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Mexican Chiles Rellenos with Chickpeas

Green, white and red–have you ever noticed how the colors of Mexico’s national flag appear frequently in our southern neighbor’s cuisine? Roasted poblano chiles with a meatless filling,  a white crema stripe and red dice garnish, these green chiles rellenos with chickpeas follow the flag theme in the most tasty way!

Chile Rellenos with Chickpeas | Letty's Kitchen

Dark roasted poblano chiles filled with tender chickpeas, carrots, onions, and melty cheese make a healthy vegetarian meal. Not what you might expect for chiles rellenos. Better!

Restaurant cheese rellenos are most often dipped in egg batter, and then fried in a decent amount of oil. I love those rellenos all oozy with melting cheese, but fried food is not really good for us, not to mention the calories that come along with the fried rellenos. 

Relleno (ray-yay-no) means filled with something. If a menu offers chiles rellenos, it’s a given that the chiles are filled with something, like cheese or maybe a spicy meat filling. Vegetarian chiles rellenos can be filled with sautéed vegetables, potatoes or beans. Bottom line is whatever you put inside, when it’s called chile relleno, it means a filled chile.

poblano chiles for Chile Rellenos with Chickpeas | Letty's Kitchen

Dark green poblano chiles, with their long, triangular shape, are the best choice for this recipe. Anaheim chiles are good substitutes, though they won’t hold as much filling. The larger poblanos have an thicker skin and should be blistered and the skin removed before being filled. The step of charring gives them a delicious smoky quality and makes the skin is easy to peel.

blistered poblano chile for Chile Rellenos with Chickpeas | Letty's Kitchen

The fastest easiest way to char and blister poblano chiles is on a grill. You can use the flame on a gas stovetop or your oven broiler but if a grill is handy, blister the skin of your chiles there. When they’re well blistered, place them in a covered pan to steam.

stuffed poblano chiles for Chile Rellenos with Chickpeas | Letty's Kitchen

The insides of green chiles, the veins and seeds, hold most of the picante heat, so take out the seeds to keep the temperature mild. Generally, the smoky, earthy essence of a poblano chile sparks, but doesn’t burn like the smaller green chiles. 

Chiles rellenos with chickpeas, all red white and green, Mexican food like this makes me a happy bandita

These Spinach and Black Bean Enchiladas show off Mexico’s colors with green and red sauces.

Chiles Rellenos with Chickpeas kitchen notes:

  • Mexican crema is sold at Latino markets and many supermarkets. Crema resembles a thin sour cream, which is a decent substitute.
  • Serrano chile’s fresh distinctive taste adds an flavor layer to the filling. Serranos are about the size of a pinky finger and carry much more heat than poblano chiles.
  • Adapted from Barbara Pool Fenzel’s pinto bean chiles rellenos, from her beautiful cookbook, Seasonal Southwest Cooking.

Make it a fabulous week–get in the kitchen and cook a Mexican dish show the red, green, and white!

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5 from 1 vote
Chile Rellenos with Chickpeas | Letty's Kitchen
Vegetarian Chiles Rellenos with Chickpeas
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
45 mins

These fresh roasted chiles filled with chickpeas, sautéed onions and carrots and melty cheese are a healthy delicious vegetarian chiless relleno.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Gluten-free, Mexican, Vegetarian
Keyword: chickpeas, chiles rellenos
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 292 kcal
  • 4 fresh poblano or Anaheim chiles
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ onion , cut in ½-inch dice (about 1 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 serrano chile , seeds and veins mostly removed, minced
  • 1 carrot , cut in ¼-inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 ½ cups garbanzo beans (chickpeas) (1 (15-ounce can) drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth or beer
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ red bell pepper , cut in ¼-inch dice
  • Crema , sour cream or whole milk plain yogurt
  1. Char the chiles until the skins are well blistered on all sides. To loosen the skin so it peels away easily, place freshly blistered chiles in a covered bowl or a plastic bag. Set aside and let the chiles “steam” for about 10 minutes. Gently peel away the loosened skin.

