Ancho Pasilla Sauce

Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.

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3 dried ancho chilies (about 2 oz.)
4 dried pasilla chilies (about 1-1/2 oz.)
1-1/2 cups fresh orange juice
3 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 tsp. salt


Heat a dry griddle or heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot, but not smoking, and toast the chiles, 1 or 2 at a time, pressing down with tongs, a few seconds on each side to make more pliable. Wearing rubber gloves, remove the stems, seeds and veins. In a blender purée the chiles with the remaining ingredients until completely smooth. Sauce may be made 2 days ahead of time and chilled, covered.

Makes 2 cups.

Recipe from Gourmet Magazine, July 1997.