Roasted poblano peppers are stuffed with a chicken and corn mix, then cooked in a spicy cream sauce. Chile Rellenos (Rajas Con Crema) are a classic Mexican recipe that is perfect if you’re looking for a dinner with some heat!
Easy Chile Rellenos with Creamy Sauce (Rajas Con Crema)
Chile Rellenos (Rajas Con Crema) is what I make when I’m craving spicy, creamy and savory at the same time. This traditional Mexican meal is out-of-this-world delicious, though it will most likely require a trip to the store for some specific ingredients.
But, before we get too far into that, let’s keep talking about what a treat these stuffed peppers are. If you’ve never had poblano peppers before, a) we’re gonna fix that! and b) they taste kind of like a bell pepper and a jalapeño had a baby. They are less spicy than a jalapeño and more similar in size to a bell pepper.
Anyway, poblano peppers are roasted to get a scrumptious char on the outside, and then they’re stuffed with juicy corn kernels and tender chicken. All of that is smothered in a creamy and spicy poblano pepper sauce, made with two different kinds of cheese.
To recap: Flavors-galore? Yep. Terrific texture? Most definitely. Should you make/dig into this dish immediately? You know it!!
What Are Chile Rellenos?
Chile rellenos (also known as rajas con crema) is a traditional Mexican dish that is one of our favorite dinners! It’s made with mild poblano peppers, which are roasted and then stuffed with meat (chicken, in this case). They’re then cooked in a spicy, cheesy cream sauce that will have you licking your plate and asking for seconds! Or in my husband’s case, thirds. ;-)
There are quite a few ingredients that go into making chile rellenos. I’ve written a few notes about the most essential ingredients, but make sure to read through the whole list, which can be found below on the recipe card.
- Poblano Peppers: Make sure and get large ones that are as wide as possible so that they are easy to stuff.
- Jalapeño: I like my sauce to be flavorful with a little heat, so I use one jalapeño that I remove the seeds from. If you want your Chile Rellenos spicy, I recommend leaving in the seeds and membrane when you dice your jalapeño. And if you want your dish HOT, use two jalapeños with seeds!
- Chicken: I like to use rotisserie chicken to save time, but you can also make my favorite Stovetop Shredded Chicken or Instant Pot Shredded Chicken.
- Corn: Frozen or canned corn will both work, just make sure it is drained before starting.
- Chihuahua Cheese: This is found in most Walmarts and all Mexican stores, but you can sub in mozzarella if you want.
- Queso Fresco: This is a mild crumbly cheese that is used in most Mexican food. It’s also found in Walmarts and Mexican stores.
- Mozzarella Cheese: You can use all chihuahua cheese or all mozzarella cheese if you want.
- Cream: You can use heavy whipping cream or sour cream.
- Mexican Oregano: Mexican Oregano is a milder oregano than regular, but the other traditional oregano can be substituted.
How to Make Chile Rellenos with Cream Sauce
Making chile rellenos will take you just over an hour – not too bad if you’ve got a little time on your hands! The process can be broken down into two essential categories: stuffing the peppers, and making the sauce. Then you add everything together, and that’s when the magic happens! (Magic = A flavor explosion for your tastebuds.)
For the Stuffed Peppers
Prepare: Turn oven to broil at 500°F and set the oven rack close to the top.
Roast the Poblano Peppers: Wash and dry the 5 poblanos and jalapeño and place on a baking sheet. Place under the broiler and blacken for about 3 minutes. Turn them and blacken each side. You can also do this on a skillet or on a grill. You do not want the chilis to cook and get too soft. Just the skin blackened. Set the jalapeño aside for the sauce.
Steam the Chilis: Place the blackened, hot chilis (poblanos and jalapeño chilis) in a ziplock bag and close tightly. Let them steam for about 15 minutes, while you make the filling.
Cook the Corn & Chicken: Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the onions and cook till translucent about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, corn, chicken and cilantro and heat thoroughly.
Add the Cheeses & Seasoning: Add the spices and the cheeses and mix to combine. Pour into a bowl and cover with tinfoil.
Prepare the Chilis: Open the bag with the poblano chilis and remove them one at a time. Gently peel the blackened skin off the poblano chilis. Cut a slit down one side of the chili, making sure not to open all the way so the filling will stay in. Remove the seeds. One of the chilis will be used in the sauce and must also have the stem removed (seeds can be removed or left, it’s up to you). Set this chili and the jalapeño aside for the sauce.
Stuff the Chilis: When all the chilis have had the skin removed, fill with the chicken mixture. The chilis should be bulging but still be able to be closed.
For the Poblano Sauce
Blend the Poblano Sauce Together: Place the onions, the one roasted poblano pepper with skin and stem removed, roasted jalapeño (seeds removed if you don’t want the sauce to be spicy) chili pepper, garlic, chicken bouillon, and Mexican oregano in a blender. Blend till smooth.
Add the Chilis to the Sauce: Pour the sauce in the saucepan and heat over medium heat. Add the cream and milk to the pan. When it is nice and hot, place each filled chili into the sauce.
Cook the Peppers: Turn the heat to medium low and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes, making sure not to scorch the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chilis.
Add More Cheese: Sprinkle with the ½ cup chihuahua cheese and cover with a lid. When the cheese is nice and melted, it is ready to serve!
