Personalized Chili Powder


Texas Home Cooking

Published by Harvard Common Press

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

If you want a scratch chili, but also like the convenience of a ready-made powder, package your own brand avoiding commercial fillers like salt and unnecessary exotica like allspice. Adjust the seasonings to your taste. The recipe can easily be seated up or down in size.

NotesThe original chiles in Texas the ones that grew wild in the state were little round chiltepins, not the larger pods that became the preferred chili ingredient by the late nineteenth century.


Total Timeunder 30 minutes

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Taste and Texturegarlicky, hot & spicy, spiced


  • 1½ ounces (about 6) dried red chiles of moderate heat, preferably ancho and New Mexican (we mix them 4 to 2 respectively)
  • 2 to 5 (more or less, to taste) dried red chiles of greater heat (we choose either chile de arbol or cayenne)
  • 1½ to 2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1½ to 2 tablespoons garlic powder, preferably one that hasn’t sat on the grocer’s shelf for 3 years
  • 1 tablespoon ground oregano, preferably Mexican


  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.

  2. Break the stems from all the chiles and remove the seeds. Transfer the chiles to a baking sheet and arrange them in a single layer. Place the pan in the oven. The chile de árbol or cayenne pods will be toasted first so remove them after 4 or 5 minutes. Bake the larger pods an additional 4 or 5 minutes until they are well dried.

  3. When the chiles are cool enough to handle break them into two or three pieces each and transfer them to a blender. Pulverize the pods briefly until you have powder. Add the remaining ingredients and blend just until they are combined.

  4. Store the chili powder in a jar or other covered container for up to 3 months.


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