Cutting into a crispy chile relleno and having the melty cheese ooze out is a sure fire way to get your appetite going.
It’s the ultimate comfort food: crispy, cheesy, saucy, with a little bit of heat to keep you going back for more. It’s even better when you cut off a bit and wrap it into a little fluffy tortilla blanket with beans for a chile relleno taco. I’m drooling…
What is chile relleno?
Chile relleno is Spanish for stuffed chile. Any stuffed chile can be a chile relleno but when most people think of them, they’re referring to a battered, deep-fried, roasted chile stuffed with meat or cheese served with warm sauce. If you want to go really deep, jalapeño poppers are a kind of chile relleno too!
Are chile relleno Mexican or Tex-Mex?
They’re both! Chile relleno is a classic Mexican dish that originated in Puebla. In Mexico, chile relleno started life as a roasted green chile stuffed with meat, coated with batter, and deep fried. In the Southwest and New Mexico, chile relleno are usually made with roasted New Mexican green chiles stuffed with cheese, coated with an egg batter, then fried. Both are incredibly delicious. They can be meat or vegetarian and are incredibly customizable.
How to make chile relleno
To be honest, making chile relleno is a journey. I think that’s why most people just like to eat them at restaurants and call it a day. But if you take the time and effort to make them at home, there’s so much happiness and satisfaction in frying up a completely customized chile relleno and enjoying it your way. Here’s how to do it:
Roast the peppers
Place washed, dry peppers on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven until blistered. Place the hot peppers in a heat proof container with a lid and let them sweat so you can remove their skins. Read more about roasting peppers here.
Make the sauce
Meanwhile, while the peppers are roasting, make your ranchero sauce by blending fired roasted tomatoes, roasted green chiles, onions, garlic, stock, oregano, and cumin. When the sauce is smooth, pour it into a sauce pan and let it simmer and reduce, concentrating the flavors and bringing out the sweetness of the tomatoes. Keep covered and warm on low.
Stuff the peppers
By this time your peppers should have sweated and be cool enough to handle. Peel the peppers, gently rubbing off the blistered skins, keeping the peppers whole and intact. Cut open one side of the pepper. Seed if desired, then stuff the pepper with cheese, sealing it up with a toothpick to keep the cheese inside.
Heat the oil
Heat 1-2 inches of oil a deep, heavy bottomed skillet over medium low heat.
Make the batter
Separate the eggs: whites in one bowl and yolks in another. Use a mixer to beat the egg whites into stiff peaks. Whisk the egg yolks, then gently mix into the whites.
Test the oil
Before you batter the peppers, make sure your oil is hot and ready. Turn the heat up to medium high and drop in a tiny bit of the egg batter. If the batter sizzles and floats to the top, it’s ready and it’s time to batter your peppers.
Flour the peppers
Dip the stuffed peppers into flour, coating evenly all over, shaking off the excess.
Batter the peppers. Dip the floured pepper into the batter, letting the excess drip off.
Fry the peppers
Carefully add the pepper to the pan and fry for 1-2 minutes or until golden and crisp, flipping once. You can batter and fry more than one pepper at once, but be sure to not crowd the pan. Remove peppers that when golden and let drain on a wire rack while preparing the other peppers.
Spoon up some warm ranchero sauce onto a plate, place a relleno on top, finish with some cilantro, dig in and enjoy!
The best chiles for chile relleno
- Hatch chiles – the ideal green chile for stuffing, it’s large, slim, and comes in everything from mild to hot. Hatch chiles are buttery, smoky, and delicious.
- Anaheim chiles – these are a great choice! They look very similar to Hatch because they’re green and slim. They’re mild in flavor and heat.
- Poblano chiles – the original chile for rellenos, poblanos are a large and wide, perfect for stuffing. They have a bit more heat compared to Anaheims, but can range from mild to spicy depending on how long they’ve ripened on the vine.
Do you need to seed the chiles?
It’s entirely up to you. If you like a bit of spice, leave the seeds and membrane inside the chile intact. If you want a milder relleno, carefully remove the seeds and membrane.
