Poblano peppers are known for stuffing with cheese to create delicious chiles rellenos, but these mild peppers are also great for many other recipes. After going through my guide to this popular Mexican pepper, you’ll know how to prepare, use, and grow this chile. Besides flavor and Scoville heat, we’ll cover three ways to roast Poblanos so they’re ready for your dishes!
Let’s begin with some quick facts and the origin of the chile Poblano.
POBLANO PEPPERS FACTS:
|Common Names:||chile Poblano, Ancho chile (dried red), Mulato pepper (dried brown)|
|Scoville Heat Units (SHU):||1,000 to 1,500|
|Days To Harvest:||70-80 days after outdoor transplant|
|Size:||Peppers: about 3-6 inches long and 2-3 inches wide. Plants: up to 25 inches tall|
|Culinary Uses:||Stuffed pepper recipes (chiles rellenos), dried, or in mole sauces, Mexican cuisine|
Poblano Peppers Origin
Like the Jalapeno plant, Poblano peppers are from the Capsicum annum family of chiles. The name “Poblano” comes from the word “Puebla” — a state in Mexico where these peppers originated.
Many food experts believe that these peppers were probably an important food staple in the diets of many people in South America, including the ancient Aztecs [source].
Poblano peppers can be up to six inches long and three inches wide with a roomy interior ideal for stuffing (think cheese, ground beef, shrimp — yum!). The immature Poblano color is dark green, but they’ll turn deep red and brown if you leave them on the plant.
In fact, when Poblano peppers are allowed to ripen to red and dried, they’re called chile Ancho. The Mulato pepper (also dried) is a Poblano that matures even further to brown.
Note: You’ll sometimes see Poblano peppers incorrectly called Pasilla, but the Pasilla pepper is a different type of chile.
And how do you pronounce “Poblano”? It’s how you might imagine: poe-BLAH-no, with the accent on the middle syllable.
Poblano Peppers Scoville
The Poblano pepper’s Scoville (SHU) rating is 1,000 to 1,500 SHUs, so they do have a tiny bit of heat. On the Scoville scale, peppers in this range are considered mild.
Red Poblanos tend to be spicier because they’ve had more time on the vine.
Chile Poblano is spicier than a Bell pepper, which has a zero Scoville rating. However, Jalapeño peppers go up to 8,000 SHUs, so Poblanos are much milder in comparison.
What Do Poblano Peppers Taste Like?
The Poblano is a mild pepper with flavors that are sweet, earthy, with just a hint of spice. The taste is similar to a green Bell pepper (a no-heat chile), but the Poblano pepper is not as sweet.
Fresh Poblanos differ from their counterparts — the Ancho (dried red pepper) and Mulato (dried brown pepper). The Poblano is more vegetal-tasting, whereas the Ancho and Mulato have rich, in-depth smoky flavors that include fruit, coffee, and chocolate notes.
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Shopping For Poblano Peppers
Most supermarkets in the United States carry fresh Poblano peppers. If you’re having trouble finding them, try to locate a Mexican market near you.
When shopping for Poblano peppers, look for firm peppers without blemishes. The skin of a Poblano pepper should be shiny and deep green in color.
» Tip: Search Instacart for stores that carry Poblano peppers near you.
What To Do With Poblano Peppers
Poblano peppers are versatile because they’re sweet peppers with just a hint of heat. You can use Poblano peppers in casseroles and even soups.
Try some of these popular Poblano peppers recipe ideas:
- Chiles en Nogada: This dish incorporates red, white, and green ingredients, the colors of the Mexican flag. Chiles en Nogada is a popular dish eaten on Mexican Independence Day.
- Chiles Rellenos: Roasted Poblano peppers are filled with your favorite meat, shellfish, and cheeses. You can also make stuffed Poblano peppers with cream cheese and picadillo. Classic chiles rellenos are fried, but you can also make these stuffed peppers by roasting them in the oven without the breading.
- Rajas Con Crema: To make this dish, roasted Poblanos are cut into strips and served with a cheese-loaded cream sauce.
