11 Best Pasilla Chile Substitutes (2023)

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The Pasilla Chile is dried pepper with a mild, smoky flavor. It’s commonly used in Mexican and Latin American dishes. Most grocery stores can also find it in the international food aisle. It’s a great, versatile ingredient to add to your pantry.

In this guide, we’ll be discussing the 11 best pasilla chiles substitutes. You can use them in many recipes, including salsas, soups, sauces, and stews.

11 Best Pasilla Chile Substitutes (1)

11 Best Pasilla Chile Substitutes

If you want to use pasilla chiles in your favorite dishes, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve got a list of the 11 best pasilla chile substitutes. These are great substitutes for pasilla chiles because they have similar flavor profiles but are a bit more affordable. Let’s take a look at them:

1. Ancho Chile

The ancho chile is similar to the pasilla chile but smaller and has a sweeter flavor. It’s usually found in Mexican food. It’s commonly used in soups, sauces, and stews. It’s also an excellent ingredient to add to your pantry. You can find these chiles in the spice section of most grocery stores and specialty stores such as Whole Foods Market or Trader Joe’s.

2. Cascabel Chile

The first pasilla chile substitute that we’ll discuss is the cascabel chile. This small, round red pepper has a mild, smoky flavor. It’s commonly used in Mexican and Latin American dishes. It’s a great, versatile ingredient to add to your pantry. Cascabel chiles are usually found in the international food aisle of most grocery stores.

3. Pasilla De Oaxaca

Pasilla is a type of chile pepper, but it’s not the same as Pasilla de Oaxaca. The former can be found in dried form and is generally used to make mole sauces and other spicy dishes. The latter is a long, skinny chile pepper that looks like an Anaheim pepper and has an earthy flavor. It’s also commonly referred to as chile negro. If you like pasillas but want something much spicier and with a different flavor profile, try using Pasilla de Oaxaca instead!

4. Jalapenos

If you want to substitute jalapenos, they’re a good option. They tend to be milder than pasilla chiles and can be used in various dishes. For example, they’re often used in salsas, sauces, and marinades, as well as in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine.

5. Mirasol Peppers

Mirasol peppers are a close substitute for pasilla chiles in taste and appearance. Mirasol peppers are relatively easy to grow and are often found in farmer’s markets. You can use them interchangeably with pasilla chiles in many recipes that call for them, such as mole poblano, but they tend to have less heat than the latter pepper. If you’re looking for a substitute that will give your dish more flavor than just heat, mirasols may be right up your alley!

6. Serrano Peppers

Serrano peppers are a type of chile pepper that is commonly used in Mexican and Latin American cuisine. Serrano peppers are similar in heat to jalapeño peppers. They can be eaten raw or cooked depending on how much heat you want your dish to have; however, you should not eat uncooked peppers because they can cause irritation or burning when ingested without being cooked first!

In their natural state, serrano peppers are green or red. They grow to be about 1-2 inches long and are straight in shape. The serrano pepper is named after the city of Sinaloa, Mexico, where it originated.

7. Mulato Peppers

Mulato peppers are dried chiles with a dark brown color, an earthy flavor, and a medium heat level. These peppers are commonly used in Mexican cuisine to add depth to salsas and stews.

Mulato peppers are one of the most popular dried chile peppers that can be used as a substitute for Pasilla Chiles. They look similar to Ancho Peppers but have a sweeter taste than Ancho Peppers. The Mulato Chile has been said to have originated from Mexico before it was spread throughout South America over time by Spanish conquistadors during their conquest of the New World.

8. Guajillo Peppers

Guajillo peppers are a type of dried chile that is medium to large. They are primarily used in Mexican cuisine, providing a mild to moderately hot flavor. Guajillos can be fresh or dried, but the dried version is the most common.

Their color ranges from dark brown to red-brown or orange-red with green stems attached (though this last color is rare). When buying guajillos at the store, ensure you’re getting them whole because you’ll need to remove their stems before using them in recipes like salsas and moles.

