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Best Chile Pasilla Substitute, 10 Options to Try

In this article, we will look at the best Chile Pasilla substitute. This mild to medium-hot chili pepper is the most versatile chiles. Its widely used in Mexican cuisine.

They can add a spicy kick to an average dish. But if you’ve run out of stock, there are several notable alternatives that you can try. Today’s spice guide will teach you all about this Mexican chile pepper.

Plate with chile pasilla, and chili peppers.

What Is Chile Pasilla?

These chile peppers are also known as “pasilla chile” or “pasilla chile peppers.” Pasilla peppers refer to the chilaca pepper.

Chilaca peppers grow at least 10 inches long. Before harvest, the pods are dark green but eventually turn dark brown or black in color. Locals call these chile peppers “pasilla bajio” or “chile negro,” due to their dark color.

As the chile peppers dry up, they turn flat and wrinkled. The dried peppers become pasilla peppers. The name is fitting since pasilla means “little raisin” in Spanish.

Pasilla chilies have 1,000 to 2,500 Scoville heat units.

On their own, pasilla peppers have a rich and intense smoky flavor. They also taste earthy, fruity, and slightly sweet. Pasilla peppers make excellent pairs for red meat and fruits. 

Pasilla pepper is often used in Mexican dishes. You can add them to salsa, chili, and sauces like mole poblano. Pasilla chili powder is also available in grocery stores. You can use this as a spice to marinate meat and season vegetables. 

Another tip is to use pasilla pepper to make fried pepper flakes. You can add oil, garlic, and other dried peppers to make homemade chili oil. The best way to store this oil is to use glass mason jars. It will last up to 6 months in the refrigerator.

Best Chile Pasilla Substitutes

Due to their versatile flavors, pasilla peppers are a favorite in Mexican cuisine. However, it may be challenging to come by if you don’t live near any southern states.

The good news is that there are other alternatives you can buy at most supermarkets. Feel free to use any of these chili peppers as a chile pasilla substitute:

1. Ancho Chile

Ancho chiles, also known as ancho pepper, are the best pasilla chile substitute. They have 1,000 to 2,000 Scoville heat unit, which is close to pasilla peppers. Ancho peppers are primarily sold in Mexico and the United States. Yet, they’re also seen in European and Asian cuisines.

Ancho peppers look like pasilla chile, except they are plumper and more wrinkled. There’s not a big difference when it comes to flavors, though. Ancho chile has the same smoky, earthy, and fruity tastes.

Pro Tip:

You can use ancho chile in stews, soups, and cold salads. Since they both have the same heat levels, you’ll still achieve the desired effect. Ancho chile also comes in dried and powdered forms. Ground ancho chilies make excellent spicy marinades.

2. Cascabel Chile

Cascabel chile is another fitting pasilla pepper substitute. It’s known as the “rattle chili” or “little bell.” This is because the seeds make a sound when you shake the dried pods.

Cascabel chiles have a plump shape and bright red color resembling cherries.

Pro Tip:

They are hotter than pasilla peppers at 3,000 Scoville heat units. It’s essential to mind the ratio when you’re using this chile as an alternative. Cascabel chiles have a smoky and nutty flavor similar to pasilla peppers.

3. Pasilla De Oaxaca

Pasilla de Oaxaca is a variety of pasilla peppers from the Oaxaca region. Although they look similar, these chile peppers differ in heat and flavor. This is because of the extra smoking process during production.

Pasilla de Oaxaca is spicier and has a smokier flavor. They also have an umami taste that can add a meaty flavor to vegan dishes.

Pro Tip:

We recommend using this chile if you’re cooking vegan chili or fried noodles. The only disadvantage is that they are more expensive than pasilla peppers.

4. Mulato Peppers

Mulato peppers are another worthy alternative to pasilla peppers. Although they are more similar to ancho peppers, you can still use these chile peppers if you’re in a pinch. They have at least 3,000 Scoville heat units, which are notably spicier.

Mulato peppers have a unique flavor you won’t find in other chile peppers. They have a mild sweet taste like chocolate.

Pro Tip:

Mulato peppers have hints of fruity flavors akin to cherries. Due to their sweet taste, they make a great addition to salads or vegetables.

5. Guajillo Peppers

Guajillo peppers also make a great pasilla chiles substitute. They are spicier, with a Scoville level reaching 8,000 heat units. Guajillo peppers have a mild, sweet flavor that pairs well with any recipe.

Remember to lessen the ratio when using a guajillo pepper, as these are spicier. We recommend adding them to sweet dishes to balance out the heat. You can also use guajillo pepper for sauces and homemade chili oil.

