Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Quest for Grandma's Chili Powder

Going through my spices it dawned on me that I was getting low on Grandma's Chili Powder. When we had the deli business we would buy this by the case and to keep it fresh shrink wrapped and froze the extras. It is the best chili powder ever with a wonderful smokey and slightly sweet flavor. Nothing compares.

So.....I toodle off to the store to buy some and find out to my absolute HORROR that they don't make the product any more. OMG!! Now what!!! This is what I get for not buying a replacement supply sooner.

After searching on line I find that Grandma's now deceased chili powder has other fans and desperate foodies looking for a substitute. Lawmama did the heavy lifting and found out what happened to Grandma.

Fortunately she also obtained a recipe that may replicate the spice. Forthwith...I'm sharing as well. I haven't made it yet and hope that it is as good as Grandma's. It looks like fun and I'm looking forward to experimenting with the formula. Time will tell.


Shamelessly copied directly from Texas Cooking

For mildness and flavor:
•4 Ancho chiles (dried poblanos) [see Chile Primer]
•3 Dried New Mexico chiles
For heat:
•3 to 5 Dried Chiles de Arbol or Cayenne
For flavor:
•2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted
•2 tablespoons garlic powder
•2 teaspoons ground oregano (Mexican oregano, if you can get it)

1 Preheat your oven to 300F.

2 Remove stems and seeds from all the chiles. Cut each chile in half with scissors and flatten the pieces. Incidentally, good dried chiles will still have some moisture in them and be fairly pliable. Don't use dried chiles that are so dry and fragile that they shatter when touched. Chile ristras and wreaths are wonderful decorative accents, but the chiles dry out and lose their flavor.

3 Put the chiles in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 4 or 5 minutes. Remove the pan and check the chiles (they cool almost immediately). The smaller chiles will be toasted first, so remove them and set aside. Bake the larger pieces another 4 minutes and check again. The poblanos will be done last, but as portions of them toast, break them off and set aside returning the pan to the oven if necessary.

4 When all chiles are toasted and crispy, break each piece into two or three pieces and place in a blender. Pulse briefly until you have powder.

5 Toast the cumin seeds by placing them in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir the seeds constantly being very careful not to let them scorch. When they are a few shades darker than the untoasted seeds, they are ready. Grind the toasted seeds with a mortar and pestle or with a rolling pin between two sheets of waxed paper.

6 Add the ground cumin, garlic powder and oregano to the ground chiles in the blender. Pulse a few more times to thoroughly mix the powder, and youre through. You should have about 1 cup of chili powder, depending upon the size of your chiles.

7 You have created your own custom blend of chili powder. If you compare what you have just made with the store-bought variety, you will find it to be much darker in color with a deeper, richer aroma and taste. Naturally, you will want to test your creation, and an excellent recipe for doing so is the Brazos River Chili in Grandmas Cookbook, or any good recipe that relies heavily on chili powder.

8 This recipe makes very good chili powder, but is by no means written in stone. The chiles and other ingredients can be varied according to your taste. To add the smoky heat of chipoltes (smoked jalapeos), for instance, substitute a chipolte for one of the chiles de arbol. Or better yet, toast some chipoltes and make a pure chipolte powder from them. A teaspoon of chipolte powder is the rough equivalent of one chipolte chile.

9 Store your chili powder in a small, airtight container like a glass jar with a lid that can be tightened. If you make more chili powder than you will be using in the immediate future, triple bag it in plastic bags and put it in the freezer.

10 With this knowledge, you are limited only by your imagination and your taste.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello, I for one have made Pisole' for years and magic ingredient WAS GRANDMA'S CHILI POWDER so anyway, I did make your brew today and I have not tried it as yet but plan to very very soon. Thank you so much for your help in trying to duplicate it.

mamasuzie

Judy Darby said...

I too was horrified to find that my local store no longer carried the only chili powder I would ever use. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the recipe.

Montra Freitas said...

OMG, I have been horrified too at the thought of no more Grandma's powder! UGH! I looked everywhere and was mortified to find out from the local grocery chain that they would no longer have it. This was a staple in many of my best and family favorite recipes. *sniff*.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone found an acceptable ready-made substitute for Gradma's Chili Powder? I could not find the website to order a case as shown in one of the blogs. Help! We all need Grandma's Chili Pepper!

July 23, 2011

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Unfortunately NOT yet. If anyone has found it we would all love to know.

I'm down to just a small amount that I have been hoarding in the freezer. The recipe that I copied from another web site works but not nearly as good or as CONVENIENT as being able to buy the product.

We need a protest march!!!!

Joseph Corica said...

Those of you that still have some of Grandma's Chili Powder should take a sample to get analyzed and then post the results. I'd be willing to donate money to that cause.

My email is joseph.corica@gmail.com

I really miss Grandma's!

Anonymous said...

I was introduced to Grandma's Chili Powder from my mother's tamale pie recipe...started using whenever I needed chili powder...today while looking past another customer at the chile powder shelf while at the grocery store I made a comment that I have not been able to find it lately...the man's wife said she could not either, at which point a stocker sitting on the floor informed us it was no longer being made... has the company folded? has it been bought out? don't these idiots know we LIKE this product? what the hell's happening with this younger generation?

Anonymous said...

