Recently I saw a Tik Tok on Chile Rellenos Casserole – which led me to pull up an old recipe of mine. I gotta say hands down the Tik Tok looked like a clear winner! I had to make it!
The problem was, the recipe was covered by words and unreadable! I am a believer that there are many things you just don’t need a recipe for – but sometimes ya do! Good thing too, because I have this site, lol!
About Chile Rellenos Casserole:
If you know me, you gotta know I love eating (and making) Mexican and Southwestern food. I have some particular faves and one is Chile Rellenos. My Old School Chile Rellenos is fabulous – but there’s no doubt they’re a pain to make! Check out the recipe if ya don’t believe me!
The casserole form gives you the flavor of fabulous Chili Rellano with a whole lot less time and mess! You’re still going to have the smoky chiles with just a hint of heat, all the gooey, melty, stringy cheese you could ever imagine, and the light and airy batter, tender and golden brown as the casserole emerges from the oven.
And you’ll have the sauce! Oh that Ranchero sauce with its sweet-sour tang and just a hint of heat. It’s such a beautiful thing to take a bite of that fresh sauce draped over each serving. It’s so compelling, you’ll just about want to lick your plate clean.
There’s one part in particular of that Tik Tok I eagerly incorporated into my casserole – a mix of tomatoes, onions, and peppers sprinkled over the cheese in the casserole. I actually made extra so I could turn what I didn’t use of that mix into a fresh salsa for serving.
Making Chile Rellenos Casserole:
So I came up with a game plan. I was able to follow along with the “batter” portion of the recipe. The rest – well I riffed. I used a smallish casserole, 12 x 7″. I lucked out when I found that casserole because it’s almost perfect for lining enchiladas down the center, too.
Then I started on the steps. While this casserole is easier than “real” rellenos, there are still a few steps. None of them are hard but it can add up, especially if you’re making sides and so on, too. It’s best to stay organized and have a game plan and you may wish to do some steps ahead.
- Prepare the chiles. I used poblano and made a couple of extra – because 1) I wasn’t sure exactly how many I’d need to make two layers in the casserole and 2) it never hurts to have extra; they freeze beautifully. This can be done ahead by three or four days.
- Cut the veggies to sprinkle in and on the casserole; they’ll do double duty as a fresh salsa, too (if you make enough) so that’s in my recipe. The veggies can be done a day ahead; longer and the onion will get too strong.
- Preheat the oven. Grease, butter, or oil your pan (very well), and then prepare the batter (but do these things after the chiles have been roasted, peeled, and deseeded.) Once the batter is mixed up it will start to get runny and lose its volume. Work quickly when you add the layers and get it in the oven stat.
- Start the sauce after the casserole goes in – or it can be knocked off up to two or three days before and reheated for serving. You’ll want it ready when that casserole comes out and the sauce does take a bit of time as it has to simmer and reduce a little. By the way, I like a lot of sauce and the casserole would be very bland without it!
You’re going to have options on the type of chiles, the cheese, and any sauce. I haven’t tested with any other chiles. Another option is the size of the casserole. A larger casserole might mean you need more chiles to cover the area and possibly more cheese and maybe different cooking times.
- I like poblanos because they’re available in so many places, they’re good sized and nice and thick. That means they’re easy to work with. If you use another sized casserole or another chile, you’ll need to estimate how many.
- You can use any good melty Mexican cheese, and you might want to check out this guide from Quesada. I took the budget option (in my area, at least) and used Monterrey Jack. Plus, it was on sale.
- As far as the sauce, I used a variation of my Ranchero sauce that I use for my Chile Rellenos. I just spiced it up a bit to bring it more into the realm of “today.” If you have a favorite sauce or salsa, either red or green, feel free to use yours.
Storing and Reheating the Casserole:
You’ll want to store any items with eggs promptly in the refrigerator. Store the dish and the Ranchero sauce and the fresh salsa separately. Although the sauce freezes well, the casserole and the fresh salsa do not.
Reheat in the microwave, a slice at a time, either with the sauce or separately. It will take about a minute for the casserole. It’s a fine line to get the cheese inside hot and melty without blasting the eggs with too much heat. Watch it closely.
What to Serve With the Casserole:
You’ll find me pairing chile rellenos casserole with refried beans (I often use this simple method to make Canned Refried Beans Restaurant Style.)
In the post today, I opted for a Cilantro Lime Rice – but in the future, I’ll be serving either my Instant Pot Mexican Red Rice or this Mexican Red Rice made with the more standard stovetop method.
Of course, you can’t go wrong with chips (I do think it’s worthwhile for freshness & value to make your own, either bake or fry) to go with that fresh salsa, a touch of queso fresco (or Feta as a sub), and a little lime is essential. Avocado is always nice. You do you, though – just don’t forget the lime!
