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Chili Guajillo: How To Grow & Dry Your Own + How To Use Them

All types and forms of chili are essential in every kitchen.

Whether you like your food eye-watering hot or just spicy enough to make your taste buds perk up, chili is the go-to option to make your dishes more appetizing.

One such chili that delivers both in terms of spiciness and flavors is chili guajillo.

What are guajillo chilies? Guajillo chilis are dried mirasol chilis and are very popular in Mexican cuisine. Their tangy, smoky, sweet, and fruity flavors are only matched by their spiciness. The chili scores 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units, making it a mildly hot pepper. You can add it to salsas, marinades, pasta, and veggie dishes. 

As the second-most popular chili in Mexican cuisine, guajillo chilis deserve a place not just on your table but also in the garden.

Read more to find out how to grow, dry, and use guajillo chilis and what you should watch out for.

Chili Guajillo at a Glance

One always asks for two things out of any pepper: to give the food flavor and make it more palatable. Guajillo chili (Capsicum annuum)  delivers on both fronts.

The annual plant is grown mainly in Zacatecas, Mexico. It’s no coincidence that the dried guajillo is more popular than the fresh mirasol pepper.

The more time you give the pepper pods on the plant, the richer their flavors and the hotter they get. 

Chili Guajillo Appearance

Guajillo chili turns red as it ripens. The long and thin pods of the mirasol pepper have shiny and wrinkly skin with thin flesh.

Chili Guajillo Size

The pods at maturity average between 4 and 6 inches long. The plant itself grows to about 2 to 3 feet tall and 1 foot wide. 

Chili Guajillo Scoville

The dried guajillo chili scores 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units. It’s hotter than the fresh pods but still not as hot as jalapenos.

Chili Guajillo Flavor

Although mildly hot, guajillo chili is packed with many flavors. You get a tangy flavor with fruity and smoky tones. The overall taste is pleasant with a zesty kick on the tongue.

Chili Guajillo Uses

You can use guajillo chili anywhere you want some rich flavors and mild spiciness. It goes well with salsas, fish and meat marinades, pasta, stir-fries, and other veggie dishes.

It is the chili of choice in Mexican foods such as tamales, tacos, enchiladas, and tortilla chips.

Mirasol Chili Ease of Growing

Mirasol chili is easy to grow and doesn’t require specific conditions.

If you have grown any pepper plant in your garden before, then you have all the knowledge and experience you need to grow the mirasol chili.

Mirasol does well in Zones 11 to 12 but can be grown as an annual in other areas. Thanks to its compact size, the plant is easy to grow in containers as well as in the garden. 

Best Location for Mirasol Chili

Choose a sunny location to plant or transplant the mirasol chili. It needs rich and well-drained soil with neutral to slightly acidic pH levels between 6.3 and 6.8.

The plant requires 6 to 8 hours of sunlight every day during the spring and summer. You can grow it alongside tomatoes, marigold, and parsley. 

Mirasol Chili Plant Care

Mirasol chili is easy to care for. As long as the plant is getting enough light and regular watering, it will not give you problems.

Start the seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost. They would take about 7 days to germinate.

When the seedling has about two sets of true leaves and the temperature outside climbs above 70℉, transplant it to the prepared bed.

Water

Mirasol chili needs 1 inch of water per week throughout its life. Water the plant in the early morning before the soil gets hot and absorbs the moisture quickly. 

Fertilizer

Apply a regular balanced 8-8-8 fertilizer (like this one) as soon as you transplant the seedlings.

Right before the first buds emerge, switch to a high-phosphorus fertilizer to improve blooms and fruiting. 

Pests and Diseases

Borers, aphids, and spider mites are the common pests that attack the mirasol plant.

Apply neem oil spray (this organic neem is excellent), or rub the plants with a swab soaked in rubbing alcohol to get rid of these pests.

If you notice any signs of powdery mildew or other fungal infections, treat them with a fungicide. 

When To Pick Chili Guajillo Peppers

The peppers will turn red and ripen anywhere between 60 and 80 days after planting the seeds.

