How To Make Authentic Chiles Rellenos

How To Make Authentic Chiles Rellenos

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When it comes to Mexican food, authentic Chiles Rellenos is probably my favorite Mexican dishes of all time. This dish helped me get over my fear of chiles and acquire an addiction to Mexican chile peppers. It also made me realize that I really do like bell peppers.

Hatch chile season is upon us and as a food lover, I wanted to know more about my favorite Mexican dish, so I did a little research and set out to make them in my own kitchen. I really enjoyed learning how to make authentic Chiles Rellenos and I am excited to share this delicious recipe with you.

Let me show you how to make authentic Chiles Rellenos!

authentic chiles rellenos on a plate ready to eat

What are Chiles Rellenos?

Chiles Rellenos translates to “stuffed chiles”. Chiles are the essence of Mexico. They are in almost every dish, including this recipe for Chiles Rellenos. This dish features poblano chiles, stuffed with cheese, dipped into an egg batter and fried to a nice golden brown. The Chiles Rellenos are served in a bed of delicious tomato sauce.

poblano peppers in pan

About Poblano Peppers

Poblano peppers are popular Mexican chile peppers. These chile pepper are heart-shaped dark green pepper but can ripen to a dark red or brown. The skin walls are pretty thick which makes them perfect for stuffing because they hold up to heat well.

Poblanos are mild in flavor. They measure between 1000-2000 SHU on the Scoville Scale, which is a little more than a bell pepper that measures a 0 SHU on the scale, but have less heat than a jalapeno which measures around 8000 SHU.

How To Purchase Poblano Peppers

Poblanos are readily available year-round at many grocery stores, as most are imported from Mexico. They are best from mid to late summer. 

When you purchase poblanos, look for fresh poblanos that are firm, bright in color without blemishes or soft spots. You also want a relatively flat pepper versus a more round one so it is easier to fry.

Grow poblano peppers at home in beds or pots during the summer months. David and I purchased at least one plant each summer to enjoy.

jar of Mexican oregano for sauce

How To Make the Sauce

To make the sauce, first, roughly chop the onion and garlic. Add them to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth.

Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, use caution and pour the tomato puree into the hot oil and stand back! According to Mexican cuisine, you want to “fry” the sauce. The sauce may spatter and spit, at first, but will subside as you stir it down.

Stir in the Mexican oregano to season the sauce. Mexican oregano is different from traditional Mediterranean oregano because it is grown in Mexico and has a more woodsy, earthy flavor. You can use regular oregano or marjoram if you do not have Mexican oregano. There is a significant difference in flavor, so I recommend getting some to have on hand for all of your homemade Mexican dishes. You can purchase some HERE.

Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally for at least 15 minutes. Season with salt, to taste. This sauce needs a little extra salt than you may normally use. Add in small amounts, tasting in between additions. 

To me, 15 minutes was not long enough to meld the flavors. I recommend simmering for longer if you can.

While the sauce simmers, prepare the chiles for stuffing and fry them.

slit poblano chile with cheese inside

How To Prepare The Poblanos for Stuffing

First, you want to blister and peel the external portion of the skin from the poblano chiles. There are a number of ways in which you can blister the chile and remove the skin. 

You can roast or char, which you can learn about HERE, or you can lay them in a heavy cast-iron pan and blister turning every two to three minutes. 

The peppers must be charred and blistered on the outside on the flesh, but the inside should become soft. The pepper should be cooked but not burnt.

cleaned poblano after blistering skin

Next, place the hot charred poblano into a bowl covered with plastic wrap or a plate. Alternatively, you can place them in a plastic bag and close it tightly. Whichever method you prefer, let them sweat for 10 to 20 minutes.

It’s a good idea to wear rubber gloves when handling chiles, so you do not get capsaicin (the chemical that makes chiles spicy) burns. I’ve experienced that type of burn before. Believe me, it is no fun, so wear gloves!

Once cool, peel the skin gently, starting at the charred sections where the skin is loose, preferably under a thin stream of cold water. Use a paper towel to dry them off and remove any leftover charred skin from the flesh. 

Remove the Seeds For Less Spicy Rellenos: 

We like our Chiles Rellenos spicy, but if you remove the seeds you can lessen the amount of heat the finished chili will have.

To remove seeds from a whole roasted poblano cut a 3-inch slit into one side of the poblano. Insert a small spoon, and gently scrape all of the seeds and membrane out of the interior without tearing the pepper.

package of Oaxaca cheese for authentic chiles relllenos

Stuff the Poblano Peppers With Cheese

Different Mexican recipes call for a variety of different cheeses to make Chiles Rellenos including Oaxaca, Mozzarella, and Monterey Jack. 

