Sweet, Spicy, Smoky: Chili 3000 from Penzeys Spices

When stocking up on chili powder earlier this season, we took a chance on Penzeys new Chili 3000 blend. We've been longtime users of their chili con carne blend (note: does not actually contain carne), so the idea of switching was a bit nerve wracking. In the end, there was one ingredient that won us over!

Alongside the traditional ancho chilis, cumin, garlic, and paprika, Penzeys included something we've never seen before in a chili powder: lemon peel. This seemed strange at first, but the more we thought about it, the more sense it made. Lemon would definitely provide a hint of tang that would offset the sweet chilis and other savory spices very nicely. We're surprised we didn't think of adding it before, really!

We've been using Chili 3000 all winter long in chilis, enchiladas, and dry rubs, and we're happy to report that it's turning out to be an excellent all-around spice blend. It has a bright, fresh chili flavor with a slight smokiness. We can't taste the lemon per se, but we think it has a part in that bright quality.

Our only criticism is that this blend packs a definite spicy kick. It's not over-powering by any means and wouldn't make a chili-eating pro blink an eye. It's just that we prefer to add our own hot spices so we can regulate the heat level ourselves.

Penzeys also makes a Chili 9000 blend, dubbed "the chili of tomorrow." It's the same as Chili 3000 ("the chili of today"), but with a few more spices added in. Fenugreek, ginger, and cocoa powder were definitely a temptation, and maybe we'll try a small packet next year!

Is anyone else hooked on Penzeys' chili spice blends? Which one do you love best?

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Chili 3000 from Penzeys Spices
Chili 9000 from Penzeys Spices
Chili Con Carne from Penzeys Spices

Related: Recipe: Chili Con Carne

(Image: Emma Christensen)

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