Food and Nutrition
Food and Nutrition
Food and Nutrition
Food and Nutrition

Chili Powder vs Chili Flakes (Differences and Best Types)

Jump to RecipeThree jars of spices.

You may see different recipes asking for chili powder or chili flakes. These are two different types of spices that have a unique flavor profile. They each add spice and heat to your dishes and they have their own place in your recipes.

Main Differences Between Chili Powder and Chili Flakes

The main things that differentiate chili powder and chili flakes are:

  1. Chili powder is a spice blend, while chili flakes are made from a single chili pepper.
  2. Chili powder is used in sauces or during cooking and chili flakes are often used at the end as garnish.
  3. Chili powder is a finely ground powder while chili flakes are larger pieces.
  4. Traditional chili powder is often mild in spice while crushed chili flakes can have more heat.

Chili Powder vs Chili Flakes

Chili powder and chili flakes are both spices made from dried chili peppers. They are both a popular spice that you will see in many recipes. The main difference is their form, what they are made of, and how you use them. Here is a break down of each spice.

Chili Powder

Chili powder is a fine powder spice blend. It is typically a combination of ground chili peppers along with other spices like cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano. Chili powder is used as a seasoning in cooking and is often added to sauces, stews, chili, and other dishes to impart flavor, color, and heat. Chili powder is a common ingredient used in Mexican cuisine, Tex-Mex, and Southwestern cuisines.

There are different levels of spice in chili powders. Most of the time they have a little heat but nothing too spicy. If you are looking for an extra spicy chili powder you might want to find a specialty spice blend.

Chili Flakes

Chili flakes, also known as crushed red pepper flakes or red chili flakes, are coarsely crushed or ground dried chilis. They are typically larger in size compared to chili powder and have a flaky or coarse texture. Chili flakes are commonly used as a topping or garnish to add heat and spice to dishes. They are sprinkled on pizza, pasta, soups, stir-fries, and other foods to provide a spicy kick.

Chili flakes are often used as a table condiment or garnish. They are sprinkled directly onto dishes just before serving to add heat and a touch of spiciness. Chili flakes are versatile and can be used in various cuisines to enhance the flavor and add a fiery kick to foods.

Types of Chili Powders

Most of the time a recipe is talking about a traditional chili powder, but there are other options. There are so many peppers and each type of pepper has its own chili powder. If a recipe wants to use a specific type of chili powder it will typically specify since these are a little harder to find. Here are the different types of chili powders you can find.

  • Traditional Chili Powder: This is what you will use most of the time. Traditional chili powder typically refers to the spice blend commonly used in Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisines. It is a combination of dried and ground chili peppers, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano.
  • Ancho Chili Powder: Made from dried and ground ancho chilies, which are mild to medium in heat. Ancho chili powder has a rich, smoky flavor with hints of dried fruit and coffee.
  • Cayenne Chili Powder: Made from dried and ground cayenne peppers, which are quite hot. Cayenne chili powder is known for its fiery heat and is often used to add spice to dishes.
  • Chipotle Chili Powder: Made from smoked and dried jalapeño peppers, chipotle chili powder has a smoky and slightly sweet flavor with a moderate level of heat. I love adding this spice to shrimp or veggies for tacos.
  • New Mexico Chili Powder: Made from dried New Mexico chili peppers, this chili powder has a mild to medium heat level. It has a slightly sweet and earthy flavor.
  • Korean Chili Powder (Gochugaru): A staple in Korean cuisine, gochugaru is made from dried and ground Korean red chili peppers. It has a medium level of heat and a fruity, slightly smoky flavor.
  • Thai Chili Powder (Prik Bon): Used in Thai cuisine, prik bon is made from dried Thai bird's eye chili peppers. It is extremely hot and has a fruity, vibrant flavor.
  • Kashmiri Chili Powder: Commonly used in Indian cuisine, Kashmiri chili powder is made from dried Kashmiri chilies. It has a vibrant red color, mild heat, and a fruity flavor. This is a great one to use in dal or curries.
  • Aleppo Chili Powder: Originating from the Middle East, Aleppo chili powder is made from dried and ground Aleppo chili peppers. It has a moderate level of heat with a fruity and slightly tangy flavor.
Three spice jars.
Spice House Seasoning

Types of Chili Flakes

Most of the chili powders from above can also be found in chili flake form. The different types of peppers can be make into flakes as well as ground. Here are the common types of chili flakes.

  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes: This is the most common type of chili flakes found in many grocery stores. It is typically made from dried cayenne peppers or a mix of hot chili varieties. Crushed red pepper flakes have a medium to high level of heat.
  • Aleppo Pepper Flakes: Originating from the Middle East, Aleppo pepper flakes are made from dried and crushed Aleppo chili peppers. They have a moderate level of heat and a slightly sweet and fruity flavor.
  • Korean Chili Flakes: Gochugaru is a staple in Korean cuisine and is made from dried and coarsely ground Korean red chili peppers. It has a medium level of heat and a vibrant, slightly smoky flavor.
  • Urfa Biber: Urfa biber is a Turkish chili flake made from dried and crushed Urfa chili peppers. These peppers are typically dark red to brown in color and have a medium heat level with a rich, smoky, and slightly sweet flavor.
  • Thai Bird's Eye Chili Flakes: Thai bird's eye chili flakes are made from dried and crushed Thai bird's eye chilies. They are very hot and offer a fiery heat with a distinct fruity flavor.
  • Kashmiri Chili Flakes: Made from dried Kashmiri chili peppers, Kashmiri chili flakes have a vibrant red color and a medium level of heat. They have a slightly sweet and mildly smoky flavor.
  • Chipotle Pepper Flakes: Chipotle pepper flakes are made from dried and smoked jalapeño peppers. They have a medium level of heat with a smoky and slightly sweet flavor.

What about Cayenne Pepper

Another spice you may see chili powder compared to is cayenne pepper. Cayenne pepper is made from dried ground cayenne peppers. It has a bright red color and a good amount of spice. Cayenne pepper is spicer then chili powder or chili flakes. If you like spice food, try adding in some cayenne pepper. If you don't like spicy food be careful to not use too much.

Where to Buy Spices

Most of these spices you can find at your local grocery store. If you are looking for something specific you can find them at more specialty online stores like the Spice House. If you are looking for a specific Korean spice try an asian market as most will have an array of different flavor spices.

How to Store Spices

Spices will get milder over time. With exposure to oxygen and sunlight they will slowly loose flavor. It is important to always check the expiration date before using a spice.

A few ways to keep your spices fresh are:

  1. Keep them in airtight containers
  2. Store in a cool and dark place
  3. Avoid moisture and condensation
  4. Don't store them above the stove
  5. Label and date your spices
Close up of a jar of crushed chili flakes.

Recipes with Chili Powder

Recipes with Chili Flakes

Chili powder and chili flakes are great spices to have in your spice cabinet. They each have their own use and flavor. When using both of them make sure to add a little bit at a time. Remember you can always add more spice, but you can’t always take it out.

Products Showcased

Box of 4 spice jars.

Spice House

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