers are also at the top of the list as a general alternative for guajillo peppers.
These amazing tacos are the perfect combination of rich flavor and mild heat level, and there is no pepper that can better replace guajillo than ancho pepper in this regard.
The fact is that ancho peppers are slightly milder than guajillo peppers, but this can easily be solved by adding chipotle peppers to tacos, and that is the way that you can spice things up a bit.
What Are The Benefits Of Using Guajillo Chilies?
The most important benefits that these amazing peppers bring are their anti-inflammatory properties, healthy heart benefits, and the fact that they are natural pain relievers.
These are the main benefits of consuming this pepper, however, it does not end there, considering that guajillo peppers have a large number of health benefits.
They also boost immunity and clear congestion, they can help prevent prostate cancer, and prevent stomach ulcers. It is an incredible fact that they can also lower the risk of diabetes and can aid in weight loss.
The anti-inflammatory powers of this pepper, just like most others, can be attributed to a certain extent to the capsaicin it contains and which, it should be emphasized, largely determines the degree of heat of the pepper itself.
These peppers also have some powerful antioxidant properties and are packed with vitamins A, C, and K.
Although it is not at all an easy task to find a good substitute for guajillo chiles, since they possess a unique combination of strong flavor and mild heat level, in this text, I tried to help you solve this tricky problem in the best possible way.
I hope I have fully explained guajillo peppers themselves, as well as all their potential substitutes. Based on this knowledge, you have a good basis for making the best choice, and the rest is of course up to you, considering what you want to get from your spicy meal.