If you love chili rellenos, but don’t love all the prep work that comes along with it, Chili Relleno Casserole is where it’s at. It starts with a quick and easy Mexican red sauce, comes packed in the middle with chili pepper, cheesy goodness, and ends with a fluffy, golden cloud of baked eggs!
It’s a simpler, low-carb twist on a Mexican classic and it’s absolutely perfect for eating any time of day. Serve this quick-fix recipe for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
Can’t get enough chili pepper goodness in your life? You’ll also love these Green Chili Chicken Empanadas! Bookmark them for next time!
WHAT IS CHILI RELLENOS?
The star of the show when it comes to this famous Mexican dish is the chili pepper. The most popular pepper used for chili rellenos is a poblano, although it can also be made with Hatch chiles, jalapeños, and more. The pepper always comes stuffed with some form of melted cheese and may also house a meaty filling like chicken, shrimp, or ground beef.
The chili most commonly comes coated with a fluffy egg white batter and fried, however, it can also be roasted without any batter at all. Lastly, it typically has a red, ranchero-style sauce that is served either on the top, the bottom, or both.
EASY CHILI RELLENO CASSEROLE
As you can probably imagine, the process of making authentic chili rellenos from scratch is a labor-intensive one. You have to roast the chilis, remove the seeds, prepare the filling, make the egg white batter, fry it, and prepare the sauce.
This easy Chili Relleno Casserole takes almost all of the leg work out of chili rellenos yet leaves all the delicious flavors intact!
ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS
- Sauce | For this casserole, you’ll be making a quick and easy red sauce using canned tomato sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and Mexican spices like cumin and chili powder.
- Chili Peppers | For ease and convenience, this recipe calls for canned whole green chilis, but if you want to use fresh poblanos, we’ve got the how-to on that below! Either way, make sure you deseed the chilis before adding them to the casserole as the seeds do not break down while cooking and won’t make for a pleasant bite.
- Cheese | This recipe calls for the standard Mexican mix of Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese. Freshly grated cheese is always best, and will improve upon both texture and flavor in the casserole! However, if time does not allow, you can certainly use pre-shredded cheese in the place of fresh.
- Egg Topping | The eggs in this recipe serve to mimic the egg white batter coating if a fried chili rellenos! You’ll need two large eggs. In addition to that, you’ll also need milk and all-purpose flour to complete your Chili Relleno Casserole topping.
HOW TO MAKE CHILI RELLENO CASSEROLE
- Make the Sauce – Making sauce from scratch has never been easier! Simply combine canned tomato sauce and the spices in a bowl and give it a stir. Then, add it to a greased casserole dish and move on to the next step!
- Prep the Chilis – We’re working with canned chilis here, but you’ll still need to do a teensy bit of prep work. Split the chilis in half lengthwise, open them up, and use a small knife to scrape out any remaining seeds. See below if you’d like to roast your own peppers instead of using canned.
- Assemble the Filling – To make the filling for Chili Relleno Casserole, lay half of the chilis flat on top of the sauce in one single layer. Then, add half of the cheese. Repeat with one more layer of the chilis and the cheese and move on to making the topping!
- Beat the Egg Whites – Begin by separating the egg yolks in the egg whites into two separate bowls. Then, use a handheld mixer to beat the egg whites for about 4 minutes.
- Make the Topping – Add the milk, flour, and a bit of salt to the egg yolks and stir. Fold in the egg whites (take care to actually fold, not stir), and then pour it over the top of the casserole and smooth over the top.
- Bake – Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top of the Chili Relleno Casserole is puffed up, set and a light golden brown color.
CAN I MAKE THIS WITH FRESH PEPPERS?
As you know, fresh is always best…it’s just not always convenient. If you have the time, you can’t beat Chili Relleno Casserole made with fresh poblano peppers. You’ll find instructions for roasting, peeling, and subbing in poblano peppers in the place of canned green chilis below!
HOW TO MAKE IT WITH FRESH POBLANOS
You will need 8-10 poblano peppers for this casserole. The quantity depends on how large the peppers are.
- Roast the Peppers – To roast the peppers, rub them with 1-2 tablespoons of canola or avocado oil, just enough to lightly coat each pepper. Transfer them to a baking dish and bake at 400°F for 25 minutes, or until the skins are blackened. Turn them halfway through the roasting process.
- Peel – Place the peppers in a paper sack and roll the top to seal. Allow the peppers to steam for about 10 minutes to loosen the skins. Once they’re cool enough to handle, peel the skins away with your hands.
- Split – Remove the stems and split the poblano peppers in half lengthwise. Then, use a small knife to remove the seeds.
From this point, treat your poblano peppers just as we do in the green chilis and proceed with making the Chili Relleno Casserole as directed!
CAN I ADD MEAT?
If you want to beef up this casserole with a little extra protein, by all means, go for it! Cooked and shredded chicken, taco seasoned ground beef or turkey would taste amazing! About one pound will do the trick and you’ll add it to the center of the casserole — just after the first layer of cheese and before the second layer of chilis go down.
5 MORE MEXICAN CASSEROLE RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Doritos Taco Casserole
- Chicken Taco Casserole
- Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti
- Mexican Chicken Casserole
- Mexican Ground Turkey Casserole
Chili Relleno Casserole starts with a quick and easy Mexican red sauce, comes packed in the middle with chili pepper, cheesy goodness, and ends with a fluffy, golden cloud of baked eggs!
- 1 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, separated
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 4 (10-ounce) cans whole green chilis, drained
- 2 cups freshly grated Monterey Jack cheese
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Cheddar
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 325°F and have ready a greased 9x13" casserole dish.
Add the tomato sauce, chili powder, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, garlic powder, cumin, and onion powder to a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir to combine. Pour the sauce into the casserole dish.
Split the chilis in half lengthwise and take care to remove all of the seeds. Using half of the total chilis, lay them flat, in one layer across the sauce. Then, sprinkle evenly with half of the cheese. Repeat with another layer of chilis, and end with a sprinkle of the remaining cheese. Set aside until ready to use.
Separate the egg whites and the yolks. Add the egg whites to a clean medium-sized mixing bowl and the yolks to a large mixing bowl. Set the bowl of yolks aside.
Using a handheld mixer on medium-high speed, beat the egg whites until they are about 4 times the size, white, and glossy -- about 4 minutes.
Stir the milk, flour, and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt into the egg yolk mixture. Then, fold in the egg whites. Pour the mixture evenly across the top of the casserole and spread to the edges of the dish
Transfer to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the topping is set and golden brown. Allow to cool slightly, serve, and enjoy!