Ancho Chile Paste

Having ancho chile pepper paste is a staple in my house, with as much Mexican and Southwestern cooking that I do. I might just need a couple of teaspoons, say, to season some sour cream or mayo, or about 1/2 cup of it to add to a soup, chili, meat loaf, or enchilada sauce. I always keep jars of it frozen, to use when needed. It also keeps refrigerated for about six months.

The name of this dark red stuff comes from the fact that ancho chile peppers are used to make the ancho chile paste, which makes sense. Ancho chile peppers are actually dried poblanos. I don’t know why they can’t just call them dried poblanos, but that’s just not how it works in the chile pepper world.

The flavor of ancho chile paste, made only with ancho chiles, is dense and intense. It’s essentially reconstituted chile peppers.

But you can use other dried chile peppers, and even include hot varieties for a little zing. I personally like to use a mixture of chile peppers. Today, I’m using anchos, plus guajillos and chipotles. I’m running low on my precious chile pepper paste, so it’s time to make more. Here’s what I did:

Ancho, Guajillo, and Chipotle Chile Paste

10 ancho chile peppers (large, stubby, dark and wrinkly in the photo)
8 guajillo chile peppers (long, narrow, red and smooth)
Handful of chipotle peppers, depending on your taste (short, dark wrinkly)

Shown below, from left, ancho chile peppers, chipotle chile peppers, and guajillo chile peppers.

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First you must remove the stems from all of the large dried peppers with a sharp knife, and discard. Then slice open the pepper bodies and remove the seeds.

Please be aware that even though these are not fresh chile peppers, they can still burn your skin and eyes.

Place the pepper body parts in the bottom of a large bowl.

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Add boiling water to cover the peppers. Place a smaller, weighted bowl on top to keep the peppers submerged for at least one hour so they can hydrate.

Set up your blender, and have a measuring cup and a rubber spatula on hand. Using tongs, grab all the peppers you can and place them in the jar of the blender. Save the water in the bowl.

Using the measuring cup, remove some of the beautiful pepper-tinged water from the top. Seeds and any kind of debris will be at the bottom of the bowl. Add about 1/3 cup of the liquid to the blender.

Purée the peppers, adding a little more of the pepper water if necessary. The mixture should be smooth, but not too liquid.

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If you have any pepper water leftover, use it in other dishes, like in a soup.

Place a sieve over a bowl. Scrape all of the ancho chile paste into the colander.

Using a spoon’s bottom, force the paste through the sieve. This process removes the chile pepper peels.

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Scrape the paste from the bottom of the sieve as well, and voila! Chile pepper paste.

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Place the paste in clean jars. Freeze, and thaw as needed.

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Note that this recipe can be doubled or tripled, depending on much ancho chile paste you want! It’s the same amount of work!

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Also note that the chile paste will stain everything – your spatula, your sink, your countertop your clothes… You will have many orange spots if you don’t catch the spills immediately!

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By Published On: August 18th, 201658 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

58 Comments

  1. Cocoa & Lavender August 18, 2016 at 7:21 AM - Reply

    This is perfect, Mimi! People will be grateful to you forever for sharing this! Definitely a staple in my Southwest home!

  2. chezlerevefrancais August 18, 2016 at 9:20 AM - Reply

    I dried loads of cayenne peppers last year from the garden (I can’t get the seeds for much else.) Do you think they would work Mimi?

    • chef mimi August 18, 2016 at 3:15 PM - Reply

      A cayenne chile pepper paste would be very hot! But you could still use it – just in smaller amounts!!

      • chezlerevefrancais August 19, 2016 at 4:51 AM

        Thanks Mimi. I should have known really as my chilli sauce was way too hot for me!

  3. Travel Gourmet August 18, 2016 at 10:06 AM - Reply

    Brilliant! What a great idea to make your own chile paste :)

    • chef mimi August 18, 2016 at 3:16 PM - Reply

      It’s quite versatile and adds such great, deep flavor.

  4. Jill Barth August 18, 2016 at 10:20 AM - Reply

    What a wonderful ingredient to make and keep…”hmmm I think I’ll put Chile paste on this…and this…and how about this?”

    Cheers!

    • chef mimi August 18, 2016 at 3:16 PM - Reply

      We think alike. That’s why I need to always have it around!!!