6. Poblano Peppers

Poblano peppers are green chile peppers from the Poblano region. They are bigger and plumper than pasilla peppers and resemble bell peppers. They are mildly spicy with 2,000 Scoville heat units.

Pro Tip:

The best way to eat poblano peppers is to stuff them with meat and cheese and then bake them. They have a crunchy texture and sweet taste that blend with savory flavors. However, we don’t recommend using poblano peppers for sauces. These chile peppers are too thick and won’t easily.

7. Mirasol Peppers

Mirasol peppers are another excellent pasilla pepper substitute. They are usually used to make mirasol mole sauce, but you can add them to any recipe to bring up the heat. Mirasol peppers have at least 8,000 Scoville heat units, similar to jalapeños.

Pro Tip:

Mirasol peppers are smaller and shorter than pasilla peppers. Depending on the ripeness, they also come in green, yellow, or red. These chile peppers are best served chopped up and used as a garnish for soups.

8. Serrano Peppers

Serrano peppers are a traditional Mexican chile pepper. They often grew in thin and long green pods, but there are smaller and more rounded varieties. Serrano peppers are spicier than pasilla peppers, with 25,000 Scoville heat units.

Pro Tip:

When substituting serrano peppers for pasilla peppers, use the 4:1 ratio. Don’t add too much, as you don’t want to overpower your dish. Serrano peppers are often used in salsas. They also taste better when roasted or smoked.

9. Habanero Peppers

Habanero peppers are the spiciest alternative on this list. These chile peppers have 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units. This is significantly hotter than pasilla peppers, so you should keep that in mind regarding the ratio.

Pro Tip:

Habanero peppers are small and rounded, resembling dried-up cherry tomatoes. They are bright red or orange in color and have very wrinkled skin. They are often served ground or stuffed with cheese to combat the heat.

10. Jalapeño Peppers

Jalapeño peppers are one of Mexican dishes’ most commonly used chile peppers. They are also great substitutes for pasilla peppers. They have a spicy kick reaching up to 8,000 Scoville heat units.

Pro Tip:

You can eat jalapeño peppers raw or serve them as toppings on pizza or salads. This chile pepper’s sweet taste pairs well with any ingredient. And since they’re so popular, you can buy them at any grocery store.

Pasilla Chile Peppers Uses in Recipes

Pasilla peppers are versatile when it comes to recipes. Since they only have mild heat, you don’t need to worry about overwhelming your dish. They have earthy and fruity flavors that pair well with fruits and red meat.

We recommend using pasilla peppers for chili, stews, soups, or salsa.

You can also use ground pasilla chile for seasoning beef or pork recipes. Pasilla peppers are also excellent ingredients for making homemade chili oil.

How Do You Store Pasilla Peppers?

Always store chile peppers in an air-tight container. Exposing them to the elements will only invite mold and spoilage. Pasilla peppers can last up to 2 weeks in your pantry when stored properly.

You can also store them in the fridge. This will help make your chile peppers last up to 1 month.

What Is Pasilla Chile Called In English?

Pasilla chile is also known as “little raisin” in English. This is because the chile peppers have the same wrinkled look as raisins. They also have a similar fruity taste.

Is Pasilla Chile The Same As Guajillo?

No, pasilla chile is not the same as guajillo peppers. They have different appearances, tastes, and heat levels.

Is Pasilla The Same As Poblano?

No, pasilla peppers are not the same as poblano peppers. The latter is significantly spicier and resembles bell peppers more.

What Is The Heat Level Of Pasilla Peppers?

Pasilla peppers have a heat level of 1,000 to 2,500 Scoville heat units.

Is Pasilla Chili Powder Mixed With Other Ingredients?

It depends on the type of pasilla chili powder that you’re buying. Some brands have anti-clumping agents, or they mix it with other chile peppers to raise the heat.

What Is The Scoville Rating For Pasilla Chile?

Pasilla chile has a mild to medium Scoville rating. It can range from 500 to 2,500 on the Scovill heat scale.

What Is The Difference Between Pasilla Chile And Poblano Pepper?

Poblano peppers are bigger than pasilla chile and have green pods.

Are Ancho Peppers And Pasilla Peppers The Same?

No, ancho peppers and pasilla peppers are not the same. Although they have many similarities, they are different varieties. However, ancho peppers are the best chile pasilla substitute.


In this article, we explored different substitutes for Chile Pasilla. It’s a mild to medium-hot chili pepper widely used in Mexican cuisine. The best alternatives are Ancho, Guajillo, and Mulato peppers. They are all dried and have a similar smoky flavor profile to Chile Pasilla. We also provided tips on using each substitute and adjusting the recipe accordingly.

More Ingredient Substitutes

Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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