Authentic fried chiles rellenos filled with melted queso Oaxaca coated in a delicate, soft, but slightly crispy coating served with a warm ranchero salsa.
What are chiles rellenos?
Chiles rellenos come in all forms and have many different fillings. Chile relleno is Spanish for “stuffed chile.” They are a classic Mexican dish and especially popular during the Lenten season when Catholics do not eat meat.
My mom always made chiles rellenos with Anaheim or Hatch chile peppers. She filled them with a white melty cheese, coated them in an airy egg batter, and deep fried them until golden brown.
My mom was a single parent and used to sell chile relleno burritos with refried beans during her lunch hour. I remember waking up for school and seeing her busy in the kitchen roasting chiles and making flour tortillas. As you can imagine they were very popular.
She would also make them for us to take on road trips. Let me just tell you, they were my absolute favorite childhood meal.
These traditional Mexican chiles rellenos take time and commitment. They are not difficult to make, but they are time consuming. To be completely honest, until recently I had never made my mom’s chiles rellenos on my own.
My mom visited me over the summer and while she was in town we filmed her making her famous chiles rellenos and refried beans. In this video, my mom shares lots of great tips to make chiles rellenos, so now I make them when the craving strikes.
My favorite childhood chiles rellenos recipe is published in the Muy Bueno cookbook, and I am so excited to share it with you here on the blog.
Roast chile peppers
This chile relleno recipe calls for Anaheim chile peppers which are readily available, but must be roasted and peeled before using. If you are not sure how to roast chiles, read this blog post and watch this video to learn how to roast chile peppers.
Prepare the ranchero salsa
While the chiles are roasting, make the ranchero salsa. Any salsa can be served with chiles rellenos, but my favorite is a mild and flavorful ranchero salsa made with a combination of spicy jalapeños and mild chiles güeros or sweet mini peppers.
Filling the chiles
As I mentioned, you can fill your chiles with anything, but this classic chiles rellenos recipe is filled with queso Oaxaca. Some of my other favorite cheeses for filling are Monterey Jack, muenster, quesadilla, and asadero.
TIP: This chiles rellenos recipe can be made ahead up until this point. Simply roast and stuff the chilies and make the salsa, then pop everything in the refrigerator until you’re ready.
Coat the Chiles
On a plate combine flour, salt, and black pepper. Place the filled chiles in the flour mixture and coat all sides well. Shake off any excess flour and reserve for later use.
While you may be tempted to skip this step, please don’t! This is how the egg mixture is able to stick to the chiles! If you are gluten free, simply replace the all purpose flour with a suitable 1-to-1 gluten free flour replacement.
Make Egg Batter
Separate egg yolks from the whites.
TIP: Make sure there are no traces of yolk in the whites, or the whites will not whip properly. Additionally, make sure your egg white bowl and beaters are very clean. Any trace of oil or fat will cause the whites to fall.
You might recognize a Tupperware egg separator gadget in the video. My mother used to sell Tupperware and I have had that gadget for years.
TIP: If you do not have an egg separator, don’t worry. You can simply crack open the egg allowing whatever whites are released to fall. Using your non-dominant hand, cup your fingers upward with a bit of space between them. Pour the remaining egg over your fingers, which will catch the yolk and let the whites drip down!
My mom adds cream of tartar to the egg whites before she whips them. Cream of tartar is an acid ingredient which stabilizes beaten egg whites. If you don’t have cream of tartar, you can skip this ingredient.
Using an electric hand or stand mixer beat the egg whites and cream of tartar, salt, and pepper on high speed until soft peaks form.
Carefully fold the egg yolks into the egg whites being careful not to mix too much so the egg whites don’t fall.
Dip and Fry the Chiles
Dip the filled and flour-dusted chiles into the egg mixture until well coated, forming a little cocoon. Coat each chile one at a time just prior to frying.
Fill a large heavy-bottomed saucepan about a third of the way up with canola oil and heat on medium-high heat. You want to get the oil very hot before frying your chiles rellenos. Test the oil by dropping some of the egg white mixture into the oil. If the mixture sizzles and floats to the top, it’s the right temperature. If it sinks, the oil is not hot enough.
Carefully place the egg-coated chiles rellenos in the hot oil, about 2 at a time. Fry until golden brown, turning once.
