Vegetarian Enchiladas Verdes (with Cheese & Poblano Peppers)
You’re going to love these vegetarian enchiladas verdes. Stuffed with poblano peppers and Oaxaca cheese, they make the most amazing Mexican vegetarian meal that you can easily make vegan too!
Just because you don’t eat meat it doesn’t mean that you’ll have to give up enchiladas! In fact, I actually grew up with vegetarian enchiladas. I never had a meat filled enchilada until my family moved to the US. Crazy, huh?
My family wasn’t vegetarian but the authentic ones my mother made for us were only vegetables and a little bit of cheese.
I never actually knew chicken enchiladas or meat filled enchiladas existed until I saw them at a Tex-Mex restaurant in the US. My mind was blown. Though I would order them (before going meatless), they never quite tasted as good as the ones my mom made for us.
Something to keep in mind is that Mexican cuisine can differ so much from region to region.
So just because meat enchiladas were new to me, having come from Jalisco, that doesn’t mean other parts of Mexico don’t eat meat enchiladas.
But the really great thing about enchiladas is that you can stuff with anything you like. Make them vegetarian or make them vegan, so many options.
How to Make These Authentic Enchiladas
Enchiladas are a classic Mexican dish that is popular all over the World. Let me show you the true steps to make authentic enchiladas.
Because enchiladas are so popular all over the World, they’re one of the most butchered Mexican recipe. Sadly.
Delicious, authentic enchiladas take time.
Yes, it’s labor intensive but it’s so very much worth it. Specially if you want to experience the REAL flavors of Mexican cuisine. But don’t let that discourage.
Start with Homemade Enchilada Salsa Ingredients
For starters you need to have the most flavorful salsa verde. In Mexico we always make it from scratch. But I do understand not everyone has access to fresh tomatillos. What you can do is buy a jar of salsa verde and use it a base on to which to build on your salsa.
Read my article for those tips here, How to Make a Bland Store-Bought Jar of Green Salsa Taste Better.
Poblano Peppers Filling
For these vegetarian enchiladas I chose fire roasted poblano peppers and cheese.
Poblano peppers are one of the most, if not the most, flavorful chili peppers! What makes them so incredibly delicious is the way they’re roasted to fully bring out their flavors.
The process can be done over an open flame on the stove or on a grill. Another method not done the traditional way but will still works, is under the broiler in the oven.
I’ve also roasted them in my air fryer and it saves lots of time. Though keep in mind that over and open flame gives them the best flavor.
After roasting the poblano peppers they’re allowed to sweat and cool so the skin can be peeled off. Then the seeds are removed and peppers cut into strips.
Cheese Enchilada Filling
As you may have guessed it, Oaxaca cheese comes from the Mexican state of Oaxaca.
It’s a white semi-soft cheese which pulls apart just like mozzarella cheese. In fact, in a bind you could swap them for each other.
Oaxaca cheese is pretty mild in taste and smells. What makes it great is that it melts quite nicely. So it’s perfect for quesadillas, for stuffing peppers and for dishes like these enchiladas.
What Not to Do When Cooking Enchiladas
One of the most important things not to do is skip on the steps. I know it’s gonna take longer but trust me if you want authentic taste, you need to be patient.
Always warm up the tortillas slightly before using then. You can do this quickly in the microwave. The purpose of this is just to make them pliable so they won’t crack when assembling.
Don’t skip the lightly frying step. This ensures that the salsa will stick to the tortillas and also will prevent them from turning to mush after the salsa is added.
I know a lot of international cooks will fill, roll then place the enchiladas in a baking dish only to lastly add the salsa. This is not the way authentic enchiladas are made! This will guarantee that the tortillas will turn to a mushy mess.
Another thing people will do is bake the enchiladas after assembling as I just mentioned. This too is not the correct authentic way to make enchiladas. Sorry I know this is intended to make the cooking quicker. But again, you’re not going to get authentic texture nor taste.
Tip to Make This Dish Quicker
If you want to save yourself a little time you can always prepare the salsa the day before. Toss the poblano peppers under the broiler in the oven. Or better yet you can fire roast a bunch then freeze them after peeling the skin off. The poblanos freeze incredibly well.
What to Serve Enchiladas With
My personal favorite side dishes for enchiladas are homemade refried beans.
