Chili Spices: Everything You Need to Know

Chili Spices: Everything You Need to Know

The perfect blend of chili spices can make or break your next pot of chili. While ground dried chilies are an obvious ingredient, what are the other key herbs and spices to have on hand to add to your next batch of chili?

What is in chili powder?

The generic chili powder sold at the grocery store does not contain, (surprise surprise!) just chilies. It is actually a blend of spices such as cumin and oregano, plus others. It is an absolutely confusing system. I prefer to make my own chili powder blend however, by adding single spices to a pot of chili. I order through high-quality online resources such as this one or this one to make my own blends. If you’re not interested in making your own spice blends, check out Spice Club, where my subscription-based spice blends are sent out on a monthly basis.

chili spices

The Spices I Use

One of the main ingredients in chili powder is ground whole dried chilies. I highly recommend grinding your own dried chilies. I just use a coffee grinder like this, and dedicate it to only grinding spices! Be sure to break the chilies into pieces with your hands (with gloves!) before loading up the spice grinder. I like to use ancho chilies, or a mix of ancho and guajillo chilies. California chilies are also a good option, and I’ve found them available in big bags at my local Northgate market. Like in the recipe linked below, I use some combination of the following: chili powder (I like anchos) or smoked paprika, sweet paprika, oregano, coriander, cumin, bay leaves, cayenne for some heat (if desired), and black pepper.

Leftover Turkey Chili

I am writing this two weeks before Thanksgiving, and I’ll be honest, leftovers are already on my mind. A delicious way to use up leftover turkey is to make turkey chili. I do this by substituting shredded or chopped cooked turkey in my smoky black bean chili recipe, and skipping the meat browning step.

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