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New Mexico Green Chile Pesto

This year I discovered a new pesto variation.  My girlfriend who often travels to New Mexico learned to add green chile powder to the basil, nuts, garlic and olive oil essence. When she first described green chile pesto, I pictured diced green chiles. No, green chile pesto calls for New Mexico green chile powder, or ground dried green chiles.

fresh basil for Green Chile Pesto

Genovese basil

This new green chile pesto has a nice garlic bite, fresh bright green flavor from the basil, and  just the right measure of spicy heat from the powdered green chile. Taste and add more of the light green powder if you like more heat!


We find different varieties of fresh basil in our CSA farm share box throughout the summer–Genovese basil, lemon basil, and Thai basil–and I turn most of it into pesto. We like that emerald green garlicky stuff. On pizza, potatoes, pasta, sandwiches, and swirled into minestrone soup. And in the freezer ready and waiting for easy winter dinners.

Very large bag of New Mexico Chile Powder for Green Chile Pesto

Ancho, Chimayo, and California chile powder already held their place in our spice cupboard, but green chile powder was  something new. I found it online but I had to buy a one-pound bag. The earthy fruity aroma of New Mexico green chile powder now wafts around this kitchen. (I should put it in a glass jar so it stays fresher longer.) Needless to say it’s more than I can conceivably use, even though this Southwestern inspired green chile pesto is mighty tasty!

  • Update: I just learned on Instagram that Melissa’s Produce sells Hatch green chile powder in a more reasonable sized amount. And in a jar! I haven’t seen it in stores but you can mail order it directly from their website. Or here’s my Amazon link to another brand of Hatch green chile powder.
  • Spelling note: Chile powder or ground dried chile is different from chili powder, which is ground chiles mixed with cumin, salt and dehydrated garlic.

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Fresh basil for green chile pesto
New Mexico Green Chile Pesto
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
23 hrs 50 mins

Add the ingredients in the order directed for efficient use of the food processor. Makes about 3/4 cup of pesto. I freeze extra fresh pesto in small containers so I have it when I want it. To use, I thaw the pesto, but only enough to scrape what I need out of the container. Some cooks freeze their pesto in ice cube trays and pop the green cubes into resealable bags to use as needed.

Course: Condiment, Sauce
Cuisine: Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten free
Keyword: pesto, green chile powder, basil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese , broken in pieces or already grated (don’t even think of using that sawdust in the green can)
  • 1 cup fresh basil, stemmed and tightly packed
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (or pine nuts to be extravagant)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon New Mexico green chile powder
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. With the motor of the food processor running, mince the garlic by dropping it through the feed tube. Process until it is very fine. Add the cheese, basil, walnuts, salt and green chile powder. Process for about 10 seconds, stopping to move things around if they get hung up.
  2. With the machine running, pour oil through the feed tube in a thin stream, processing until everything is well blended. Taste. The pesto should be hot and spicy, but if you wish, add more green chile powder: season to your liking.

1 comment

  • […] packed our pizza stone and the mandoline and made sure to bring the green chile pesto and the package of Iraqi flatbread, a gift from our friend Peter, that I had been hoarding in the […] Reply · 25 September, 2011

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