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Don’t have chili powder, or realized you’re all out while you’re cooking? Here’s the best chili powder substitute to use in recipes.

Chili powder substitute

Making a recipe that calls for chili powder and don’t have it? Here’s a few options that are suitable as a substitution. Chili powder is a spice blend made with dried chilis and other spices. It’s the main spice in chili, and is used often in Mexican cuisine. There’s really nothing like it! But, here’s the good news: you can fake it if you need to. Here are a few ideas for substitutions for this spicy ingredient.

Best chili powder substitute

1. Homemade chili powder mix

The best substitute for chili powder? A homemade chili powder mix! To make homemade chili powder, simply combine the following spices (makes ¼ cup chili powder):

  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • ½ tablespoon cumin
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon cayenne

2. Paprika, cumin and cayenne

The next best substitute for chili powder? A mix of paprika, cumin and cayenne. If you don’t have all the spices above, you can make a “cheater” version. Here’s the ratio to use:

  • Substitution Ratio: For every 1 tablespoon chili powder, use 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon cumin, and a scant ¼ teaspoon cayenne. You can customize the cayenne to taste based on your spice preference.

Here are some recipes that use chili powder:

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Chili seasoning

Homemade Chili Powder Substitute

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: ¼ cup 1x


Here’s how to make homemade chili powder! Mix this all natural blend into a batch of chili, or use it for grilled or roasted veggies, dips, and more.


  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • ½ tablespoon cumin
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon cayenne


  1. Whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl. Transfer to an airtight container or jar. Store for 6 months to 1 year in a cool, dry place.
  • Category: Seasoning
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Spice Blend
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Chili powder substitute

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

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  1. Needed chili powder in a hurry for enchilada sauce. I’m in Russia, I even have to make the tortillas. So your recipe was just in time for lunch. Thanks, you two!

  2. I wanted to make a chilli for my daughter that wasn’t spicy at all, I’ve been using this substitute without the cayenne and it tastes great! Thanks