Learn About Guajillo Chiles

Author: Chef Toby

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What is a Guajillo chile?

A Guajillo chile is a type of dried pepper that is dark red, flat and has a thick, slightly wrinkly skin. They are usually three to five inches long and about an inch wide. These peppers are very popular in Mexico, second in popularity only to the Ancho chile. 

What do Guajillo chiles taste like?

Guajillo chiles have a complex flavor, with hints of berry, smoke, and green tea. They have a moderate spice, registering at about 2,500-5,000 units on the Scoville scale.

How can you eat Guajillo chiles?

You can use Guajillo chiles in many different kinds of dishes with proper preparation. Toast guajillo peppers on a dry pan for enhanced flavor and soak them in hot water for an hour before use. They can then be blended into a paste and added to sauces, soups, marinades, and sauces. Mexican foods often seasoned with Guajillo include tamales and posole

Learn About Guajillo Chiles

Where can you buy Guajillo chiles?

You can find Guajillo chiles at most supermarkets in the Mexican section of the store or where other dried chilies and bulk spices are available.

How do you store Guajillo chiles?

Store guajillo chiles in a cool, dry place like a pantry or cupboard, inside of an airtight container. They will stay fresh for up to 6 months. 

Fun Fact about Guajillo chile:

Mexico isn’t the only place where guajillo is popular. Harissa, a popular condiment in Morrocan and Tunisian cuisine, is made with guajillo chiles.

Did you know?

In Mexican cuisine, chile and chocolate are a familiar pair in both savory and sweet dishes. Add cinnamon and guajillo chili powder to hot cocoa to give warm, Mexican flair to a classic, sweet favorite.

Recipes Using Guajillo Chiles

Guajillo Chile Sauce

To make this salsa, cook dried Guajillo chiles in boiling water for 25 minutes. In a blender, place the chiles, onion, garlic, brown sugar, and a can of tomatoes. Blitz until well combined and serve alongside a Mexican dinner or on its own with tortilla chips.

Traditional Red Posole

This traditional soup can take some time to make but is simple to assemble. In a blender, combine boiled guajillo and ancho chiles, hot water, cumin, onion, garlic, and salt. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, and cook the sauce in a saucepan with oil. In a large stockpot, cook a whole chicken covered in water and shred it once it’s cooked. Add in a can of cooked hominy and the sauce mixture.

Garbanzo Beans with Guajillo Sauce

This vegetarian dish can be whipped up quickly and makes a great side dish. In a sauté pan, cook diced carrots, onions in olive oil until they’re soft. Add a can of garbanzo beans and guajillo salsa and heat through. Season the dish with salt and parsley to taste.

Chili Powder

Make chili powder to use in many different recipes using guajillo and ancho peppers! Toast the peppers on a dry cast iron pant and remove. In the same pan, toast whole cumin, allspice berries, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds until they’re fragrant. In a spice grinder, combine the toasted chiles and spices with garlic powder, Mexican oregano, and smoked paprika. Blend the spices until pulverized and store in an airtight container.

Beef Birria

This take on a traditional Mexican meat braise uses beef to make a soft, delicious main dish. Place pieces of beef seasoned with salt and pepper in a baking dish. In a blender, make a chile sauce made with toasted guajillo chiles, ancho peppers, tomatoes, herbs, vinegar, and cinnamon. Pour the sauce over the beef and bake covered with aluminum foil for 4 hours or until the meat is tender. Serve with tortillas, lime, and cilantro.

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