  2. Slice a slit down the center of each chile. Cut away the bulk of the seeds near the stem, aiming to keep the stem as intact, mostly for show. Set the prepared chiles aside on a plate.
  3. In a medium skillet heat the olive oil. Add the onion, serrano chile, carrots, and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent. Stir in the chickpeas, cumin and oregano. Add the broth. Using the back of a fork or a potato masher, mash the beans with the broth to heat through. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and salt. Taste and season with more salt if needed.

  4. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Fill the chiles with the bean mixture. (You may have some filling left depending on the size of the chiles.)

  5. Place them in a casserole dish, seam side down.
  6. Bake about 20 minutes, until the rellenos are heated through.
  7. If you wish, sauté the diced red pepper in a bit of oil. Otherwise leave the red pepper raw.

  8. To serve: Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the crema into the corner of a small plastic sandwich bag. Cut a tiny hole in the corner. Squeeze the bag with gentle pressure to draw the white stripes over the chiles. Sprinkle with diced red pepper.
  9. Serve with tortillas or steamed rice.
Recipe Notes

Mexican crema is sold at Latino markets and many supermarkets. Crema resembles a thin sour cream, which is a decent substitute. Serrano chile’s fresh distinctive taste adds an important flavor layer to the filling. Serranos are the lighter green chiles about the size of your pinky finger.

*** Nutrition information is meant to be an estimate only. The numbers will vary based on the quantity consumed, brands used and substitutions that are made.

Nutrition Facts
Vegetarian Chiles Rellenos with Chickpeas
Amount Per Serving
Calories 292 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Cholesterol 30mg10%
Sodium 459mg20%
Potassium 524mg15%
Carbohydrates 28g9%
Fiber 8g33%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 14g28%
Vitamin A 3830IU77%
Vitamin C 119mg144%
Calcium 261mg26%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


  • Teri Thomas

    I’m enjoying these personalized Mexican recipes from Mexico so much that I encourage you (and yours) to spend a couple months in southern France during kiting season. Reply · 27 February, 2014

    • Letty

      Good idea! Reply · 27 February, 2014

  • Wow! I love the sound of these. Hopefully, I will love the TASTE of these really soon. Thank you Letty, for yet again, another fabulous recipe. I hope your time in Baja has been wonderful. xo Reply · 27 February, 2014

    • Letty

      Thanks for the comment. They definitely are tasty! Reply · 27 February, 2014

  • My mouth is watering reading the recipe and looking that stunning presentation! Thanks, Letty. Reply · 27 February, 2014

    • Letty

      Thanks Caron. Nice to hear from you. Reply · 27 February, 2014

  • Love this! I am writing a post for this week with stuffed poblanos as well. What a coincidence. Reply · 27 February, 2014

    • Letty

      Looking forward to seeing what your relleno is…. Reply · 27 February, 2014

  • They look delicious! Reply · 1 March, 2014



  • I live in Los Angeles and have eaten many a beautiful rellanos. But I’ve never felt as inspired to make my own as when I see yours. I think its the chickpeas. GREG Reply · 3 March, 2014

    • Letty

      Thanks Greg. What’s your favorite relleno–besides cheese and of course these chickpeas? I love potato stuffed poblanos too! Reply · 4 March, 2014

  • […] depth of flavor, each chile adding its own layer. Raisin-y smokiness comes from the larger, milder poblano chile that I toasted and blistered on the stove top. It blistered as evenly as on a grill, definitely […] Reply · 10 March, 2014

  • […] at the stove, or at the computer wishing things would work? Not me. Between granola stirrings, I char-roasted poblano chiles, whipped up a batch of green salsa, and steeped hibiscus flowers for this Valentine cocktail. Talk […] Reply · 9 February, 2015

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