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Peppers from Mexico – How To Work with Them

Have you ever wandered down the International Aisle of your local supermarket looking for those unique ingredients to mix up your boring weekly meal plans? Most excited chefs and home cooks do.

Usually, as an endcap somewhere near the Latin and Asian area, you’ll see a broad array of Mexican ingredients. Most of the time, the packages aren’t even in English, so you wont even get a clue of what to do with them or how to prepare them.

Well, we’re adventurous and did the research and testing for you. We love savory, smoky and a slight spice to everything we cook, grill or slow roast.

Here are the Top 6 Dried Peppers of Mexico:

They are usually smoked and dehydrated.

Mulatto – 2,500+ scoville – Mild to Medium Heat – Tastes like Poblano. Sweet, smoky chocolate, licorice, cherry, coffee/tobacco undertones.

Guajillo – 2,500+ scoville – Mild to Medium Heat. Fruity, sweet heat with notes of pine, berry and smoke. Usually used for Salsa/Tomales.

Costeno – 1,500 scoville – Mild Heat. Fruity, citrus. Tones of peach with mild heat.

Tree Pepper – 15,000+ scoville – Hot Heat. Also called Arbol. It is bold, smoky, nutty, grassy. Very similar to Cayenne and Pequin.

Pasila/Chilaca – 1,000 scoville – Mild Heat. A rich flavor, woodsy, pungeunt and tangy.

Puya – 5,000+ scoville. Medium Heat. Fruity, licorice, cherry undertones with a little kick.

Now that you know a little about these packaged wonders. What do you do with them? 

Toast them lightly in a dry pan to bring out their flavor (or toast them in your toaster oven for 2 min). Place them in a bowl with some heated water and let them soak. They will rehydrate. Cut off the stem and remove the seeds. Save the flavored water. Now, you can either use the peppers direct in a recipe, freeze in a ziplock for future use or create your own Mole for Marinating, Basting or Finishing (see our Culinary Basics for more information).

Traditionally a Mole takes a lot of time to make, but there are easy shortcuts and here’s one of them.



  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 or 2 Dried Pasilla Chiles (6-7 on the heat scale) or Ancho Chiles (3-4 on the heat scale) – reconstituted, seeds removed and chopped. (Or spice it up and mix it up with any of the above pepper combinations).
  • 3 Tablespoons Roasted Garlic Flakes
  • 2 teaspoons Dried Mexican Oregano
  • 2 teaspooons Ground Cumin
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Coriander
  • 2 teaspoons Smoked Sweet Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Ceylon Cinnamon
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 4 1/2 cups low fat, low sodium chicken broth (we prefer Better than Bouillon)
  • 1-2 teaspoons cocoa powder


  1. In a skillet, heat the olive oil and add onions and chopped chiles on medium heat, saute until soft.
  2. Add spices (garlic through paprika) cover and cook until spices are incorporated and become fragrant.
  3. Add cinnamon, flour and cocoa powder and stir for about 3 minutes. Sauce will be like a Rue.
  4. Add chicken broth and bring heat to high and reduce heat once sauce starts to boil.
  5. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes.

If your sauce comes out too thick, just add a few teaspoons of reserved water until desired consistency is achieved.

If you like the flavor you achieved, great! Look up further Traditional Mole or Enchilada Sauces. They usually include nuts or seeds and take days to make. If you’re like us, we leave out the cinnamon and chocolate and zest it up with more Barbecue oriented flavors like Worcestershire, Liquid Smoke or our Favorite Rub THAT week! (?changes constantly) See Rubs

Once you get the desired base flavors nailed, you can adjust for the smoker for pork, chicken ribs or beef. Or add a teaspoon to veggies or that bland usual side dish you make.

If you have tried this or another Recipe on our site, let us know how it went! Your feedback matters to us!

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