Drain the chiles on a plate lined with paper towels to remove excess oil. Change paper towels 2 to 3 times to absorb excess oil.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What type of chile peppers are used for chile rellenos?
The common chile relleno recipe often calls for poblano chiles, but you can easily substitute Anaheim or Hatch chiles. Research the heat levels of various types of chile peppers and then pick the type that fits your tolerance. Just be sure that it is long enough to fill with all the cheesy goodness.
To seed or not to seed chiles
To seed or not to seed chile peppers is truly up to you. Just remember that the seeds and membranes of the chiles is where all the heat is. For a mild chile relleno you may want to pull out the membranes and seeds (being careful not to tear the chiles) before filling them with melty cheese.
How Should I Serve the Chiles Rellenos?
Now comes the moment of truth: serving and eating the chiles rellenos. To serve, plate a chile relleno on a plate, drizzle with warm salsa ranchero, and serve a with a warm (preferably homemade) flour tortilla.
Love chiles rellenos and want to try a non-fried alternative? Try these other recipes:
- Chiles Rellenos de Camarones y Queso
- Chicken Stuffed Hatch Chiles
- Poblanos Stuffed with Chorizo and Chayote
- Chiles en Nogada
- Poblanos Stuffed with Picadillo
Authentic Chiles Rellenos
- 12 large Anaheim, Hatch, or poblano chiles, roasted and peeled
- 4 cups sliced Queso Oaxaca, Monterey Jack, Muenster, quesadilla, or asadero cheese
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
- 8 eggs, separated
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 cups canola oil for frying
- Boil jalapeño, chiles güeros or peppers until soft. Remove stems and chop. Heat olive oil in a saucepan and sauté onion, celery, and boiled chiles for 3 minutes.
- Add tomatoes and garlic, and sauté for an additional 3 minutes. Add flour and stir for 2 minutes.
- Add water, salt, black pepper, and granules and simmer about 5 to 10 minutes.
- After roasting and peeling the chiles, carefully slit the bottom half of the chiles or for a milder chile relleno remove the stems and pull out the membranes and seeds being careful not to tear the chiles. Fill each chile with some cheese and set aside.
- On a plate combine flour, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, and 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper. Place the filled chiles in the flour and coat all sides well. Shake off any excess flour. Reserve.
- Using a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer beat the egg whites and cream of tartar, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper on high speed until soft peaks form.
- Add in the egg yolks, and carefully fold the egg yolks into the egg whites being careful not to mix too much so the egg whites don’t fall.
- Fill a large heavy-bottomed saucepan about a third of the way up with canola oil and heat on medium-high heat. You want to get the oil very hot before frying your chile rellenos. Test the oil by dropping some of the egg white mixture into the oil. If the mixture sizzles and floats to the top, it’s the right temperature. If it sinks, the oil is not hot enough.
- Dip the filled and flour-dusted chiles into the egg mixture until well coated, forming a little cocoon. Coat each chile one at a time just prior to frying. Carefully place the egg-coated chile rellenos in the hot oil, about 2 at a time. Fry until golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels. Change paper towels 2 to 3 times to absorb excess oil.
- Arrange the chiles rellenos on a serving platter and drizzle each with some warm ranchero sauce and serve.
- Make ahead tip: Refrigerate roasted chiles stuffed with cheese overnight.
- What type of chile peppers are used for chile rellenos? This recipe is made with Anaheim chile peppers. The common chile relleno often calls for poblano chiles, but various kinds of chiles can be used such as Anaheim, Hatch, or poblano. Chiles rellenos can be made with your favorite long green chile.
- To seed or not to seed chiles: To seed or not to seed chile peppers is truly up to you. My mom left the stem and seeds in these chile peppers, but for a mild chile relleno you may want to pull out the membranes and seeds being careful not to tear the chiles.
- Separate eggs: Separate eggs and make sure there are no traces of yolk in the whites, or the whites will not whip properly.
- Drain the chiles: Drain the fried chiles on a plate lined with paper towels to remove excess oil. Change paper towels 2 to 3 times to absorb excess oil.
Photography by Jenna Sparks
Originally published: August 2019. This recipe is also published in the Muy Bueno cookbook.