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Mexican Chiles A Complete Guide

Mexican Chiles A Complete Guide

Mexican Chiles are a staple ingredient of many of the best Mexican recipes, there are over 60 types of chiles produced in Mexico adding complexity, spice and depth. Fresh chiles are used to add crunchiness, heat and color to salsas, while they can be eaten raw, when they are dried their complexion and taste change completely, like a culinary chameleon!

Dried chiles need only to be deseeded, destemmed and toasted on a comal, they can also be fried or soaked in hot water to be ready for any recipe.

Here are some of the most iconic chiles in Mexico,

Chile Guajillo

Guajillo chiles are the dried twin of the mirasol chile, they are large, thin chiles with red skin and mild spice, add to that their natural sweetness and earthiness and it gives you Mexico's most popular dried pepper. Mostly used for pastes, rubs and caldos (soups/stews), it also pairs well with chocolate!

SCOVILLE RATING: 2,000 – 5,000

Recipes using Chile Guajillo include; Red Pozole, Red enchiladas, Mole de Olla, Asado de Boda, Salsa Roja.

Chile Ancho

Chile Ancho is the dried version of the poblano, they are like a giant raisin and are incredibly fragrant. They can vary in their heat, but you can generally expect a mild to medium and amazingly smoky flavor. Use it for marinades, like adobos, or to make chile paste, this is one of the main chiles for mole.


Recipes using Chile Ancho include; Mole Poblano, Adobo Sauce, Enchiladas Rojas..

Chile Mulato

The Mulato is a darker chile ancho, a fully matured and dried poblano pepper, if you put them side by side you will be able to see the difference in color and identify the mulato from the ancho. They are generally mild in spice paired with their natural sweetness and smokiness, makes it the best chile for moles, salsas and stews.


Chile Chipotle

We have two types of Chipotle in our store, the meco and the morita, our favorite is the morita, a small but punchy red and ripened jalapeño. This chile is smoked for a bit less time so it retains a soft and fruity complexion. Let these chiles fully soak to achieve smooth salsas, or try our creamy chipotle salsa on this link.

SCOVILLE RATING: 5,000 – 10,000
Chipotle are very popular, especially the canned version with an adobo sauce, they are used in salsas, and to add flavor and spiciness to stews like Caldo Tlalpeño.

Chile de Arbol

Bright red and to handled with care, these long slender chiles are what brings the most spice to all our red salsas. Try toasting them or frying them as your rehydrating method to intensify their earthiness and heat.

SCOVILLE RATING: 15,000 – 30,000

My favorite way of using Chile de Arbol is the way my grandmother Tita taught me, by making a Chile de Arbol Oil on this link.

Chile Pasilla

Pasilla literally translates to 'little raisin' it is a dried chilaca chile, and true to its name it is dark, wrinkly and sweet like a dried fruit. Because their heat is not overpowering, you can use it to elevate any Oaxacan mole and other complex sauces, check out this pasilla sauce here.

SCOVILLE RATING: 1,000 – 3,999

These are typically used for salsas, but can also be stuffed with meats or seafood.

Chile Piquín

These little bird peppers pack the strongest punch of all, at least 10 times that of a jalapeño. This is a chile that the smaller its size the hotter it will be. The Piquín like the Tepin and other common same sized chiles are mostly from the north of Mexico's arid climate. Turn it into a loose poweder for topping mexican mariscos like, ceviches or aguachiles.

 SCOVILLE RATING: 40,000 - 60,000

Tips on Handling Mexican Chiles

If you've never tried your hand at cooking with Mexican chiles, don't be afraid, we are here to guide you!

First things first, wear plastic gloves and do not touch your face (common mistake) while handling the chiles. You will first need to remove the seeds and the veins, easily done over the bin or over the sink to not make a mess.

Buying dried chiles you should always check that they are not broken or no longer smell like anything, that is a sign that they are old, and they won't yield much flavor. If they break easily when you fold them that also means that they have been sold to you past their prime.

Storing your chiles is easy when you buy them from Casa Mexicana, we sell you the freshest chiles in easy to store resealable bags. If you know you will not be using them in the next months, you can also pop them in the freezer and they will their freshness for 6-8 months. But at Casa Mexicana we make our chiles into pastes or chile oils, which always comes in handy when we are in a rush to cook up a Mexican dish!


Find our selection of dried chiles at the best prices here!

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