How To Roast Poblano Peppers 3 Ways
While you can eat Poblano peppers raw, you’ll want to roast these chiles before using them in recipes — they taste better this way too!
There are three basic ways to roast Poblano chiles: On the stovetop using a cast iron skillet or comal, broiling in the oven, or flame-roasting on a gas stove.
After roasting Poblanos, you need to steam, or “sweat,” the peppers to remove the skin. Sweating softens chiles, draws out the Poblano flavors, and makes peeling the skin easier. (Roasted Poblano chiles need to have the skin peeled.)
The following tutorial covers three techniques for roasted Poblano peppers — choose one of the roasting methods, then scroll down to learn how to sweat the peppers once they’re roasted.
- Poblano peppers
Option 1: Pan Roasting
- Heat a cast-iron pan, comal, griddle, or skillet to high heat. Lay the whole Poblano chiles in the pan and roast on all sides.
- Rotate the peppers frequently until the skins are blistered and blackened. (Don't worry about burning the peppers because you'll be removing the skin.)
- Go to the "Sweating the Roasted Poblano Peppers" section below for the final steps.
Option 2: Broiling
- Turn your broiler on and line a baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Lay the Poblano peppers evenly on the pan.
- Broil for a total of 10 to 15 minutes. Flip the peppers halfway through the broiling time.
- Continue to the "Sweating the Roasted Poblano Peppers" section to finish this process.
Option 3: Flame Roasting
- Turn on your gas stove so that the burner is set to high. Use a pair of tongs to roast the Poblano peppers directly over the open flame.
- Turn frequently to roast your peppers so that they are blackened on all sides. It generally takes about 2 to 3 minutes for every side.
- Proceed to the next "Sweating the Roasted Poblano Peppers" section to complete the last steps.
Sweating the Roasted Poblano Peppers
- Place the hot, roasted Poblano peppers in a zippered plastic bag. You can also place your chiles in a bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
- Let the peppers sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Use your fingers to slide the skin off the peppers.
- Cut the Poblanos open with a knife and gently scrape out the veins and seeds. (Handle carefully if you're making chile relleno so that the peppers don't tear more than you'd like!)
- Don't let the Poblanos sweat longer than 10 minutes as too much time can make them more difficult to peel.
- It's okay if you don't the Poblano skins off completely -- your roasted chiles will still taste great!
- To use your roasted chiles in sauces, slice the peppers into thin strips or dice them.
- You may want to wear gloves when handling Poblanos. You won't get a capsaicin burn, but your fingers can get discolored.
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Nutrition Information:Serving Size: 1 poblano
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 13
Poblano Pepper Alternatives
Because of their increased popularity, Poblano peppers are easy to find in most parts of the U.S. However, if you still can’t find them, below are some worthy substitutes.
- Anaheim pepper: You’ll also see Anaheim peppers called California chile peppers. With a Scoville rating between 500 and 2,500 SHUs, the heat is comparable to Poblanos, but many Anaheim peppers lean towards the high end, so they can be a bit spicier.
- Bell pepper: You can use Bell peppers (in equal ratios) for most recipes that call for Poblano peppers. A Bell pepper has a Scoville of zero (so no spiciness), with a similar texture and thicker, sturdier walls than Poblanos.
- Cubanelle pepper: Like the Poblano, the Cubanelle pepper is a sweet pepper, but it can also provide a little bit of heat — still milder than a Poblano — with the potential to have up to 1,000 SHUs. Cubanelles are about the size of a Poblano pepper, so you can substitute them one-for-one or use two if the Cubanelle peppers are smaller.
- Pasilla pepper: A Pasilla pepper can range from 1,000 to 2,500 SHUs, so there’s the potential to get a spicier pepper for your recipe. Use one or two Pasilla peppers to replace a Poblano chile.
- Jalapeño pepper: The Jalapeno pepper is another alternative to Poblanos if you don’t mind more heat. (To reduce the spiciness of a Jalapeño, remove the seeds and veins, then rinse them under cold water before using them in a pepper recipe.) Because of their size, you’ll need three to five Jalapeño peppers when subbing them for Poblanos.
