Skip to Content

15 Best Illustrative Alternatives To Chili Powder That You Should Try

Perhaps one of the more versatile spices used in cooking, chili powder is a favorite for Indian dishes and dishes that give your food a little extra kick. This mix is typically made using grounded chili peppers, cumin, onion powder, oregano, garlic powder, and salt. 

You will notice that the spiciness of your chili powder will vary depending on the brand, which peppers have been used, and how many peppers have been added to the mixture. The vast majority of chili powders are actually fairly mild.

The best alternatives to chili powder

Some of the spicier varieties tend to feature ground chili peppers such as cayenne or chipotle. These are much hotter than some of the milder varieties on the market, so make sure that you choose the chili powder product that best reflects your favorite level of spice.

Powdered chili is often used as a meat rub to give the joint more flavor. It can also be used in other dishes such as sauces, marinades, chili con carne, beans, casserole dishes, as well as many other recipes.

Sometimes despite your love of chili powder, you can find that your pantry has run out of your supply.

So if you don’t have any chili powder to hand, how can you carry on cooking without having to pop to the grocery store? We’ve made a list of the best chili powder alternatives to help you out in a pinch.

If you have any of these beauties in your pantry, you can use these in place of chili powder until you can next stock up on your favorite spice.

The Best Alternatives To Chili Powder

You may notice that some of the alternatives that we have listed for chili powder are actually some of the main ingredients in the real thing.

So you can easily mix and match with some of the below alternatives to make your very own homemade chili powder. You can also use this method to adjust the spiciness of your dish.

So let’s take a look at the best alternatives to chili powder so that you can get back to cooking!

SubstitutesCalories (Per 100 gm)
Cumin Seeds375
Powdered Garlic331
Powdered Onion342
Dried Oregano265
Chili Flakes314
Ground Black Pepper251
Spicy Chili Sauce20
Powdered Smoked Paprika289
Persian Cumin375
DIY Powdered Chili314
Sriracha Sauce93
Tabasco Sauce12
Chili Oil848
Sambal Oelek19.8

Cumin Seeds Or Powder

Perhaps one of the best substitutions for chili powder is cumin seeds. These are a relative to the parsley plant, and it can come in several different varieties. The most common type is the brown-yellow variety.

This is a popular herb in Indian, Middle Eastern, as well as Latin American cuisine. Cumin tends to have a bitter earthy taste with a unique warm tone. What’s really great about cumin is that you can use both the seeds or the powdered variety in your dishes.

It’s worth noting that powdered cumin has a much more potent flavor than its seeds. So if you opt for cumin powder as your chili powder alternative, you will need to use less of this than you would cumin seeds.

For around 1 ½ tablespoon of cumin seeds, you will need to use 1 tablespoon of cumin powder. 

It can be used in a variety of recipes including marinades, soups, stews, sauces, or as an ingredient in your very own homemade chili powder.

How To Substitute

Using cumin seeds or powder instead of chili powder is a great way to reduce the amount of spice you use in your recipes. It can also add a new flavor and dimension to your food, depending on the type of dish you’re making. You may use it in various recipes such as marinating, soups, stews, etc.

Powdered Garlic

You may notice that powdered garlic is one of the ingredients used to create chili powder. This is typically crafted using both ground and dried garlic.

It is a versatile ingredient that is used in virtually every type of cuisine around the globe because of its unique, intense flavor.

Powdered garlic can be used for a wide variety of dishes including sauces, soups, marinades, stews, stir fries, or even mixed in with your ground beef for a unique flavor.

You can even combine your powdered garlic with powdered cumin and dried oregano for a better chili powder substitute.

How To Substitute

Powdered garlic is an easy substitute for chili powder with an intense but unique flavor. It would work great in a variety of dishes. Also, combining it with other herbs, such as oregano and powdered cumin, brings out the nearly exact flavor of chili powder.

