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Achiote vs Ancho: Which One Should You Buy?

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Achiote and ancho are famous Mexican spices used for adding spicey and tempting flavor to food. Now, these two spices are quite often mistaken as the same. 

Let us take care of everything for you if you fall into this category! How do Achiote vs Ancho differ from one another?

Anchiote vs Ancho

The main difference between achiote and ancho is that Achiote is made from seeds of the achiote tree and Ancho from dried Poblano chili. Achiote gives a sweet and peppery flavor whereas Ancho has a smoky flavor. Both of them have very few calories and nutritional values. Though Achiote is cheaper than Ancho.

Well, these were just an overview. We’ll go through these in detail in our article. So let’s not waste any more time and get started!

Achiote vs Ancho: Quick Comparison

Upon closer inspection, Achiote and Ancho appear to be very different from each other. As a spice with its own distinctive identity and taste, they take great pride in this. 

Look more closely at some of the main distinctions between Achiote vs Ancho-based products.

OriginSeeds of the achiote tree (Bixa Orellana)Poblano chili pepper 
UsesUsed as a commercial food dye, also used in cosmeticsUsed in food for mild to medium taste
Calories Present2.82 calories per gram serving.11.78 calorie per gram serving 
PriceStandardPricey compared to achiote

Achiote vs Ancho: A Detailed Comparison

We’ve gained an appreciation for the distinctions between Achiote and Ancho. As both of them are derived from chili families, they’re used as the finest marination and meat church rub.

It’s time to buckle up and go over their differences in great detail-


Both Achiotes and Anchos are made from different parts of chili in separate families. This gives off a different flavor as well.

Bixa Orellana is the source of Achiotes. First, it’s macerated in water. After that, the pulp is separated for processing. Finally, the seeds are dried and used as spices. 

It’s basically originated from the Caribbean, America, and Mexico. 

On the contrary, Anchos originate from dried poblano peppers. They look like a giant raisin, with a stem, on its wrinkly skin. Because they’re picked before they’re fully ripe, the poblanos you buy at the grocery store are green. 

Southwestern and Mexican cuisine use them frequently because of their smoky flavor.


Achiote has a mild peppery taste but it’s often used for the color. It appears in many forms in Mexican and Caribbean cooking. This includes whole seeds, ground spice, achiote paste, and achiote oil.


Achiote has no taste when used sparsely, mainly as a food dye. The earthy, peppery flavor is enhanced with a bitter undertone. When used in larger quantities as a flavoring agent.

Depending on the variety, achiote seeds can have a floral or minty scent. Achiote paste has a Scoville heat rating of up to 40K Scoville Scale.

Achiote Paste and Achiote Powders are recommended here.

El Yucateco Achiote Paste 3.5 ozCheck price on Amazon
La Perla del Mayab Annatto Seed Paste AchioteCheck price on Amazon

Ancho on the other hand has a sweet and chocolatey flavor. The mild to medium-hot heat of the ancho chile pepper is reminiscent of raisins. Compared to ground form, this has a stronger flavor when whole.

Ancho chile has a mild heat level of between 1,000 and 2,000 Scoville heat units, which means it’s quite mild. Habanero has 100,000 units, while bell peppers range from 0 to 100.

Here’s our recommendation for dried ancho and ancho powders.

Simply Organic Ancho Chili Powder, Certified OrganicCheck Price on Amazon
McCormick Gourmet Ancho Chile PepperCheck price on Amazon

Here we have some super quality dried ancho powders.


Achiote is used for food color and very light spicy condiments. It also gives sweet and peppery undertones to foods. Achiote is a culinary spice, a food colorant, and a commercial dye, among other uses.

Both of these spices go along with side dishes that require purees to have with. If the puree is too thin, you can easily thicken the puree.

Cosmetics such as cloth dye, body paint, sunblock, and insect repellent also contained it. In addition, the seeds may have been used by the Aztecs to enhance the color of a chocolate beverage.

On the other hand, Ancho gives the foods an especially smoky and spicy flavor. It’s great to use in roasts, curry. Also, sauces, soups, and marinades are commonly flavored with ancho. 

Dried or dehydrated ancho chile, whole or ground, can be used. The marinade or rub can be applied to meat, poultry, or seafood prior to cooking.

Also, it can be added to a stew, smoky brisket, or soup as a flavoring ingredient before cooking. While adding brisket, ensure the right color of brisket. Ancho gives a smoky and mild peppery flavor.


Achiote and Ancho both are used as an additional food flavor. So they have very few calories per serving.

Achiote especially in paste form contains 2.83 calories per gram of serving. It has a very little amount of proteins, carbs, and sugar. Ancho contains 11.78 calories per gram of serving. It has very little protein, saturated fat, carbs, and potassium.


The cost of Achiote and Ancho is one of the most significant differences between the two. The price of achiote is very standard and affordable. It’s not as expensive as anchos.

Ancho on the other hand is a pricey food condiment. It’s almost 4-5 times more expensive than achiotes.

Which One To Pick?

All the differences between Achiote and Ancho have been explained to you. When all is said and done, we’ll see who actually wins.

As a standard replacement for the Ancho, the Achiote has a lot to offer surprisingly. When using Achiote, the differences between the two spices become more apparent.

Achiote has a sweet and peppery flavor. Both sweet and spicy dishes benefit from the addition of this versatile spice. It also adds color to food. On the other hand, Ancho gives a smoky and very mild hot flavor to your curry. But does not give additional color to the food.

As far as I’m concerned, upgrading to Ancho from Achiote isn’t worth the additional money. In terms of performance, it’ll only make a small difference. Try out the best condiment you can find.


What is Mexican achiote?

Mexican achiotes are basically Annatto seeds. Annatto seeds and other spices like cumin, pepper, oregano, cloves, and garlic are ground into achiote paste and used as a Mexican spice ingredient in many dishes.

What is the difference between achiote and turmeric?

Achiotes and turmeric are varied from each other. Though Turmeric is used as a substitute for achiotes, it lacks the bright orange color that achiotes provide in dishes.

Is Chipotle the same as Ancho?

No. Chipotle and Ancho are not the same things. Chipotle is dried and smoked jalapeno pepper. Whereas, Ancho is poblano pepper that is dried.


We hope now you’re clear about the difference between Achiote vs Ancho. You can use both Achiote and ancho in your food. But if you wish to use one, Ancho should be your go-to.

We sincerely hope that this information was beneficial to you.

Best of luck and happy cooking!