9. Poblano Peppers

Poblano peppers are mild green chiles used in Mexican and Southwestern cooking. They have a rich, earthy flavor and can be roasted and peeled before use or left whole. Poblanos are also called pasilla peppers as they tend to be very similar in appearance to the pasilla chile but less intense in flavor than their dark-skinned cousins. Poblano peppers are the mildest of all the chiles. These are your best bet if you want something with just a little kick!

10. Habanero Peppers

Habanero peppers are also known as Scotch bonnet peppers. They are spicy and have a sweet flavor. They are trendy in Caribbean cuisine. Habanero peppers are one of the hottest peppers on the planet.

They are also very flavorful and are used in many dishes, including salsa, salsas, sauces, and stews. If you want to add some kick to your dishes without going overboard on spice (like with a pasilla), these are an excellent option!

In terms of price point and availability, they fall somewhere between ancho chiles and pasillas on the affordability spectrum. They’re typically more expensive than anchos because they have more flavor; however, they’re still much less costly than pasillas since they don’t have quite as bold a flavor profile as those peppers do.

11. Chilaca Chiles

Chilaca chiles are similar to pasilla chiles but have a slightly different flavor. Chilacas are used in Mexican cuisine and are prevalent in the state of Oaxaca. They’re also chile negro and look similar to a small Anaheim pepper. The flesh is thick, dark red-brown, dry and brittle when mature; it’s used fresh or dried for sauces and stews (like a mole).

Best Pasilla Chile Substitutes – FAQs

Is California Chile the Same as Pasilla?

California chile is not a pasilla chile. The two are different varieties of peppers; though they’re both dried red chiles, their flavors differ significantly. California chiles are rounder with a lighter color than pasillas and have a milder flavor. They’re great for soups and sauces because of their sweet heat.

Pasilla chiles come in many sizes, but the extent we’re concerned about here is about 3 inches long by 1 inch wide; it has a deep reddish-brown color with flecks of black on it when dried and can be found at most grocery stores or Latin markets.

Is Pasilla the Same as Poblano?

Pasilla peppers are the same species as Poblano peppers but are smaller and have a very mild flavor. They’re often used in Mexican cuisine, particularly in mole sauces.

Pasilla peppers can be used as a pasilla chile substitute because they share many of the same characteristics. However, suppose you’re making a recipe for Poblano chiles or pasilla chiles specifically (like these delicious Sweet Corn Tamales). In that case, it’s better to stick with those varieties of peppers.

Is Pasilla Chilethe Same as Guajillo?

Pasilla chiles, also known as chile negro, are a type of dried chile that measures about 1” wide and 4” long. Guajillo chiles are also part of the same species (Capsicum annuum) but have a different taste than pasillas. They’re long and thin and measure about 3” in length on average.

Pasillas and guajillos are used to add flavor to food; they can be used whole or ground up into powder form to spice up salsas or stews.


We hope you’ve enjoyed our “11 Best Pasilla Chile Substitutes” list and found some new ways to substitute for Pasila Chile.

There are many substitutes for pasilla chili, depending on what you are looking for. You can use an ancho or Mulato chili if you need a milder chili. You can use a chipotle or a Habanero if you want a spicier chili. If you can’t find any of these chili, you can also use a milder pepper, like Bell pepper, or a hotter pepper, like a Jalapeño.

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What is a good substitute for chile pasilla? ›

The best alternative: Ancho pepper

In terms of heat, the pasilla (1,000 – 2,500 Scoville heat units) and the ancho (1,000 to 1,500 SHU) are close. They are both mild chilies, with the pasilla having the potential to reach near mild jalapeño heat.

What is a substitute for dried chile pasilla? ›

It's a mild to medium-hot chili pepper widely used in Mexican cuisine. The best alternatives are Ancho, Guajillo, and Mulato peppers. They are all dried and have a similar smoky flavor profile to Chile Pasilla.

Can I substitute pasilla for ancho chile? ›

The Pasilla has a comparable heat to the Ancho but can reach the heat level of guajillos. The flavor of this pepper is slightly sweet with notes of berry and cocoa. These chiles have a similar heat to poblanos. These can be used in the same quantity as what the recipe calls for.

