Chiles rellenos are one of my all-time favourite Mexican dishes. They also have a little special place in my heart.
Chiles rellenos, or stuffed peppers, are among the most well-known dishes of Mexican cuisine. Though the name describes a general dish, chiles rellenos are usually thought of as being stuffed poblano peppers. Traditionally one can find poblanos stuffed with a picadillo meat mix, just cheese, seafood, mixed vegetables and other clever combinations. After charring and stuffing, the poblanos can be dipped in beaten egg batter and fried, this is called capeados, or served just charred and stuffed. Some people will serve the peppers in a caldillo de jitomate, or tomato broth, while others prefer them without. Another variation is the temperature in which they’re served, hot right from the stove or at room temperature as is the case with our national dish of chiles en nogada or peppers in walnut sauce.
As you can see there are many variations to this dish, and today I’m sharing these two vegetarian stuffings options with just cheese or a combination of cheese and refried beans — both taste fantastic. My two versions are mix of traditional and personal spin. When my mother makes them she only ever used cheese and I can’t actually recall a time when she served them in the tomato broth. So you see everyone is different.
Chiles rellenos have a special place in my heart because they remind me of when my husband and I would go visit my parents on the weekends. Knowing that my gringo hubby’s favourite food is Mexican, my mother always asked what special dish he wanted her to cook for our visit. I kid you not, every single time he requested chiles rellenos. My mom would laugh and though occasionally she’d thrown in a different dish, we pretty much ate chiles rellenos (or also tamales) at my parent’s house. Another cause of laughter for my mother would be that hubby wouldn’t just eat one or two chiles, nope he would eat like five or six of them at a time! You see normally people just eat one. Lol. But I know my mom loved seeing him devour her food…oh and since I didn’t cook back then she just thought that I starved him all week and the day at her house was his only chance to eat. Lol.
I’m going to be very honest with you and tell you that this dish requires time and patience. If it’s your first time making them it will take you a bit longer, but once you’ve done it a couple of times you’ll figure out your system and be able to get the chiles rellenos on the table quicker.
Now while I’m showing you how to do the traditional egg batter and fried technique, as well as the tomato sauce, you don’t always have to do this whole process — in fact, not every single time that I make chiles rellenos do I fry them or make the tomato broth, it depends on how much time I have and wether I feel like frying food for not. You may actually remember a earlier version of chiles rellenos that I shared with you where they’re just stuffed with beans and served with a red chile sauce.
In one of our recent videos I demonstrated how to fire roast the poblanos, so do watch that video if you didn’t perviously. Some people asked if there was am alternative since they don’t have gas stoves, and yes you can charr the poblanos on top of a pan or a griddle until they become soft or you can place them under the broiler. I just personally like to do the fire roasted method be cause I enjoy the taste more.
(If you don’t see the video right below this text, view it on our YouTube channel by clicking here.)
Table of Contents
How to Make Vegetarian Chiles Rellenos
- 4 large poblano peppers or try to make sure they're all the same size
- 200 g or 7 oz Oaxaca or Chihuahua or Manchego cheese* use more if desired
- 1 + cup of refried beans roughly
- vegetable oil for frying
For Batter Ingredients:
- 4 eggs whites
- 3 egg yolks
- all purpose wheat flour
Tomato Salsa Ingredients:
- 104 g or 3.65oz of white onion
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 553 g or 1.2lbs Roma tomatoes
- 1 to 2 fresh red chiles like serrano or arbol or jalapeño, can omit if you want a mild salsa
- 1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- sea salt to taste
- 1/2 vegetable bouillon cube
- 1 Tablespoon of masa harina optional
- 60 ml or 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth if using broth omit the bouillon cube, to start
- Charr the poblano peppers, sweat them and peel them -- watch our videofor a visual guide. Place the tomatoes, onion, garlic and chile from the tomato ingredients on top of a comal/griddle and charr until soft, please keep an eye on them as each vegetable will be ready at different times.
- Place all of the charred tomatoes, onion, garlic, and the rest of the salsa ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- After peeling and seeding the poblanos stuff them with the cheese and/or refried beans. If needed you can use toothpicks to hold them together.
- In a heavy skillet or cast iron skillet heat enough oil to fry your poblanos, amount will depend on the size of your pan and the peppers. While you wait for the oil to heat up, beat the egg whites until they reach soft peeks then fold in the egg yolks and give them a little whirl with the mixer.
- Dust the stuffed peppers with flour making sure that the entire chile is covered. Carefully dip the pepper into the beaten eggs, making sure that the whole chile is coated. Very carefully place the pepper into the hot oil and fry for 4 to 5 minutes on one side before flipping over and frying another couple of minutes. If you watch the video you'll notice that I spoon over hot oil from the pan over the peppers as they're frying, this is to help it cook faster and be in the oil less time so resulting in slightly less greasy peppers. After frying place them on a paper towel lined plate to drain off excess oil.
- Heat a little bit of oil in a large pan (large enough to fit your fried poblanos) then carefully pour in the blended tomato sauce and a large bay leaf. Since we let the sauce sit it will have thickened so add a couple of tablespoons of water to the pan to thin down a little. Simmer for 10 minutes, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
- Remove any and all of the toothpicks from the fried peppers, place them in the tomato sauce and simmer under low heat for 10 minutes. Serve each pepper with some of the tomato sauce, warm corn tortillas and white or Mexican rice if desired. Enjoy!
Gracias amigos for stopping by! Remember if there is a Mexican recipe you’d like to see here just leave a comment below or send us a message. If you cook this, or any of our recipes do tag us or use #MexicanMadeMeatless on your posts so we can find and share them too!
I’d also like to share this with you, so that if you’d like to help the victims of the 3 recent earthquakes in Mexico. Both the Mexican Red Cross and the Brigada de Rescate Topos, a search and rescue unit, are great organisations to donate to. If you follow me on Facebook and Instagram you will find more information about these organisations as well as other stories and news about this tragic event. Wether you want to donate your time, food or money, or help get the word out, every effort counts. Thank you!
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…