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Dried Chile Peppers

You might think that fresh and vibrant green chiles like jalapeños, serranos, and poblanos make up the backbone of Mexican and Southern cuisine. But, dried chile peppers are the true laborers behind the cookery. Chile peppers were one of the first plants to be grown and seeds were found in Mexico and Peru over 60 decades ago. Thus, chile peppers, including the dried ones, are native to Mexico. Moreover, dried chile peppers’ hues might not be as attractive as the green ones. Its color ranges from orange-red to purple-black. Yet, it provides complex flavors that range from smoky, earthy, chocolatey, and spicy to sweet and even citrusy notes. It is the most essential flavor in Mexican cuisine from salsas and adobo to broths and marinades.

Dried Chile Peppers Trivia

  • There are over a thousand varieties of dried peppers. Mexico alone grows more than 140 various kinds. But, Even though there’s a wide range of dried chile peppers worldwide, only five species are being domesticated: Capsicum annuum, C. chinense, C. pubescens, C. frutescens, and C. baccatum.
  • Mexican stores often showcase an entire wall of dried peppers.
  • It’s not the seeds that make the dried peppers spicy. Rather, it’s the tissue near the seeds that sets your mouth on fire. Consequently, the part that’s closer to the stem tends to be hotter than the ones on the tip. 
  • The hotness level of dried chile peppers is measurable. It is scaled by Scoville units.
  • Birds help wild peppers disseminate by consuming them and discharging the seeds. They are 100% immune to its burning effects.
  • Some peppers are so hot that it can burn your gloves.

Dried Chile Peppers Buying Guide

There are countless numbers of dried chile peppers available in the market and it could be quite confusing to know which ones are best to buy. To make purchasing easier, we’ve come up with a quick buying guide that will surely help you pick the right ones. Here are as follows:

  1. Dried chile peppers should be flexible and not brittle. It should also have a decent shine that reflects on the light. 
  2. Shop by the color. Dried chile peppers can be easily categorized into two groups: red and dark. Red chiles have colors that range from bright orange-red to deep maroon. These varieties provide tropical fruit flavors that bring a good acidity. They also tend to be spicier than dark chile peppers. They are best paired with white meats like fish, chicken, and pork. On the other hand, dark chiles have colors that range from rusty-red and dark brown to purple-black. These varieties provide smoky, earthy, and chocolatey-sweet flavors similar to prunes and dried raisins. They also tend to be chewy and moist; its skin is also thicker than the red ones. Moreover, dark chiles are best paired with dark meats like beef or gamey proteins such as wild duck or venison.
  3. Shop by the size. The smaller the dried chile pepper is, the hotter it gets. So, if you are a heat enthusiast and you love your peppers to be spicy, pick the smallest ones. Otherwise, go for the bigger ones.
  4. Always opt for the ones with stems for more flavor and longer shelf-life.
  5. As always, buy from stores that have a high turn-over rate. Since dried chile peppers are often used in Mexican cuisines, you may want to buy from Mexican or Latin American shops.

In addition, we’ve collected some of the most popular dried chile peppers and come up with a short description of each variety. Here are the following:

  • Guajillo – These red chiles are usually large and skinny with a very tough skin. It provides a little amount of acidity and heat, with an earthy-sweet flavor. This variety is commonly added to stews, sauces, and the traditional Mexican adobo.
  • Mulato – These dark chiles are also large in size and have wrinkly skin. It belongs to the same family of Poblano and Ancho chiles; thus, It provides the same sweet and smoky flavor that goes well on pozoles, moles, and adobo.
  • Chiles Negros – Also sometimes called Oaxacas, pasillas negros, or pasilla chiles, this almost black chiles are usually large and elongated. It provides mild heat with earthy and subtle fruit flavor notes, similar to prunes and raisins. This variety is commonly used in making mole negros.
  • Chipotle – This red to brown-tan chiles are usually medium-sized with a very tough skin. It provides medium heat, and it is known for its unique earthy and smoky flavor. This variety is commonly added to salsas. Another subvariety of this dried pepper is the Morita chiles.
  • Puya – These red chiles are usually small and skinny with a very tough skin. It provides a considerable amount of acidity but it is definitely spicier than guajillo. This variety is commonly added to stews, sauces, and adobo.
  • Chiles de Arbol – These red chiles are usually small, which means they are very spicy. This variety is also noted for its earthy and nutty flavor that goes well with salsas, sauces, stews, and soups.
  • Pequin – This red chile is one of the smallest chiles in the market. It provides some tropical fruit flavors, yet they tend to be smoky and very spicy. Thus, this variety is commonly added to hot sauces and flaming hot salsas.
  • Cascabel – This dark chile is also one of the smallest chiles in the market. It is usually round in shape and it provides mild heat with tropical fruit flavors similar to dried apples and apricots. Thus, it is best added to salsas, taquera sauces, and chilis.

