Chiles Rellenos — poblano chiles stuffed with cheese and served with tomato sauce

A Classic Mexican Recipe


Chiles are the essence of Mexico. Vibrant in color and intense in flavor, they are found in many Mexican dishes. Chiles Rellenos, a Mexican classic, feature poblano chiles stuffed with cheese, dipped in egg, then fried until golden and served in a shining pool of tomato sauce.

Chiles Rellenos
Makes 6

  • 6 thick-walled poblano chiles
  • 1/2 lb. (230 grams) cheese of your choice, cut into 6 wedges
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) all purpose flour
  • 2 lbs. (900 grams) fresh tomatoes (or canned tomatoes — see note)
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon dry Mexican oregano
  • salt to taste
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • mild vegetable oil for frying

1. First, blister and peel the poblano chiles.

Mexican Potato Salad with Three Chiles 001

2. While poblanos are steaming, cut tomatoes into quarters or eighths, depending on their size, and squeeze out seeds. Strain seeds, saving the juice. Roughly chop onion and garlic.

3. Purée tomatoes, juice, onion and garlic in blender. Fry the sauce. (Yes, you read it right. “Fry” is the verb used in Mexican cookbooks to describe making a cooked salsa.) Bring 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a moderately high temperature in the  skillet, add the tomato mixture, and stand back — it will spatter and spit a bit, but will calm down as you stir it. Add dry Mexican oregano (not Greek oregano) and stir occasionally while simmering  for 15 minutes. Salt to taste, but don’t skimp on the salt. Too little will result in a flat-tasting sauce.

4. While the sauce is simmering, peel and seed chiles and stuff with wedges of cheese. If the piece of cheese is not too large, you can slightly fold the flap of chile over the other side of the slit, sealing the cheese in. The cooked egg batter will hold this flap closed.

5. For egg coating: beat egg whites with 1/4 teaspoon of salt until stiff but not dry. Fold in beaten egg yolks. This is the chile coating. There is no flour added.

Chiles Rellenos -- Poblano Chiles Stuffed with Cheese and Served with Tomato Sauce -- A Mexican Classic

6.  Keeping the flap closed, roll each chile in flour, without getting flour inside the chile. (Mexican cocineras use a toothpick to hold the slit closed.) The idea is to completely cover it with flour so that the egg has something to stick to. Then dip each chile in the beaten egg to completely coat it.

7. Use enough oil in your skillet for a depth of 3/4″ – 1″. Heat oil to 350 deg. F. (180 C.). Fry two chiles at a time. If you try to do more, the first chile in the pan will start to burn while you are coating the others. (I learned this the hard way.) Turn the chiles over after 30-45 seconds in the oil, or until they are golden brown on all sides. Place on several layers of paper towels to absorb oil. Keep warm on a hot plate or in a 200 deg. F. (95 C.) oven while you batter and cook the remaining chiles. While cooking the chiles, keep the tomato sauce hot.

8. When all are done, spoon hot tomato sauce into individual dishes or in a large platter and arrange chiles rellenos on the sauce.



~ Mexican cookbooks recommend a variety of cheeses for Chiles Rellenos, including Oaxaca string cheese, Mozzarella and Monterey Jack. A good cheddar is assertive enough to stand up to the flavorful chiles and tomato sauce. For this recipe, I used Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar from Costco.

~ To make the preparation of this dish more manageable, make the sauce and blister and peel the chiles the day before.

~ Be prepared for a wide range of heat level. Poblanos are generally a mild chile, but every now and then they veer off the heat scale.

~ When selecting poblanos, look for those that are flat with two sides, rather than three sides. This shape allows for less cooking time when blistering and frying.

~ In the winter, it may be impossible to find fresh tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes. If this is the case, you will do better using canned tomatoes, which usually have a good flavor.

~ There are no rules in cooking (baking is a different matter). If you want to fill your chile relleno with crab and mornay sauce, or well-seasoned black beans and shrimp, please invite me to dinner.

~ Leftover chiles rellenos, re-heated, make an excellent sandwich filling. In the market of a small town, we had tortas de chiles rellenos — bolillos, the common bread roll of Mexico, filled with cheese-stuffed poblanos. With this memory to prompt us, we had  left-over chiles rellenos in bolillos for lunch at home. Split the bolillo horizontally and pull out the soft center to make room for the chile. Spoon some hot tomato sauce onto both sides of the roll. Muy delicioso!

~ Today’s Spanish lesson: This dish is often misspelled as “Chile Rellenos”. If Chile is singular (without an “s”), so too is the descriptive word, “relleno”. Chile Relleno or Chiles Rellenos are the correct spellings.


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33 thoughts on “Chiles Rellenos — poblano chiles stuffed with cheese and served with tomato sauce

  1. Pingback: How To Make Authentic Chiles Rellenos Recipe | The Mountain Kitchen

  2. Tip for coating..separate eggs, beat the yolks, put aside. Whip the whites to almost stiff peaks, then gently fold yolks into whites, then proceed with dipping and frying. It’s so much easier to fry.

      1. Years ago, my parents owned a Mexican food restaurant, and I really love replenish, and my moms made a Chile gravy for ‘smothering’ them in with grated on top. It was great!

    1. Sharyn Earl

      What do you do with the leftover fluffy egg batter? I had some left, so I dipped tortilla triangles in the batter and fried them. They were pretty good.

