15 Guajillo Chili Substitutes (When You’re Out of Guajillo Chilis) 


If you’re a fan of guajillo chili peppers, you know how versatile they are.

But what do you do when you can’t find any guajillo chili peppers?

Here are 15 substitutes for guajillo chili peppers that will give your dish the same flavor.

15 Guajillo Chili Substitutes 

Here are my top picks for substituting Guajillo Chili. 

1. Pasilla Pepper

Closest flavor match

Pasilla peppers are dark, long, and thin chili peppers and taste almost like Guajillo peppers themselves.

They have a hint of berry and cocoa and an overall fruity essence.

Note that with a much lower SHU level of less than 2500, it is not as spicy as Guajillo peppers and tastes mostly like dried fruits. 

How to substitute

A slightly more quantity of Pasilla peppers would be required to substitute Guajillo peppers for the same heat levels for sauces, marinades, soups, and more.

Try this deliciously heated Pasilla salsa.

2. Chipotle Chili Peppers

Most accessible swap

Chipotle peppers are dried, smoked, and a refined byproduct of Jalapeno peppers. They have a SHU value of nearly 8000, making them an efficient and spicier alternative. 

Do note that although Guajillo and Chipotle peppers can be equal alternatives for each other, the latter is mostly available as powder, flakes, and canned. 

How to substitute

Chipotle peppers and Guajillo peppers can be substituted for equal quantities of each other for their familiar heat levels for marinades, soups, and salsas.

Try this smoky Chipotle chili beef.

3. Ancho Pepper

Ancho chili peppers are nothing but dried poblano peppers with a sweeter, fruitier, and meatier texture making them a great addition to sauces, soups, stews, and marinades. 

Do keep in mind that with a Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) of 1000 to 2000, Ancho peppers are much less spicy compared to Guajillo peppers, with chocolate and raisin-like flavor. 

How to substitute

Double the amount of Ancho peppers can be used to substitute Guajillo peppers to get the same amount of heat.

Here’s how to make heated dry Ancho peppers.

4. Cascabel Pepper

Cascabel peppers have a unique appearance with a dark round shape and a red-brown hue. Their appearance is often compared to that of cherries with a spicier taste.

It is important to remember that Cascabel peppers have lower SHU levels of about 2500 and have a nutty and smoky taste.

They are much milder in comparison. 

How to substitute

Equal quantities of Cascabel peppers and Guajillo peppers can be used to substitute each other in most dishes.

Toasted Chile Cascabel salsa.

5. Dried New Mexico Pepper

Dried New Mexico peppers are an interesting alternative to Guajillo peppers for their lighter yet intense heat when added to sauces, seasonings, stews, and more.

It is crucial to remember that Dried New Mexico peppers have a tangy and almost acidic flavor, along with earthiness and sweetness that makes them one of a kind.

How to substitute

You would need more quantities of Dried New Mexico peppers than the mentioned quantity of Guajillo peppers as they have milder heat levels.

Chili sauce with dried New Mexico peppers.

6. Puya Chilies

Puya peppers are known to be one of the spiciest peppers and have a SHU value of 8000 units. They are best when grilled, baked, and stir-fried with other ingredients. 

A small caution: Compared to Guajillo peppers, Puya peppers may look petite but are much spicier.

They have a tangy fruity undertone to the heat. 

How to substitute

It is recommended to be cautious when substituting Guajillo peppers with Puya. 1/3rd quantity of Puya is often used to substitute the mentioned amount of Guajillo peppers.

Here’s how to use dried Puya peppers.

7. Mulato Chilies

Mulato chilies are overripe Poblano peppers and are another close swap for Guajillo peppers with similar yet milder spice levels. 

Remember that Mulato peppers have a deep, chocolaty, and fruity flavor.

They are more developed as they get more time to mature than fresh Poblano peppers. 

How to substitute

Mulato peppers have a SHU of 3000 or less making them relatively less spicy than Guajillos. Equal or slightly higher quantities of Mulato can substitute for Guajillo peppers.

Try these recipes with different dried peppers.

8. California Chilies

California peppers are another commonly found dried and ripened form of Anaheim pepper that can be perfectly substituted for Guajillo for its sharp flavor profile. 

Do note that although California peppers have a milder SHU level of 2500 units, their intensity often equals Guajillo peppers.

They are much more acidic than Guajillos. 

How to substitute

With the lighter heat levels, slightly heavier amounts of California chilies can be used to sufficiently substitute Guajillo peppers for sauces and stews.

Try these delicious stuffed California peppers.

9. Anaheim Pepper

Fresh Anaheim peppers have a mild bell pepper-like taste, which soon transforms to be tangy, spicy, and smoky when toasted or grilled. 

Do bear in mind that, unlike the heated Guajillo peppers, Anaheim has a lighter SHU of 1000 or fewer units.

Additional spice is required to reach the same spice level as Guajillos. 

