Want to make chiles rellenos? You’re certainly not going to use a green bell pepper, so you need to learn how to roast poblano peppers. In this guide you’ll learn 5 different ways to roast poblano peppers and how to use them in different Mexican foods.
Poblano chiles are a very important ingredient in Mexican cuisine. They are fire roasted, peeled and stuffed and battered and fried, they’re sliced and diced, and blended to make delicious creamy salsas for pasta.
They may be green like some bell peppers, but other than color there are no similarities between the two.
Poblanos are generally a mild chili pepper but once in a while you will come across one that’s suddenly a spicy pepper! So be careful and do read the tips offered below.
Thankfully chile poblano is available at just about all grocery stores. Make sure you choose ones that are firm and have a shinny look and are a vibrant green color.
Why You Should Roast Poblanos
The simplest answer is flavor.
Roasting a poblano over an open flame helps their delicious flavors truly shine. There is no comparison between the taste of this chile pepper fire roasted or raw. By far the fire roasted version is the most robustly flavored one.
When raw, poblanos do have a fantastic scent and taste, but when roasted over an open flame their flavors really come alive.
It’s in this step that the charred skin helps develop that deep rich smoky flavor that gives poblanos that magical taste that no other chile has.
Plus once you have roasted poblanos you can make chile rellenos, rajas con queso, rajas con crema, espagueti verde, tacos, enchiladas and countless other Mexican dishes.
What You Need to Fire Roast Poblano Peppers
You a plate with some plastic wrap or a covered container, or plastic bag like a a large Ziploc-style bag works well. (To be more environment friendly you could use a paper bag, it will get damp though.)
You’ll need some tongs, a cutting board, disposable gloves to prevent chili burns.
Of course you also need the whole peppers!
How to Roast Poblanos on a Gas Stove or Open Flame
If you love the authentic and traditional flavors of Mexican cuisine then you simply must learn how to prepare poblano peppers correctly — trust me the work really pays off.
The traditional roasting process for poblanos is on the gas stove top and over an open flame, also sometimes called fire roasted.
Step #1: Lay Directly on The Gas Burner
Turn your stove on to a flame of medium heat, carefully place two to three whole poblano peppers directly onto the gas stove burner and over the flame.
You’ll want to use tongs to help arrange the peppers so that they don’t fall off and to help ensure even heat/flame on each one.
Slowly the peppers will get little blisters that will darken and make a little popping sound. Use the tongs to keep turning them so that the entire pepper is evenly charred on all sides.
Do not leave them unattended because you want the other skin just to darken like in the pictures and not burn entirely and turn to ash.
This step takes the longest and will require your patience. Continue turning each chile until it’s blacked all around. Then remove from the flame.
You’ll also notice that the chili’s flesh will feel soft, you want to make sure that it feels this way throughout. You don’t want soft in one spot and hard and crunchy in another.
Continue fire roasting the poblanos until all have been roasted.
Step #3: How to Peel Poblano Peppers
I often get asked if it’s necessary to peel roasted poblano peppers. Yes it is, poblanos have a tough outer skin and it’s a crucial step for flavor and texture.
Once roasted the poblano’s skin separates from the chile flesh and it becomes thicker. Though it’s perfectly safe (and edible) to consume, the texture can be a bit unpleasant. It’s quite thick. So the best thing is to discard it. This is specially helpful when making salsas or sauces.
Though poblanos tend to be a mild pepper occasionally you’ll come across some that pack quite the heat. So if you want to be safe put on a pair of latex gloves or kitchen gloves to prevent chile burns.
Some people will also rub a little bit of olive oil or vegetable oil on their fingers before handling the peppers. Something about the oil making a barrier to stop the heat.
For this step you’ll need a cutting board or a baking sheet, a butter knife, and a little bit of warm water.
To peel place poblano pepper on a cutting board or plate and use the back of the knife to gently scrape away the charred skin.
Alternatively, you can use your hand to hold the pepper and with your other hand use your fingers to carefully pull away the charred skin.
Either way works great, pick which ever is easiest for you.
When using the butter knife or your hands you can dip in a little bit of water to help remove any of the built up charred bits on the knife and your fingers.