      1. That was a good thing to do with leftover egg, Sharyn. You can also cook it like scrambled eggs and use it for a quesadilla filling or a sandwich. Or, if you have a dog, they will love it over their dog food.

  3. I make a Gringo Relleno Clone. I burn and peel the chilies. {My wife prefers Anaheims so that is what I use.] I slice them open and remove the seeds and stem. I set the oven to 350 degrees.
    I oil a small cast iron frying pan. I use 3 eggs, separated. I whip the whites to stuff peaks. I mix a Tbs tapioca starch with the yolks and whip together. I fold together and put a layer of egg in the pan and put a layer of chilies, then a layer of sliced provolone cheese [Costco] and a layer of eggs, more chilies, cheese and finish with the remaining eggs. I put a layer of deep fried jalapenos [Costco] to decorate the top. Bake for 35 minutes. [Slice through the center and check that the eggs are cooked if you want] and serve. Really good and no frying!

  4. love your site, I am making rellenos right now, also have a pot of beans cooking. I am glad to see the comment about cinnamon in beans and relleno sauce. I have been doing it this for years, it is the way I was taught by my God mother. I sometimes add ground pork and raisins I don’t know if this is traditional or not. thanks for showing this great recipe.

    1. I trust your rellenos turned out perfectly. Do you know that Mexican cinnamon and cinnamon sold in the US are from two different plant species? I prefer Mexican cinnamon, which I think is more mellow. Regardless of which one you use, it is a great addition to beans and sauce. Provecho!

  5. Great recipe! I made these this past weekend and they were delicious. The sauce was really good. I had a little trouble with my first chile since I didn’t coat much egg on it, but by the third one, they looked great. I used mozzarella in a few and white cheddar cheese. The mozzarella tasted better.

  6. Aurora Alcantar

    Excellent step by step explanation of how to do Chiles Rellenos. Add side with Mexican rice,fried beans and a lettuce salad in.

  7. Marcus Toole

    I have poblano and other peppers which may work well with this in my garden. How ripe should I let the poblano get. Would it work as a fully ripe red pepper? Thanks

  8. Sara

    Hi, I just found your blog and it’s exactly what a newly arrived Swede eager to try out some Mexican recipes needs. Your blog is so beautiful and well edited and I was very happy to see that you are emphasizing organic and non-processed food. I immediately tried out the recipe for chiles rellenos using a flavorful Mennonita cheese and the result was very satisfying although I had some troubles with the egg coating. I only had a fork to beat the egg whites and didn’t quite succeed, but my Mexican boyfriend says that is how it’s usually done here so I guess it’s just a matter of practicing. Looking forward to trying out more of your recipes!

    1. Your boyfriend is right — usually a fork or hand whisk is used, but that requires a lot of wrist work. I use an electric mixer and get foamy egg whites in no time. Try looking for a whisk. It will get the job done more quickly. I bet this was good with Mennonite cheese. We don’t have that cheese in our area, but I have had it before and remember it being very tasty. I hope you try more recipes. And enjoy your stay in Mexico!

      1. Susie

        I have and use an electric mixer. ButI still have trouble with getting the egg whites stiff. Then once I add the yolk one at a time. The egg white mixture starts to get runny. Please help. What am I doing wrong?

        1. Susie, if your egg whites are not beating enough, it is possible the bowl or beaters have trace amounts of oil or fat on them. Wash them in very hot, soapy water to get them super clean. Even a trace amount of egg yolk in the whites will hamper beating. See if this help. If not, get back to me. Good luck!

  9. Sindy Salazar

    I just discovered your blog about ten minutes ago, and already I’m in love!! You have plenty of all my favorite foods here and tantalizing recipes to make them all! Thank you and please, please, keep posting! I can’t wait to try your recipe for chiles rellenos!

  10. joe6lupe

    I loved your recipe because is very close to what I grew up with. I am from Mexico City and I hope one day to go back and spend some time back home.
    My sister who is from Mexico city told me to add a little pinch of cinnamon to the tomato sauce (caldillo), it was the best I have had. Of course with cinnamon less is more.
    Thanks for this recipe.

  11. Amanda

    Loved the recipe it was easy and delicious. I would love to try some other recipes. My Husband is from Mexico and he hasn’t been home in many years so I want to know how to cook authentic recipes not ” taco bell Gavacho food”. So thank you.

    1. I’m so glad you tried Chiles Rellenos. It really is a good dish that represents the best of Mexico. For more traditional recipes to try for your husband, look under “Cloud Topics on the right of the page and click Classic Mexican Recipes and Mexican Tradition. Buen provecho!

  12. Lakotalady

    Epazote (eh-pah-SO-tay): Dysphania ambrosioides, a pungent, bitter herb used in beans and quesadillas

    This herb is used in Mexican and Native American cooking: where an ingredient in a dish, such as beans amoung other ingredients, causes a person to get gas).
    You want to use it sparingly, for a pot of beans, maybe a teaspoon as it is a bitter herb.

    *If you can’t find this herb, you can put 1/4 to1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in your soaking water or 1/4 teaspoon to the cooking will kill the gas
    Buen Provecho!

  13. Pingback: Celebrating Mexican independence with chiles en nogada | Cooking in Mexico

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