ANCHO Heat: 3
The most common dried chile in Mexico, the ancho is a dried red
poblano chile, and has a fruity, slightly sharp flavor. When
rehydrated, anchos can be used to make stuffed chiles (chiles
rellenos), but should not be peeled first.
CASCABEL Heat: 4
The name means "little rattle" and refers to the noise that the
seeds make inside the chile. This chile has a chocolate brown
skin, and remains dark, even after soaking. Cascabels have a
slightly nutty flavor and are often added to salsas such as
CHILCOSTLE Heat: 5
Bright deep orange-red with a splotchy skin. Elongated and
tapered, measuring about 3 to 5 inches long and 1/2 to 3/4 inch
across at the shoulders. Thin fleshed, with a dusty, dry medium
heat and an orangey sweetness with hints of all-spice and
fennel. Used in salsas, soups, tamales, and mole sauces.
CHILHUACLE AMARILLO Heat: 4
Related to the chilhuacle negro and chilhuacle rojo chiles. Dark
amber to reddish yellow in color, broad shouldered and tapering
to a point. Measures about 2 to 3 inches long and 1-1/2 inches
across at the shoulders. Medium thick fleshed, with a tart heat.
The complex flavor is a little salty and acidic, with bitter
orange and sour cherry tones, some melon and seediness, and
sweetness in the finish. Mainly used to prepare yellow moles and
CHILHUACLE NEGRO Heat: 4-5
This prized and very expensive chile is grown, like the related
chilhuacle amarillo, only in southern Mexico. Shiny, dark,
mahogany in color, and shaped like a miniature bell pepper or
almost heart shaped. Measures about 2 to 3 inches long and the
same across at the shoulders. One of the most flavorful of all
chiles, it has a deep, intense fruit flavor, with tones of dried
plum, tobacco, and liquorice, and a subtle, spicy heat. Used to
make the black mole sauces that are a specialty of the Oaxaca
CHILHUACLE ROJO Heat: 3
Like the chilhuacle amarillo and chilhuacle negro, this chile is
grown exclusively in southern Mexico. Dark red to mahogany in
color, and either shaped like a miniature bell pepper or broad
shouldered and tapering to a point. Measures about 2 to 3 inches
long and 1-1/2 inches across at the shoulders. Richer and deeper
flavors than the chilhuacle amarillo, with tones of dried figs,
licorice and a hint of wild cherry. Has a medium, sweet heat. It
is used in the preparation of certain special mole sauces.
CHILTEPE Heat: 6
Bright orange-red, thin, usually curved, and tapering to a
point. Measures about 2 inches long and 1/4 to 3/8 inch across
at the shoulders. Thin fleshed; has a dry hay flavor, with nutty
and sun-dried tomato tones, and a sharp, searing heat on the tip
of the tongue. Primarily used in making sauces and pestos.
CHIPOTLE Heat: 5-6
A large, dried, smoked jalapeno; also known as a chile ahumado
or a chile meco. Dull tan to a coffee brown in color, veined and
ridged, measuring about 2 to 4 inches long and about 1 inch
across. Medium thick fleshed, smoky and sweet in flavor with
tobacco and chocolate tones and a subtle, deep, rounded heat. As
much as one-fifth of the Mexican jalapeno crop is processed as
chipotles. Used mainly in soups, salsas, and sauces. Chipotles
are widely used in Mexican and Southwestern cooking. They are
available canned in a red adobo sauce. The chipotle grande, a
smoked dried huachinango chile has similar flavors, but is
COSTEÑO Heat: 6-7
Related to the guajillo chile; also known as a chile bandeno.
Orange-red in color, tapering to a point, and measuring about 2
to 3 inches long and 1/2 to 3/4 inch across at the shoulders.
Thin to medium fleshed; has dusty, green, soapy flavors with
apricot fruit tones and a fiery, intense, lingering heat. Good
in salsas, sauces and soups.
COSTEÑO AMARILLO Heat: 4
Shiny, amber in color, tapering to a point, and measuring about
2 to 3 inches long and 3/4 to 1 inch across at the shoulders.
Wafer-thin flesh; has a light, crisp, lemon-citrus flavor with
green tomato and grassy tones, and a subtle heat. Used in the
preparation of yellow mole sauces. Also good in soups and stews.
