pasilla chile

Can’t Find Pasilla Chiles? These Flavorful Alternatives Will Add Spice to Your Dishes!

If you’re in the food for a Mexican dish containing Pasilla chile but you’ve run out or can’t find any, no need to worry. There are many substitutes that you can swap out with and still have a delicious, mouth-watering dish.

A Pasilla chile, also known as the Pasilla pepper, is a widely used ingredient in many Mexican dishes and is known for its very dark green color that sometimes looks black or brown. These chilis are native to Southern North America and Northern Southern America and are compared to a Jalapeno pepper in terms of heat.

In this guide, we will lay out the best substitutes for Pasilla chile and other interesting details about the ingredient.

Uses of Pasilla chile in cooking

Chef preparing a traditional Pasilla Chili Sauce with all the ingredients, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Chef preparing a traditional Pasilla Chili Sauce with all the ingredients, Oaxaca, Mexico.

Pasilla chiles have an incredible woody, smoky, and slightly sweet taste that is sometimes described as similar to a sultana or raisin. The fruitiness of this chili brings a punch to a variety of Mexican dishes, such as soups, moles, and salsas.

Pasilla chiles can be ground up as a powdered seasoning or rehydrated in water (or other liquid). This flavorant is wonderful in chicken, lamb, or fish dishes.

Here is a list of dishes you’re likely to find these lip-smackingly delicious chilis in:

  • Tacos
  • Enchiladas
  • Salsa
  • Mole
  • Instant pot beef and pork dishes
  • Soups
  • Chile
  • Tamales

8 best Pasilla chile substitutes

If your recipe asks for pasilla chile and you don’t have any, there are a couple of options to use instead.

It’s a good idea to test the chili before deciding on your substitute. Of course, none of these will be exactly the same as the Pasilla, but you will certainly get a great flavor from them.

Note that Pasilla chile has 1,000-2,500 Scoville heat units.

Here are 7 of the best Pasilla chile substitutes out there:

Substitute Scoville Heat UnitsConversion
Ancho chile1,000-2,000Equal
Pasilla de Oaxaca1,000-2,500Equal
Guajillo peppers2,500-8000Use slightly less
Cascabel chili1,000-3000Use slightly less
Mulato peppers2,500-3000Use slightly less
Poblano peppers1,000-2,000Equal
Habanero peppers100,000-350,000Use a quarter
Mirasol peppers2,500 – 8,000Use less

1.Ancho chile as a substitute

Ancho chile

This is probably the closest and most recommended substitute to use in place of a pasilla chile. This is a relatively easy ingredient to find if you are in Mexico or the US. They are available as both a powder and a fried pepper flake.

2.Pasilla de Oaxaca as a substitute

Pasilla de Oaxaca

The wonderful pasilla de Oaxaca is a smokier version of the pasilla chile with a similar heat level. This makes it a great substitute. This ingredient is sometimes a little less cost-effective than the original, but it is a great option. When converting the recipe, use the same ratio of pasilla de Oaxaca to Pasilla chile.

3.Guajillo peppers as a substitute

Guajillo peppers

With their beautiful oxblood red skins, Guajillo peppers are versatile and a widely applied ingredient. They have a mild and fresh flavor, making them great for fish and vegetable dishes. The exact ratio can be followed if using them as a substitute for Pasilla chile.

4.Cascabel chili(Chile cascabel) as a substitute

Cascabel chile is a straightforward substitute. This chili’s strength will depend on how ripe it is. The lovely smokiness of these chilis will round off any dish, and they are a great addition and substitute for Pasilla chile. It’s advised to use a bit less of this chili to avoid raising the spice level of your dish too high.

5. Mulato peppers as a substitute

Mulato pepper

These beautiful peppers can be found in many Mexican dishes and are delicious on top of vegetables and soups. These peppers are milder tasting but are a suitable substitution.

6.Poblano peppers as a substitute

Try Poblano peppers out in your dishes as a substitute for Pasilla chile. They will give a very different visual to the Pasilla chile, but the flavor is a good match. These peppers are lovely as a key ingredient in a soup or stew. They have an excellent earthy taste that works well in many savory dishes.

7.Habanero peppers as a substitute

pile of spicy habanero peppers

These are way spicier than Pasilla chiles. These roundish red, orange, and yellow firecrackers are a possible substitute; you just need to reduce the amount you add to the dish to at least a quarter. They can be added to sauces if ground up.

They are significantly spicier than the Pasilla chile, which needs to be considered.

8. Mirasol peppers as a substitute

These peppers have a similar heat level to jalapenos and can be used to replace Pasilla chiles in a recipe. These are great to spice up soups and stews.

The best way to store Pasilla chile

Another frequently asked question is how to store a Pasilla chile. Fresh Pasilla chiles can be stored correctly in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Ground Pasilla can last longer and should be kept in a glass (preferably) jar or container with a lid on in a cool, dark, and dry place.

Health benefits of the Pasilla chile

There are so many amazing benefits to this vegetable. Pasilla chiles contain high levels of vitamin B6 which work to develop the brain. Healthy levels of vitamin B6 reduce the chances of diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, according to certain studies. A vitamin B6 deficiency is also linked to low serotonin levels.

Wrapping it up

The reality is that with the rise in popularity of authentic Mexican dishes, there is an increasingly greater need to find ingredients like Pasilla chiles. There are so many beautiful chilis on the market, wherever you are in the world. Europe, Asia, and Africa are starting to see more and more Mexican dishes and ingredients popping onto their menus and shelves.

With a bit of adjusting and creativity, it is pretty easy to find a suitable substitute, and why not try a couple to see which is your favorite alternative? Maybe there are a few, and then you’ll never run out of options!

pasilla chile

8 Best Pasilla Chile Substitutes

Seasonal and Savory
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 4


  • Ancho chile
  • Pasilla de Oaxaca
  • Guajillo peppers
  • Cascabel chile
  • Mulato peppers
  • Poblano peppers
  • Habanero peppers
  • Mirasol peppers


  • From the list of substitutes above, pick your favorite to use in its place.
  • Use your imagination and be creative with these substitute recipes!

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