Classic Spice Blends: Chili Powder

Classic Spice Blends: Chili Powder
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chiliIn 1902 German born William Gebhardt created a spiced blend in Texas known as chili powder and it's been used in dishes ever since. Thankfully, cooks realized it had far more potential than just adding it to a big ole pot of chili.

I use chili powder in corn bread, quesadillas, tortilla chips, BBQ sauce, vinegars, marinades, rubs, soups, stews and yes, chili. Chili powder usually contains about 80 percent ground chilies with garlic powder, oregano, and ground cumin. Usually the deeper the color, the more ground chili.


Chili powder, like many other spices, has a limited shelf life. It should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark and dry location away from heat and moisture for about 6 months. You can stretch this out if you store it in the refrigerator. Watch buying it at stores for a "bargain" price and check the date on the bottle. If it's tasteless, then it's not a bargain.

You can also make your own chili powder by growing or buying Chile varieties such as jalapeno, pasilla, ancho or if you want it hotter use habanero or Thai pepper. Dry the peppers in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes or so. When they are dried, remove the stem and shake out the seeds. Process them in a blender or food processor after they have cooled. Use gloves and do not get too close to the bowl, or take a whiff of the peppers---not a good thing.

You can freeze this powder for up to 6 months and use it in your chili powder. You can also buy a mixture of dried whole peppers at the market and grind them yourself. The advantage to doing this is that it's not only very fresh, but you can make your own personal blend that is mild, hot or VERY hot. Oh, and if your mouth is on fire when you test it out, drink some milk or eat some yogurt instead of a glass of water. It will douse the flame quicker. I also have a nice mild chili powder here.

Try using chili powder on popcorn that has been air popped by spraying with a butter flavored spray and sprinkling it with chili powder, or do the same on light microwave popcorn. Here are several recipes for chili powder:

Mild Chili Powder


3 Tbsp. paprika

1 Tbsp. ground cumin

2 Tbsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. red or cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Mix well. Place in an airtight container. This makes 2/3 cup.

Chili Powder Blend

12 tablespoons mild ground Chile powder (homemade)

3 tablespoons ground cumin

3 tablespoons ground dried oregano

3 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons cayenne powder

2 tablespoons salt (optional)

Combine all ingredients and mix together well. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar, away from heat and light.

Homemade Chili with Beans


1 large onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

1 tbsp. olive oil or vegetable oil

2 teaspoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with liquid, chopped

1 pound lean ground beef chuck or round

1 (15.25 ounce) can chili beans with sauce

1 (15.25 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

Brown and drain the ground beef, breaking up with a large wooden spoon as it cooks. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, combine onion, garlic, and tomato paste. Cover-cook five minutes. Stir in oregano, cumin, chili powder, tomatoes and drained ground beef. Cook uncovered for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the beans and simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure the heat is not too high. This is a thick chili. If you like it thinner add water or a can of tomato sauce instead of paste. Makes 6-8 servings


Campfire Stew


6 ounces beef roast, trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes*

1 large red potato, cubed

handful of small baby carrots

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 clove crushed garlic

salt and black pepper to season

2 tsp. chili powder

Olive oil

1 tablespoon water

On a large square sheet of foil, layer beef, potato cubes, carrots, onion and garlic. Sprinkle with seasonings. Drizzle with olive oil and tablespoon of water. Roll edges of tin foil together and seal tightly. Bury it in campfire coals or put in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). For either cooking method bake about 1 hour. Note: You can use any cut of beef roast or steak.

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About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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