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Chili vs. Chile Powder


On my grocery shelf, I see bottles of chili powder and chile powder. What’s the difference and when should I use each? Do I need to buy both?

Timothy Martin, Cookeville, TN


The terms “chili” and “chile” are often used interchangeably across North America, but they don’t always mean the same thing. Chili powder is usually a blend of ground chile pods and other spices like cumin, peppercorn, and salt. Chile powder most often refers to pure ground chile pods with few or no additives; the only way to tell is to read the ingredient label. For most dishes I prefer pure ground chile powder, as it allows me to blend (or not blend) it with the particular spices I want for each dish.

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