Pasilla peppers are what you get when you dry the chilaca pepper, a mild, darkly colored pepper common in Mexican cuisine. The name pasilla means “little raisin”, and is given due to the wrinkled and dry appearance, similar to a purple grape rasin. They are also sometimes referred to as “chile negro”, which translates to “black chili”. Pasillas are commonly sold whole or dried, and used to make sauces and moles.
Note: pasilla peppers are NOT the same thing as poblanos. Poblanos are typically sold fresh, and when they are dried they are referred to as ancho chilis. Poblanos tend to be slightly hotter than pasillas. However, they are commonly used together in the same dish!
Facts about Pasilla Peppers
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Pasilla peppers are rich, smoky, and earthy, and mild to moderately spicy. They are slightly herbaceous and have grape/berry notes.
Pasilla peppers are most commonly used in sauces, salsas, and moles in Mexican cuisines.
Products that use pasilla peppers
Hot sauces with pasilla peppers
Pasilla is not a particularly popular pepper to make into hot sauce, partly because they are very mild. However, there are a few that leverage the deep smokiness of pasillas. Puya & Pasilla by the Humble House Store is a sauce that uses pasillas that is easy to find on Amazon.
Seeds to grow at home
Keep in mind pasilla specifically refers to dried peppers. You can grow chilaca peppers at home and dry them in your oven or dehydrator or string them up for a few weeks to dry to make your own pasilla peppers.
Whole pasilla peppers
You should be able to find pasilla peppers at your local grocery store. You may have to visit a local Mexican specialty market if you don’t see them in stores like Kroger, Walmart, and Safeway. If your grocery store has a “Mexican” or “Latin American” food aisle, that is the first place to look. Or if not, you may find them in the international aisle or with the spices.