Powdered Onion

Powdered onion is a highly versatile ingredient that is often used in a variety of dishes around the world. It can be used to flavor casserole dishes, sauces, soups, meat dishes, vegetable dishes, as well as salad dressings.

Powdered onions are typically made using dehydrated onions.

You’ll notice that powdered onions tend to have a savory and sweet taste. You can use powdered onion with cumin powder and flaked chili peppers for a chili powder substitute.

How To Substitute

Powdered onion is prepared with dehydrated onions and works exceptionally well; you prepare it with chill pepper flak and cumin powder with a versatile, sweet, and savory taste. You may substitute them in various dishes that call for chili powder.

Dried Oregano

This earthy herb makes a fantastic alternative to chili powder. It is made using the dried leaves of the oregano plant. You can also use the fresh variant if you want a fresher flavor in your dish. Oregano is typically used to season pizzas.

Dried oregano is a versatile herb that can be used in a variety of dishes. It can be used to help season seafood, chicken, pasta sauces, meats, beans, vegetables, and salads.

To make an even better substitute for chili powder, you can mix dried oregano with garlic powder and ground chili pepper. This will give you a similar flavor profile.

How To Substitute

If you run short of chili powder but have dried oregano, you don’t need to worry. You have a suitable substitute. While both have a similar taste, the two spices have different functions in recipes. For example, Chilli powder is used as a spice to add heat to a dish, while dried oregano is often used as a garnish to add flavor and a bit of texture.

RELATED: 10 Of The Best Alternatives To Chinese Five-Spice To Use In Your Cooking!

Chili Flakes

Perhaps one of the best alternatives to using chili powder is to opt for chili flakes. This is made using dried and crushed chili peppers, and is typically very spicy depending on the varieties that have been used.

Some of the more popular varieties include jalapeno, serrano, and Anaheim.

Chili flakes make the perfect addition to pasta sauces, pizza sauces, soups, sausages, pickling mixtures, as well as a variety of other recipes.

You can create an even stronger flavor by combining your chili flakes with ground cumin. This will help to mimic the flavor profile of chili powder.

How To Substitute

Chili flakes are one of the most suitable substitutes for chili powder. It would be best to decide the quantity beforehand according to variety so that you will keep your recipe. You may add other herbs to bring out a flavor similar to chili powder.

Ground Black Pepper

Next to chili pepper, ground black pepper is one of the most popular condiments used as a seasoning. It typically has a stronger spicy, piney, woody taste.

Ground black pepper is a highly versatile seasoning and can be used in a variety of dishes.

It works well with meats, soups, vegetables, fish, pasta, salad dressings, and many other dishes.

To help improve the substituted flavor of your ground black pepper, you can combine it with dried oregano and ground cumin. It will be notably less spicy than chili powder, but will still give your dish the flavorful punch it needs.

How To Substitute

A simple and easy way to substitute chili powder to ground black pepper is to use one tablespoon of chili powder for one tablespoon of ground black pepper. Then, add one more tablespoon of ground black pepper for a more intense flavor.

Spicy Chili Sauce

Love your spice? Then spicy chili sauce is the alternative that you should opt for. This is typically manufactured using chili peppers, vinegar, salt, and sugar. The ingredients are combined and cooked over a high heat until a thick mixture is formed.

Some additional spices and seasonings are often added depending on the flavor that the chef is aiming for.

The overall flavor profile of chili sauce will vary depending on the ingredients used. It could be hot and spicy, or warm and sweet.

If you want to make an even better substitute for chili powder, you can add dried oregano and ground cumin to your spicy chili sauce.

How To Substitute

If you have a recipe for chili powder, you can use the spicy sauce to substitute chili powder to make it spicier. A teaspoon of chili powder is equivalent to one teaspoon of chili sauce. If you need to increase the chili sauce, add more of the two ingredients and mix them.

Powdered Smoked Paprika

Another fantastic substitute for chili powder is the tasty powdered smoked paprika. This is typically made by smoking and drying peppers over a smokey oak fire.

