How to Make Chiles Rellenos Gluten Free

I love Mexican food.  I've been to Mexico so many times it's hard to count.  One of my favorite Mexican dishes is the Chile Relleno, or stuffed chile, but now when I go to restaurants I usually can't have it.  Even though it's mostly chile, egg, and cheese, it's usually not made gluten-free.  A little bit of flour is used in the egg batter to hold it together.

I'm having my sister and her family over for Cinco de Mayo, and this hand-down her favorite Mexican dish.  She and her family are vegetarian, and this dish is one of the few Mexican dishes that is both satisfying and meatless.  I decided to wow her with my new chile relleno recipe that I've adapted to be gluten free.  I'm hoping it's just like the traditional chile relleno we used to have in Mexico.

Recipe for Gluten-free Chile Relleno

This recipe makes 2-3 chiles rellenos.  Double, or triple it as necessary for more servings.  The recipe makes plenty of sauce and batter for two, so if you make eight you can triple the recipe and it will come out about right.


You can use a ranchero sauce from the Mexican section of the super market, but if you would like to make your own sauce this works nicely.  It's a bit more tomato-y than a traditional sauce for this recipe, which would mostly be chile, but it's tasty and mild.

Throw together in a sauce pan:

1 can crushed tomatoes
4 Tbsp new Mexico Chile Powder
1 cup vegetable stock
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste

Let that simmer while you cook the chiles.

Prepping the chiles:

A gas stove or grill works best for this, but in a pinch you can use your broiler.

Place the chiles (poblano or pasilla peppers, or anaheim if you can't get anything else) directly on the burner of your gas stove.  Turn the stove to high.   Don't be shy - you want to blacken these all over the outside.  Turn the chiles with tongs as needed to blacken every side, then set aside on a plate to cool.

When the chiles are cool enough to handle, gently scrape all the blackened skin off the chiles with your fingers, being careful not to tear the chile itself.

When you have successfully scraped the chiles, use any existing tear to open the chile slightly and remove the seeds from inside with your fingers or with a spoone.  Try not to open the hole larger than 2 inches.  Carefully stuff the chiles with:

queso fresco or mozzarella cheese

Use enough so they are full, but they shouldn't be crammed or you will tear the chile.  Cut the pieces of cheese to fit the chiles.

Set the stuffed chiles aside.

Making the Batter:

In a large skillet heat:

Canola oil, about 1 inch deep

In a large bowl or stand mixer, whip until peaks form:

2 egg whites
1/2 tsp salt

In another bowl, whisk together:

2 egg yolks
1.5 tsp white rice flour

Fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites.

When the oil is hot enough, you will know it by placing a little bit of the egg batter into it.  The batter will sink a little, then immediately rise up to the surface and puff up.  Dip your chiles first into the batter to coat them with egg.  If your seam is gaping, fill it with egg batter.  Spoon more batter over the top if necessary.  Place the chiles in the pan seam-side up and cook until brown on the bottom, about 1 minute.  Carefully turn the chiles over to cook on the other side until brown.  Place on some paper towels to drain, then serve while hot with the sauce.

Update:  It's Cinco de Mayo evening and the guests have left.  My sister insisted on taking her second chile with her as leftovers.  My brother-in-law Andy cleaned his plate.  When my boyfriend asked them how my dish compared to chiles rellenos in Mexico Andy said, "They're identical."  That's exactly what I wanted to hear!  The new photo I have at the top of the post is from tonight's meal.


l'actrice said…
OMG! That's what I have to try our next:-)
Gina said…
Iris, you won't regret it! This dish is amazing. There may be some place in LA that serves it gluten-free :)
Laura said…
I LOVE chiles rellenos. Can't wait to try the recipe - thanks for sharing!
Gina said…
Laura - Chile Relleno is one of my favorites! I hope you enjoy them. Let me know how it turns out!
Amanda said…
I made these last night--YUM! I would make them again in a heartbeat. I liked how fluffy the batter was. The only thing that went wrong for me was that the batter separated and by the end I had only eggy soup. I wonder why that happened? Maybe I whipped the egg whites too much? I tripled the recipe and used 9 smaller hungarian hotwax peppers, and it was just the right amount of batter. Thanks for the recipe!
Gina said…
I'm glad you liked the chiles rellenos! It's true that sometimes the batter can separate. That can be true when it's gluten-full, too. I think is has to do with under-beating the eggs, or letting them sit too long. You can usually right the situation by whisking them again, or if that doesn't work you can skim off the fluffy eggs from the soupy eggs and just use the fluffy part. I hope that helps!
Amanda said…
Hi Gina, I just made them again. I love them! You were right, and the batter was better this time--I whipped the egg whites so they were really good 'n stiff. I am planning to make a huge batch again soon to freeze them for winter meals. It's harvest time in the garden and we had a bumper crop of poblanos and hot wax i love them so! :)
Gina said…
Amanda, I am so glad you like the recipe! I am jealous of your bumper crop of peppers. I only got one poblano this year, and that's a good harvest for me :P They don't grow very well in the Pacific Northwest, I think. The summers aren't long enough. Already raining cats and dogs here. It's the perfect time of year to get back into making chiles rellenos! I like the idea of freezing them for later. Let me know how that goes!
Amanda said…
Hi Gina, I found my way to your page again. Time for my annual chile relleno party! :) This time it's serious---my sweetie and I just went to New Mexico and it happened to be green chile season, and we brought back 25 lbs of fresh chile to make sauce, salsa, and of course rellenos!! yes, we are chile-crazy. (or just plain crazy.) Last year I froze a few batches of rellenos and they all came out great. I just popped them into the oven to re-heat for about 40 minutes, and halfway through the time put green chile sauce on them. delish. Hope you are enjoying an abundant august in your garden.
Anonymous said…
Hi! Thank you for the delicious recipe. We just enjoyed these with string cheese stuffed in fresh organic pasilla peppers. Super yummy! I will be making these again for sure but will try to be extra careful when turning them not to disrupt the coating.
Gina said…
I have a hard time getting these guys turned over without messing them up as well. It's tricky! I guess I'll just have to make some more of them for practice!
oceana72 said…
Awesome; better than dipping frying and dipping again; will use it always. Thanks
Unknown said…
Thanks for the great gluten free option! Every winter i leave the cold and rainy Pacifica NW for sunny Baja and then watch as everyone enjoys their glutinous rellenos. Not anymore!

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