FRESNO Heat: 8
Looking much like elongated sweet peppers, fresnos are about 2
1/2 inches long and 3/4 inch wide. They have a hot, sweet flavor
and are used in salsas, as well as in meat, fish and vegetable
dishes. They are particularly good in black bean salsa and
GUAJILLO Heat: 3
Another popular dried chile in Mexican cuisine, the guajillo is
used in sauces or stews. It is about 5 inches long and 1 inch
wide, and has a burgundy-colored skin. A paste made from
guajillos is often used for spreading on meat before cooking.
HABAÑERO Heat: 10
This is the grandaddy of them all, a chile so hot that when it
is puréed, even the fumes from the blender can scorch the skin.
Lantern-shaped, it is about 1 3/4 inches long and 1 1/4 inches
wide, and is also called Scotch Bonnet. Habañero are often used
to make bottled hot chili sauces.
Jalapeños are one of the most famous chile peppers. They are
instantly recognizable and a considerable mythology has sprung
up about them. The impetus for the popularity of Jalapeños
starts from a combination of their unique taste, their heat, and
their continued use as a snack food. The Jalapeño was named
after the city of Xalapa in Veracruz, Mexico, where it is no
longer commercially grown In Mexico, commercial cultivation
measures approximately 40,000 acres in three main agricultural
zones: especially the Lower Palaloapan River Valley in Oaxaca.
In the Chihuahua region they grow the American Jalapeños, which
are processed and exported into the U.S. Approximately 60% of
the Mexican Jalapeño crop is used for processing, 20% for fresh
consumption, and 20% in production of chipotle chiles, the
smoked Jalapeños. Generally speaking, chipotle in English refers
to any smoked chile pepper.
The Spanish word chipotle is a contraction of chilpotle in
the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs, where chili referred to the
hot pepper and potle was derived from poctli, meaning smoked.
The word was apparently reversed from Nahuatl, where it
originally was spelled pochilli. Other early spellings in Mexico
are tzilpoctil, tzonchilli, and texochilli. The most commonly
smoked chiles are Jalapeños, named for the city of Jalapa in the
state of Veracruz. They are also known in Mexico as cuaresmeños,
or Lenten chiles. In Puebla, Central Mexico, and Oaxaca,
Jalapeños are known as Huachinango, while in coastal Mexico and
Veracruz they are called chiles Gordos.
MORA Heat: 6
Also known as mora rojo. Like the chipotle chile, the mora is a
type of dried, smoked jalapeno. Reddish brown in color, tapered
and wrinkled, and measuring about 2 inches long and 1/2 to 3/4
inch wide. Medium fleshed; has a sweet mesquite wood flavor with
strong tobacco and plum tones. Has a medium heat that is
somewhat lingering. The mora grande is a larger version of this
chile. It is brownish black in color, measures about 2 1/2 to 3
inches long, and has similar flavor characteristics. Can be used
in salsas and sauces.
ONZA Heat: 4-5
Rare chile. Bright brick-red, tapered, and measuring about 3
inches long and 1/2 inch across. Thin-fleshed; slightly sweet
and also slightly acidic, with flavors of carrot and tomato, and
a crisp heat noticeable at the back of the throat. Mainly used
in sauces and soups. PASADA Heat: 3 This chile is crisply dried,
and has citrus and apple flavors. It is used in soups and in
sauces used for cooking meat or fish.
PASILLA DE OAXACA Heat: 6-7
A smoked chile grown only in the Oaxaca region. Shiny
red-mahogany in color, very wrinkled, tapered, and measuring
about 3 to 4 inches long and 1 to 11/2 inches across. Thin
fleshed; has an acrid fruit smoke flavor with strong tobacco
tones and a sharp, lingering heat. Mainly used for the rellenos
that are a regional specialty.
POBLANO Heat: 3
Like many chiles, poblanos are initially green, and ripen to a
dark red. They are large chiles, being roughly 3 1/2 inches long
and 2 1/4 inches wide, and are sometimes said to be
heart-shaped. although not very hot, poblanos have a rich,
earthy flavor which is intensified when the chiles are roasted
and peeled. They are widely used in Mexican cooking, notably in
stuffed chiles (chiles Rellenos). Anaheim chiles, which
are widely available in the United States and sometimes in the
United Kingdom, can be substituted for poblanos.
SERRANO Heat: 8
This is a small chile, about 1 1/2 - 2 inches long and 1/2 inch
wide, with a pointed tip. Serrano chiles change from green to
red when ripe, and are sold at both stages of their development.
The flavor is clean and biting. Serranos are used in cooked
dishes, Guacamole and salsas.