We love this roasted poblano chile sauce for its mild and smoky twist on proteins and vegetables. And yes, I just said mild and chile sauce in the same sentence! While a sauce full of chile peppers sounds suspiciously hot, the mild poblano peppers roasted in this sauce have a very gentle but notable kick. With a few simple steps, this recipe with poblano peppers will be ready to make your next dinner a hit.
Comparatively, this poblano sauce is almost like making pesto. Instead of herbs, nuts, and cheese, we use cilantro, roasted peppers, and garlic. This sauce comes together quickly using the same method of pureeing in a food processor or blender. Additionally, store with a thin layer of olive oil like pesto to keep herbs fresh.
I’ve made many versions of this sauce over the years. In this case, I’m using poblanos and a single jalapeño for a smoky low-spice bite. When the recipe was written, our 6-year-old ate it up, and she’s my spice checker and kid critic. If the 6-year-old says, “It’s a liii-tle spicy,” but she also keeps eating it? Basically, it’s just about right for most eaters. Nevertheless, if you want more spice, you know what to do!
Two easy ways to use this recipe with poblano peppers:
- Grill whole or skewered pieces of chicken, shrimp, or vegetables, then chop as needed. While still hot, put pieces into a bowl and toss with spoonfuls of room-temperature poblano pepper sauce.
- Stir-fry bite-sized pieces of protein, vegetables, or a combination until cooked through. (We like to use chicken and white onions sliced into half-moon slices.) When fully cooked, stir in spoonfuls of sauce. Combine ingredients just until the sauce begins to stick to the pan. Remove from heat and serve!
How do you make this recipe with poblano peppers into a meal or snack?
There are endless ways to devour this magic green sauce full of herbs and peppers, and here are a few of our favorite ways to mix it up!
- Tacos: Add protein or veg sautéed with sauce. (See the options above.) Top with fresh cilantro and crumbled cotija or queso fresco cheese to top it off. YUM!
- Bowls: Make your favorite rice or try our family’s favorite oven-baked rice. Prepare protein and vegetables with poblano pepper sauce. (See the options above.) Gather sides of cilantro, other greens, extra sautéed fajita-style veggies, and crumbled cotija or queso cheese. See FAQ below for questions about the best finishing cheeses. My big kids cheer for this rice, by the way.
- Snacks: Serve this sauce on the side for dipping or as a condiment. Try raw or roasted veggies, grilled chicken, chicken meatballs, or roasted shrimp. Also yes.
Prep this recipe for poblano sauce ahead of time!
I love how easy this recipe is to pull together. Whether you make it right before eating or prep it ahead, this green sauce takes a meal from boring to fantastic in a few minutes.
Follow these steps to prep this yummy sauce:
- Roast your peppers: This step takes 20 minutes total, most of which is hands-off. Do this first; it can rest while you roast your garlic next.
- Roast your garlic: This step takes a couple of quick minutes to prep but about 30 minutes to roast hands-off. Do this ahead, and your weeknight dinner routine will thank you.
- Wash and spin your cilantro: Get your herbs as dry as possible, so it doesn’t water down your sauce! Pick those leaves and remove the thicker stems. (Hint: my small kids have always helped me with this!)
- Peel your peppers and garlic: Remove skin from your roasted peppers with compostable gloves and pop out your cooled garlic cloves, as shown in the recipe video below.
- Blend and blitz your sauce: Using your food processor, finely chop your peppers, garlic, and cilantro according to the directions in the recipe. I like my finely chopped but not pureed, and both are delicious, by the way.
Recipes with Poblano Peppers and Mexican Cheese: Frequently Asked Questions
You sure can, if you can handle the heat! Poblanos are towards the bottom of the spice scale for peppers; the jalepeños in this recipe give it more heat. If you are unsure, add a smaller amount of a spicier pepper you might substitute and taste as you go before adding more.
I like to use my food processor to get ingredients chopped small but not liquified, as seen in this post. However, I have made this poblano chile sauce recipe in my Vitamix, and while it was thoroughly combined and emulsified, the bright green sauce still tasted delicious.
Cotija cheese is an aged cow’s milk cheese that is drier and saltier than the smooth and mild queso fresco cheese. Queso fresco is unaged, usually from cow’s milk and sometimes partially from goat’s milk. Use cotija if you want a slightly salty finish or queso fresco for a mild and creamier addition to something with more spice. Since cotija and queso fresco are Mexican finishing cheeses, not suitable for melting, they both taste delicious crumbled on recipes with poblano peppers.
Here’s the recipe for your new favorite green sauce. Let’s prep it!
Recipe with poblano peppers: roasted poblano chile sauce
- 1 head of garlic
- 3 poblano peppers
- 1 jalapeño pepper
- 2 small bunches of cilantro washed and spun dry, leaves picked, thick stems removed.
- 1/2 cup avocado or olive oil, plus more for roasting garlic
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- Preheat oven to broil.
- Roast poblanos and jalapeño on the top rack about 3-4 inches away from the broiler and turn every minute or two until black spots on all sides. Depending on your broiler, this can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes.
- Toss all peppers into a brown paper bag and roll down the top shut to create a steamy environment while they cool for about 15 minutes.
- Once peppers are cool enough to touch, run them under cold water peeling the skin off the pepper and removing all seeds and stems. I like to use compostable gloves when working with a jalapeño so the juices don't come in contact with your skin.
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Cut off 1/4 inch of the root end on the head of the garlic.
- Set the trimmed head of garlic cut side up inside a piece of foil, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap tightly with the seam at the top. I like to roast mine in a glass dish.
- Bake for 30 minutes or so. Let it rest until warm, not hot to the touch.
- When ready to use roasted garlic cloves, open the foil. Pinch the head of garlic's uncut end, squeeze, and pop out the cooked garlic cloves leaving papers behind, as shown in the video below.
- For a stove-top toasting method, see here!
- Chop or tear peeled peppers into large chunks and add to food processor along with all peeled and cooked garlic cloves.
- Add prepped and dry cilantro and process until all are chopped and combined well.
- When finely chopped, pour oil through the tube while the machine is running slowly to mix in all oil.
- Add 2 teaspoons of salt and process again for about 10-20 seconds until all combined.
- If you are not using the sauce right away, scrape it into a jar or container with a small opening, scraping all leftover oil from the processor on top.
- If needed, add a drizzle of new oil to the top to lightly cover the sauce which will keep the cilantro a fresh shade of green.
- Refrigerate extra sauce for up to a week.
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Last Updated on January 19, 2023 by Heather Bursch