Chili Powders: A Guide to Their Many Names

Chili powders are a popular spice used in cuisines all around the world. But did you know that chili powder has many different names? From region to region, the name can vary greatly. In this article, we’ll explore the different names for chili powder and the regions they come from.

What is chili powder?

Before we dive into the different names for chili powder, it’s important to understand what it actually is. Chili powder is a spice blend made from ground chili peppers, as well as other spices like cumin, oregano, and garlic powder. The heat level can vary depending on the types of chili peppers used and how much of each spice is added.

The many names for chili powder

  1. Chili powder: This is the most common name for the spice blend in the United States. It’s typically made from a combination of chili peppers, cumin, oregano, and garlic powder.
  2. Chili seasoning: This is another common name for chili powder, particularly in the southern United States. It’s typically a blend of chili powder, cumin, salt, and other spices.
  3. Chili con carne seasoning: This name specifically refers to a spice blend used to make chili con carne, a popular Tex-Mex dish. It’s typically made from chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  4. Chili sauce: In some parts of the world, particularly Asia, chili powder is called chili sauce. This can be confusing for people in the United States, where chili sauce typically refers to a condiment made from chili peppers, vinegar, and sugar.
  5. Paprika: Paprika is a spice made from ground sweet peppers. In some parts of the world, particularly Europe, paprika is used as a substitute for chili powder.
  6. Cayenne pepper: Cayenne pepper is a type of chili pepper that’s often ground into a spice. In some regions, particularly in the Caribbean, cayenne pepper is used in place of chili powder.
  7. Red pepper flakes: Red pepper flakes are made from dried and crushed chili peppers. They’re commonly used as a pizza topping, but in some regions they’re used in place of chili powder.
  8. Chili paste: Chili paste is made from ground chili peppers, vinegar, and salt. It’s commonly used in Asian cuisine, particularly in Thai and Korean dishes.

The regions where chili powder is used

  1. Mexico: Chili powder is a staple in Mexican cuisine. It’s used in dishes like mole, tamales, and enchiladas.
  2. United States: Chili powder is used in many Tex-Mex dishes, as well as in chili con carne.
  3. Caribbean: Cayenne pepper is a popular spice in Caribbean cuisine. It’s often used in dishes like jerk chicken and goat curry.
  4. India: In India, chili powder is known as lal mirch. It’s commonly used in curries and other spicy dishes.
  5. Thailand: In Thailand, chili paste is commonly used in dishes like pad thai and tom yum soup.


Chili powder may have many different names, but no matter what it’s called, it’s a delicious and versatile spice that’s used in cuisines all around the world. Whether you’re making a classic bowl of chili con carne or a spicy Thai curry, chili powder is sure to add some heat and flavor to your dish.


  1. Is chili powder the same thing as cayenne pepper?
  • No, chili powder is a blend of ground chili peppers and other spices, while cayenne pepper is a specific type of chili pepper that’s often used as a spice.
  1. Can I substitute paprika for chili powder?
  • While paprika can add a similar color and smokiness to dishes as chili powder, it won’t add the same level of heat. It’s best to use chili powder when a recipe specifically calls for it.
  1. Are there different types of chili powders?
  • Yes, there are many different types of chili powders made from various types of chili peppers. Some are hotter than others, so it’s important to read the label and adjust the amount used accordingly.
  1. Can I make my own chili powder?
  • Yes, you can make your own chili powder by grinding dried chili peppers and adding other spices like cumin and oregano. This allows you to customize the heat level and flavor to your liking.
  1. How should I store chili powder?
  • Chili powder should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. This will help to preserve its flavor and prevent it from clumping.
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