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What is a Chile Relleno?

This post has kindly been sponsored by The Hatch Chile Store. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A package of Chile Rellenos from The Hatch Chile store surrounded by other Hatch chile products.

If you have ever been to a Mexican restaurant (who in the USA hasn’t?!) you have probably noticed ‘chile relleno’ on the menu. Chile Relleno is my favorite Mexican dish, and I’ve been making them at home for years. A Chile Relleno is a large green chile pepper that has been roasted whole, then stuffed with cheese, followed by a dip in a thick coating of fluffy egg batter. The battered chile is then deep-fried to a crispy golden brown, melting the cheese inside. The fried chile rellenos are then usually served on top of a generous serving of red chile sauce.

Image by JaimeAP from Pixabay

Chile Rellenos is made with very large chile peppers because they are easy to handle, and you can stuff more food inside. Whatever chile pepper is used, it MUST first be roasted, then peeled to remove the chewy peel and soften the pepper a bit.

The classic filling for chile rellenos is Monterrey Jack cheese. Of course, some people get creative and stuff other fillings and types of cheeses in but unless that’s specified on the menu- expect a whole lot of melty delicious Monterrey Jack goodness spilling out with your first forkful!

What is the meaning of chile relleno?

The Spanish word “Relleno” simply means “filling” or “stuffing” in English. There are lots of other Hispanic foods that use the term, including relleno blando (soft filling) and relleno duro (hard filling). You could also say “estoy relleno” or “estoy rellena” if you are extra full from a delicious meal!

What to serve with chile rellenos?

Chile rellenos are often served with rice, beans, shredded lettuce, and some freshly diced tomato. Of course, if you’re making them at home, you can get a little more creative with your Mexican side dishes, and serve them with some Posole, sopapillas, authentic red chile sauce, Mexican pinto beans, or Mexican Crema.

Is Chile Relleno Bad?

Classic chile relleno is deep fried, which is not a very healthy way to cook food. However, many home cooks have discovered baked chile relleno casserole, which has all the great chile rellenos flavors, without the frying oil. Up the healthy factor even more by adding healthy Mexican sides like chile sauce, black beans (not refried beans), or salad; avoiding more cheese, sour cream, and refried beans. Recipe for baked Chile Rellenos Casserole is below!

Is Chile Relleno spicy?

Chile Rellenos are usually on the spicy side, but it really depends on the type of chile pepper that was used. Most of the time, chile rellenos are made with poblano peppers, Anaheim peppers, or Hatch Chile peppers. These chiles can range quite a bit in their relative ‘hotness’ scale (called “Scoville units”) from mild to very hot. Always ask your server if the chile is hot, medium, or mild.

I’ve found that it’s better to ask if the chile is hotter or milder than a jalapeno since mostly everyone is familiar with how hot jalapenos are and can judge from there.

Despite the fact that I DON’T have a high tolerance for really spicy foods (I tap out at “medium”), I can usually power my way through a freshly fried chile rellenos from a restaurant as long as I have a dollop of sour cream and some milk to wash it all down. When I make them at home, I purchase a mild Hatch Chile variety from The Hatch Chile Store. I adore Chile Rellenos, it’s been my favorite Mexican dish for a very long time.

What are Hatch Chile Peppers?

Hatch Chile peppers are world famous for their delicious flavors, produced by the unique climate and soil composition that exists only in the Hatch Valley of Southern New Mexico. These factors combine to grow exceptional-tasting chile peppers with smoky, sweet, and hot flavor notes. More people discover Hatch Chiles each year, and their popularity continues to grow.

Growing up in New Mexico where chile peppers are an integral part of the culture, I know that Hatch chiles have earned a reputation for being the best of the best. I personally only use authentic Hatch in all my cooking because it simply tastes amazing. You should be able to find canned Hatch chile in any supermarket these days, or you can order it directly like I do. Frozen chile is much, much better tasting than canned!

The Hatch Chile Store is the premiere website for ordering your Hatch chile– they are incredibly good at shipping fresh authentic chile right to your door, whatever variety and hotness lever you prefer. It’s where I get all my Hatch Chile, and I must say the flavor really does stand out above any other chile pepper variety.

Wooden baskets at a farmer's market are filled with fresh New Mexico chiles; most of them are green, but a few are turning red.

Head on over now to The Hatch Chile Store to stock up on the most delicious Hatch chile you can buy anywhere- they’ve always got great deals on your favorite products!

Did you know I have a full-color cookbook with lots more easy and delicious New Mexican recipes? You can learn more about it here!

What’s the difference between a chile relleno and a chile poblano?

This chile question is comparing apples to oranges. The big difference between a chile relleno and a chile poblano is that chile relleno is a recipe for a Mexican entrée and chile poblano is not a recipe, but simply a fresh poblano chile pepper, a large, relatively mild chile pepper with a deep green color. Poblano chiles can be used to MAKE chile rellenos, and I think this is where the confusion comes from.

Keto Chile Relleno Recipes

Interestingly enough, when doing research for this article I noticed a lot of “Keto” chile rellenos recipes. Classic Chile Rellenos is a naturally Ketogenic food because the recipe has little carbohydrates, is high in protein, and is made with chile peppers, a “superfood” that is sometimes overlooked. Chile peppers are virtually calorie-free, yet packed with healthy nutrients and vitamins.

I hope you find joy in making this recipe and please give me a shoutout if you post a pic of the recipe on social! Follow me on Instagram @TheGoldilocksKitchen, Facebook page The Goldilocks Kitchen, or Pinterest @GoldilocksKitch. Don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment- I want to hear your feedback! (This is a blog after all and that’s the whole point right?!)

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Chile Relleno Casserole


Chile relleno casserole is a healthier, easier, way to enjoy the delicious Mexican flavors of chile rellenos without the hassle. 


  • 6 eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 pound shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 1 (10 oz) can red enchilada sauce
  • 8 to 10 whole green chiles, roasted, peeled, and tops removed
  • Chopped scallions (green onion), optional


  1. Set your oven to 400 F. Spray a 9X13 inch casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, flour and milk until smooth. (Alternatively you can combine these ingredients in a food processor as well.)
  3. In the prepared casserole dish, spread 1 cup of enchilada sauce into the bottom of the casserole dish. Tear down the side of each chile pepper so it will lay open and flat. Place 4 or 5 chiles in a single layer over the top of the enchilada sauce. Place handfuls of shredded Monterrey Jack cheese over the chiles, leaving about 1/2 cup of cheese for topping later. Place another layer of flattened chiles over the cheese. Set aside.
  4. Whip the egg whites on high to stiff peaks, about 4 minutes. Stir the egg yolk mixture lightly, then gently pour it into the egg whites. Using a spatula, fold the egg yolks gently into the egg whites until uniform and fluffy. Spread egg batter over the chiles in the casserole dish.
  5. Place casserole into the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the batter is golden brown on top and the cheese is melted.
  6. Remove the casserole from the oven. Turn the oven broiler on, and top the casserole with the remaining cheese mixture. Broil casserole until cheese on top is melted and slightly browned. Remove casserole and let cool for about 5-10 minutes. Serve individual servings with remaining enchilada sauce drizzled over the top and optional chopped scallions.


Canned whole green chiles are ready made for this recipe and require no extra prep. If purchasing frozen whole chiles from The Hatch Chile Store, they come peeled and tops removed as well. You’ll just need to thaw them out before using.

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