We Tried 10 Brands to Find the Best Chili Powder

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Before you whip up a pot of chili, a batch of chimichangas or a pile of sloppy joes, make sure you've got the best chili powder in your spice rack. Our Test Kitchen sampled 10 to find these winners.

Test Kitchen Preferred The Best Chili PowderTaste of Home

If you’re a fan of Tex-Mex flavors, spicy chilis and barbecue, chili powder is probably always stocked on your spice rack. But have you ever asked yourself what’s in your chili powder of choice? Or if it’s really the best chili powder out there?

Before you start on that recipe for the chili cook-off, take a peek at our Test Kitchen’s top chili powder picks and learn how to take your spicy recipes to the next level.

What Is Chili Powder?

Before we get into who makes the best chili powder, let’s break down what this spice blend really is, because it’s not just a singular spice.

Chili powder is a blend of many spices and recipes vary from cook to cook and company to company. In general, chili powders include cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin, oregano and garlic. It adds heat and flavor to recipes.

You can make your own chili powder at home, but buying a packet of a great blend is a good shortcut. After all, you might not want to buy seven different spices to make your own. It can be simpler and just as tasty to buy chili powder.

How Our Pros Found the Best Chili Powder

Test Kitchen Preferred The Best Chili Powder L 01Taste of Home

Bearing in mind the essential components of chili powder blends, our Test Kitchen sampled 10 different brands. Each was sampled blindly on their own and used in a simple chili recipe made by our culinary pros.

These spices were then judged according to these standards:

  • Balance of flavor: This blend of spices should be harmonious. How do the different spices and herbs blend together? Is it satisfying?
  • Heat: Chili powder should have some kick to it. While chili powder alone won’t be enough for fans of ultra-hot foods, it is still a good place to start. What is the level of heat like with each chili powder?

Our Test Kitchen-Preferred Chili Powders

After an all-day chili tasting, our team found four brands that were worthy of being called Test Kitchen-Preferred.

Best All-Purpose Chili Powder: McCormick Chili Powder

MccormickTaste of Home

New to cooking chili (or to the kitchen in general)? You might not know exactly what you’re looking for in your soon-to-be-signature recipe. But McCormick Chili Powder is a great place to start for your homey favorites.

McCormick’s spice blend offered a great chili aroma the second our culinary crew cracked open the jar. In chili con carne (and on its own) this mix was earthy and satisfying thanks to a just-right balance of garlic, cumin and oregano. The heat in this chili powder was mild but satisfying.

Use this spice blend for chili (obviously), sloppy joes, chicken wings and all sorts of barbecue. The flavors here are great on their own but can be easily built upon; so add more heat, more cumin—more of whatever you like to customize your recipes.

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Best for Spicy Dishes: Buena Vida Chili Powder

Buena VidaTaste of Home

Want to give your recipes some south-of-the-border flavor or just a bit more heat? Try Buena Vida Chili Powder.

Available in individual packets, this spice mix reminded testers a bit of taco seasoning thanks to a good dose of cayenne, cumin, garlic and just a touch of citrus flavor. The proportions of this chili powder, according to our Test Kitchen, seemed just right for more Tex-Mex and Mexican-style dishes.

This brand also offered the most heat of any we tried. The level of cayenne spice here wasn’t overwhelming, just satisfying for folks looking for a little extra kick (you know—the people that put hot sauce on everything).

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Best for Classic Chilis: Gebhardt Chili Powder

GebhardtTaste of Home

Some cooks just know that they’re going to reach for this spice blend for one reason and one reason only: homemade chili. If that sounds like you, get your hands on Gebhardt Chili Powder.

Gebhardt’s blend of paprika, cayenne and garlic paired so well with the beef in our go-to chili recipes. And the slight lingering heat from this mix was perfect as our testers tucked into their dishes of soup.

This spice blend not only lent flavor of smoky paprika and peppers, the vibrant red color also helped our Test Kitchen create an extra vibrant and appetizing chili.

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Best Smoky Chili Powder: Mexene Chili Powder Seasoning

MexeneTaste of Home

When it comes to chili, many folks enjoy smoky flavors inside their bowl. This can come from smoked paprika, chipotle peppers or even liquid smoke. You can also get that satisfying taste from Mexene Chili Powder Seasoning.

This deep-hued chili powder was a favorite in our Test Kitchen. Every sampler noticed hints of chipotle pepper in Mexene. These smoked jalapeno peppers add depth of flavor and a touch of smoke when added to dishes and spice blends.

This chili powder was more than just smoke, though. It had a touch of heat that testers found satisfying in their bowl of chili. Of course, if you like five-alarm-style chili, you’ll want to add more hot peppers, but Mexene is a great place to start.

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How to Use Chili Powder

Because chili powder contains many delicious spices—garlic, cumin, cayenne, etc.—it’s an incredibly versatile spice blend to keep on hand. It’s just as welcome in your next batch of stuffed peppers as it is in taquitos.

And anytime you see a recipe calling for those major components and you’re out of cayenne or cumin, feel free to use a bit of chili powder in its stead. It’ll add complex flavor and a bit of heat.

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.