This smoking helps to give the paprika its classic smoked flavors. Smoke paprika can vary from mild, to medium, to extra hot.

Powdered smoked paprika is wonderfully versatile and can be used in a variety of different recipes. It can be used as a meat rub, or to help flavor soups, stews, potatoes, rice, sausages, or many more different dishes.

Smoked paprika makes the perfect alternative to chili powder if you don’t want to use a mixture of different herbs and spices.

How To Substitute

Powdered smoked paprika is a fantastic substitute for chili powder. However, the powdered smoked paprika has a slightly less spicy flavor and sweet taste. You may use the powdered smoked paprika in various dishes but make sure to use the quantity cautiously to get the classic and authentic chili powder.

Persian Cumin

Persian cumin is a spicy powder that has a notable aniseed taste, with a hint of citrus and pepper. You can use it both as its powdered variant or even as the uncrushed seeds.

Persian cumin is also called meridian fennel or caraway. It is a popular seasoning for curries, soups, stews, meats, vegetables, and cheeses.

You will notice that ground Persian cumin is much more potent than the raw seeds. It is also more versatile as it can be used in a variety of recipes.

You can substitute roughly 1 teaspoon of Persian cumin seeds with ¾ of a teaspoon of powdered Persian cumin.

To get a closer match to the flavor of chili powder, you can mix your ground caraway with ground chilies and garlic powder.

How To Substitute

If you are looking for a substitute for chili powder, Persian cumin may be the perfect option. Persian cumin is a dried ground seed mix of black and green cumin. The flavors of Persian cumin are complex and full of bright notes. It enhances the taste of chicken, beef, and lamb dishes.

RELATED: The Best Alternatives To Annatto Powder For Flavor, Color, and Spice

DIY Powdered Chili

If you want to get the next best thing to chili powder until you can get to the grocery store and stock up, you can of course try to make your very own powdered chili. What’s really great about this substitute is how easy it will be to make it at home.

You can use virtually any spice that you would like to, in as large quantities as you want to. You can then use this in equal measure as an alternative to chili powder.

Here is a simple recipe to make your very own homemade chili powder from the comfort of your own kitchen.

How To Substitute

Powdered chili is easy to make and a healthier alternative to chili powder. You may prepare it by adding various ingredients. To substitute, mix one teaspoon of dried chilies with two teaspoons of ground cumin and a teaspoon of salt.

How To Make Your Own Homemade Chili Powder?

The best alternatives to chili powders

To craft your very own DIY chili powder, you will need to gather the following ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons of oregano
  • 3 teaspoons of powdered onions
  • 3 teaspoons of powdered cumin
  • 3 teaspoons of powdered smoked paprika
  • 3 teaspoons of powdered garlic
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of chili flakes
  • Pinch of chili peppers and salt

In a small bowl, place all of the ingredients, and stir with a spoon until well combined. This is a highly versatile chili powder that will make a seamless alternative to your favorite brand of chili powder.

This is arguably the closest in taste alternative to your usual brand of chili powder without compromising on the integrity of your dish.


While the flavor of chili powder is known for adding heat, cayenne adds a burst of flavor. Therefore, you may use cayenne pepper to substitute chili powder in many dishes.

Cayenne pepper is also a ground-dried chili pepper but has a very different flavor than chili powder. Since cayenne is much spicer than chili powder, you should use its’ quantity wisely.

How To Substitute

To make the substitution, you need to use more cayenne than chili powder in the recipe. For example, if the recipe calls for one tablespoon of cayenne, you must use two tablespoons of chili powder.

Sriracha Sauce

If you don’t have chili powder, then Sriracha sauce is one of the best substitutes. Chili powder is a dry, powdery spice typically used to season foods.

However, Sriracha sauce is a thick, liquid-based condiment.

Sriracha is a spicy sauce that is a staple in Thai cooking and has become popular in the United States. It is a thick sauce usually made from chili peppers, garlic, sugar, salt, vinegar, and oil.