My favorite Mexican restaurant uses a very creamy melting cheese. As soon as you cut the tip off the Chiles Relleno with a fork, the cheese oozes out into the sauce on the plate. The creamy melting cheese is a must-have when it comes to making these Rellenos. I actually prepared this recipe more than once because I was unhappy with the cheese melt. 

I tried this recipe with Monterey jack cheese and mozzarella but did not get that creamy flood of cheese that I was looking for. However, the Oaxaca cheese was creamy and melted out into the sauce exactly how it does from my favorite restaurant. 

Oaxaca cheese is a string cheese made of cow’s milk, similar to mozzarella. The downside to using this cheese is that it may not be readily available at your usual grocery store, so you may need to shop around. The flavor is amazing and it melts so beautifully! Believe me, it will be totally worth the search, so get it if you can.

Once the pepper is prepared for stuffing, divide the cheese among the peppers. Stuff the cheese wedges inside the peppers, being careful not to puncture or overstuff the peppers. You may need to cut the cheese as needed to put inside the peppers. Slightly fold the flap of chile over the other side of the slit to seal in the cheese. 

You can use toothpicks to help hold it together, but I found that the egg batter helps it seal shut beautifully. 

battered poblano chile ready to fry

How to Batter Authentic Chiles Rellenos

What surprised me the most about Authentic Chiles Rellenos, is how they are battered for frying. The flour is not the star ingredient as it is when frying most food. Instead, the egg mixture is. The flour only acts as a binder around the chile giving the egg mixture something to hold onto. The result is a light delicate, yet slightly puffy batter.

Begin by beating the egg whites and salt with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Make sure you do not beat them too much or they will become dry. 

Next, fold the egg yolk into the egg whites, one at a time, until well incorporated and mix through. Be gentle not to deflate the egg whites.

Now, hold the flap of the stuffed poblano closed and roll the chile into the flour without getting too much inside the slit. Coat the entire chile in flour to give the egg mixture something to stick to. 

flour covered chile

Finally, dip the flour coated chile into the egg mixture. Coat the chile completely with the egg mixture.

frying pan outdoors with frying authentic chiles rellenos

How To Fry The Chiles Rellenos

I refuse to fry food in the house anymore. The smell seems to linger inside for days, unless we open the windows, which isn’t always practical. 

For this recipe, I purchased a 12×12 electric frying pan by Bella to fry food outdoors. Electric frying pans are relatively cheap, the thermostat keeps a pretty consistent temperature and it is super easy to clean up. I highly recommend getting one. You can find one like mine HERE.

To the Chiles Rellenos, add enough oil to the skillet so that there is about 1-inch of oil in the pan and heat to 350 degrees F.

While the oil is heating, line a platter or large plate with several paper towels so the chiles can drain after frying.

frying chile peppers in grease

When the oil is hot, add only two chiles to the oil at a time. This chiles brown very fast. Working with more will be too much to handle at once, and one of the chiles could burn if left unattended too long.

draining authentic chile rellenos on platter

Brown the chiles on all sides, turning each chile over after about 30 to 45 seconds. When the batter is brown, remove the chiles to drain on the prepared paper towel-lined dish. Keep the chiles warm while cooking the remaining chiles. 

How To Serve Chiles Rellenos

Spoon some of the warm sauce into each serving dish, then add a Chiles Rellenos on top of the sauce in each dish. Pour a little more sauce over the top of each Chiles Rellenos. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

fork pulling cheese from authentic chiles rellenos

If you love Mexican food and love to cook as much as I do, make this dish. You will love it!

Authentic Chiles Rellenos on plate ready to eat
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Authentic Chiles Rellenos

Authentic Chiles Rellenos is a classic Mexican dish made of chiles, stuffed with cheese, fried in egg batter until golden brown, and served in tomato sauce.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword chiles, poblano, Rellenos, Stuffed peppers
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 409kcal

Useful Equipment:

Ingredients

  • 6 poblano chiles fresh
  • ½ pound oaxaca cheese cut into 6 wedges (see notes)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 28 ounces whole canned tomatoes
  • ½ medium onion rough chopped, about a cup
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon Mexican oregano dried (see note)
  • sea salt to taste
  • 3 large eggs yolks, separated from whites
  • 4 cups vegetable oil for frying (at least 1 cup or more)

Instructions

How To Make the Sauce

  • Roughly chop the onion and garlic. Add them to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth.
  • Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, use caution and pour the tomato puree into the hot oil and stand back! According to Mexican cuisine, you want to “fry” the sauce. The sauce may spatter and spit, at first, but will subside as you stir it down.
  • Stir in the Mexican oregano to season the sauce.
  • Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally for at least 15 minutes. Season with salt, to taste. This sauce needs a little extra salt than you may normally use. Add in small amounts, tasting in between additions.