Tips for Success
So there you have it! Chile rellenos may have a slightly lengthy process behind them, but the results are utterly worth it. Here are some tips on how to handle your chilis so that you get the best stuffed peppers every time:
- How to Roast the Chilis: You can roast chilis a couple different ways. You can place on a pan in the oven under the broiler and blacken. You can also blacken on a cast iron skillet. Finally, you can blacken on the grill or over a gas stove burner.
- Don’t Overcook the Chilis: Make sure to watch your chilis so that they do not overcook. If the chilis get too soft, it will be hard to stuff them without them falling apart.
- How to Rinse Chilis: If you want the best flavor, do not wash the chilis under water, BUT if you want all the seeds out, it is easier to rinse them out with running water. Just be careful the water isn’t on too high and tears the chilis completely open.
- For a Spicier Sauce: If you like a spicy sauce you can add more jalapeños. Poblano peppers are generally mild, but every once in a while, poblanos can be extra spicy and you may have enough heat. So taste to be sure before adding any extra jalapeños to the sauce!
- Don’t Overstuff the Chilis: While they need to be quite fat, you don’t want the filling all spilling out. Keep the cut side up in the pan.
What should you serve chile rellenos with? Great question! There are a couple options that I like to go with. I serve these stuffed peppers with rice, beans and tortillas, or a bolillo:
- Rice: I generally just make white rice with corn, but brown rice is fine too. Or your favorite Spanish rice! Pick your favorite!
- Beans: Black Beans, Charro Beans, Refried Beans, whatever kind of beans you enjoy the most! You can’t go wrong with beans with Chile Rellenos!
- Bolillo: While not necessarily a traditional usage, I love to have a fresh Bolillo to soak up the extra creamy sauce. If you don’t have Boillios, you can just use another kind of crusty bread to go alongside your meal.
- Tortillas: Ok, you totally don’t *need* a Homemade Tortilla with this dish, but it’s so good to wrap up some of the chile relleno and creamy sauce in a warm flour tortilla. Just sayin’. ;-)
- Cocktails: Can’t have a full dinner without a delicious Mexican cocktail! Here are a few I think you will enjoy: Frozen Mango Margarita, The Best Mojito (this one is actually a Cuban cocktail, but a good rum Mojito goes great with this creamy dish!), or how about a Carajillo for the perfect after dinner drink!
- Dessert: For dessert, I recommend my Easy Tres Leches Cake, Arroz Con Leche or Coffee Flan! You can’t go wrong with any of these Spanish desserts.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. I’ve found that the best way to reheat chile rellenos is to put the peppers and the sauce in a skillet, and heat until warmed through. That way the skin of the pepper gets crispy again!
More Easy Mexican Recipes
Looking for more recipes for some of your Mexican favorites? Here are a few more recipes I think you will enjoy:
- Authentic Guacamole
- Cheesy Beef Taquitos
- Chicken Empanadas or Beef Empanadas made with Homemade Empanada Dough
- Mexican Street Corn
- Chorizo and Eggs made with Homemade Chorizo
- Fresh Huevos Rancheros
- Mexican Chicken Adobo
- Homemade Tamales
- The Best Cheese Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce
- Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
Chile Rellenos in Cream Sauce (Rajas Con Crema)
For the Stuffed Peppers:
- 5 large poblano peppers
- 1 jalapeño
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ diced white or yellow onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 roma tomato, diced
- 1 cup corn, (fresh, frozen, or canned but drained)
- 2 cups chicken, shredded (rotisserie or cook your own shredded chicken)
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- ¾ cup shredded chihuahua cheese
- ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup crumbled queso fresco
- ¼ teaspoon Mexican oregano
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon thyme
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the Creamy Poblano Sauce:
- 1 `/4 cup chopped white or yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup milk
- ¾ cup shredded chihuahua cheese
For the Stuffed Peppers:
- Turn oven to broil at 500°F and set the oven rack close to the top.
- Wash and dry the 5 poblanos and jalapeño and place on a baking sheet. Place under the broiler and blacken for about 3 minutes. Turn them and blacken each side. You can also do this on a skillet or on a grill. You do not want the chilis to cook and get too soft. Just the skin blackened. Set the jalapeño aside for the sauce.
- Place the blackened, hot chilis in a ziplock bag and close tightly. Let them steam for about 15 minutes, while you make the filling.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the onions and cook till translucent about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, corn, chicken and cilantro and heat thoroughly.
- Add the spices and the cheeses and mix to combine. Pour into a bowl and cover with tinfoil.
- Open the chilis and remove them one at a time, setting the jalapeño off to the side for the sauce later in the recipe. Gently peel the blackened skin off the poblano chilis. Cut a slit down one side of the chili, making sure not to open all the way so the filling will stay in. Remove the seeds. (One of the chilis will be used in the sauce and must also have the stem and seeds removed. Remove the stem and seeds and set this chili aside for the sauce.)
- When all the chilis have had the skin removed, fill 4 of the poblano chilis with the chicken mixture. The chilis should be bulging but still be able to be closed.
For the Creamy Poblano sauce:
- Place the onions, the one roasted poblano pepper with skin and stem removed, roasted jalapeño (optional: seeds removed for less heat), chili pepper, garlic, chicken bouillon, and Mexican oregano in a blender. Blend till smooth.
- Pour the sauce in the saucepan and heat over medium heat. Add the cream and milk to the pan. When it is nice and hot, place each filled chili into the sauce.
- Turn the heat to medium low and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes, making sure not to scorch the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chilis.
- Sprinkle with the ½ cup chihuahua cheese and cover with a lid. When the cheese is melted, it is ready to serve. This dish is delicious served with Mexican rice and beans.
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