Lastly, use a paper towel to remove any of the excess charred bits from the peppers.
Using a Comal on an Electric Stove Top
To roast on an electric stove, you can use a frying pan or a comal, or griddle. Simply heat it up over high heat and once hot place the poblanos on there.
Turn the over to make sure the whole pepper has been blackened. Keep turning to get the side of the peppers too.
This step is my least favorite because it seems to take the longest. Also if the peppers aren’t flat, it’s going to be more difficult to the curves roasted.
The Broiler Method
This method is much quicker than the roasting over an open flame. However, the taste isn’t the same, or nearly as delicious as over an open flame.
To use the broiler method, set oven to broil and have a baking sheet ready.
Clean the peppers just as instructed above then lay on a baking sheet. Using a small pairing knife make a small incision on each poblano pepper. Then place the baking sheet under the broiler for 5 minutes then flip over and continue to broil another 5 or so minutes. You want the peppers to blacken and soften up. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before handling.
You could also roast in the normal oven setting or even in a toaster oven. Just place the poblanos on a sheet pan and set the timer.
Roasting Poblano Peppers in an Air Fryer
Much like the broiler method, the air fryer method is quick but the depth of flavors isn’t as much as fire roasted. Even so, I still use this method simply out of convenience.
To air fry poblano peppers thoroughly clean and pat dry. Cut off a good chunk off long stems — you want to make sure the peppers fit in the air fryer.
Place as many poblano peppers into your air fryer’s basket without overcrowding. My air fryer model is large so I can usually fit 4 to 5 medium-large peppers.
Set the temperature to 390F and the timer to 8 minutes. Once the timer goes off carefully open the air fryer and flip over the poblanos. Set the timer for 6 to 8 minutes. The additional time required will depend the size of your poblanos.
Air fry just until they are soft and have some blackened spots.
Roasted Poblanos on The Grill
Whenever you are having a cook out make sure to place some poblanos on the grill. They’ll roast up quickly and have a delicious flavor.
Follow the same steps above for sweating, peeling and prepping.
How to Prepare and Use Roasted Poblano Peppers
Once you have fire roasted and peeled the chiles you can prep them to use in all of your favorite Mexican recipes.
For Chiles Rellenos
If you are going to be stuffing the roasted poblanos simply use a knife to make an incision going lengthwise or top to bottom.
Very carefully (you may want to use those latex gloves again) use a small knife to cut away the seeds from inside the chile. You can also use a spoon to help scoop out the seeds and discard.
That’s it! Now you can stuffed with cheese, beans, veggies or anything else you want to use.
For Fajitas or Rajas
Grab one charred pepper cut it lengthwise and in half, use the knife to cut away the seeds, stems and any attached membranes. Then slice the halves into long strips cutting either along the width or length of each half.
For Salsas, Sauces, and Burgers or Meatballs
Remove the stems and seeds as previously indicated. The chop into desired sizes.
That’s it, you are now ready to stuff or sauté those strips and enjoy all of that hard work — it really isn’t difficult at all. Once you go through the process of roasting them, you’ll see that each and every step is absolutely worth it and you’ll never want to skip this method again.
How to Store Roasted Peppers
You can store them in the refrigerator for about 5 days before they go bad.
If you have extra charred peppers, or want to same yourself some time on your next meal, then you can freeze them. Both whole or in strips, once roasted and frozen they keep quite well in the freezer. I wouldn’t do more than 12 months. Store in freezer-safe container or heavy freezer bag.
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Try These Poblano Pepper Recipes
Now that you know how to properly prepare poblano peppers for Mexican cooking, below are some delectable recipes to try.
- Rajas con Crema or Poblano Pepper in Cream Sauce
- Enchiladas Verdes with Roasted Poblano Pepper & Oaxaca Cheese
- Vegetarian Chiles en Nogada (Poblano Peppers in Walnut Sauce) (no ground beef in these)
- Corn and Poblano Pepper Soup with a Touch of Curry Powder
- Bean Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Ancho-Guajillo Chile Sauce
- How to Make Vegetarian Chiles Rellenos
- Easy Vegan Fajitas Recipe Video | For When You Don’t Feel Like Cooking
For more information please see the list of How to roast poblano peppers in a pan