How to substitute

Nearly double the quantity of Anaheim peppers is required to sufficiently replace the same amount of Guajillo peppers.

Smoky stuffed Anaheim peppers.

10. Chili Pepper

Chili peppers are the vibrant red, lean, and spicy peppers found in every supermarket around the globe.

They are known for their significant heat and for adding a bright hue to the dish. 

It is important to remember that since these regular Chili peppers are grown worldwide, their taste and heat levels can vary with soil and location. 

How to substitute

With a similar level of heat, regular Chili peppers can be used to equally substitute for Guajillo peppers.

Try this Korean steamed shishito chili peppers.

11. Jalapeno Pepper

The American staple Jalapenos are an easily available, fresh, and crispy alternative and add just the right amount of heat to any dish. 

However, when using Jalapenos to replace Guajillo peppers, do remember that fresh Jalapenos do not have the smoky and roasted essence that dried Guajillo peppers have. 

How to substitute

Within similar spice levels and SHU values, Jalapeno and Guajillo peppers can be used in equal amounts in dishes that need them as alternatives.

Try these easy pickled Jalapeno peppers.

12. Tabasco Pepper

Known as one of the spiciest peppers in the world, the Tabasco pepper is a spicy, heated, bright, tangy, and equally fruity alternative to Guajillos peppers. 

A small note: With a Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) value of 50,000 units, Tabasco is to be used very cautiously.

Tabasco sauce is a spicy yet milder and acidic option. 

How to substitute

Less than half the amount of whole Tabasco peppers is enough to substitute whole Guajillos. When using Tabasco sauce, the same quantity is suggested.

Here’s how the infamous Tabasco sauce is made with Tabasco peppers.

13. Espelette Pepper

Espelette peppers are considered the French counterpart to the native Mexican Guajillos peppers with similar rich and deep heated flavors. 

Do bear in mind that Espelette peppers have a fruitier and tangy flavor, lacking the charred, smoky flavors of Guajillo peppers. 

How to substitute

With a SHU value of 4000 units, Espelette and Guajillo peppers share similar heat levels and can be used to substitute each other in equal amounts for most dishes.

14. Chile de Arbol

Chile de Arbol is similar to Tabasco pepper with the same SHU of 50,000 units and can be used to substitute Guajillos with their bright red hue. 

It is best to stay cautioned that a small amount of Chile de Arbol is often enough to replace Guajillos.

Once dried and toasted, it also has a smoky and nutty flavor. 

How to substitute

Less than half the amount of whole Chile de Arbol peppers is enough to substitute whole Guajillo peppers for sauces and marinades.

Try this Mexican staple Chile de Arbol salsa.

15. Pequin Pepper

Pequin peppers are a key ingredient in the widely-known Cholula hot sauce and other popular authentic Mexican platters and can be used to easily replace Guajillos. 

It is important to know that although Pequin peppers have a flavorful heat profile, it is quite hard to find them outside Mexico. 

How to substitute

With a SHU value ranging from 40,000 to 60,000 units, it is best to stay cautious when using Pequin peppers. Less than half the required amount of Guajillos is often sufficient.

Hot vinegar and Pequin peppers sauce.


What Is The Best Substitute For Guajillo Chilies?

Ancho peppers, Pasilla peppers, and Cascabel peppers are considered to be the best substitutes for Guajillo chilies for different properties. Ancho peppers are the most conveniently found substitute.

Pasilla peppers have the flavor closest to Guajillo chilies, while Cascabel gives dishes a unique yet heated addition.

What Is The Difference Between Guajillo And Ancho Chilies?

Guajillo chilies are a well-known Mexican chili pepper famed for their heated flavor, leather-like skin, and tangy fruity flavors that can elevate any platter. 

Ancho chilies, on the other hand, have a deep, earthy, heated, and smoky flavor. They can easily be substituted for one another and be used together to get the perfect spicy mix.

How Hot Are Dried Guajillo Chilies?

Guajillo chilies have a Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) range of 2500 to 5000 making them comparable to Jalapenos, which have a SHU range of 2500 to 8000. They are often favored for their heated yet fruity flavors. 

Guajillo chilies are one of the most important ingredients in Mexican salsa, mole sauce, marinades, and harissa.

What Is The Spiciest Substitute For Guajillo Chilies?

Guajillo chilies themselves have a SHU value ranging from 2500 to 5000, making them a relatively heated choice of peppers. When substituting Guajillo chilies, Tabasco pepper and Chile de Arbol are the spiciest alternatives. 

Both Tabasco pepper and Chile de Arbol have a SHU value of 50,000 making them some of the spiciest in the world.

Bottom Line

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About Irene Clark

Irene is a supermom of 4 kids who always has a smile on her face. She's an amazing dancer - you should see her moves! - and she loves to eat, especially with wine. She also loves pop music and travels across the country with her family and friends.

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