  5. Kiki August 18, 2016 at 10:38 AM - Reply

    Wow, I love this! Sadly, the variety of chilies you can get in Germany is disappointing; we’ve been seeing more fresh varieties lately but no dried ones. You can’t get ancho chilies here but luckily I bought 2 packs in the UK last year, just because they were available. They might end up as paste now :-)

    • chef mimi August 18, 2016 at 3:17 PM - Reply

      That’s perfect. You’ll probably get 2-3 jars from those packages. I guess I’m pretty lucky getting chile peppers locally! But I can’t get speck!

      • Kiki August 19, 2016 at 10:06 AM

        If the US weren’t so strict with food imports we could trade speck for chillies :-D

      • chef mimi August 19, 2016 at 10:07 AM

        Oh that would be fun. And expensive!!!

      • Kiki August 19, 2016 at 10:11 AM

        Haha, probably not as expensive as buying a ticket to fly over (either way) just to have chillies or speck..

      • chef mimi August 19, 2016 at 10:13 AM

        True! I remember the first care package to my daughter in London – jars of salsa and a bottle of Sriracha – the shipping cost more than the goods!

  6. Gerlinde de Broekert August 18, 2016 at 10:48 AM - Reply

    Thank you for posting this , I’m real sucker for homemade sauces and paste .

    • chef mimi August 18, 2016 at 3:18 PM - Reply

      Anything home-made is so much better than store-bought.

  7. Debbie Spivey August 18, 2016 at 11:50 AM - Reply

    Thanks for sharing this Mimi. I need to make some of this. I didn’t realize the shelf life was so long. Yay!

    • chef mimi August 18, 2016 at 3:19 PM - Reply

      Oh yeah. Not that it lasts very long when I have thawed a jar, but it doesn’t mold. Maybe it’s too spicy for bacteria!!!

  8. Chica Andaluza August 18, 2016 at 12:59 PM - Reply

    Oh my I love this! Don’t have Anchor chillies but I can adapt and use some of my chilli bounty. Why have I never made chili paste before?! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • chef mimi August 18, 2016 at 3:20 PM - Reply

      I don’t know why! You must make some, and definitely it’s not limited to ancho chiles. Next week I’m putting some in enchilada sauce, but it can seriously flavor just about anything!!!

  9. Linda Duffin August 18, 2016 at 3:48 PM - Reply

    That looks wonderful. I never know why they can’t call them dried poblanos either!

  10. Lisa @ cheergerm August 19, 2016 at 7:07 AM - Reply

    Not sure I can get all of these to give it a whirl but I am going to at least try, delish!

    • chef mimi August 19, 2016 at 8:50 AM - Reply

      If you can get ancho chiles, then it would really be ancho chile paste, instead of Ancho Guajillo Chipotle chile paste!

  11. Food from Michelle's kitchen August 19, 2016 at 4:16 PM - Reply

    I’ve had some dried ancho chillies in my pantry for far too long now. It’s time to try your chilli paste. Thanks.

  12. eliotthecat August 20, 2016 at 2:14 PM - Reply

    I have two bags of peppers from our last trip to NM. Making this now!!!!!!!!

  13. saffronandhoney August 20, 2016 at 7:15 PM - Reply

    I have never made chili paste and chili jam myself though I enjoy both thoroughly! Now that I have your primer, I will definitely give it a go!

    • chef mimi August 20, 2016 at 8:16 PM - Reply

      Oh good! It’s such a handy staple. And easy to make, just a process.

  14. chefceaser August 20, 2016 at 11:29 PM - Reply

    Reblogged this on Chef Ceaser.

  15. dishinwithdidi August 21, 2016 at 6:09 AM - Reply

    I always my the cans with the adobo sauce. This is a killer and better way of doing it. Thank you my friend!! Also thank you for the tip about the staining!! ☺

    • chef mimi August 21, 2016 at 7:33 AM - Reply

      Well that stuff is good, too, but what you’re probably talking about is chipotles canned in adobo sauce? Adobo is tomato-based and seasoned. Ancho chile paste is pure reconstituted dried ancho chile peppers. A very different flavor, but both are fabulous!

  16. Frank Fariello August 21, 2016 at 8:33 AM - Reply

    Looks wonderful! I’m getting into Mexican cooking myself (but haven’t dared to blog about it). It’s amazing how many distinctive flavors—and not just heat—all the various dried chiles have. And anchos are some of my faves.