Chile relleno sauce
There are a couple of different sauces you can go with for chile relleno. You can even use warmed up store bought salsa or enchilada sauce, it’s completely up to you. We serve ours with whichever sauce happens to be in the fridge. Just the other day we had an amazing green chile rellenos with pork chile verde. It was over the top green on green and amazing. Our go to sauce is ranchero sauce (aka ranchera sauce).
- Ranchero sauce – this is the sauce you’ll most likely see when you order relleno at a Mexican restaurant in America. It’s a warm tomato sauce seasoned with onion, green chile, garlic, and cumin. It’s a bit smoky, mild, and delicious.
- Green chile sauce – A classic New Mexico sauce, green chile sauce uses roasted green chiles, onions, garlic, stock, and spices. It’s simmered with a bit of flour to thicken.
- Red chile sauce – The other classic New Mexican sauce, red chile uses dried red chiles, onions, garlic, and spices. It’s essentially what you might think of as enchilada sauce, the softened dried peppers and aromatics blendwith stock or water so it becomes smooth and velvety.
What kind of cheese
You can either use shredded or whole cheese that you cut into sticks to fit inside your peppers, both work. Here are some cheeses that melt well and are amazing in chile relleno:
- Oaxaca – this is the string cheese of Mexico. It melts wonderfully and is perfect for relleno.
- Manchego – melty and mild in flavor.
- Chihuahua – from the state of Chihuahua, this cheese is similar to cheddar and likewise just as meltable.
- Asadero – a very melty, mild, white, creamy cheese.
- Monterey Jack – mild, soft, and great for melting.
How to serve
Spoon some warm sauce onto a plate. Add your crispy hot chile relleno. Top with a bit of chopped cilantro and crumbled queso fresco.
If you want to make a chile relleno plate, serve it with Mexican rice, refried beans, shredded lettuce, guacamole, and some warm tortillas.
Chile Relleno Recipe
A deep-fried, crisp pepper filled with gooey cheese served with classic ranchero sauce.
- 4 large chile Hatch or poblano preferred
- 6 oz Oaxaca cheese
- 1/4 medium onion chopped
- 14.5 oz fire roasted tomatoes ~1 can
- 1/2 cup chicken stock or vegetable stock, no salt added preferred
- 1 tsp oregano Mexican preferred
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 large eggs separated
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- neutral oil for frying
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro chopped, optional
- 2 tbsp queso fresco crumbled, optional
Lighty rub the chiles with a tiny bit of neutral oil and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange your oven rack the highest it can go. Place the peppers in the oven and broil at 550°F for 4-8 minutes, flip, then roast for another 4-8 minutes. You want the peppers blistered, but not completely burnt. Remove the chiles from the oven and place in a heat proof container. Cover and let sweat for 10-15 minutes or until cool to the touch. Gently rub/slide off the skins.
Make a small slit and deseed if desired. Save one pepper for the ranchero sauce and stuff the remaining peppers by gently placing the cheese inside. Use toothpicks to seal them.
Combine the fire roasted tomatoes, chicken stock, oregano, cumin, and 1 of the roasted green peppers in a blender and blend until smooth.
Pour the sauce into a sauce pan and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has deepened in color and flavor. Keep warm while prepping and cooking the chile rellenos.
Make the batter: Separate the eggs into two bowls. Use a mixer to beat the whites into stiff peaks. Whisk the yolks then gently fold them into the egg whites.
Heat 1-2 inches of oil a deep, heavy bottomed skillet over medium hight heat to 350°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, make sure the oil is hot by adding a small dot of egg batter. If it sizzles and floats to the top, it’s hot.
Place the flour in a shallow bowl and gently coat the stuffed peppers, making sure they are completely floured. The flour will help the egg batter stick to the pepper.
Gently dip the floured pepper into the egg batter and immediately place into the hot oil. Repeat with another pepper. Fry for 1-2 minutes per side, or until golden and crisp, flipping once. Remove from the oil when golden and let drain on wire rack or paper towels. Repeat with the remaining peppers, cooking them in batches so the oil doesn’t loose too much heat.
To serve, spoon some warm ranchero sauce onto a plate and top with the crispy relleno. Finish with chopped cilantro and crumbled queso fresco if desired. Enjoy!
Chile Relleno Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 109
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 5.3g33%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.