three photos- chili peppers roasting in pan, laid out and labeled and ground up as powder
the ingredients for homemade chili powder

What is chili powder anyway?

Why you should make homemade chili powder, using this recipe as a template:

  1. It contains pure, whole ingredients
  2. It is customizable, depending on the dried chiles you choose to use
  3. It will add smoky, fruity, and spicy tasting notes to your chili recipe (or anything else you decide to use this spice mix in, for that matter!)
  4. Once you get your hands on the ingredients, it is very easy and quick to make.
  5. You can make Sofa Dinners’ Vegan Chili with it!

Dried chile peppers 101:

  • Chile peppers come in many varieties of heat, with different names (don’t get overwhelmed by that list).
  • Dried chile peppers offer more flavor complexity, in all their forms.
  • I recently learned that one chile name might refer to another type of chile, in its ripened or less ripened stage, or after it’s been smoked.
  • It is often recommended to toast dried chiles in the oven or pan before using them in a recipe or grinding them to bring out a more complex flavor.
  • At my local food COOP, they are sold in bulk, with the other bulk spices. I think you might also find them in the produce area with other dried mushrooms, etc, or you can buy them online.

A bit about the dried chiles to choose from:

Dried Guajillo and Arbol Chiles and Ancho chile flakes
Dried Guajillo and Arbol Chiles and Ancho chile flakes

What is Mexican oregano?

The pyramid of flavors for this chili spice blend:

How to use this deeply flavored chili powder:

homemade chili powder bottled and on the counter
Make this spice blend the first of your Sofa spice blend collection!
pile of homemade chili powder in a bowl, from above, with sun shining
homemade chili powder
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pile of homemade chili powder in a bowl, from above, with sun shining

Homemade Chili Powder Spice Mix

AuthorKathy Marshall
Prep Time1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
With a pan, a handful of dried whole chilis, and some kind of blender or grinder, you can create a chili spice blend with a complex flavor that packs a punch (or not, your call!). Time to level up that favorite chili recipe with this homemade mix.
Kitchen Tools
  • 1 small pan, to toast chili peppers
  • 1 spice grinder, or coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle
  • 1 kitchen gloves, to keep chili oils off fingers
  • 1 bowl, to mix ground spices together


  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2-4 ea dried chiles (i.e. Ancho, Guajillo, New Mexico or Arbol)
  • 1 tbsp chile flakes (i.e. Ancho, Jalapeno, red pepper)
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 8-10 ea whole cloves
  • 1 tbsp Mexican oregano (use typical oregano if needed)


  • Consider using kitchen gloves while handling the dried chile peppers. If you do not, be sure not to touch your face while handling them, and wash/scrub your fingers as soon as you are done.
  • Destem and deseed the dried chile peppers. You'll need to cut open larger chiles to remove the seeds, but you can simply dump out the seeds from smaller chiles.
  • Toast the chile peppers and flakes in a pan over medium heat, watching closely, and tossing regularly, until you can smell them, and the skins begin to blister. Take care, however, not to burn them. They are dark to begin with and you may feel they aren't turning color. The change is subtle. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Add the cumin seeds to the pan, toast, and set aside. Keep separate from chiles.
  • Add the peppercorns and cloves to the pan, toast, and set aside. Keep separate from chiles and cumin seeds.
  • Allow all the toasted chiles, flakes, and whole spices to cool, then blend them one by one. Keep each separate after grinding. I used my coffee bean grinder, which I first, wiped out thoroughly to remove the coffee bean smell (although a tad of that might actually add to the spice blend!). A high-speed blender should also work. If you are a mortar-and-pestle kind of cook, you could use it but the dried chiles you would need to break/cut up first before attempting to pound them into oblivion. It's worth a shot.
  • Finally, create the blend, mixing the powdered spices/chiles together in a bowl. You will want to dip your finger into the dried chile powder to sense its spice level, and then add in the other powders to arrive at the flavor profile you like.

Nutrition (an estimate)

Calories: 11kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 0.5g | Fat: 0.5g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 15mg | Potassium: 57mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1mg | Magnesium: 9mg
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