I still have a bottle of Grandma's Chili but I don't know where to go to get it analyzed, Any thoughts?
We have been using Grandma's Chili for over 50 years in our family.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I KNOW!!. It is such a popular product and everyone wants it. I can't imagine why they took it off of the market.

The best think I've found is to use the recipe above or get a chili powder and add more of the spices that are in the recipe. Especially the cumin. Some of the brands from Mexico are a bit more similar but still not as good.

Sigh!

Anonymous said...

When Grandma's first disappeared I discovered that COST PLUS chili powder was very close... shortly thereafter they changed their recipe and it's not nearly as good.

Williams is the company that owns the Grandma's brand. Their commentary about Grandma's and response to inquiries is strange.

If sales were weak... Why not produce it in smaller quantity and sell it online only?

I'm going to experiment with my own blends.

Anonymous said...

I tried making a replacement chili powder for my family for Christmas. Similar to the recipe above, so prepare the chilis the same way. 4 ancho chilis, 3 new Mexico chilis, 4 chilis de Arbol, 2 tsp cayenne powder, 4 tbsp cumin seeds (toasted and ground), 2 tbsp garlic powder, 2 tsp ground oregano. Everyone loved it. Looks like I have to make chili powder every year now.

rainbowlory said...

you know i really thought i was the only person who used this grandmas chili powder.. it was the bestest ever..... i'm so crushed... but happy i'm not the only one out there who misses gramdmas chili powder... i have been looking in every store anytime i went out of town.... it was like a lil mental note in my head... and it was like a light went off.. look ikt up dummy. i tell ppl to google all time any way thanks for sharing.... and i will try this

PFrayne said...

I have been cooking my own Grandmother's enchilada and other Mexican recipes using Grandma's Chili powder. With their closure, my wife found Williams Foods, which has a version which is very very close to Grandma's. It is a good substitute as none of the other brands come close.
Patrick Mason

PFrayne said...

Forgot to give you the link.

williamsfoods.com

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Thanks Patrick!!! I'll check it out.

See you are from SF. My old stomping grounds in the 60's and 70's.

:-)

-E. said...

Ditto prior comments! Grandma's Chili Powder was thevnot-so-secret ingredient to my chili. If anyone has a good, close substitute other than Williams's, I'd love to learn from your research.
It's the season for chili, so would love to find a good alternative to making my own. Thanks so much! -E.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Update on Williams chili powder. I purchased on line (love you Amazon.com) some of the Williams brand. It is close, but just not quite the same. Adequate, but not as good. If you haven't had Grandma's you would be satisfied. But we WON'T SETTLE....will we :-D

I'm not quite sure what it is missing. I still have some, now ancient and probably stale Grandma's to compare. Somehow the Grandma's has a slightly sweeter tang to it.

I may add some additional cumin powder to the Williams and see if that makes the difference.

Anonymous said...

I am still crushed that Grandma's Chili Powder is gone. I have one bottle that I am hoarding and using for those dishes that just can't use a substitute. Any one who finds a substitute please post your find. Crying in my chili....

Anonymous said...


Well, I rarely do "comments" but just had to say that I went to make my mother's tamale pie--and no Grandma's Chile Seasoning. Now I have read all the blogs and comments--and I agree with everyone--there is nothing else like it. I plan to try the recipe given. The company that owns the recipe should give it to a smaller company to market. J.D.

Anonymous said...

For those who want Grandma's Chili Powder, it is now called Wiliams Chili Powder. It is from the same company with three added varieties.
--- Chef Don

momjackee said...

Hi - for those who don't have the time to make the recipe, I discovered that Lowrey's Chili Powder in the packets has a very similar flavor. It was the only ready made chili powder that listed cumin in the ingredients. That ingredient truly makes a difference from all the other chili powders on the market. Yum. My family has not even noticed the difference, so I feel it is a successful substitute.

Anonymous said...

I found packets of Grandma's Seasonings Chili Seasoning at Grocery Outlet in SF

YAY

Anonymous said...

I 2 have used Grandmas for years as did my mom aunts and grandmother. I gave up but my son found the ingrediance on the back of the bottle and made his own.. it was pretty close also, He is not here anymore so when I saw Williams chili powde4r,I bought 2 of the plastic bottels. It is the closest to grandmas I have found. Mow I need 2 more bottels, but now I don't see them. Please help me.

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Anonymous said...

I, too, grew up on Grandmas Chili Seasoning from the 1950's to today 9/28/2017. I luckily found a source: Grocery Outlet, 1833 Broadway, Redwood City, CA (650)364-7406. I do know they still carry it as of today but I do not know if they will ship. If I remember correctly they carry the packets - not the plastic bottle.

P.S. I stumbled onto this blog while searching for a closer supplier as I live south of Santa Barbara.

Kane Norman said...

You'll never convince me.
I hate to beg the difference, but this is not the same as Grandmas Spanish seasoning. Don't know what Williams did, but they changed the mix. Works OK as a Chili or Chili Bean Seasoning. My Mom and my wife had used the Grandmas Spanish Seasoning in several different recipes for too many years. None of these recipes taste the same without Grandmas. WILLIAMS IS CERTAINLY NOT GRANDMAS SPANISH SEASONING BY ANY STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION.
Williams Chili Seasoning Mix 18 oz 2 pack