- Ancho chile: If you’re making a mole sauce, go with chile Ancho, which is made from fully ripened Poblanos that have been dried. Follow your mole recipe to know how much chile Ancho to use.
Storing Poblano Peppers
Whole, unwashed raw Poblano peppers can be stored in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer for up to two weeks. I don’t recommend washing your pepper before you store them. Rather, wash the peppers right before you use them.
If you have extra Poblanos and want to have some for future recipes, pop them into a freezer bag. Frozen peppers last up to eight months and are handy to have for quick recipe additions.
You can also freeze prepared Poblano peppers. The freezer will affect the texture somewhat, so keep this in mind.
Canning Poblanos is another great way to preserve them. When you can peppers, the texture holds up much better than it does using the freezer method.
Poblano Pepper Health Facts
One Poblano pepper has about 13 calories. Poblano peppers provide numerous health benefits and beneficial vitamins and nutrients.
Here are some nutrition facts [source]:
- Vitamin B6: Used by the body for energy metabolism
- Vitamin C: Fights damage caused by free radicals, boosts the immune system
- Vitamin K1: For blood clotting, plus healthy kidneys and bones
- Potassium: Reduces the risk of heart disease, which is important for blood flow
- Vitamin A: Converted from beta carotene
- Lutein: Improves eye health in aging eyes
- Fiber: Aids in effective digestion and waste elimination
When dried for chile Ancho, Poblano peppers are even higher in riboflavin and vitamin A. Poblano peppers also have trace amounts of protein, iron, and calcium.
How To Grow Poblano Peppers
Poblano peppers take between six and seven months from sowing seeds indoors to harvesting full-sized peppers. You’ll get about eight Poblano chiles on the plant at a time, and a total of 20 or more peppers during the growing season.
Here’s an overview of the growth stages for growing Poblanos:
When To Plant Peppers: Start pepper seeds indoors about eight weeks before the last frost date in your zone. (If you live in a cold climate, start your seeds 8-10 weeks before the last frost date so your seeds have a head start.) Poblano seeds typically germinate in six to 10 days after planting.
» Read More – Germinating Pepper Seeds: 3 Tricks to Get Them to Sprout
Seed Planting: Sow your Poblano seeds 1/4 to 1/8 inches deep in a slightly-damp seed-starting mix, putting two seeds into each pot to ensure you’ll get a sprout. Cover the containers and put them on a plant heat mat so they remain at the optimal 80 to 90°F temperature (27 to 32°C) for germination. Water the mix from the bottom to keep the soil hydrated.
Indoor Seedlings: Use a plant grow light once your seeds have germinated, keeping the seedlings underneath the light for 14-16 hours a day. Use a 1/4-strength fertilizer for pepper plants after the first set of true leaves emerges. Poblano seedlings need to stay inside for about two months before they can be planted outdoors.
Prepare For Outdoors: Transplant pepper seedlings into larger pots so your Poblano plants can continue growing (about 3 to 4 weeks after germination). After nighttime temperatures are above 55°F (13°C) and the last expected frost date has passed, begin hardening pepper plants to get them acclimated to the outdoors.
Fruiting Plants: Most pepper plants thrive with well-drained soil and full sun—eight hours a day is ideal—and Poblanos are no different. When tiny flowers begin to appear on your Poblano plants, you can start expecting peppers in a couple of months. When can you pick Poblano peppers? Generally, you can harvest Poblano peppers 70 to 80 days after you transplant them outdoors.
Poblano Peppers FAQs
Whether you want to make authentic chiles rellenos or use Poblano peppers for other recipes, I hope this information helps you create delicious dishes!
Continue your journey through Mexican chiles by checking out the section below.
More Mexican Peppers:
- Habanero Pepper
- Jalapeno Pepper
- Pequin Pepper (Chile Piquín)
- Chile Puya
- Chile Pasilla
- Chile Guajillo