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22 September 2013

The guajillo pepper is a beloved pepper used in Mexican cuisine. It is the dried form of the mirasol chili pepper, second in popularity only to the ancho, offering sweet flavor and mild-medium heat.

Scoville Heat Units: 2,500-5,000 SHU
Capsicum Annuum

The Guajillo is one of the most common and popular chili peppers grown and used in Mexico. It is mild to moderately hot, and has dark, reddish brown, leathery skin. The peppers range from 3-5 inches in length and are 1 inch wide. They are said to have either a green-tea flavor or fruity flavor, with hints of berries.

Guajillo pepper are usually sold in whole, dried form, which can be either toasted and ground into powder, or re-hydrated and made into a sauce or paste.

It may also be sold in its powder form, already ground.

Guajillos, along with pasilla and ancho peppers, are used in traditional mole sauces. They are great in sauces, salsas and soups and chili, especially in salsa for tamales. They can be ground down into a paste or a rub to add flavor to meat, or to make homemade harissa, a chili paste used in Tunisian cuisine.

But, a little of this pepper goes a long way, so experiment first to see what level of flavor you prefer.

How Hot is a Guajillo Pepper?

The guajillo pepper is considered a mild to medium heat level chili, measuring from 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville Scale. Compare that to a jalapeno pepper, which ranges from 2,500 to 8,000 SHU, and it can be roughly equivalent to the jalapeno in heat.

Guajillo Pepper Flavor

Guajillo peppers offer a bit of heat along with smoky notes and a berry-like flavor. Some people note hints of berries mixed with a fruity or green tea-like flavor. Because of this complex mix of subtle tastes, it is no wonder why it has long been one of Mexico’s most popular chili peppers.

Cooking with Guajillo Peppers

Cooking with guajillo peppers is a great way to build wonderful flavor. It is best to lightly dry toast them in a pan to draw out some of the flavor, then open them, remove the seeds, and rehydrate them in hot water. Then, process them into a paste, which you can add to many dishes, sauces, mole, marinades and more.

Another way is to remove the seeds and stem and grind the pods into a powder for seasoning.

Learn More About These Other Popular Mexican Peppers

Try Some of My Popular Guajillo Pepper Recipes

Got any questions about the guajillo pepper? Drop me a line anytime. I’m happy to help! — Mike H.

Guajillo Pepper: a Favorite Mexican Pepper


  1. Sylvia Stalnaker

    I have a question about the Guajillo pepper. I am new to pepper food preparation. I purchased some packaged peppers at a store frequented by Mexican families. The pepper have very little heat and has a bitter taste, especially the aftertaste. Is this the normal flavor? Is it best to rehydrate to get a better flavor? I have used your site for reference and when I have I have a question I have been able to use your site. So for that Thank YOU.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hello, Sylvia. Thanks for contacting me. Yes, guajillo peppers CAN have a somewhat bitter taste. Usually this is from the inner seeds, so most people remove them before cooking with them. When I cook with them, I usually lightly dry toast them to draw out some of the flavor, then open them, remove the seeds, and rehydrate them i hot water. Then, you can process them into a paste to cook with. Another way is to remove the seeds and stem and grind the pods into a powder for seasoning. Let me know if this helps. I’m happy to answer any more questions.

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