These authentic fried Chiles Rellenos are made with lightly spicy Anaheim peppers that are filled with melted queso Oaxaca, coated in a delicate, slightly crispy coating, and served with a warm ranchero salsa. They are, simply put, the best dang stuffed peppers you’ll ever try.
If you’ve been on the hunt for a vegetarian Mexican meal, this is the one for you, my friends! Perfect for serving during the meatless Lenten season, my Mom’s recipe for chiles rellenos is comforting, filling, and downright delicious.
What are chiles rellenos?
Chile relleno is Spanish for “stuffed chile.” While the phrase is now associated most closely with this particular dish of cheese stuffed, battered and fried peppers, chiles rellenos come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you fill them with meat or cheese, or whether you opt for mild or spicy peppers, as long as they’re stuffed, they can be called chiles rellenos. Cool, right?
This classic Mexican dish is especially popular during the Lenten season when Catholics do not eat meat.
Which chile pepper should you use?
Anaheim or Hatch chile peppers: My mom always made chiles rellenos with slightly spicy 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.
Poblano peppers: Perhaps more popular than the medium spicy Anaheim or Hatch chiles are super mild poblanos. While poblanos are definitely most often associated with the term chiles rellenos, like I said earlier, literally any stuffed pepper would fall into this category!
Feel free to choose the perfect pepper for your palate! This recipe can be made with poblano peppers if you desire.
For this particular chile relleno recipe, my only recommendation is that you choose a nice, long green pepper that is big enough to stuff and fits with your particular heat preferences. To learn all about Mexican chiles, check out this informative post.
This is my favorite childhood chile relleno recipe, which is published in the Muy Bueno cookbook. I am so excited to share it with you here on the blog!
Why I Love This Recipe
You know how some dishes just take you back to simpler times? This recipe for chiles rellenos does that for me. They were my absolute favorite childhood meal, and to this day I still get excited about eating them. Slightly spicy, lightly crispy and oh so creamy and melty, they are everything you could possibly want from a chile relleno.
My mom was a single parent and used to sell chile relleno burritos with refried beans during her lunch hour to make extra cash. 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.
Looking back, I’m in awe of the work my Mom did to ensure we never wanted for anything. These traditional Mexican chiles rellenos take time and commitment. They are not difficult to make, but they are a project. If you have a free afternoon coming up, I highly recommend making this delicious and authentic chile relleno recipe!
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 can make them when the craving strikes. If you have a hankering for spicy, cheesy goodness, follow along with us!
How to Make Chiles Rellenos
Roast and Peel Chiles
This chile relleno recipe calls for Anaheim chile peppers which are readily available, but must first be roasted and peeled before stuffing and frying. If you are not sure how to roast chiles, read this blog post and watch this video to learn how to roast chile 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.
Carefully slit the bottom half of the chiles. For a milder chile relleno, remove the stems and pull out the membranes and seeds being careful not to tear the chiles. If you like heat, you can omit this step.
Fill each chile with some cheese and set aside.
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 an optional pinch of 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. Ideally, it should be between 350-375 degrees F.
TIP: If you do not have a deep frying thermometer, 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 and will result in a soggy exterior.
Carefully place the egg-coated chiles rellenos in the hot oil, about 2 at a time. Fry until golden brown, turning once.
TIP: Don’t crowd your oil! Remember, the chiles are at room temperature at best, meaning they are colder than the oil. Each time you add one to the oil, the temperature will dip some. Work in batches to keep oil hot enough for a good fry.
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:
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 and wide enough to fill with all the cheesy goodness.
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.
You’ve done the work. Now comes the moment of truth: serving and eating the chiles rellenos.
To serve, place a chile relleno on a plate, drizzle with warm salsa ranchero, and serve a with a warm (preferably homemade) flour tortilla. For an authentic experience, serve with Mexican rice and refried beans or wrap them up in a warm flour tortilla smothered with refried beans for the best burrito on earth.
Love chiles rellenos?
Try these other non-fried chile relleno 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. 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: After you have roasted, peeled and stuffed the chiles, refrigerate them overnight. When you’re ready to eat, proceed with dipping them in flour, battering them and frying them.
- 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.
- Use a different cheese. Traditionally, chiles rellenos are made with queso Oaxaca cheese, but you could also use Monterey Jack, Muenster, quesadilla, asadero cheese, or your favorite melting cheese.
- Do I have to remove the chile seeds? 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.