Classic chiles rellenos are green chiles, blackened and outer skin removed, stuffed with either cheese or a pork sausage picadillo, dipped in batter, fried in oil, and often served with a thin tomato sauce.
I grew up loving the chiles rellenos my mother made for us. The only problem is that they are a bit tricky to make; they can sometimes get soggy with the oil. And they can be a bit rich with all that frying.
How to Make an Easy Chile Relleno Casserole
This recipe for a chile relleno casserole skips the steps of dipping in batter and frying, and instead bakes the stuffed chiles in an egg batter.
The recipe is based on one from Sunset Magazine; our main adjustment to the original is to include a tomato sauce base to the casserole. To us, chiles rellenos taste better with a light tomato sauce, and they do in this casserole as well.
The Best Peppers for Chile Relleno Casserole
The poblano is the most common pepper used for chiles rellenos so they're our preferred choice for this casserole. Named for the Mexican state of Puebla where they were first grown, poblanos are mild and flavorful, adding just a little kick without being all that spicy.
Shortcut: If you don't want to char peppers for this casserole, you can use canned whole (not chopped) green chiles. Just drain the chiles and use them in place of the roasted poblanos.
Make it Vegetarian
You can easily omit the meat from this recipe to make a vegetarian chile relleno casserole. Add black beans, vegetarian/vegan chorizo, spicy potatoes, and/or sautéed vegetables in place of the meat, if you'd like.
Make it Lighter
We love the robust flavor of pork chorizo in this dish, but if you'd prefer something lighter you might look for turkey, chicken, or vegetarian/vegan chorizo. Alternatively, spicy turkey sausage would be a good substitute.
More Cheesy Casseroles to Make!
- Broccoli Cheddar Casserole
- Ham and Cheese Breakfast Casserole
- Classic Tuna Noodle Casserole
- Reuben Casserole
- Cheesy Tortellini Casserole
Chile Relleno Casserole
Feel free to play around with the stuffing. Mexican chorizo is great for this recipe, but we've also used hot Louisiana pork sausage. Alternatively, you can skip the pork all together and just use a jack cheese stuffing.
Note that this casserole serves 8; you can easily cut the ingredients in half and use an 8 by 8-inch dish for the casserole.
- 8 poblano chiles
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes, whole or diced
- 1 pound Mexican chorizo, or other spicy sausage
- 1 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled (can sub feta)
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
- 12 large eggs
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey jack or mild cheddar cheese
Char the whole poblano chiles:
The first step is to char the outside skin of the poblano chiles. The easiest way to do that is directly over the flame of a gas burner (see How to Roast Chiles over a Gas Flame).
You can also do that over a grill, or in a broiling pan under a broiler (don't use a thin baking sheet or it will warp under the high heat). Just put the chiles close enough to the heating element so they char and blister on the surface.
Turn the chiles so that they get completely blackened all around. Place the blackened chiles in a bowl and cover with a plate or damp towel. Let the chiles steam in their own heat for several minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Preheat the oven to 375°F and position a rack in the center.
Make the tomato sauce:
While the chilies are cooling, heat olive oil in a large sauté pan, on medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more.
Add the tomatoes (break up any whole tomatoes before adding to the pan). Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and lower the heat to low. Gently simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Peel and seed the roasted poblanos:
Carefully peel and discard the blackened skin off of the chiles. Cut off the stem ends. Carefully remove the seed pod without tearing the chiles (which you will stuff later).
Cook the chorizo:
Put the Mexican chorizo in a large frying pan and set the heat to medium high. Break up the chorizo with the edge of a metal spatula as you cook it. Cook until cooked through, about 4 minutes.
Spread tomato sauce in the baking dish:
Spread the tomato sauce over the bottom of an 9x13-inch baking dish. The tomato sauce should be the consistency of a thin spaghetti sauce. If it is too thick, thin it out with a little water.
Make the stuffing:
In a large bowl, mix together the stuffing of the cooked chorizo, cotija, and oregano.
Stuff the chiles:
Stuff the chiles with the chorizo mixture and place on top of tomato sauce in the baking dish.
Whisk the eggs, flour, baking powder, salt:
In a large bowl, vigorously whisk the eggs. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt.
Finish assembling the casserole:
Sprinkle chiles with half of the jack or cheddar cheese. Pour egg mixture over chiles and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
At this point you can make ahead and chill for several days. Add 10 minutes to cooking time in the next step if you make ahead and chill.
Bake, rest, and serve:
Bake at 375°F until top starts to brown and the eggs are set but still soft, about 30 minutes. Let the casserole rest 5 minutes before serving.