Guajillo chiles (or guajillo peppers) are one of Mexico's most popular and beloved chiles. They are the dried form of the mirasol chile. They are mild to moderately hot and have a dark, reddish-brown, wrinkled texture. The peppers range from 3-6 inches in length and are 1 inch wide. Along with ancho chiles and chiles de árbol, they form 'the holy trinity' of chiles that are commonly used in authentic Mexican mole sauces. Although this chile is native to Mexico, it’s grown worldwide. If you like your chiles on the sweeter side, then the guajillo chile is one to consider. With a surprising range of flavours and medium heat, it can be enjoyed by everyone.
What does Guajillo chile taste like?
Guajillo has a lot of flavour depth. The first thing you notice about them is that they are sweet. This is accompanied by a hint of tangy cranberry and a green tea-like crispness. There’s also an underlying smokiness to its flavour. This is one of the most complex chillies with a variety of tastes, and it’s easy to see why people love it so much.
How hot is guajillo chile?
Guajillo chiles are mild-to-medium heat chiles, ranging from 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville heat units (SHU). There's definitely a kick here, but it's on the milder side of medium heat, so this is a chile that's manageable for most people.
It can be roughly equivalent to the heat of jalapeno pepper, which ranges from 2,500 to 8,000 SHU. Guajillos share the same heat range as the Tabasco Original Red Sauce – if you've ever tried original Tabasco Sauce, then you know exactly what to expect in terms of heat.
Use kitchen gloves when handling this chile. Its heat is easy to overlook when it's dried, but it's all still there – the drying process doesn't remove it.
What is guajillo chile used for?
Cooking with guajillo peppers is a wonderful way to enhance flavour. Guajillos add sweet heat to all kinds of Mexican food and beyond. The guajillo chile variety is mainly used in recipes for its distinct flavour profile rather than its spice level. Guajillo chile is also used in North African harissa chilli paste. But beyond Mexican mole sauce and harissa chilli paste, this versatile pepper offers endless culinary possibilities.
You can rehydrate guajillo peppers in hot water, remove the seeds, and puree the chiles for use in soups, stews, sauces, and marinades. Some recipes also recommend toasting the chiles before rehydrating to bring out the flavour.
To add a spicy kick to decadent desserts, you can grind dried chiles into guajillo chile powder. Guajillo goes very well with chocolate – the sweet cranberry-like tang enhances chocolate's richness beautifully. Try this dried chile in cookies, ice cream, cakes, or any other chocolate treat you can think of.
The guajillo dried chiles are usually sold in whole, dried form, which can be toasted and ground into powder or rehydrated and made into a sauce or paste.
Guajillos are generally used toasted in most dishes, highlighting their richness and providing a hint of smoke and complexity.
Remove dust and debris from the chiles by rinsing them under running water, then dry them with a paper towel. Remove the stems. Split the chiles and remove the seeds and veins.
To toast them, heat a pan to medium-hot. Place the chiles in the pan and toast them for about 20 to 30 seconds on each side until they become fragrant. Make sure they don't burn or you'll get an acrid taste. Then, cut them open, remove the seeds, and soak them in hot water for about 30 minutes. Then, make a paste with them, which you can add to sauces, marinades, soups and stews.
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