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Is Green Chile Sauce Spicy?

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

A pot of green chile sauce sits next to a pouch of frozen Hatch green chile.

Is green chile sauce going to make your mouth burn? This in-depth article will answer all your questions about the heat you’ll experience with New Mexican green chile sauce, and if it’s hotter than red sauce. Also learn more about how to eat it, and what to serve alongside of it! It’s written by a New Mexico native who grew up around chile so rest assured the information is accurate :0)

The answer is yes, green chile sauce can be spicy, but it depends on the chiles used in the sauce. Green chile peppers come in many varieties, each with their own distinct amount of heat. Some will be mild, but others are very intense, so ask whoever is serving you the chile sauce about the heat level*.

*However, the ability to handle heat is different for each person as well- so how do you really know how hot the green chile is? Here’s how to work around that: ask the server or host how the green chile sauce compares to the heat of a jalapeño. Most people are familiar with the heat level of a jalapeño and can tell you if the New Mexico green chile is hotter, or milder, than a Jalapeño chile pepper. Then YOU can decide whether or not you can handle the heat. Wink, wink :0)

Hatch green chile sauce is spooned over a freshly fried egg.

All green chiles will contain some heat- they all have capsaicin, the chemical that creates the ‘burning’ sensation you feel when you take a bite. The only peppers that don’t have any capsaicin are bell peppers, and they are NOT used in green chile sauce. Nope. Not ever.

So what is green chile sauce made of and how do you eat it? Read on to learn more.

What is green chile sauce made of?

Traditional green chile sauce is quite simple, and such a versatile condiment that can be used to spice up all sorts of great foods.

Green chile sauce contains onion, garlic, green chile, flour (to thicken), and broth or stock. It can also contain herbs and spices to add additional flavor, such as oregano, cumin, ground coriander, and salt. It will contain gluten unless it was thickened with cornstarch. It is something that can be cooked up rather quickly if you already have your green chile roasted and chopped.

Is green chile sauce hotter than red sauce?

Some people also ask: which is spicier, red or green chile sauce?

Red chile sauce can be milder OR hotter than green chile sauce. It totally depends on the variety of chile used to make the sauce. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because it’s red it’s hotter, always ask your server or host about the heat levels and use the handy trick I talked about above. :0)

How do you eat green chile?

Green chile peppers have a tough outer skin- even tougher than their bell pepper cousins. They certainly can be sliced/diced and eaten raw, but most find the papery leather-like skin off putting. So how do you eat green chile?

Roasting chile peppers over very high heat separates the peels from the flesh. Once cooled they are peeled by hand; stems and seeds are removed, and the rest of the flesh is chopped and cooked into soups, mixed into burritos, served on tacos or hamburgers, or made into green chile sauce to smother over a myriad of other entrées.

Chili peppers can be roasted on a backyard grill, your oven broiler, or a barrel roaster. I have written a great in-depth article explaining how to properly roast green chile that you can read through here, along with posting a how-to video you can watch on YouTube below.

Traditionally, many folks place their hot, freshly roasted peppers into an enclosed container so they can ‘steam’ before they are peeled- this is thought to also aid in the separation of skin from flesh. *However, there is a new method* that I have used the past two years and I find it much better– place the roasted charred chile peppers straight from the grill onto ice, or in an ice bath. This causes the soft inner chile flesh to shrink away from the tough skin and stops it from overcooking. This way more meaty pulp, a brighter green color, and more nutritional benefits are preserved. Yay!!

Green chile to a New Mexican is like peaches to a Georgian- they can be eaten just about any way you can imagine from jerky to ice cream. However there are some classic and very common recipes enjoyed by most people, such as the famous green chile cheeseburger and green chile stew.

What goes with New Mexico green chile?

If you’re wondering what goes with New Mexico green chile, consider that it has a smoky earthy pungent flavor profile and that it will always be packing some heat- whether mild or hot or somewhere in between.

As I mentioned earlier, the most common ways to eat green chile are cooked into a stew, made into green chile sauce to smother over foods like eggs, tortillas, grilled meats and burritos, or serve it in the iconic New Mexican green chile cheeseburger.

Looking for more fantastic green chile recipes? Check out the gallery below!

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!

How to make REAL New Mexican Green Chile Sauce

Making your own green chile sauce is actually very simple. The quality of your sauce will depend on the quality of your chile, so I always recommend you use verified Hatch green chiles.

Set a cast iron skillet or other nonstick skillet over medium high heat and saute some chopped yellow or white onion.

Once it is nice and browned, stir in minced garlic (and any other herbs/spices if you like) and cook for just 30 seconds, until the garlic smell is nice and strong.

Add in your chopped chile and a little flour. Cook this until it’s thick and sticky, about 2 minutes.

Stir in some broth or stock. I prefer chicken broth but beef broth or vegetable broth will do just fine. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn the heat to low and simmer until thickened, roughly 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Optional butrecommended: Pour about 1/2 of your green chile sauce into a blender and run for a few seconds to blend it smooth. Stir the puree back into the skillet with the rest of the sauce to get a creamier texture. Now you have a fantastic fresh batch of REAL Hatch green chile sauce!

You know what else is fantastic? Simply giving this recipe a star rating and a comment below! Your comments and ratings are greatly appreciated by me AND the Google algorithm. Thank you!

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!

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REAL New Mexican Green Chile Sauce

  • Author: Emily
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1/2 cups 1x


This perfectly simple and delicious recipe for New Mexican green chile sauce can be used to smother anything from Huevos Rancheros to Burritos! Roasted Hatch green chile cooked with onion, garlic, spices, flour, and chicken broth.


Units Scale
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 16 ounces roasted and chopped Hatch green chile (mild, medium, or hot)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • salt


  1. Pour vegetable oil into a non-stick saute pan or cast iron skillet, and set over medium heat. When oil is hot, add in the onion and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Stir and cook (sauté) until onions begin to brown.
  2. Add in the garlic, oregano, coriander, and cumin. Sauté for about 30 seconds, then stir in the chopped green chile. Sprinkle flour over the chile-onion mixture. Stir constantly for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture is clumpy and the flour has turned from white to a light blonde.
  3. Slowly pour in the chicken broth while stirring to avoid lumps. Place a lid over the skillet and bring to a boil. 
  4. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until thickened; stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Season with additional salt to your prefered taste. Serve. (Optional: Pour about half the green chile sauce into a blender and puree, then stir puree back into sauce for a creamier texture.)
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Sauté
  • Cuisine: New Mexican

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