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Mexican Spices, Seasonings and Chiles

There are several spices and herbs that are native to Mexico, these include some chocolate (cacao), chiles and vanilla that are found throughout our neighbor to the south. While they may have originated in Mexico, like many spices and herbs, their increased demand has led to their cultivation throughout the world.

Many of us, in this country, think that the Tex-Mex style cooking that we are familiar with – burritos, chalupas, enchiladas, fajitas and tacos are “Mexican” food. But the truth is these foods are prepared very differently in kitchens throughout Mexico.

When the Spanish arrived in Mexico they found the Aztec diet consisted of corn base dishes that often featured chiles, beans, tomatoes, and herbs. But the Aztecs also frequently used chocolate, vanilla, avocado, papaya, pineapple, achiote, squash, sweet potato, turkey and fish. The Spanish introduced them to olive oil, almonds, beef, chicken and pork.


Onions and Garlic

Like many cuisines around the globe some of the most common flavors you may find in Mexican food are garlic and onions. Garlic is used fresh and also in the dried  form and is found in many staple recipes such as Carne Asada, Cheese Enchiladas, Pico De Gallo and seasoning blends like our Manzanillo.

Onion is also a very common ingredient and like garlic is used both fresh and dried. When a recipe calls for fresh you will find white, yellow and red onions being called for. 


Other Common Seasonings

Other common flavors are cumin, coriander, chile powder and oregano. There are several varieties of oregano but for the most authentic taste in Mexican dishes Mexican oregano is preferred. This gives these dishes a rich earthy flavor.

While cumin is believed to have been first used in Egypt as far back as 4,000 years ago it is also often found in the spicier cuisines like Mexican. Cumin's very distinctive flavor possesses a warm, spicy-sweet and somewhat bitter taste and it is recommended that it is used sparingly as it can easily overwhelm a dish. 

Mexican Chiles and Chile Powder

Mexican Chiles are a staple in this cuisine and are used in salsas, stews, vegetable dishes and sauces. Some of the more popular Mexican chiles are:

The Ancho chile which is the dried version of the Poblano chile and features a mild fruity flavor with undertones of plum, raisin, tobacco and a hint of earthiness. This is a medium heat chile coming it at 4,000 - 9,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units).

Chipotle chiles are well known for their spicy hotness, but when used in smaller amounts, they can also be a bit mild while adding a spectacular subtle flavor to dishes. 

Other popular Mexican chiles are the Pasilla, Habanero, Guajillo, Serrano and De Arbol.


Unusual Flavors

Some of the other spices and herbs that are often used in Mexican dishes but aren’t quite as common include Canela (which is also known as Ceylon or "True cinnamon"), cloves, vanilla and anise and each adds their own subtle flavor twist.

Cacao powder is also used to provide a warm, rich flavor and is used to make Mole, a popular sauce served over chicken.

Some of the hard find ingredients for authentic Mexican cuisine that we've been able to source include the smoky Pasilla de Oaxaca chiles and dried Avocado Leaves

Mexican Spices


Mexican Chiles

Achiote Seed (a.k.a. Annato Seed)
  Ancho Chiles
Anise, Ground    Chipotle "Meco" Chiles
Avocado Leaves New!   Chipotle "Morita" Chiles
Basil   Cascabel Chiles
Cacao Powder   De Arbol Chiles
Canela (Ceylon Cinnamon)   Guajillo Chiles
Cilantro   Habanero Chiles
Cloves, Ground   Mulato Chiles
Cloves, Whole   Pequin Chiles
Coriander, Ground   Pasilla de Negro
Coriander, Whole   Pasilla de Oaxaca
Cumin, Ground   Puya Chiles
Cumin, Whole   Serrano Chiles

Mexican Chile Flakes

Garlic Flakes, Roasted
  Ancho Flakes
Garlic, Granulated   Chipotle "Morita" Flakes
Garlic Powder   Crushed Habanero Flakes
Mint (Spearmint Leaves)
  Jalapeno Flakes
Nutmeg, Ground
Nutmeg, Whole

Mexican Chile Powders

Onion Powder   Ancho Chile Powder
Onion, Minced   Chipotle "Meco" Chile Powder
Sage, Rubbed
  Chipotle "Morita" Chile Powder
  De Arbol Chile Powder
Vanilla Beans, Mexican
  Guajillo Chile Powder
    Habanero Chile Powder
    Jalapeno Chile Powder

Mexican Seasonings

  Pasilla De Negro Chile Powder
Adobo Seasoning   Serrano Chile Powder
Barbacoa Rub New!    
Chorizo Seasoning    
Habanero Chili Seasoning    
Habanero Mango    
Manzanillo Seasoning    
Mole Seasoning    
Yucatan Recado Rojo Seasoning