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Chilli Powder vs. Chile Powder: What’s the Difference?

7 September 2022

Have you found using chilli and chile interchangeably when talking about that fragrant red spice? If the answer is yes, then you’ve actually been making a very common mistake. Chilli powder and chile powder refer to two very distinct (albeit delicious) spices. So what’s the difference?  

What is the difference?

Hint: It’s not just the spelling!

Chile powder is a single spice. This means it consists of only one ingredient: dried and ground chile peppers. Nothing is added to it.

There are different kinds of chile powder depending on which variety of chile pepper it’s made from. Sweet bell peppers, jalapeño, poblano, and cayenne are all varieties of chile peppers. They belong to the Capsicum annuum family. 

Chilli powder is a spice blend. It’s made by combining dried chile peppers with other spices including cumin, oregano, peppercorn, and salt.

There is no set formula for creating chilli powder, so different brands will often create their own interpretations. Some may choose to include garlic or onion powder into the mix, whereas others may opt to go easy on the salt for health-conscious consumers. Hela Spice can help you craft the perfect chilli powder blend for your brand!

How are they used?

Both chile and chilli powder bring a distinct and beloved flavour to an array of dishes from across the world. They are also ideal for adding a bit of heat.

Chilli powder is a staple in chilli dishes, which shares the same name. It’s also commonly used in dry rubs, but can also be found seasoning veggie burgers and vegetables.

Chile powder has endless applications. Different varieties offer varying levels of heat and flavour. You can find it used across the globe. For example, Mexican, Korean, Indian, and South African cooking all have their own types of chile powder. 

A Guide to Common Chile Powders


Paprika is probably the most famous type of chile powder. Chances are, there’s a jar in your spice cabinet at home. It comes from larger, sweeter peppers and, thus, tends to be fairly mild. However, there are many variations of paprika, including a hot version! There are also sweet paprika, smoked paprika, and eight different varieties of Hungarian paprika.

The taste of paprika varies between types and from country to country. Generally, its flavours are sweet and slightly mild.


Cayenne chile powder comes from the cayenne pepper. These chiles are bright red, hence the colour of this popular spice. This pepper is also commonly used to make chile flakes. 

Unlike most varieties of paprika, cayenne does offer some heat. It’s hot enough to increase the heat factor in dishes, but not so hot that it’s overwhelming. Consequently, cayenne is incredibly useful for adding spice without deterring heat-adverse consumers.


Chipotle is made from mature, red jalapeños that have been smoked, dried, and ground into powder. It offers a hot, smoky flavour that appears in chillis, BBQ sauces, and Mexican cuisine. Technically, chipotle is a medium-heat chile powder. It will add depth and colour to dishes without going overboard on the heat factor.

However, its manageable heat and smoky, pungent taste have made chipotle an incredibly popular spice in North America. 


Ancho is an incredibly mild and slightly fruity chile powder. In fact, it has less heat than cayenne! Because of its sweetness and lack of heat, ancho is not a good substitute for other types of chile.

This unique chile powder is made from ripened poblano peppers. Typically, most of the poblano peppers that you see are green, and yet ancho is a red spice! This is because ancho comes from poblanos that were left on the plant to ripen fully. When this happens, the otherwise green poblano pepper turns red. As it ripens, the poblano also becomes sweeter.

International Chile Powders


Gochugaru is a Korean chile powder made from hot red pepper flakes. Most gochugaru comes from taeyangcho chile peppers. Its flavour is spicy, sweet, and slightly smoky. It also comes in both mild and hot varieties. You can use it in spicy sauces, stews, and kimchi.


Kashmiri pepper powder comes from India. It has a particularly vibrant red hue, even amongst other chile powders! Kashmiri peppers have been bred to be brightly coloured and mild tasting, much like sweet paprika. It has a slightly fruity flavour and contributes to the red colour of some curries and tandoori dishes.

Peri Peri

Peri peri (also known as “piri piri” or African bird’s eye chile) is a common African spice. It brings a similar level of heat as cayenne chile powders. When combined with citrus peel, onion, pepper, salt, lemon juice, bay leaves, paprika basil, oregano, and tarragon, peri peri becomes the popular peri peri sauce. This sauce is hot and aromatic, yet sweet.

Find Your Perfect Spice With Hela Spice

Both chile and chilli powders offer dynamic and delicious flavours that can elevate a wide range of dishes. Whereas chile powder is made from a single ingredient (dried chiles), chilli powders are a robust blend of various spices.

Consequently, there is ample opportunity to customize chilli powder to suit your unique brand and target market. Hela Spice’s custom spice blending will craft the perfect custom chilli spice blend for your customers!

On the other hand, if you’re looking to carry a high-quality and flavourful chile powder, then Hela Spice can help too. We are one of the premier spice suppliers in Canada.

To learn more about our spice supplying services at Hela Spice, visit our website here or contact us here.

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