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9 May 2016

This is an all-purpose chili paste recipe made with ancho and guajillo chili peppers. Use it to flavor soups and stews, pasta sauces, slow cooker recipes and so much more. I have this in the refrigerator all the time as a quick go-to for massive flavor.

Chili pastes are essential in this wild place called the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen. A good chili paste brings a HUGE infusion of flavor to many a dish, and when I don’t have a quick chili paste on hand, ready to go at a moment’s notice, I chastise myself repeatedly then rush to make another batch so I can stop berating myself. Note to self: ALWAYS keep chili paste in the house!

Recipes all around the world list chili pastes among their required ingredients. Each is made from regional chili peppers and spices, which makes the recipe flavor completely unique.

A simple chili paste is made from dried peppers. Drying the peppers preserves them, allowing you to keep them almost indefinitely, but it also concentrates the flavor of the pepper, so when you rehydrate them to make your paste, your end result is a flavor bomb that makes your body quiver.

No joke!

We grow all sorts of chili peppers each year and I dehydrate many of them for pastes alone. I can pull out a small bag of dried peppers and whip up a paste anytime I need, which is such a happy-happy thing for me.

This particular recipe is made with ancho peppers and guajillo peppers, which I picked up in bulk from my local Mexican grocer. I keep it in a little container in the fridge, like so. Ignore the terrible handwriting.

Ancho-Guajillo Chili Paste – Recipe

It will keep in the refrigerator a few weeks this way, or you can freeze it in small batches if you’d like. I make a slightly larger batch to keep around for quick use, but since it’s truly so quick and easy to make anyway, there is no reason you can’t make a fresh batch for whatever recipe you’ll be making that particular day.

I will be using this chili paste in a number of recipes that I have planned in the coming days, and I will be referencing it, so if you’re cooking along with me, get a batch of this ready ahead to save yourself a bit of time.

Chili Paste

The most basic chili paste is simply rehydrated peppers that are processed and nothing else. Alone, this type of paste brings a lot of flavor to your dish.

I like to add in a few other ingredients, like garlic, a bit of salt, some onion, though you don’t have to do it this way. It works for me, though.

You can add in other seasonings as well to achieve your preferred flavors, though the goal here is to keep it generic enough to be able to include it in any number of dishes.

What sorts of dishes can you make with chili paste? I’m glad you asked, my friends! I will be making a unique mostaccioli recipe and will use this to flavor the pasta sauce by swirling it into tomato sauce for something unique.

Any meats you cook in the slow cooker will benefit from this paste. Think pork shoulder, lamb leg, beef roast. Toss in some of this chili paste with a bit of beer or stock and BOOM!


Use it for soup bases that call for stocks. Asian style noodle bowl dishes are great with this. How about a good posole recipe? Oh yeah! So many ideas.

This chili paste makes me super happy. Let me know how you wind up using it.

Ancho-Guajillo Chili Paste – Recipe

Try These Other Popular Chili Paste Recipes, Too!

If you try this recipe, please let us know! Leave a comment, rate it and tag a photo #ChiliPepperMadness on Instagram so we can take a look. I always love to see all of your spicy inspirations. Thanks! — Mike H.

Ancho-Guajillo Chili Paste – Recipe

This is an all-purpose chili paste recipe made with ancho and guajillo chili peppers. Use it to flavor soups and stews, pasta sauces, slow cooker recipes and so much more. I have this in the refrigerator all the time as a quick go-to for massive flavor.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chili paste, chili peppers, recipe, spicy
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 81kcal



  • 8-10 dried ancho peppers
  • 6-8 dried guajillo peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic chopped
  • Salt to taste


Cooking Directions

  • Add ancho and guajillo peppers to a large bowl and pour boiling water over them. Cover and let sit for about 20 minutes to soften.
  • Remove from the water and cut off the stems. Slice open and remove the seeds. Drop them into a food processor.
  • Heat a small pan to medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onion and cook about 4-5 minutes to soften.
  • Add garlic and cook 1 more minute, stirring a bit. Remove from heat and add to the food processor.
  • Add a pinch of salt or so and process to form a thick paste.
  • Transfer to a container and top with a layer of olive oil.
  • Cover and refrigerate. Should last a couple of weeks.


Makes about 2 cups.


Calories: 81kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Fat: 7g | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 81mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 465IU | Vitamin C: 3.3mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 0.2mg


  1. Sorry to ping an old post…Ive been rehydrating and pureeing mexican chiles for a few years now and I have a persistent problem with skin-pieces. They don’t rehydrate completely, it seems, and don’t puree into the redt of the paste. Unpleasant to encounter in a tamale! I’ve taken to just pushing my pastes through a sieve, but Id rather not have the problem at all.

    Is there a mistake that commonly causes this? Or is it potentially an issue with the products themselves? I AM having to import these into Australia, so I’m sure there’s issues with stale/old product at times. I don’t recall having this problem when I lived in the US.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Clg, it’s possible the dried peppers are quite old and brittle, which could be causing the problem. The pods should be slightly pliable, yet still dry. Or, try soaking them longer, though I’m sure you’ve tried that. Otherwise, pushing the processed peppers through a sieve is your best best for a smooth sauce. I hope this helps.

  2. I have both kinds of dried peppers and wanted to use them in chili, so this is just the recipe I was looking for!

    In “How to Rehydrate Dried Chili Peppers” you recommend dry-toasting chilis before soaking them, but you don’t have that step here. Why not?

    Are there any kind of dried chilis you recommend taking the skins off before pureeing? I have cascabels and chipotles as well as anchos and guajillos.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      You don’t HAVE to dry toast the peppers before cooking with them, but I like to, as it releases some of the oils, though you can skip that step if you’re in a hurry. Try it both ways and see if you notice a difference. You won’t need to remove any skins before rehydrating. Enjoy!

  3. How much of this paste would you suggest for a 2-3 lb pork shoulder slow cooked chili ?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Paul, depending on how much flavor you’re going for, I would use up to a half cup, though can adjust from there (more or less). I like a bolder flavor. Let me know how it goes for you.

  4. I have been keeping my eye out for not just a good chili paste recipe but also a way to can it, how long to water bath, etc. Can you give any advice?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Diana, if you want to do a water bath method, you’ll first need to make sure the paste has a ph of 4.0 or below for home storage. Get a good ph meter to test. You may need to add vinegar or citrus to get the ph low enough. Otherwise, you’ll need to use a pressure canner for higher ph foods. With the water bath, usually 10-25 minutes is sufficient, depending on your elevation.

  5. Dwight Locke

    Most recipes using dried peppers call for removing the seeds. Why?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Dwight, the seeds float and can be bitter, so it is better to remove them, though they are edible.

  6. Sandra Campbell

    Found your website & loving all the info here. Going to try your ancho chilies paste recipe. Can’t wait to try it. Love your videos to show us the right way to do things. Give us more videos please. Love to learn new things.

    REPLY: Thanks, Sandra! — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  7. Looks great. I am growing both of these chilies this year. New paste for the recipe file. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Just signed up I bought some habanero’s and from viewing a few websites, they say keep whole. I like your video, and you cut the stems, slice in half, and dehydrate. I bought a Excalibur dehydrator a small one. Should I slice the habaneros instead of leaving whole. To me, that would be the way to go, but want to make surebefore I start. First time doing peppers.

    REPLY: Hi, Nina. You can dehydrate them whole, but cutting them will save time in the dehydrator. Otherwise, the results are the same. It will just take longer if you keep them whole. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

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