    • chef mimi August 21, 2016 at 8:40 AM - Reply

      You’re right – lots of people think that Mexican cuisine is all about heat – just like Indian cuisine. But it’s not. In fact, it can actually be very layered and involved. Maybe the most complicated cuisine I’m familiar with. Fortunately you don’t have to make those recipes. I can’t even find a lot of the ingredients to make authentic Mexican foods, and I live in the south of the U.S

  17. Robyn Gleason August 21, 2016 at 8:35 AM - Reply

    Wow, it never occurred to me to make this, Mimi. I love your step by step photos and we are big lover of ancho chile paste in our house. Thanks for a great recipe! And thank you for your visit :)

    • chef mimi August 21, 2016 at 8:42 AM - Reply

      Well you are welcome! It’s so hand to have on hand. It’s a little time consuming, but no more than say, making a pesto.

  18. centerforcreativework August 21, 2016 at 11:43 AM - Reply

    Thanks for your post. I’ve been blending ancho and papilla peppers and looking to do more.

    • chef mimi August 21, 2016 at 4:40 PM - Reply

      I think you can mix whatever you can get our hands on. The blends I think are way more fun than just ancho chiles, but I’m sure that’s a matter of opinion!

  19. sippitysup August 21, 2016 at 1:38 PM - Reply

    I always have dried chiles in the house I don’t know why I’ve never tried this. GREG

    • chef mimi August 21, 2016 at 4:39 PM - Reply

      I don’t know either! By the way, I thought it was time to read your bio, and I cried and laughed through it! The best bio ever. Love that photo.

  20. sa.fifer August 21, 2016 at 9:54 PM - Reply

    What a great idea to have the dried chiles easy to use. Thank you!

    • chef mimi August 22, 2016 at 8:49 AM - Reply

      They are so inexpensive too! At least where I live. I guess if you have to have them imported they might be more expensive, but they’re not heavy!

  21. Loretta August 22, 2016 at 7:14 AM - Reply

    I’m salivating as I read this. It sounds and looks labor-intensive, but wow what an end product! Love those various types of chile peppers. It’s amazing the variety that are available these days.

    • chef mimi August 22, 2016 at 8:49 AM - Reply

      I wish I could get my hands on more varieties than I can. It would be so fun to try them all out – fresh and dried!

  22. Liz @ spades, spatulas, and spoons August 22, 2016 at 12:00 PM - Reply

    Wow, thank you! What a great idea.

    • chef mimi August 25, 2016 at 8:39 AM - Reply

      Once you have it, you realize how versatile it is!

  23. ChgoJohn August 22, 2016 at 4:29 PM - Reply

    The blogging community sure has changed my diet. Not more that a couple years ago, I would have seen this post’s title and gone right past. “Too hot for me.” My heat tolerance is now in what was once that category, I will pin this to use the next time I need chile paste. Much prefer homemade ingredients to store bought, any day, Thanks!

    • chef mimi August 22, 2016 at 6:52 PM - Reply

      That’s so interesting! I’m sure you remember Richard – I still laugh out loud that he changed the taste buds of fellas in Ireland and Holland with chile pepper care packages! But trust me, ancho chiles, or the counterpart poblano chiles, are not hot. Ancho chile paste just provides a deep, unique flavor. Thank you for stopping by!!

  24. anotherfoodieblogger August 23, 2016 at 12:15 AM - Reply

    I should definitely make some of this! I love chile peppers, and my jalapenos and serranos are going gangbusters in my garden, finally. I also have poblanos and tomatillos and banana peppers, wow! I wasn’t sure I could grow those last three with our short growing season. I find it’s easier to rehydrate the dried chiles before cutting off the tops and taking out the seeds, though since they cut through much easier.

    • chef mimi August 23, 2016 at 7:49 AM - Reply

      I really love fresh chile peppers, but there’s also nothing unite like chile pastes made from dried peppers.

  25. Sumith Babu August 25, 2016 at 7:15 AM - Reply

    A great share. Need to learn lot from you. Thank you chef Mimi

  26. Irenemartinez December 4, 2017 at 5:38 PM - Reply

    You can use to spice your tamalie meat.

    • chef mimi September 2, 2018 at 10:35 AM - Reply

      It is like a seasoning, isn’t it?!!

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