The Mulato pepper is a mild to medium dried poblano, similar to the ancho pepper, but with a slightly different flavor. The ancho is a poblano that ripens to a deep red, while the mulato is a poblano that ripens to brown, then is dried. Learn more about them below.
Scoville Heat Units: 2,500-3,000 SHU
The Mulato pepper ("Chile Mulato") is a mild to medium dried Poblano pepper, similar to the Ancho, but with a slightly different flavor. Both are green while growing, but while the Ancho pepper is a Poblano pepper that ripens to a deep red, the Mulato pepper is a Poblano that ripens to a dark brown color, then dried. It grows to about 4 inches long and 2 inches wide, tapering toward the bottom.
Flavor Profile and Cooking
Mulato chilies have been used consistently for hundreds of years in Mexican cooking. It is part of the “holy trinity” (which is really more of a loose term) of chiles used in Mexican mole sauces, along with the Ancho and Pasilla chiles, and often Guajillo chiles. It has flavors of chocolate or licorice, with a hint of cherry and tobacco. Because it is dried, it is commonly ground into chili powder. Whole or ground, it is perfect for many sauces in addition to mole.
They do have a delicate smoky flavor, however, which makes them very popular in many different kinds of Mexican dishes.
How Hot is a Mulato Pepper?
Unlike many Mexican chilies this pepper is actually ranked very low on the heat scale - most people can eat mulato peppers like banana or bell peppers and not experience too much of a heat boost. The mulato measures in at 2,500 to 3,000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville Scale. Compare that to the popular jalapeno pepper, which averages about 5,000 SHU and you'll see the mulato is about half as hot.
The heat increases the longer the peppers are on the plant, so a typical mulato chile is usually hotter than a typical ancho chile.
About the Mulato Pepper
Dried mulato peppers are typically sold dried, and when bought they are brownish-black, wrinkly, and look a bit like prunes. Generally they are around ten centimeters long.
The chile mulato is probably most famously used in mole sauce, a savory chocolate sauce that is spiced up by mulatos and a few other varieties of peppers. Most people who've eaten mulato peppers describe the taste as similar to chocolate and licorice.
The next time that you are attempting to make chili or salsa, be sure to pick up some of these unique peppers at the supermarket - they aren't spicy but are sure to add a unique boost of flavor to your cooking endeavors the next time you're looking to make a bit of a culinary trip south of the border!
NOTE: This page was updated on 7/28/20 to include new photo and information. It was originally published on 9/22/13.
Debra Burkhardt says
I bought a pepper plant that was labelled Red Knight. The fruit didn't look like Red Knight however and when they ripened they turned brownish not red. I suspect I have Mulato but am not sure. About 2-3" diameter, heart shaped with a pointed bottom, about 5" long. Tastes spicy but not as hot as jalapeno.
I have a photo but am unable to attach it here. If you are interested in playing Sherlock could you send me an email address and I'll send you the photo? Thanks a lot.
Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says
This happens a lot, Deb, with seeds being mislabeled. Feel free to contact me via the Contact Page: https://www.chilipeppermadness.com/general-content/contact-chili-pepper-madness/
James Catanich says
Thanks for the recipes.