How To Prepare The Poblanos for Stuffing

  • While the sauce simmers, prepare the chiles for stuffing and fry them. First, you want to blister and peel the external portion of the skin from the poblano chiles. There are a number of ways in which you can roast or charm (Learn about HERE) or you can lay them in a heavy cast-iron pan and blister turning every two to three minutes.
    The peppers must be charred and blistered on the outside and the flesh on the inside should become soft. The pepper must be cooked but not burnt.
  • Next, place the hot charred poblano into a bowl covered with plastic wrap or a plate. Alternatively, you can place them in a plastic bag and close it tightly. Whichever method you prefer, let them sweat for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Once cool, peel the skin gently, starting at the charred sections where the skin is loose, preferably under a thin stream of cold water. Use a paper towel to dry them off and remove any leftover charred skin from the flesh.

Stuff the Poblano Peppers With Cheese

  • Once the pepper is prepared for stuffing, divide the cheese among the peppers. Stuff the cheese wedges inside the peppers, being careful not to puncture or overstuff the peppers. You may need to cut the cheese as needed to put inside the peppers. Slightly fold the flap of chile over the other side of the slit to seal in the cheese.

How to Batter Chiles Rellenos

  • Begin by beating the egg whites and salt with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Make sure you do not beat them too much or they will become dry.
  • Next, fold the egg yolk into the egg whites, one at a time, until well incorporated and mix through. Be gentle not to deflate the egg whites.
  • Now, hold the flap of the stuffed poblano closed and roll the chile into the flour without getting too much inside the slit. Coat the entire chile in flour to give the egg mixture something to stick to.
  • Finally, dip the flour coated chile into the egg mixture. Coat the chile completely with the egg mixture.

How To Fry The Chiles Rellenos

  • Add enough oil to the skillet so that there is about 1-inch of oil in the pan and heat to 350 degrees F.
  • While the oil is heating, line a platter or large plate with several paper towels so the chiles can drain after frying.
  • When the oil is hot, add only two chiles to the oil at a time. This chiles brown very fast. Working with more will be too much to handle at once, and one of the chiles could burn if left unattended too long.
  • Brown the chiles on all sides, turning each chile over after about 30 to 45 seconds. When the batter is brown, remove the chiles to drain on the prepared paper towel-lined dish. Keep the chiles warm while cooking the remaining chiles.

How To Serve Chiles Rellenos

  • Spoon some of the warm sauce into each serving dish, then add a chiles rellenos on top of the sauce in each dish. Pour a little more sauce over the top of each chile rellenos. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

Notes

The Chiles: If you cannot find poblano peppers, ancho, pasilla or anaheim chiles can also be used for this recipe. Time Saver: You can prepare the chiles for battering a day in advance by blistering, peeling, and stuffing, then cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to batter and fry.
Mexican Oregano: Mexican oregano is different from traditional Mediterranean oregano because it is grown in Mexico and has a more woodsy, earthy flavor. You can use regular oregano or marjoram if you do not have Mexican oregano. There is a significant difference in flavor, so I recommend getting some to have on hand for all of your homemade Mexican dishes. You can purchase some HERE.
Simmering the Sauce: To me, 15 minutes was not long enough to meld the flavors. I recommend simmering for longer if you can.
Charring Peppers: Roast or char the peppers, which you can learn about HERE, or you can lay them in a heavy cast-iron pan and blister turning every two to three minutes.
Remove the Seeds For Less Spicy Rellenos: We like our Chiles Rellenos spicy, but if you remove the seeds you can lessen the amount of heat the finished chili will have.
To remove seeds from a whole roasted poblano cut a 3-inch slit into one side of the poblano. Insert a small spoon, and gently scrape all of the seeds and membrane out of the interior without tearing the pepper.
You can use toothpicks to help hold it together, but I found that the egg batter helps it seal shut beautifully.
The Cheese: Different Mexican recipes call for a variety of different cheeses to make Chiles Rellenos including Oaxaca, Mozzarella, and Monterey Jack. I highly recommend Oaxaca, but if you have trouble finding it, the mozzarella or Monterey jack is the best substitute.
Recipe adapted from KathleenIsCookingMexico.wordpress.com

Nutrition

Calories: 409kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 567mg | Potassium: 532mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 741IU | Vitamin C: 109mg | Calcium: 104mg | Iron: 3mg
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