Saving Money on Chile Rellenos Casserole:
Watch for sales on the poblanos and jalapenos or buy in season. You’re likely to find sales in the fall after harvest and in May around Cinco de Mayo, of course. You may even find sales around the Superbowl. If not, look for good pricing in a Mexican or Latin American Market if one is available to you.
Using a common grocery store cheese like Monterrey Jack might save you money, and you may be able to find great sales. Grocery Store Cheese is a great item to pick up at rock-bottom prices and keep on hand. It keeps for weeks, unopened, and can be frozen. After freezing, it will be a little crumbly but still great for casseroles and cooking.
About the Price of Eggs:
Eggs are still at a high price as I write this in 2023 – so fair warning: lecture time!
- Watch your grocery store sales closely. It’s easy to make a mistake in these days when specials have to be loaded onto a card and so on. Pay attention to the pricing at your discount groceries like Aldi & Lidl as well as at the buyer’s clubs.
- Know that eggs do not – repeat – do not have an expiration date! They are usually stamped with a Best Buy or a Sell By date and expected to be good for two to three weeks after. Sometimes all that’s used is a Julien date. You can read all about it at the National Egg Board.
Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone!
It’s coming up fast, and if you don’t celebrate it – well this Chile Rellenos Casserole is a reason to do so! If not for Cinco de Mayo (or anytime, really) Mother’s Day will be here soon, and wouldn’t this be fabulous on a brunch table? You’ll have to let me know if you make it!
And thanks to Cooking con Claudia! Here’s her Tik Tok.
Chile Rellenos Casserole
- Prep Time: 40 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Main
- Cuisine: Mexican or Southwestern
The Fresh Salsa:
Note: 1/4 cup of the vegetable mixture (bell pepper, tomato, red onion, jalapenos after being salted) will be used in the casserole. Reserve before the rest is turned into the salsa with the additional ingredients.
- 1 small red bell pepper, fine dice
- 1 large tomato or two small, seeded and small dice
- 1/4 red onion (about the same amount as the pepper, small dice
- 1 to 2 (or more) jalapenos, diced
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro or parsley (to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar (more to taste)
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 teaspoons vinegar
- 1/2 lime, juice only
- 6 large poblano peppers
- 6 room temperature eggs, yolks, and whites separated
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup room temperature milk
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 pound (16 ounces)Jack cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup of the vegetables used for the fresh salsa, divided
- For serving, Ranchero Sauce, Fresh Salsa and Lime
Ranchero (Tomato) Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 to 3 jalapenos, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 29 ounce can of tomatoes, juice included
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons vinegar
- 1 to 2 teaspoons salt (don’t be shy)
The Fresh Salsa:
Mix together, in a small bowl, the red bell pepper, the tomato, onion, jalapeno and salt. Remove 1/4 cup of the mixture and reserve for the casserole. To the remainder, add sugar, oil, vinegar, and lime. Set aside.
Preheat the broiler. Place the peppers lined up and just touching on a foil covered baking sheet and broil until the skin is blistered and just very lightly charred in places. Turn as necessary until all sides are blistered, removing any as they finish, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Place the finished peppers in a bowl and cover with a plate until cool enough to handle. Remove the skin. Open each pepper by removing stem and slicing down the center. Remove seeds. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F., prepare casserole by greasing or oiling.
Beat the egg whites with pepper and salt to stiff peaks. In a smaller bowl, mix egg yolks with milk. To the flour, mix the baking powder. Add both the egg yolk and flour mixtures to the egg whites, beating on low a turn or two. Continue to gently fold by hand. Mixture should be mixed with no white or yellow streaks but looking a little lumpy is ok.
Working quickly, add about 1/3 of the egg whites to the bottom of the casserole. Smooth. Place about half the peppers (as many as will fit, piecing the peppers as necessary) in a single layer. Sprinkle with about 2/3rds of cheese and about 2 tablespoons of the vegetable mixture. Add another layer of the peppers. Follow with the remainder of the egg batter, top with remaining cheese and vegetable mixture.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and lest rest for a few minutes., but for best “cheese pulls” serve while still piping hot. Place the Ranchero sauce on the plate and top with the casserole slices or use the sauce over the casserole pieces. Pass the fresh salsa and don’t forget the lime!
Ranchero (Tomato) Sauce:
Add the olive oil to a Dutch oven or large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and jalapenos to the skillet and cook until softened, about five to six minutes. Add the cumin, cayenne, and garlic, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute longer. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
In a blender, add the tomatoes with their juice and the onion mixture. Blend until smooth. Place mixture back in the Dutch Oven or skillet and simmer to a sauce-like consistency. Remove from the heat and add the sugar, vinegar and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning. The Ranchero sauce should taste a little zippy with sweet, sour, salty undertones.
Keywords: Bargain Meal of the Week, Bell Peppers, Breakfast or Brunch Dish, canned tomatoes, Hot Peppers, jalapenos, Lime, Mexican or Southwestern, milk, Peppers, Poblano Peppers, Red onion, Tomatoes, Vinegar
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