Chile Powder vs. Chili Powder: Yes, There's a Huge Difference

They're both delicious, but you shouldn't use them interchangeably.

<p>Simply Recipes / Getty Images</p>

Simply Recipes / Getty Images

The difference between chile powder with an "e" and chili powder with an "i" is not a matter of phonetics, like tomato, tomahto. They are not the same ingredient.

As a food editor, when I review the ingredient list on recipes before they get published, I make sure that what is called for—chile powder vs. chili powder—is clear and accurate. Here's the difference.

What Is Chile Powder?

Chile powder is just ground dried chile peppers with no other additives like salt, dried herbs, or spices. There are as many kinds of chile powder as there are varieties of chile peppers. Most are identified by the name of the pepper—ancho chile powder is made with dried ancho chiles, chipotle chile powder with dried chipotle peppers, and so forth.

Simply Recipes Spells It With an "I"

Simply Recipes' recipe style guide notes that chile powder is spelled with an "i". (I know, it's confusing!) When referring to chile powder as defined above, we specifically call out the type of chile pepper. For example, our Mexican Street Corn Tacos call for chipotle chili powder and our Creamy Chicken Enchilada Soup calls for ancho chili powder. In each respective recipe, we are referring to ground chipotle or acho chile peppers without additives.

<p>Lori Rice</p>

Lori Rice

Sometimes the name of the chile powder is transliterated. For example, gochugaru is Korean chile powder. Cynthia Christensen calls for it in her mom's Korean army base stew recipe. Ground aji panca or aji amarillo are used in Peruvian cooking and Aleppo pepper is commonly used in Turkish, Lebanese, and other Middle Eastern cuisines and goes by a different name depending on their language.

The recipe or the headnotes will tell you the kind of chile powder that's needed.

Mexican cookbook author Rick Martínez recommends checking the ingredient label for additives—chile powder should be ground dried chiles without salt or spices.

He further shares that chile powder is a smart substitute for recipes that call for dried whole chiles and writes in Mi Cocina, "As a rule of thumb, use 1 tablespoon of powder per whole chile, adding more as necessary. For hotter chiles, such as chipotle, use 1 teaspoon per whole chile. And remember that the color of the chile powder should always be bright and vibrant—not dull."

<p>Simply Recipes / Frank Tiu</p>

Simply Recipes / Frank Tiu

What Is Chili Powder?

Chili powder is a seasoning blend, the kind that you use to flavor chili, like chili con carne, Cincinnati chili, and pumpkin chili. It's also used to marinade steak, season soups, and breadcrumbs for topping mac and cheese.

Chili powder contains other ingredients like cumin, oregano, paprika, black pepper, garlic powder, and sometimes salt. Each brand of chili powder has its own blend, so you'll have to check the label on the jar.

When Simply Recipes calls for chili powder in a recipe, without identifying the name of a chile pepper in front, we are referring to this seasoning blend.

Chili Powder Is Over 100 Years Old

In the 1890s, William Gebhardt invented chili powder—it was a mixture of dried ancho chiles, cumin, oregano, and black pepper that he used to season stews at his restaurant Phoenix Saloon. Gebhardt later bottled and sold the chili powder worldwide. Over a century later, you can still buy Gebhardt's Original Eagle Brand Chili Powder. It's now owned by Conagra and the original formula has long changed.

The Takeaway

Chile powder and chili powder are different ingredients. Chile powder is ground chile peppers without any additives. Chili powder is a blend of ground peppers, spices, or salt that is traditionally used to flavor chili. The recipe will tell you the kind of chile powder to use, like ancho chile powder or chipotle chile powder. When it calls for chili powder, use your favorite brand of the seasoning. I like Morton & Bassett Chili Powder because it doesn't contain salt or preservatives.

<p>Simply Recipes / Laurel Randolph</p>

Simply Recipes / Laurel Randolph

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Read the original article on Simply Recipes.