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Pasilla Pepper Guide (Here’s How To substitute And Buy)

Pasilla Pepper
Pasilla Pepper

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Pasilla pepper, also mistakenly taken as poblano Chile, is a large, dried, and slender pepper with wrinkled shiny skin. It’s more pointed or tapered towards the non-stem end. The skin is glossy, taut, and thin with a crunchy crisp enclosing a lot of round yet flatter cream-colored seeds.

Pasilla peppers are staple in Mexican cuisines, a variety of chili sauces, dry rubs, enchiladas, and salsas. And, if you are a Mexican food lover, here know what is the best way to substitute pasilla pepper, the Scoville Heat units, culinary uses, and some amazing pasilla pepper facts. All this and many more come ahead. If interested, keep reading.

Pasilla Pepper (Facts You Need To Know)

Ever heard “Holy Trinity”? If not, it’s a glamorous triad of Mexican Chiles and pasilla is one of these three Mexican peppers. The other twos are ancho and guajillo Chiles.

Pasilla pepper is a stellar ingredient in a variety of cooking recipes including grilling, roasting, and broiling. In powder form, pasilla chili offers a substantial contribution in making rubs, recipe seasonings, and flavorings to spice up things deliciously.

What Does Pasilla Pepper Taste Like?

A holy secret of the pasilla pepper’s versatility roots in the complex flavor profile of the chili. This is because pasilla pepper offers a marvelous blend of smooth, smoky, and earthy flavor notes coupled with a sweet savor. It’s gentle to the palate and doesn’t stimulate a fiery kick as it packs a mild heat with a fruitier and berry-like flavor.

Besides giving a super delicious turn to the recipe flavor, pasilla pepper also lends a deep reddish pop to the food dishes. Even the chili flakes of pasilla are used to top up pizza slices, creamy pasta dishes, and delectable savory soups.

How Hot Pasilla Pepper Is?

Another good reason why pasilla Chile is so universally adaptable is its medium heat level. On the Heat Scoville scale, you’ll find pasilla pepper quite lower in the range of 1000 to 2500 HSU – far lesser than jalapenos and cayenne Chiles.

This median heat level of pasilla chili comes in handy to make a lot of flavorful Mexican sauces, soups, stews, enchiladas, and salsas. It’s the best spice flavoring commonly season roasted meat dishes, grilled vegetables, marinades, and salad dressings.

Pasilla Pepper Substitute

Why it’s important to know the best pasilla pepper alternative? Or when and where you can sub pasilla pepper in home cooking? Well, pasilla Chile is undoubtedly versatile and widely available. However, it’s still very tricky to find it in various regions around the globe. And if you are unable to spot these peppers in your native area, subbing pasilla Chiles is the best way of enjoying Mexican cuisines and stellar recipes.

The given substitutes are closer to pasilla pepper and satiate you with a similar flavor complexity. Check them out and note if you have any of these alternatives in your pantry.

1. Dried Anaheim Pepper – Similar Heat

Dried Anaheim Pepper
Dried Anaheim Pepper

Dried Anaheim pepper or Anaheim powder is the best alternative for pasilla pepper. You can find Anaheim and pasilla peppers side by side on the Scoville Heat scale as Anaheim pepper ranges from 500 to 2500 HSU. Anaheim pepper is more common in the local grocery stores of the United States as compared to pasilla.

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Thanks to its earthy, smoky, milder, and a bit sweeter flavor profile, Anaheim peppers replace the pasilla Chile in soups, stews, casseroles, and Mexican sauces. To more, Anaheim powder seasons grilled vegetables, roasted meat, and sausages in a similar way as pasilla pepper did.

2. Pasilla De Oaxaca – Another Side Of Pasilla

Pasilla De Oaxaca
Pasilla De Oaxaca

Pasilla de Oaxaca is a different cultivar of regular pasilla pepper and so has a comparable and closer flavor. You can consider it as another side of regular pasilla Chile with a similar range of heat and spice level.

However, it’s not so common in the culinary world because of its short supply and consequently higher price. So, if you find it by chance, don’t override this.

It can substitute pasilla pepper in all the Mexican recipes and cuisines very well. In terms of irresistible flavor and comparable heat, no one is better than pasilla de Oaxaca when it comes to replacing regular pasilla Chile.

3. Serrano Pepper – Spicier Alternative

Serrano Pepper
Serrano Pepper

Serrano pepper is another great culinary workhorse you can get instead of pasilla pepper. It’s more common in grocery stores and easier to find as compared to its counterpart pasilla.

However, substituting pasilla with serrano means all about getting a spicy kick and fiery burst.

Thereby, it works best for those who are craving a spicy punch that lingers on the palate noticeably. And for people who are not crazy lovers of spicy foods, serrano pepper in a pinch will work greatly the same way as pasilla.

Substitute For Pasilla Pepper Powder

Sometimes it’s easier to get chili powder than the whole dried Chiles. In the same way, you can go for various chili powder substitutes for pasilla pepper if whole Chiles are difficult to locate in your area.

4. Ancho Powder – Similar Flavor

Ancho Powder
Ancho Powder

Ancho chili powder is one of the closest and best substitutes for ground pasilla pepper. Although it’s another pillar of the Mexican Holy Trinity, it’s more versatile, widely available, and packs a quite similar flavor profile within a confined heat range.

Similar to pasilla pepper, ancho chili is the mainstay of Mexican foods and several homemade savory recipes. When dried, ancho Chiles look similarly taut, shiny, slender, and wrinkled that one can easily label them as pasilla.

In powder form, these are used to substitute pasilla pepper to give a significant smoky and earthy flavor to the recipe along with an eye-catching color pop.

You can also prepare ancho powder from dry Chiles by removing seeds and processing them in a spice grinder.

