I think I must be the only person on the planet who thought that the chili powder we use to flavor Classic American Chili, Emily's Carnitas, or Spiced Wild Salmon Tacos was a single spice. I had honestly never given it a thought since it's so easy to buy in the store. So when I found myself short on chili powder, the "blond" kicked in and I thought I would just grind up some dried New Mexico peppers to use. THAT, my friends, is NOT the way to make Homemade Chili Powder. It IS, however, the way to make homemade red pepper ... and to send smoke signals out of your ears!
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It should be noted that in cuisines other than our American one, chili powder is literally the powder of a dried chili. In America, we most often buy it labeled cayenne pepper or red pepper. You can dry your own chilies or purchase pre-dried ones and grind them in the dry jar of a Vitamix (or other high-powered blender) or in a dedicated spice/coffee grinder. You can even use a mortar and pestle ... if you need an arm workout! Experiment with various chiles to find the ones you prefer: ancho, chiles de arbol, chipotle, calabrian chiles, New Mexican chiles, guajillo, pasilla ... or make a blend! Check out The Spice Jungle for more!
So, how DO you make Homemade American chili powder?
Chili powder as we know it in American cuisine is a blend of spices. Most commonly, they are paprika, oregano, cumin, garlic, and red pepper, although some contain additional ingredients. My Homemade Chili Powder recipe is very simply five ingredients that I always have on hand. I prefer to make it not so spicy and add more red pepper to a dish later if more heat is desired. However, if you'd like to make a spicy chili powder, I won't stop you! Just remember that you can always add heat, but you can't take it away!
Homemade Chili Powder
- 4 Tablespoons paprika
- 4 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2½ teaspoons cumin
- 2½ teaspoons granulated garlic
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Mix all the spices together and store in a glass jar.