Guajillo refers to a preparation of Mirasol chili peppers rather than to the name of a plant variety itself. Guajillo is the dried version of the Mirasol, and along with ancho chilies is one of the most common and popular peppers in Mexico. While some dried peppers, like pasilla peppers, look shriveled like a raisin, guajillo peppers are smooth and bright red. The Marisol peppers are primarily grown in the states Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, and Durango, Mexico, and grow to be around 4 inches long before harvest.

Guajillo chili is usually similar in spice level to milder jalapeños, so they pack a noticeable punch without being overwhelmingly spicy.

How hot?

2,500–5,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU)

Scientific name

Capsicum annuum

Taste

Guajillo peppers have a complex flavor profile and tend to be sweet, spicy, smoky, and tangy. You might notice notes of berry and tea. They are closest in flavor to pasilla peppers, and can be used as a substitute if needed.

Uses

Guajillos are most commonly used as a base of sauces and moles, and often are used in combination with other chilis like pasilla and ancho. Guajillos should be toasted to unlock the maximum flavor. Cook them over medium-high heat for 20-30 seconds until they become fragrant — but beware of burning them or they will be bitter.

Picking the best Guajillos

Guajillos are dried, so they aren’t ever considered “fresh”. However, older guajillos will begin to look wrinkled and cracked, and their flavor might be compromised. Look for peppers that are sleek, smooth, and shiny, and that are still slightly pliable.

Products that use Guajillo peppers

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Hot sauces with Guajillo peppers

Dried guajillo peppers

Seeds to grow at home

Keep in mind, guajillo chilis are the dried form of mirasol peppers.

Guajillo pepper powder

Use this chili powder to sauces and moles. It is great to combine with pasilla and ancho chili as well.