The origin of chiles rellenos dates back to the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the 16th century. As with Mexican culture as a whole, much of Mexico’s culinary tradition stems from a mixture of Spanish and indigenous customs. This is definitely true for chiles rellenos—the recipe brings together a mixture of indigenous and European ingredients.

In Spanish, relleno means “stuffed.” This dish is a roasted poblano chili stuffed with cheese or meat, covered with beaten egg and then fried. It’s increasingly becoming one of the most popular foods in Mexico!

What kind of peppers do you use for chiles rellenos?

Chiles rellenos are traditionally made with poblano chiles. Poblano chiles are thick, strong, heart-shaped and wide enough to stuff with a serving size of filling. Other types of peppers can be used, but are often not big enough or strong enough to hold a hearty amount of filling.

How to Make Chiles Rellenos

The traditional recipe uses roasted and peeled poblano chiles. Serve chile rellenos with Mexican rice and corn tortillas!

Ericka’s Tip: You can find this and other traditional Mexican recipes in my cookbook, ¡Buen Provecho!: Traditional Mexican Flavors from My Cocina to Yours.


4 poblano chiles
3-1/2 cups shredded Oaxaca cheese
1/2 small white onion
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup canola oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
Sliced red onion for garnish
Crumbled cotija cheese for garnish

For the Tomato Sauce:

2 tablespoons canola oil
5 roma tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 small onion, sliced in strips
1 large garlic clove, sliced in half
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano, crushed


Step 1: Roast poblano chiles

Rinse poblano chiles and wipe dry with a paper towel. Lightly cover with cooking oil (about 1/4 teaspoon per chile). Rub thoroughly and wipe off any excess.

Turn a gas stove burner on high. Using metal tongs, place 1 or 2 poblano chiles on burner, directly over the flame. You will begin to hear a crackling and popping sound. That’s a good thing! It means the chile skins are blistering and separating from the chile.

Using metal tongs, turn the chiles every 2-3 minutes. Allow the skin to blacken on all sides, but do not let the skin turn to ash.

Step 2: Steam poblano chiles

Carefully remove the charred chiles with tongs and place them in a clean plastic bag. Seal the bag or fold the opening over, leaving some air inside. This will allow the chile to steam. Steam for at least 10 minutes.

Carefully open the plastic bag to release hot steam. When the chiles are cool enough to handle, remove them from the bag.

Step 3: Peel poblano chiles

Place steamed chiles on a cutting board. Holding the chile by the stem and using the back of a knife or edge of a spoon, scrape the charred skin away.

Step 4: Stuff poblano chiles

Make a vertical slit with a knife about half an inch from the bottom tip of each chile to half an inch from the stem. Using a small spoon, scrape and scoop out veins and as many seeds as you can. Do not remove stems.

Stuff about 3/4 cup shredded cheese and 3-4 onion strips in each chile. Pin closed with toothpicks if necessary.

Step 5: Prepare egg batter

Separate egg whites and egg yolks. Place yolks in a medium bowl and egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Add salt to egg whites. Beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Beat yolks with a fork and fold into egg whites until well incorporated.

Step 6: Dredge chiles

Place flour in a shallow bowl. One at a time, roll each chile in flour, covering all sides. Gently shake off excess flour. Dip chile into egg batter.

Step 7: Fry chiles

Heat 1 cup canola oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat.

Holding by the stem, place chile in hot oil and carefully baste with spoonfuls of hot oil until golden brown. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate to soak up excess oil. Repeat with remaining chiles.

Step 8: Make tomato sauce

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add tomato halves, onion srips and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes, turning ingredients frequently with tongs. Do not burn. Tomatoes should be soft and skins should begin to peel.

Step 9: Blend ingredients

Add sauteed tomatoes, onion and garlic to a blender. Add 2 cups water and puree until smooth.

Step 10: Cook tomato sauce

Transfer blended mixture back to pan and heat over high heat. Season with salt and oregano. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

Step 11: Plate It Up

To serve, divide tomato sauce between 4 shallow plates. Top with onion slices. Place chiles on tomato sauce and onion slices. Garnish with oregano leaves and a sprinkle of cotija cheese.

Mexican Desserts to Finish the Meal

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