Chile peppers are at the heart of Mexican cuisine, and knowing how to properly roast them regardless of your kitchen setup is important. Here I have compiled a list of different ways to roast chiles to bring out their fullest flavor!

assorted fresh mexican chiles on a wooden board     

Do you remember scratch and sniff books? I always wanted to write and illustrate a children’s scratch and sniff book with scents that remind me of my childhood. But for some reason I don’t think the aromas that brought me joy as a child will appeal to kids today.

One of the scents that reminds me of my childhood is the warm smoky smell of roasted chile. My grandma roasted chile frequently for her salsa casera (homemade salsa) and I have always loved that smell. When I smell chile roasting and hear it popping and hissing, its as-if I can see my grandma cooking in her kitchen. My grandma passed away in 2004, but the memories of her will always live in my heart.

Scratch and sniff…

Every year I stock up my freezer and buy Pueblo green chile roasted by the bushel in big mesh tumblers that turn on an open flame. If you can not buy roasted chile, below are more practical options to roast chile peppers at home.

pueblo green chiles being roasted over flame in a big black cylindrical metal container

(photo: pueblochilefestivalinfo.com)

How to roast chile peppers

I prefer to use my gas burner to roast my Chile peppers on an open flame, my grandma roasted chile on a comal (iron griddle), and my mom roasts chile in the oven broiler. There is no one way to roast chile, and the flavor is the same. The principals are basic: heat the chile enough to get the skin to begin to separate from the flesh. Place the heated pepper in a plastic bag or covered container to steam, then peel off the skin. 

Roast Hatch, Anaheim, poblano, and jalapeño peppers! For a comprehensive list of different Mexican chiles, visit this post: An Introduction to Mexican Chiles.

assorted roasted Mexican chiles on a foil lined tray

How to roast chile peppers in the broiler/oven

First, line a cookie sheet with foil and place your peppers in a single layer. Using a knife, poke some holes in each of the peppers.

Turn the broiler to high, then place the cookie sheet close underneath. Allow the peppers to roast for 3-5 minutes, then pull the tray out and flip them. Return to the broiler for another 3-5 minutes, until they are browned on both sides.

If your broiler function isn’t working, you can achieve the same effect by heating your oven to 450 F. Using the same cookie sheet method as described above, place the chiles in the oven. This way will take a bit longer, requiring about 10-15 minutes per side to get the right amount of browning.

Here is a short and simple video showing you my mom’s simple technique.

photo depicting how to roast a chile over the gas burner of a stove

How to roast chile peppers on a gas stove with an open flame 

I personally roast my chiles over the flame of my gas burner, but you could just as easily do the same thing on the grill. If you are using the open flame method, please be sure to have a pair of long stemmed tongs at the ready to protect your hands and arms from the fire.

If you are working from your stovetop burners, simply turn the flame on to about a medium heat. Place the chile pepper directly on the grate and listen for that delicious popping and hissing. After about a minute, use the tongs to turn the pepper slightly. Ideally, you’ll get a bit of char on all sides of the pepper.

photo showing how to roast chiles on a grill

How to roast chile peppers on the grill

On the grill, the idea is much the same. The timing might be a little different depending on how intense the flame is, but just keep an eye on the peppers and turn over as needed.

assorted Mexican chiles roasting in a cast iron pan

How to roast chile peppers on cast iron

My grandma roasted chile on a comal (iron griddle). Simply place your cast iron pan on medium high heat and add the peppers. You will smell and hear the chile beginning to cook before you really see it. 

Using tongs, turn the chile every few minutes as dark spots begin to appear on the cooked surfaces.

poblano peppers that have been roasted are placed in a plastic bag to steam to aid in removing the skins

Steam chiles and peel skins 

Either way you choose to roast peppers, once the peppers are charred the next steps are the same.

When the pepper is cooked all around, place it in a plastic bag or in a bowl with saran wrap and allow it to steam for about 5 minutes. 

When you pull the chile pepper out, the skin should easily slide off. Simply discard the skin and enjoy your deliciously tender roasted peppers.

two earthenware bowls one filled with fresh hatch chiles, one filled with roasted chiles

Freeze roasted chiles

Store the chiles in the freezer for up to a year and thaw in the refrigerator before using.

Recipes using roasted chile peppers

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How to Roast Chile Peppers

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One of the scents that remind me of my childhood is the warm smoky smell of roasted chile. My grandma roasted chile frequently for her salsa casera (homemade salsa) and I have always loved that smell. When I smell chile roasting and hear it popping and hissing, its as-if I can see my grandma cooking in her kitchen.

Ingredients

  • 4 Green chile peppers, Anaheim or Hatch

Instructions 

  • Preheat broiler.
  • Select firm, meaty peppers without wrinkles. Rinse thoroughly to remove dust particles.
  • Place peppers evenly in a single layer on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Pierce each chile with a knife.
  • Place under broiler. Watch them closely as the skin will blister and turn black within minutes. Turn the peppers after 3 to 5 minutes to blister all sides evenly. When done, the pepper skins should be evenly blistered and mostly black.
  • Place roasted peppers in a plastic bag, cover with a wet kitchen towel and when cool, peel off blackened skin. Tear open and pull out the seed pod and stem unless you are making chile rellenos. In which case you will simply remove the stem carefully along with the seeds, leaving the chile intact for stuffing.

Notes

My grandma roasted chile on a comal (iron griddle), but my mom roasts chile in the oven broiler. There is no right way or wrong way to roast chile. The flavor is the same. 
Freeze for up to a year. Store the chiles in the freezer for up to a year and thaw in the refrigerator before using. The chiles may be peeled prior to freezing or later, as needed.
You may wish to wear gloves to protect your hands.
Calories: 12kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Sodium: 150mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin C: 5mg

Photography by Jenna Sparks / Video by Pure Cinematography

Originally published: September 2013.