Dried Chile Peppers Production & Farming in Texas

Chile peppers thrive in the warm season of the Texas state. Golden bell, Jupiter, California wonder, Hidalgo Serrano, Hungarian Wax, Jalapeños, and cayenne peppers are the best varieties to plant in the area. In Central Texas, chile peppers are usually planted between mid-March and mid-July when the soil is at least 70ºF. To successfully grow chile peppers, all you need is good sunlight for at least 6 hours a day and a well-drained soil.

Pesticides, additives, and chemicals:

Fortunately, the majority of dried chile peppers that we found in large supermarkets, farmers markets, and online shops contain no additives and chemicals. Only those dried chile peppers that are turned into a powder, paste, or sauce have some but it is minimal. Hence, as we scrutinize each brand, here are the additives and chemicals that we found:

  • Silicon Dioxide – This chemical compound is also known as silica. It is used as a thickener, stabilizer, anticaking agent, and carrier for aroma and flavor. Although it is safe to consume, it can lead to lung problems when consumed past its RDA. 
  • Ethoxyquin – This additive is a synthetic antioxidant that is used to preserve food and to prevent scalds and oxidation. Although this additive is regulated and declared safe to consume by the FDA, it has been linked to the induction of white blood cells in our body. This additive is also used as a pesticide in rubber. 
  • Natural and artificial flavorings – These are additives that are used to intensify the flavors of the product. For dried chile peppers, some natural flavorings include: vegetable oil, salt, and other spices.


Whole-dried chile peppers are packaged in vacuum-sealed pouches to prevent air from penetrating the pepper. Crushed, ground, or powder dried peppers, on the other hand, may come in packages like glass bottles, plastic bottles, pouches, or packets.

Enjoying Dried Chile Peppers

Dried chile peppers are known for their sweet, fruity, and smoky notes that offer varied heat. In cooking Tex-Mex specialties, different varieties are combined and added to salsas, adobos, stews, casseroles, soups, marinades, and so on – the combination ratio is often their secret recipe! Moreover, you can enjoy these dried chiles that are crushed or ground, even pulverized. They can be used as a final seasoning to pizzas and pastas or they can be sprinkled on raw, cooked food, or even desserts. Dried chile peppers create an umami flavor and a grilled taste. It also adds depth, complex flavor, and vibrancy to any food. 


Dried chile peppers should be kept in an airtight container or a sealable bag. It should then be stored in a dry and dark area far from humidity such as stoves, ovens, and grills. They can also be placed in either the refrigerator, where they would last for about one to two months, or the freezer, where it could last for up to a year. However, for optimum quality and full flavor, use dried chile peppers within six months.

Make your own dried chile peppers:

Although it’s easy to buy dried chile peppers anywhere, you can also make your own at home. Not only that it will save you a lot of money, but you can also customize your blend according to your liking. Hence, below is a quick recipe on how to dry chile peppers. Just remember that red chile peppers work better in drying than their counterparts.


  • Fresh red chile peppers, any amount, assorted


  1. Preheat the oven to 150ºF or Set your dehydrator to 95ºF. 
  2. Meanwhile, lay the chile peppers separately in a sheet tray. Dry for 10-12 hours. If your oven has fans, turn it on. The chile peppers have to be completely dry but still malleable. 
  3. Cool them down to room temperature and store in a ziplock bag or an airtight container for later use. Or, you may opt to pulverize the dried chile peppers using a blender or food processor to make chile pepper flakes or chile powder – sometimes all you need is two pulses!



  • Serving Size: 1 Pepper, (0.5g)
  • Calories: 1.6 0%
  • Carbs: 0.3g 0%
  • Sugar: 0.2g
  • Fiber: 0.1g 1%
  • Protein: 0.1g 0%
  • Fat: 0g 0%
  • Saturated Fat: 0g 0%
  • Trans Fat 0g 0%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 0.5mg 0%
  • Vitamin C 0.2mg 0%
  • Vitamin A 132IU 3%
  • Calcium 0.2mg 0%
  • Iron 0mg 0%
  • Potassium 9.3mg 0%
  • Vitamin K 0.5mcg 1%
  • Vitamin E 0mg 0%
  • Folate 0.3mcg 0%
  • Magnesium 0.4mg 0%
  • Phosphorus 0.8mg 0%
  • Zinc 0mg 0%

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