Allow the pods more time on the plant to get sweeter and richer in flavors. The spiciness also increases as the peppers mature. 

Are Mirasol and Guajillo the Same?

The mirasol chili is the plant that grows and fruits the red chili peppers known for their flavors and mild spiciness. When the mirasol peppers are dried, they become known as guajillo chili peppers.

Four guajillo chili peppers on a blue background. 

What Are Guajillo Chilis Used For?

Guajillo chilis are used widely in Mexican cuisine. They are the second most popular chili in Mexico. You can use them in just about any dish that requires a zesty kick and a bunch of flavors.

Add it to your salsas, pastas, and stir-fries. Use it in chicken, meat, and fish marinades to disguise any undesirable tastes and add a sweet heat.

Are Guajillo Chilies Hot?

Guajillo chilis are not as hot as jalapenos. The dried chilis score between 2,500 and 5,000 on the Scoville scale. That’s considered mildly hot.

The chili is popular for its rich and pleasant flavors more than its spiciness.

Guajillo Chilies vs. Ancho

Both guajillo and anchos are dried chilis, but they come from different plants. Guajillo is the dried mirasol chilis while anchos are the dried peppers that grow on poblano chili plants.

Guajillo chili has fruity, smoky, and pleasant flavors while anchos have earthy flavors.

In terms of spiciness, guajillo is the spicier of the two scoring 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units compared to a 1,000 to 1,500 score for anchos. 

You can substitute one chili for another, or even mix and use them together. Combined in one dish, you get a whole new festival of aromas and tastes as the two chilis complement each other.

How Do You Grow Guajillo Peppers From Seed?

Start the peppers from seed indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost. Plant the seeds in a sterile growing medium about 1/4 inch deep.

Water immediately, and keep the growing medium moist throughout the time it takes for the seeds to germinate.

Place the tray in a well-lit area that gets lots of bright light. The seeds will germinate 7 to 10 days later.

The seedlings are slow to grow and might take weeks to develop three sets of true leaves.

When the last threat of frost is over and the soil becomes workable, transplant the seedlings to a sunny area with well-drained soil mixed with organic materials.

How Long Do Guajillo Peppers Take To Grow?

Guajillo peppers will turn red sometime between 60 and 80 days after you plant the seeds. Keep the pods on the mirasol plant well after 80 days to get sweeter and richer chili.

How Do You Harvest Guajillo Peppers?

The mirasol pepper plants grow upright. The pods hang in plain sight to get as much sunlight as they can.

When they’re fully red and ripe, hold the stem with one hand and snap the pod off with the other hand. The stems are fragile and might break if you yank them forcefully. 

What To Do With Fresh Guajillo Peppers?

Fresh mirasol peppers are mildly spicy and have fewer flavors and aromas than dried guajillo chili.

Use the fresh peppers in salads, or mix them with stir-fries and veggie dishes. Add them to a chili bowl to cut down on the spiciness of other hot peppers.

How Do You Dry Chilis Guajillo?

After you harvest the ripe peppers, place them on mesh screen and keep them in a sunny and dry place. Space the peppers apart to improve airflow and prevent mold growth.

The skins will start to wrinkle after about 5 days. By the end of 2 weeks, the shrinking peppers should be dry and ready to use.

Crush them in a food processor and store them in a sealed jar.

How Long Do Dried Guajillo Peppers Last?

Dried guajillo peppers can stay fresh and retain all their flavors for up to 1 year. They gradually lose their taste the older they get.

Where To Buy Guajillo Chilis

You can buy guajillo chilis online here or in any large supermarket. You’ll find them in the dried foods or spice aisles.

Conclusion

Guajillo chili is the dried mirasol pepper. It has a blend of fruity, smoky, and green tea flavors with an overall pleasant taste and mild spiciness.

It’s easy to grow in Zones 11 and 12 as an annual. Start the seeds indoors then transplant the seedlings outdoors. It needs regular watering and plenty of sunlight.

Harvest the pods around 85 days after planting the seeds to get the most out of their taste and flavor.