Pasilla Pepper

Pepper Parade: Exploring the Top Substitutes for Pasilla Pepper

For many running out of pasilla peppers means the recipe grinds to a halt, but no longer! These excellent pasilla pepper substitutes are here to save the day (and the recipe)!

Pasilla peppers add wonderful spice and depth to so many dishes. It is a common addition to mole, enchilada sauce, and more, but what can you do when this flavorful pepper can’t be found? Fret not, there are plenty of peppery options that work as wonderful pasilla pepper substitutes. Next time you are out of pasilla peppers, reach for one of these wonderfully flavor replacements.

What is a Pasilla Pepper

Pasilla peppers, sometimes called chile negro, are dried chilaca chili peppers. They are a dark green and long pepper, they can be up to 8-inches long. When dried their skin gets very wrinkly and dark. This inspires their name which means “little raisin” in Spanish.

Their flavor is earthy, smoky, and fruit with a very mild sweetness. Their heat is very mild so they are used more for their notes of smoke and berry.

The chilaca peppers are picked at their freshest and then dried to capture the flavor. Drying the peppers extends their lifespan and makes them shelf-stable. They can be rehydrated or used as a dry spice.

Uses for Pasilla Pepper

Traditional eggs with pasilla pepper sauce
Traditional eggs with pasilla pepper sauce

Pasilla pepper is often used in conjunction with other peppers to create a deep and well-rounded spicy flavor. They are a flavor ingredient of Mexican cuisine and their smoky flavor has many applications. These are a few common dishes that incorporate pasilla peppers:

  • Enchilada Sauce
  • Mole
  • Salsa Roja
  • Spice Rubbed Meat

Pasilla peppers are sometimes rehydrated in soups and sauces or they can even be ground into a dry spice rub.

Health Benefits of Pasilla Pepper

Never underestimate the health benefits of seasonings and spices; just because they are used more sparingly than other ingredients does not mean they don’t have nutritional benefits. Pasilla peppers bring a good deal of potassium and dietary fiber to recipes. They also have a wonderful amount of vitamin B6.

Substituting the pasilla pepper does not have to lead to losing these great benefits. Many of these substitutes bring wonderful nutritional benefits to dishes.

How to Choose a Pasilla Pepper Substitute

A big factor in choosing the right pasilla pepper substitute is whether you will be rehydrating the peppers. Dried peppers have a different flavor profile than rehydrated peppers. Consider whether you will be making a rub, a sauce, a soup, or a saute, all of these cooking methods work differently with different peppers.

To find the best selection and prices for these peppers try shopping at a local Mexican grocery store or other groceries with a large international spice section. Many smaller grocery stores that specialize in one type of cuisine may have a better selection of ingredients and rates.

The 6 Best Pasilla Pepper Substitutes

No.Substitute NameMain Flavor Note
1Ancho ChilesSmoky
2Cascabel ChilesWoody
3Pasilla De OaxacaSmoky
4Mulato PeppersChocolatey
5Guajillo ChilesFruity
6Chipotle PeppersSmoky

1. Ancho Chiles

Ancho Chiles

Made from dried early-harvest poblanos, ancho chiles are an excellent substitute for pasilla peppers. Ancho chiles have a very similar flavor profile to pasilla peppers. Their flavor is mild, smoky, and a little fruity. Much like the pasilla peppers, ancho chiles have health benefits like tons of vitamin A.

The flavor of anchos makes them a great swap in any recipe calling for pasilla peppers. Ancho chiles can be treated the same as pasilla peppers. They can be rehydrated, ground into a dry spice, and used in pickling liquids, soups, and more.

2. Cascabel Chiles

Cascabel Chiles

These tiny chiles make a great substitute for pasilla peppers. They are small and bell-shaped with lots of peppery flavors. Their taste is smoky, earthy, nutty, and woody. They can also be slightly acidic. The smokiness that they bring to dishes makes them a good substitute for pasilla peppers.

Substituting cascabel chiles is best when the recipe calls for several chiles. Their flavor profile is a little different from the pasilla pepper, so letting this pepper work with others can be helpful. Cascabels can be rehydrated, and used in rubs, marinades, and more.

3. Pasilla De Oaxaca


This is the dried form of Mixe chiles and it makes a great pasilla pepper substitute. Pasillas de Oaxaca is a form of dried Mexican chiles with a similar smokiness to pasilla peppers. The pasilla de Oaxaca are smoky and mild and with lots of nutritious vitamin A.

This chili works very well to mimic the smokiness of pasilla peppers. It is a great addition to spice rubs and sauces. To make the most of this pepper substitution, pair it with another sweeter pepper. These dried peppers can be rehydrated.

4. Mulato Peppers

Mulato Pepper

Mulato peppers are in close relation to ancho chiles, the difference is when the peppers are picked. For ancho chiles, the poblano peppers are harvested early, whereas for Mulato peppers the poblanos are picked late and then dried. The Mulato peppers have a rich woody, chocolate-like flavor with notes of cherry.

Mulato peppers are an excellent substitute for pasilla peppers in mole, enchilada sauce, and other sauces. Use this pepper as a substitute for pasilla pepper in soups, sauces, or any other recipe. The flavor profile will be woodier than pasilla, but still very delicious. These peppers can be rehydrated.

5. Guajillo Chiles

Guajillo Chile

These chiles are the dried form of mirasol peppers and they make an excellent pasilla pepper substitute. The flavor of these chiles is rich, mild in heat, fruity, and smoky. They can be rehydrated and they add iron and potassium to dishes.

Guajillo chiles have a great flavor to substitute for pasilla peppers in any dish. They have a nice roundness and smokiness to add to sauces, soups, stews, and more. They work very well when ground up and combined with other chiles to make a spice rub.

6. Chipotle Pepper

Chipotle Pepper

If used cautiously, chipotle pepper can be a good substitute for pasilla pepper. Chipotle peppers are dried jalapenos. They have considerably more heat than the average pasilla pepper but a very similar smokiness.

Chipotle pepper can be used in place of pasilla peppers when smokiness is the desired flavor note. Use a light hand with chipotle because it has a much higher heat level than the average pasilla pepper. Use this pasilla pepper substitute in places where it will be combined with other peppers and seasonings to build flavor.

The Runner-Up

The guajillo chiles are the runner-up for best pasilla pepper substitute. They have a great smokiness and fruity flavor that works very well in place of the pasilla pepper. They are wonderfully versatile chile and very easy to find in stores and online.

This pasilla substitute works well in sauces, stews, soups, marinades, and more. Use this swap in conjunction with other peppers for additional depth of flavor.

The Best Overall Pasilla Pepper Substitute

Ancho chiles are the best overall substitute for the pasilla pepper. They have a fairly equal heat level and a very similar flavor profile. Using ancho peppers along with other dried peppers can bring out a lot of complexity to sauces, soups, and beyond.

Ancho chiles are easy to find in most grocery stores and online. They have a wonderful balance that can mimic the pasilla pepper in any dish at a 1:1 ratio.

Pasilla Pepper

6 Best Substitutes for Pasilla Pepper

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


  • Ancho Chiles
  • Cascabel Chiles
  • Pasilla de Oaxaca
  • Mulato Peppers
  • Guajillo Chiles
  • Chipotle 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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