How To Substitute

If you want to substitute chili powder with Sriracha sauce, use a 1:1 substitution ratio.

Tabasco Sauce

If you are running short of chili powder in your favorite recipe, then do not worry. You can use Tabasco Sauce instead of chili powder, but the flavor is more like a jalapeno.

The flavors of Tabasco sauce are more pronounced than chili powder, and it’s a bit more complex. It can add a touch of spiciness to dishes, or you can add a few drops to your dish for a quick hit of heat.

How To Substitute

The best substitution ratio to replace chili powder with tabasco sauce would be in equal quantity.

Chili Oil

Chili oil is a hot sauce, typically with chili peppers and garlic. It is prepared by sauteing garlic and adding cumin, coriander, paprika, and oregano to the mixture.

This chili oil is a fantastic substitute for chili powder, and you may use it in various recipes to get a similar taste profile.

How To Substitute

You may get a similar taste profile using a 1:1 substitution ratio.

Sambal Oelek

Chili powder is a common seasoning that you can substitute with Sambal Oelek, a chili paste made of ground red chili peppers, salt, and garlic.

Sambal Oelek is often found in small jars at Asian grocery stores and most supermarkets, and it is easy to find on the internet.

The flavors of Sambal Oelek are milder than chili powder and are great for adding spice to a dish.

How To Substitute

You may use sambal oelek for chili powder in the substitution ratio of 1:1.

In Summary

And there you have it! If you’ve run out of your favorite brand of chili powder, you now have a list of 10 suitable alternatives that you can use instead.

You are sure to have many of these herbs and spices stashed away in your pantry ready to use instead.

If you want to achieve a closer flavor to chili powder, you can even combine several of the herbs and spices that we’ve mentioned above.

This homemade chili powder will be the best alternative to your favorite brand of chili powder.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Powdered Paprika Be Used In Place Of Chili Powder?

Yes, you can use powdered smoked paprika instead of chili powder. However, you will need to note that this won’t be an exact flavor match. You will notice that the seasoning has a sweeter edge than the spice you are used to.

Can You Use Cayenne Pepper In Place Of Chili Powder?

Yes, you can use cayenne pepper in place of chili powder. However, if you’re used to a milder variant of chili powder, then you will notice that your dish has more of a spicy kick when you use cayenne pepper instead.

It will also not have as much nuanced flavor as the spices of your favorite chili powder.

Can Chili Flakes Be Used In Place Of Chili Powder?

Yes, you can use chili flakes in place of chili powder. However, it is worth noting that these are much spicier than your usual chili powder. Your dish will likely be much hotter as a result.

Can Cumin Seeds Be Used In Place Of Chili Powder?

Yes, you can use cumin seeds in place of chili powder. In fact, ground cumin seeds are one of the main ingredients in traditional chili powder. So it will be the perfect alternative if you have run out of your favorite chili powder.

What Is The Same As Chili Powder?

Cayenne pepper is virtually the same thing as chili powder. This is a chili powder that uses a single type of chili pepper to get that signature flavor. Chili powder is usually a mixture of different chili peppers.

The Best Alternatives To Chili Powder

Prep time


Cooking time


Total time



If you’re looking for a chili powder alternative, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got the best chili powder alternatives for you to try.


  • Cumin Seeds Or Powder

  • Powdered Garlic

  • Powdered Onion

  • Dried Oregano

  • Chili Flakes

  • Ground Black Pepper

  • Spicy Chili Sauce

  • Powdered Smoked Paprika

  • Persian Cumin

  • DIY Powdered Chili

  • Cayenne

  • Sriracha Sauce

  • Tabasco Sauce

  • Chili Oil

  • Sambal Oelek


  • Choose your favorite substitute from the list given above
  • Follow the directions given in the recipe after having substituted the ingredient in the correct ratio

Recipe Video

Jess Smith