If I happen to have some rice I may add that too, but not usually since I’m already getting simple carbs from the tortillas.
Toppings like crema fresca, avocado slices or even some pickled carrots also occasionally make an appearance. I say it’s up to you and how hungry you are.
Vegetarian Enchiladas Verdes Recipe
Ok amigos, check out the recipe below. It’s not difficult to make but you will need some time to make them. Like I said if you can do prep work ahead of time or use the tips I’ve shared.
If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me on Instagram, send me a DM or you can always email me too. Enjoy!!
Vegetarian Enchiladas Verdes with Poblano Peppers and Oaxaca Cheese
Ingredients for The Filling:
- 1.5 lb. fresh Poblano peppers or 4 large peppers
- 1.5 Tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1 small white onion quartered and thinly slices
- 3 whole garlic cloves minced
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt adjust to taste
- 7 oz Oaxaca cheese use more if desired*, pulled apart into even-sized pieces
Ingredients for The Salsa Verde:
- 1 lb. tomatillos
- 3 whole serrano chiles stem removed and seeded if desired (you can add less for a milder salsa)
- 3 whole garlic cloves peeled
- 1 extra small white onion peeled and quartered
- water for boiling enough to cover ingredients
- 1 pinch fine sea salt adjust to taste
- 1 handful fresh cilantro, large handful you can include some of the stem too
- 1/2 cup of the boiling broth or vegetable broth
- 1 Tablespoon oil olive oil or vegetable oil
- 12 corn tortillas warmed just to make pliable
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil for lightly frying
- sliced white onion for topping optional
- Mexican sour cream for topping optional
Roast The Poblanos:
- You'll find the easy instructions for roasting them on my previous article. Or you can also char them under the broiler setting in your oven. Once you’ve charred the Poblanos, place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 10 minutes or until you can handle them without burning your fingers.
- After they've sweated remove the skin then slice then into strips. (While the poblanos are roasting and sweating you can start prepping the salsa to save time.)
Make The Salsa:
- Place all of the ingredients except the salt and cilantro into a pot. Pour in enough water to cover the vegetables. Simmer until everything is soft. Reserve 1/2 cup of the broth, drain the rest and allow to cool slightly. Place in blender then add the salt and cilantro and pour in the 1/2 cup of broth. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust salt if needed.
- In a large frying pan heat the oil and once hot carefully pour in the blended salsa. Cook for 10 minutes. Cover and keep warm until ready to use.
Make The Filling
- Next heat the oil and sauté the onion until soft. Then add in the poblano strips, and cook 5 minutes before adding the garlic and cooking another 2 minutes. Lastly add the pulled apart Oaxaca cheese and mix into the pan and cook just until it begins to melt. Turn off heat and keep warm.
Assembling the Enchiladas:
- In a frying pan heat about 1/4 cup of vegetable oil. Line a dish with paper towels and warm the corn tortillas in the microwave just for a few seconds. All you want is them to be pliable.
- Carefully place one tortilla at a time into the hot oil. "Fry" it just for a minute on one side then flip for another minute. Carefully remove from the hot oil and lay on paper towel lined plate to drain excess oil. Continue until all the tortillas are fried.
- One by one dip a tortilla into the cooked salsa then place on a serving dish. Scoop a large tablespoon of the filling into the center of each tortilla then fold into half moons. Serve 3 per person. Lastly drizzle with more salsa and serve with any of your desired toppings and sides. Enjoy!
Like I said, labour intensive but very much worth the effort — I mean we all know that good food takes time.
I love these enchiladas so much and make them often. I hope you too will enjoy them as much as I do.
Thanks for stopping by and remember to tag me on social media if you make this or any of my recipes. Please also do share the links to the recipes with your friends and family. Gracias!!