Can you substitute pasilla? ›

Substitutions for Pasilla Chile Peppers: Ancho chiles or mulato make a good substitution for pasilla.

Is pasilla the same as poblano? ›

In northern Mexico, the United States and Canada, the Poblano is also known as the pasilla, but elsewhere, pasilla typically refers to a dried chilaca pepper. Poblanos are often dried to increase their shelf life and a dried Poblano is called an ancho.

What kind of pepper is a pasilla? ›

Pasilla (chile pasilla) or “little raisin” properly refers to the dried chilaca pepper, a popular Mexican chili pepper. The chilaca pepper, when fresh, is also known as pasilla bajio, or as the chile negro or “Mexican negro” because, while it starts off dark green, it ends up dark brown in color.

Is pasilla chile the same as guajillo? ›

Guajillos are dried mirasol peppers and pasillas are dried chilaca peppers. Both mirasol and chilaca chilis originated in the Mexican state of Puebla, the ancestors of both most likely cultivated by the Aztecs.

Can I substitute poblano for pasilla? ›

Pasilla pepper is another great substitute for poblano pepper. It has a mild and earthy flavor similar to poblano pepper and a slightly smoky flavor that makes it perfect for various recipes. Pasilla peppers can be used fresh or dried; both are equally delicious.

Is chili ancho the same as chile pasilla? ›

No, pasilla and ancho chiles are not the same. Pasilla chiles are long and thin, while ancho chiles are wide and flat. Both chiles are dark in color, but pasilla chiles are typically darker than ancho chiles. Pasilla chiles have a milder flavor than ancho chiles, which are more pungent.

Can I use pasilla instead of guajillo? ›

The closest in flavor: Pasilla pepper

And it's not just the spiciness that's a better fit; the flavors, too, are better suited as a guajillo substitute. Pasillas are slightly sweet with hints of berry and cocoa. It's not an exact match for the more tea-like earthiness of the guajillo, but it's very close.

What are the mildest dried chiles? ›

After the bell pepper the next 5 mildest dried chiles are Aji Paprika (120 – 140 SHU), Choricero (175 – 300 SHU), Nora (500 – 1,000 SHU), Anaheim (500 – 1,000 SHU), and Aji Panca (500 – 1,500 SHU). The heat of dried chile peppers ranges from 0 SHU up to 2,200,000 SHU.

What are dried poblanos called? ›

Ancho chiles (also called anchos) are dried poblano chile peppers. Most poblano peppers are green, which means they are unripened. To produce anchos, the peppers are allowed to ripen on the plant until they turn red in color. They are then picked and dried.

What flavor is dried pasilla? ›

Pasilla peppers have a unique flavor profile consisting of smoky, earthy, and fruity flavors often described as “raisin-like.” We find their aroma to be quite fragrant and personally think they smell like prunes. You'll find the chile pasilla flavoring all kinds of dishes from salsas and moles to soups.

Which is hotter ancho or pasilla? ›

Generally, ancho and pasilla peppers offer a similar mild spiciness. Neither is used primarily to add heat — but pasillas can be slightly hotter, potentially ranging into the low-medium heat range. Anchos are dried poblano peppers with the same heat range as poblanos, from 1,000 to 1,500 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).

How spicy is pasilla? ›

Pasilla Peppers are a mild to medium variety of chile pepper that typically registers between 500 and 2,500 heat units on the Scoville Scale.

What does a pasilla chili taste like? ›

Pasillas have a smoky, earthy and fruity flavour that pairs very well with fruit, honey and red meat – although it can be used in lots of ways! It's probably most similar to ancho chillies, only less sweet. You might notice that pasilla chile has raisin or berry-like flavours combined with a smoky richness.

What's the difference between chile pasilla and guajillo? ›

The closest in flavor: Pasilla pepper

They have a comparable heat to ancho peppers, but can reach the level of guajillos at their hottest (1,000 to 2,500 SHU). And it's not just the spiciness that's a better fit; the flavors, too, are better suited as a guajillo substitute.

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