What Are The Differences Between California And Guajillo Chiles?


Chiles are used in a massive range of dishes and have a massive range of potential applications. This is why they have become so massively beloved by so many people across the world.

However, there are so many unique types of chiles, each of which can be used in countless different ways and in countless different recipes.

What Are The Differences Between California And Guajillo Chiles

You’re likely here because you’ve heard of two unique chiles: California chiles, and Guajillo chiles, and now you want to know what the difference between the two of them actually is.

Well, if so, you have come to the perfect place, because today we are going to take a look to find out the key differences between these two types of chiles so that you can know how to implement them into your next recipe.

What Is A California Chile?

Before we can find out what makes California and Guajillo chiles unique from one another, it is important that we get a sense as to what makes each of the chiles distinct and identifiable.

Let’s start with the California Chile.

California chiles are incredibly popular chiles thanks to the fact that they are slightly mild, and offer a great blend of spiciness and flavor.

This means that the chiles are commonly used in sauces, and used to make all kinds of dishes.

California chiles are a popular option when it comes to making salsa, as they have a distinct green appearance, and the level of spice is enough to add a little bit of fire to the dip without being totally overbearing.

They can also be used to create a tasty sauce for enchiladas that provides a slight tingle, but, once again, is not too overpowering.

The chile itself stands at around 500 on the Scoville heat scale, which makes them one of the milder chiles around, but gives them a slight bite.

Slightly hotter California chiles can be found that can reach as high as 2,500 on the Scoville heat scale, but these are a little less common.

These chiles are very popular because not only can they be used in all kinds of recipes for sauces, but they can also easily be chopped up and served in things like wraps, burritos, and soups!

What Is A Guajillo Chile?

The Guajillo chile is one of the most popular and widely used chiles in all of Mexican cuisine and is one of the most accessible and easy to mix into all kinds of recipes.

One of the things that help to make the Guajillo chile so popular is that it is incredibly hot and fiery, making it a pleasure to bite into, and really easy to integrate into countless recipes.

On the Scoville heat scale, the Guajillo chile, on average, tends to reach around 2,500, and at the hottest end of the scale, it can even be as spicy as 5,000 on the Scoville heat scale!

This makes them fairly considerable when it comes to spice, and thus they can sometimes prove to be a little overwhelming for some people!

Another thing that makes Guajillo chiles so popular is that they have a unique flavor profile that perfectly complements their fiery spiciness.

In fact, most recipes that use the chile actually use it as a result of its flavor, rather than as a result of its heat.

The chile has a slightly earthy flavor that is also rather fruity and vibrant.

The chiles are commonly dried and even ground into powder, to make them even easier to mix into countless recipes.

Doing this can actually make them slightly milder, shifting the focus further onto the flavor.

What Are The Differences Between The California Chile And The Guajillo Chile?

What Is A California Chile


Obviously, the biggest difference between California and Guajillo chiles is their level of heat on the Scoville scale.

At its hottest, the California chile reaches around 2,500, but on average they more commonly reach around 500 on the Scoville heat scale.

On the other hand, Guajillo chiles can reach as high as 5,000 on the Scoville heat scale, and even at their very lowest tend to reach around 2,500!

This means that the Guajillo chile is significantly spicier and fierier.

This difference in spice means that the two chiles are often used in different types of dishes, and the Guajillo chiles are a slightly more acquired taste for some.


One of the major ways that the two chiles differ is in their basic appearance. Both chiles are very distinct visually.

California chiles have a green appearance that can range from either being very bright and vibrant or a little deeper and darker.

When these chiles mature, they can occasionally turn a very iconic red color.

The California chile is around 6 inches on average, but of course, when the chile is dried, which it often is, it is a little shorter.

Guajillo chiles differ quite significantly when it comes to appearance, as they instead have a much deeper and more intense red color that really suggests the intense fieriness that is waiting to be released upon biting into them.

Guajillo chiles can range slightly more when it comes to length, as they can be anywhere between 5 to 8 inches long on average.

This makes them occasionally much longer than the California chile.


The two chiles actually differ slightly less when it comes to applications, as both are used to add an extra dimension of flavor to dishes, as well as adding a slight amount of spice.

Guajillo chiles are more often used for their distinct and slightly fruity flavor, and less for the spice that they offer.

If you can put up with the intense heat of the Guajillo chile, then the flavor is very distinct and worth taking advantage of.

California chiles, on the other hand, despite not being as spicy, are actually used to add a little bit of spice to dishes.

You may often find them chopped up and scattered over countless recipes in order to take advantage of the crunchy texture of the chiles.

To Wrap Up

California and Guajillo chiles are very different, which explains why they are both used in such distinct manners.

California chiles have a green appearance, a crunchy texture, and a subtle taste that is complemented by a mild heat which makes them good for adding spice.

Guajillo chiles, on the other hand, are often a more intense red color and are far spicier.

Despite this greater heat, the chiles are most often used for their distinct and fruity flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Is Hotter Guajillo Or Chipotle?

Chipotle chiles are simply dried jalapenos (see also “Best Jalapeno Recipes“), which means that they are not as hot as the Guajillo chile.

What Is The Most Popular Dried Chili?

One of the most commonly used dry chiles is the Guajillo chile.

What Is The Weakest Chili?

One of the weakest chiles in terms of heat is the Bullhorn chile which has a very sweet flavor profile.

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