More Recipes with Tomatillos and Poblano Peppers
- The EASIEST Salsa Verde
- How to Make a Bland Store-Bought Jar of Green Salsa Taste Better
- How to Roast Poblano Peppers | Step-by-Step Guide
- How to Make Vegan Chicharron with Tofu
- Verdolagas | Purslane in Salsa Verde
- Vegan Chicharron in Salsa Verde
- Espagueti Verde (Creamy Poblano Spaghetti)
- Delicious Rajas Con Crema | Roasted Poblanos in Cream Sauce
- Corn and Poblano Pepper Soup with a Touch of Curry Powder
- Bean Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Ancho-Guajillo Chile Sauce
Nancy Lopez is a food blogger and author of the cookbook Mexican Tamales Made Meatless. Born in Mexico, raised in the US, and currently living in Southern Mexico, she has followed a meatless diet for almost 10 years. It is her passion and mission to share all she has learned about vegan Mexican cooking and vegetarian Mexican recipes. Mexican Made Meatless is a blog dedicated to preserving the authentic flavors of Mexican cuisine just without the meat. It’s a place to celebrate Mexican culture and all it’s delightfully delicious traditional foods. Read more…
Sounds fantastic. I’ve tried my hand at enchiladas a few times and, while there are a number of steps involved, once you get the hang of it it’s actually pretty straight-forward. And as you say, the rewards make it well worth it. Especially the green kind—I remember the first time I tasted salsa verde, it was a revelation. The taste is absolutely addictive.
Exactly Frank, once you make them you can get the hang of it and have enchiladas as often as you want. In our house too we usually prefer salsa verde. Thank you! 🙂
I just ate a couple tamales but after looking at your pictures, I’m ready for a plate of these enchiladas. These look so scrumptious.
Now I’m craving tamales hehe! Thank you MJ
Hello, I was really excited to make and try these. Last night I finally tried and followed all the directions including the poblano pepper roasting and cleaning. The recipe called for 1.5lbs of poblano peppers and I actually used about half as much, which came to about 5 peppers. But alas, the peppers were too spicy and it basically ruined the enchilada mixture which became so pungent that I couldn’t save it regardless of how much oaxaca cheese and sour cream I kept dumping in to the pan. Did I do something wrong?
You didn’t do anything wrong. Poblano peppers are considered a mild chile, but occasionally you’ll get a spicy batch. Believe me, even though I do eat spicy food there have been some poblano peppers that have really burned both my fingers when prepping and my mouth when eating.
Can I ask if you left the seeds and veins? That is where the heat is at and a way to reduce the heat by eliminating them. But I will be honest with you, sometimes even doing that the poblano can still be a bit spicy.
Sorry you got a spicy poblano batch and that you couldn’t save it! I hope you give them a chance again — maybe you can taste it before you cook it to see if it’s a tolerable heat for you.
Hi Nancy, I did actually devein and remove most of the seeds from the peppers as you showed, so I was surprised it got so pungent. The oaxaca cheese was buttery and yummy though and I could tell that the smoky poblano would have been awesome. Will definitely try again but add the peppers into the mixture slowly and check for taste. Lesson learned.
I’m so glad you wrote back, because I was thinking about you this weekend when I cooked poblano peppers that were so spicy I had chili burns on my fingers. See you just never know, somethings there’s no heat and others ouch!
That’s a great plan! I hope you give it a try again soon and enjoy. Thank you!
I LOVE poblanos!! I am married to a meat loving Mexican man who is one of the best cooks I’ve ever known ( I am a very good cook too;). I was mostly vegetarian when we met. So your page has been wonderful for cooking food he is accustomed to while still being vegetarian. I made these and they were delicious! Who’s I could leave a picture! Thanks for your website!!! It’s one of my favorites.
Great Recipe! Thanks! I made these this morning for dinner later. I left out one serrano, because my husband can’t handle any heat, and it was perfect. I did burn my poblanos, so I left those out and subbed in about 3/4 pound potatoes, cubing them very small and parboiling for about 5 minutes, and then continued with onions, garlic, Oaxaca cheese for the filling as recipe is written. It turned out really well. Thanks so much for sharing!
I love your swaps they sound delicious. Thank you so much!
This paragraph says to add both the cheese and garlic twice, at different times?
> Next heat the oil and sauté the onion until soft. Then add in the poblano strips, and cook for , garlic and salt. Lastly add the pulled apart Oaxaca cheese and mix into the pan. Cook 5 minutes before adding the garlic and cooking another 2 minutes. Then add the cheese and cook just until it begins to melt. Turn off heat and keep warm.
Hi Aaron! I apologize for the typo, the recipe was updated not too long ago and I didn’t catch that before. Thank you so much for pointing it out. The correct instructions are now listed on the recipe card. Enjoy!