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Dec 27, 2008 06:47 AM

Difference between ancho and chipotle chili powder

I have a recipe that calls for ancho powder but I can't find any. I do have chipotle powder. Can I use it?

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  1. Anchos are dried, possibly smoked poblanos. Chipotles powder will be dried and DEFINITELY smoked jalapenos. Chipotle powder will be usually be much hotter (usually - of course it depends on the peppers that were used for that batch of powder on that day) If you use the same amt of chipotle that your recipe calls for, don't be surprised if it turns out to be much hotter and smokier than normal. The heat would not be an issue for me, but the smoky flavor might overpower.

    1 Reply
    1. re: gordeaux

      Thank you! I'll cut back and taste before adding more.

    2. Ancho is dried, but not smoked. In contrast to poblanos, jalapenos have a thick flesh that does not dry properly without smoke.

      So there are going to be two differences - the chipotle is will be much hotter, and smoky.

      Ancho is more like the base notes of chili powder, good flavor and color, but without much heat.

      1. ancho is kind of mild, but adds depth - i stock it, but prefer the chipotle. as gordeaux said below - chipotle is spicier and is very very smokey. yum. what is the recipe you are needing ancho for?

        1. What sort of recipe? Anchos are of course dried poblanos, and I often find that julienned or minced, sauteed fresh poblanos are an improvement, depending on the preparation. Can you get dried anchos locally, if not the powdered?
          Chipotle powder from jalapenos is infinitely hotter, and certainly not interchangeable with anything poblano.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Veggo

            I'm planning to make a Mexican Tortilla Soup nd it calls for the ancho powder. Maybe I should just use fresh roasted poblanos instead?

            1. re: Hanky

              oh i think you should be just fine with either! yum! let us know how it turns out! :)

              1. re: Hanky

                Use the poblanos as the base. Only use the chipotle to taste.

                1. re: Hanky

                  Fresh, roasted poblanos taste absolutely NOTHING like anchos. If the recipe calls for ancho powder, use plain chile powder if you can't find whole or ground anchos. As other have said, you could use chipotle powder, but it's much hotter and very smoky...

                  1. re: KiltedCook

                    Be careful. What's sold as chile powder includes cumin and other spices in addition to some unspecified chili pepper. True, fresh poblanos taste nothing like anchos, even though anchos happen to be dried, ripe poblanos. As a last resort, instead of chile powder I would use paprika (hot, if possible) and adjust to taste with chipotle at the end. A bit of smoke should be very nice.

                    And I wouldn't use fresh chilis in tortilla soup. Actually, it's pretty good with no powdered chili at all and just a little cumin and lots of garlic.

                  2. re: Hanky

                    Fresh roasted poblanos (my favorite pepper) will really make your tortilla soup sing. Well worth the effort. Their heat varies but is generally mild to warm. As paulj suggests, hold back on the chipotle powder until you have a finished product and you can add to taste. Or put the chipotle jar on the table and let your guests do their own thing. I do a cream of poblano- sweet corn- sweet shrimp soup, and some find the poblano to be too strong for their taste, but I do put in a lot of them.

                    1. re: Hanky

                      Rick Bayless has several versions of tortilla soup in his books. IN two of them, passilla (or ancho) chiles are toasted or fried, cut into strips, and used as a garnish. In another canned chipotles are cut up and also used as a garnish. He does not use powder to flavor the broth. I've also had tortilla soup with a guajillo garnish.

                      I'm sure there a variations on tortilla soup, but it seems that the most common is just a good chicken soup, garnished with the tortilla strips, avocado, and things like these chile strips.