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Lentil Chiles Rellenos with Creamy Walnut Sauce – vegetarian Chiles en Nogadas

Lentil chiles rellenos with creamy walnut sauce are a delicious meatless play on the famous Mexican dish, chiles en nogada. Oh the colors, flavors, and textures! These have the traditional almond crunch, dried fruit sweetness, and warm spices, not to mention the creamy white sauce and crimson pomegranate garnish. 

Lentil Chiles Rellenos with Creamy Walnut Sauce | Letty's Kitchen

But the filling in these chiles begins with rustic lentils and golden meaty mushrooms. When you bite in, pretend you’re in the heart of Mexico.

In Mexico, seeing chiles en nogada on a restaurant menu, I always wish for vegetarian version. Probably sacrilege. One time I asked if the chef to make me chiles en nogada without the meat. He obliged, but I was totally dissapointed. They came served cold, which I learned is traditional.  Now I can’t even remember what they were stuffed with.

Here’s what I think–and so will you!– is a fantastic meatless rendition, mild green chiles filled with flavorful lentils, served hot, with warm creamy goat cheese walnut sauce.


The meatless filling is sautéed onions, garlic, and mushrooms with cooked lentils, plus chopped almonds and dates. An unexpected addition, 5-spice powder, perfectly complements and bumps up the flavors in both the sauce and filling.

ingredients for Lentil Chiles Rellenos with Creamy Walnut Sauce | Letty's Kitchen

The goat cheese walnut sauce is easy to whip up. Simply blanch the walnuts and let them soak to soften, then blend with milk, goat cheese, honey, 5-spice, and cinnamon.

Typically, chiles en nogada are made with poblano chiles. Here, for ease and quicker assembly, I use canned mild green chiles. For closer to the traditional chiles en nogada, follow the chile roasting and peeling instructions in my recipe for Poblano Chiles Stuffed with Potatoes and Cheese. This recipe for Chickpea Chiles Rellenos also shows how to prepare poblano chiles for stuffing.

Create a fiesta starring the colors of the Mexican flag with these lentil chiles rellenos with creamy walnut sauce, chiles en nogada. Serve with Mexican rice and a simple salad with cumin lime dressing. Tequila anyone? How about some bright pink hibiscus margaritas?

Lentil Chiles Rellenos with Creamy Walnut Sauce | Letty's Kitchen

Lentil Chiles Rellenos with Creamy Walnut Sauce recipe notes:

  • You may already know that relleno (ray-yay-no) means filled. If the menu offers chiles rellenos, it’s a given that the chiles are stuffed with something. It could be cheese or spicy meat, or sautéed vegetables, potatoes, or beans–whatever you put inside, they’re chiles rellenos.
  • Sturdy green canned chiles that don’t tear when stuffed are Ortega original fire roasted chiles, which I found at Smith’s, our local Kroger store.
  • Make ahead: Stuff the chiles and freeze them, then thaw and bake when you want. The walnut sauce also freezes well and easily comes back together under gentle heat. You can bang the pomegranate seeds out ahead of time too.
  • Check out this video showing the easy way to remove the seeds from a pomegranate.

#Eat Seasonal:

Virtually, Becky of The Vintage Mixer blog  gathers a group of recipe-writing bloggers every month to come up with recipes featuring a fruit or veggie from her seasonal produce guide. Lentil Chiles Rellenos with Creamy Walnut Sauce showcase chiles from October’s list.

Be sure to check out The Vintage Mixer’s first post this month, a roundup of seasonal produce recipe ideas. And, for more ideas, follow the blog links below to see what everybody else made this month. We hope our recipes encourage you to get in the kitchen and cook something seasonal!

Turkey Pumpkin Pot Pie by Kitchen Confidante

Roasted Chicken with Figs and Butternut Squash by Vintage Mixer

Chorizo, Black Bean, and Kabocha Squash Chili by Flavor the Moments

Roasted Root Vegetable Soup by Joy Food Sunshine

Spiced Zucchini Pear Cake with Brown Butter Glaze by Completely Delicious

Orange Spiced Salmon with Spaghetti Squash by Foodie Crush

Pork Chops with Roasted Pears, Sage and Shallots By Simple Bites

Marinated Zucchini with Red Peppers and Garlic by Project Domestication

Roasted Red Cabbage Wedges with Za’atar by Floating Kitchen

Make it a fabulous week–get in the kitchen and cook something delicious!

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  • Oh I’ve never had chiles en nogada before. But this vegetarian version you’ve made looks and sound wonderful. I’m super intrigued by that walnut-goat cheese sauce! Reply · 10 October, 2016

    • Thanks Liz! I’m so excited to have a veggie version that’a for sure. And the sauce–delicious! Reply · 10 October, 2016

  • What an absolutely fun idea Letty! And the sauce sounds like a perfect addition. Getting inspiration from traveling is the best… more reason to travel! Reply · 10 October, 2016

  • I’ve never had this dish but it looks like something I need to try! These look delicious with the lentils and I love the sound of that sauce! Reply · 10 October, 2016

    • Thanks Marcie. I hope you do make this recipe soon–during pomegranate season, too! Reply · 10 October, 2016

  • I love how you made a vegetarian version that sounds even better than the original! The sauce is just incredible and I can imagine how comforting this dish is! Reply · 10 October, 2016

  • Goat cheese walnut sauce sounds so delicious! I Love this for a delicious healthy vegetarian meal that (I bet) even my meat and potatoes hubby would love! Reply · 10 October, 2016

    • Thanks Laura. I know your hubby will love these chiles. Mine is sort of picky–and he said, this is good, which from him I count as a compliment! Reply · 10 October, 2016

  • Kelly

    How many servings is the recipe? Trying to figure out how to make sure I have leftovers for lunch! Reply · 14 September, 2017

    • Hey Kelly, The lentil mix fills 10 to 12 canned green chiles. Thank you!! Reply · 15 September, 2017

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