5. Guajillo Powder

Guajillo Powder
Guajillo Powder

What about the third pillar of the Mexican Holy Trinity, guajillo Chile? In terms of flavor and heat level, guajillo is not so far from pasilla Chile. It’s easier to get and a widely available substitute for pasilla Chile.

If not available whole, you’ll definitely find it in powder form easily in the spice racks of grocery stores. The overall flavor is fruitier and earthier with a blend of sweet spicy taste notes.

Guajillo chili powder is also famous for the reddish tint it gives to a lot of savory treats including soups, stews, sauces, and a variety of Mexican cuisines and casseroles.

No one denies the significance of this staple workhorse in the culinary world as it comes in handy whenever you want to replace any Mexican Chile. You can also check out the best guajillo Chile substitutes to find another choice for substituting pasilla.

6. Mulatto Powder

If you have enough understanding of spices, you may know that mulatto pepper is a bit higher in heat than pasilla pepper, how can it make a good replacement? Well, you are right.

When fresh, mulatto is a quite spicier and hotter as compared to its milder counterpart.

However, when dried and subsequently powdered, the flavor of mulatto Chile shifts towards the taste zone which you can call a safe zone similar to pasilla chile.

Mulatto pepper powder is a bit earthier, smokier, and neutrally hotter when compared to pasilla. So, mulatto powder can easily substitute pasilla pepper in signature salsas, enchiladas, and chili sauces.

If seems unavailable to you, hire whole dried mulatto Chiles, deseed them, and process them in a spice grinder.

7. Chipotle Powder

Chipotle Powder
Chipotle Powder

All spicy food lovers are crazy about chipotle chili powder as it’s a high jump in heat. Chipotle powder comes from dried jalapenos and it’s obvious that a medium-sized jalapeno is quite hotter and spicier than pasilla.

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However, it’s an acceptable fact that chipotle powder is a tasty and delectable substitute for pasilla pepper if you don’t mind its spicy fiery kick.

Another similarly hotter and piquant alternative for pasilla pepper is cayenne Chile powder. It’s far higher in heat even than jalapenos, yet a good and considerable option for making spicy treats.

Both chipotle pepper powder and cayenne powder are not 1:1 substitutes for pasilla, so try them in a pinch first and increase the amount step by step to meet the heat range you are craving.

Pasilla Pepper Vs Poblano Pepper

Most of the time, pasilla peppers are mis​cel​la​neous​ly perceived as poblano peppers, yet they both are different.

Although pasilla and poblano peppers are both widely recognizable Mexican Chiles and look quite similar, they have a lot more differences to tell them apart. That’s why we have compiled all the pasilla vs poblano facts to guide you. Know here whether poblano can substitute pasilla pepper or vice versa.

  • On Heat Scoville scale, poblano and pasilla belong the similar heat range, 1000 to 2000 HSU for poblano and 1000 to 2500 HSU for pasilla chili.
  • Pasilla pods grow longer up to 10 inches while poblano pods grow up to 5 inches by maximum.
  • Pasilla pepper is a dried version of chilaca Chile while poblano is a fresh version of ancho peppers.
  • The overall flavor is quite different as pasilla offers a fruitier yet smokier taste hint whereas poblano packs earthy flavor notes and offer a milder peppery bite.
  • Poblano peppers are readily available in the United States while pasilla pepper gives a tough time in various local regions of the United States in terms of availability.
  • Poblano Chiles are more versatile and handy in culinary usage whereas pasilla Chile is limited to season only sauces, salsas, enchiladas, and grilled meat or veggie dishes.

Where To Buy? (Pasilla Pepper Itself Or Substitute)

Mexican grocers or well-stocked local marketers offer pasilla pepper both as whole and powdered. Pasilla pepper is often found in Mexican spice rank along with its other Mexican cousin Chiles.

Keep in mind all the pasilla vs poblano chile facts because they both are often mislabeled. You can also buy the best pasilla pepper substitute from such grocery stores or spice marketers.

In the case, if Holy Trinity is not available in your region, buying online is the best and handy option. Order it online from Amazon either whole or dried and you’ll be free from the hassle of locating these Chiles in your local grocers.


What Do You Use Pasilla Chile For?

As a dried whole chile, pasilla makes a considerable contribution to Mexican cuisines, mole sauce, table sauces, and enchiladas. Additionally, pasilla chili powder is a great flavoring and seasoning for grilled meat, pork, veggies, and salad dressings. Even pasilla chili flakes find diverse culinary usage as topping or seasoning agents.

Can Jalapenos Substitute Pasilla Pepper?

The answer is maybe yes or no as it’s all depend on the recipe in which you are going to make a replacement. In terms of flavor, jalapenos work great instead of pasilla chiles in sauces, salsas, casseroles, and stews. However, jalapenos are quite higher in heat level than pasilla averaging 3 times hotter. So, it’s a big jump in heat. Avoid this substitute if you are looking for a milder pasilla alternative.

Is Pasilla Chili The Same As Ancho?

The answer is no, pasilla chiles are different from ancho peppers. Although they both are well-known Mexican chiles and the part of Holy Trinity, they are not the same. This is because pasilla is a dried version of chilaca chile whereas ancho is a dried form of poblano chiles. The flavor profile is quite similar yet pasilla is a bit hotter than anchos. Despite these differences, both are pretty good substitutes for each other in all the Mexican savory treats.


Hey, I’m Ayesha Khalid, the main writer of Substitutesfor.com. I love to write about food ingredients, cooking guides, and helping tips and tricks to upgrade your cooking experience. The aim of writing is to provide you with a collection of substitutions and novel ideas to try so that you can find all the needed information at once. Here, you can get ideas according to your diet restrictions, taste preferences, and health conditions.

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