Vegan Chile Relleno - Whole Food Plant-Based • Healthy Midwestern Girl (2023)

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I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Mexican food. But it's not always easy to find whole food plant-based options in Mexican restaurants. The dishes are typically high in fat, either from being fried in oil or loaded with cheese. Or in the case of chile rellenos--both! But Hemant loves this dish, so I set out to make Healthy Vegan Chile Rellenoto fit our whole food, plant-base lifestyle.

Vegan Chile Relleno - Whole Food Plant-Based • Healthy Midwestern Girl (1)

What I Love About this Healthy Chile Relleno Recipe

This vegan chile relleno is full of nutritious veggies (eight!), beans and quinoa. And rather than being stuffed full of high-fat cheese, the homemade vegan cheddar cheese sauce—which is completely optional—gets drizzled lightly over the top.

For more healthy Mexican sauce goodness, check out my Oil Free Vegan Enchilada Sauce recipe.

Vegan Chile Relleno - Whole Food Plant-Based • Healthy Midwestern Girl (2)

I did try a version where the cheese sauce is stuffed inside with the filling. It was good, but we enjoy this version so much better. You get more veggies in your filling, and just enough cheddar sauce to bring a bit of richness without too much extra fat and calories.

Vegan Chile Relleno - Whole Food Plant-Based • Healthy Midwestern Girl (3)

And of course, there’s no frying in this healthy chile relleno recipe. The poblano peppers are simply stuffed and baked in a flavorful, mildly spicy bath of blended up roasted veggies.

Vegan Chile Relleno - Whole Food Plant-Based • Healthy Midwestern Girl (4)

How to Make Healthy Vegan Chile Relleno

This recipe has several steps, but each one is simple. You need to roast some veggies on a sheet pan. Saute your filling for a few minutes. Blend up a sauce (or two.)

Vegan Chile Relleno - Whole Food Plant-Based • Healthy Midwestern Girl (5)

Vegan Chile Relleno - Whole Food Plant-Based • Healthy Midwestern Girl (6)

Vegan Chile Relleno - Whole Food Plant-Based • Healthy Midwestern Girl (7)

And of course, stuff your peppers. That’s probably the hardest part of this entire vegan chile relleno recipe, but if you take your time, even this isn’t too hard.

Vegan Chile Relleno - Whole Food Plant-Based • Healthy Midwestern Girl (8)

I love the texture and protein of tricolored quinoa in this dish. But if you don’t have any cooked quinoa and want to skip that step, you can simply increase your other filling ingredients. Just make sure to make about 3 to 3 ½ cups of filling for your peppers.

Vegan Chile Relleno - Whole Food Plant-Based • Healthy Midwestern Girl (9)

Does this healthy chile relleno recipe taste just like classic version? Nope, not really. But in this case, I'm thinking that's probably a good thing.

If you like this whole food plant-based recipe, you might also like:

  • Red Quinoa Tacos
  • Smokey Vegan Rice and Beans
  • Mini Taco Cups
  • Scallion Cashew Cheese Quesadillas
  • Vegan Guacamole
  • Easy Slow Cooker Black Beans
  • Easy Cheezy Sauce

Vegan Chile Relleno - Whole Food Plant-Based • Healthy Midwestern Girl (10)

Healthy Vegan Chile Relleno

A light and healthy chile relleno recipe with nutritious beans and quinoa, loads of veggies, and a drizzle of vegan cheddar cheese sauce.

5 from 10 votes

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Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Mexican

(Video) Fall Plant-Based Grocery Haul: Vegan Family of 4

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Servings: 4

Calories: 239kcal

Author: Elizabeth Shah


  • 4 poblano peppers whole with stems on (about 1 pound)
  • 1 pound Roma tomatoes cut in half (about 4-5)
  • 1 serrano pepper cut in half and seeded
  • ½ white onion cut into ½ inch slices
  • 1 small garlic bulb bottom trimmed off to expose cloves (or ½ large bulb)
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans (or 1 ½ cups cooked dried beans)
  • 4 packed cups spinach leaves chopped
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (I used tri-colored-see notes)
  • ½ cup corn kernels (I used frozen)
  • 1 teaspoon taco seasoning (or make your own-see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Optional: Cheddar Sauce for topping

US Customary - Metric


  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (Use 2 if necessary.)

  • Place the whole poblano peppers and onions slices on the baking sheet. Then place the cut vegetables--tomatoes, serrano pepper and garlic bulb--on the baking sheet, cut side down. Roast for 25-30 minutes, turning the peppers and onions over halfway through cooking, until the peppers are blistered on both sides the veggies are cooked.

  • Optional: Make the Cheddar Sauce if using. Set aside.

  • To make the filling: While the vegetables are roasting, in a pot or large skillet, cook the spinach, and drain the excess liquid. Add the cooked quinoa, black beans, corn, and taco seasoning, and cook a few minutes over medium heat, just enough to heat and blend the flavors and spices. Add a little water if needed to keep things from sticking--but allow it to cook off so the filling is not too wet. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Set aside.

  • When the veggies finish roasting, remove them from the oven, and reduce the heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • To make the sauce: Use a spatula to add the tomatoes, onions and serrano pepper to a blender. Use a towel to grasp the garlic bulb, squeeze the cloves out of their skins, and add them to the blender. Add the tomato paste and cilantro to the blender, and process on low, gradually increasing to high speed, being careful to let some steam escape. Add sea salt to taste. Pour the sauce into the bottom of a baking dish just large enough for the peppers, about 13 x 9 inches.

  • Place the poblano peppers on a cutting board. Carefully slice one side of each pepper down the center lengthwise to form a pocket, being sure not to pierce the other side. Use a spoon (or your fingers) to gently scoop the seeds and membrane out of each pepper.

  • Fill each pepper with ¼ of the filling, and place into the baking dish, cut side up.

  • Cover and bake 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, or until the filling is hot and the sauce is bubbling.

  • If desired, drizzle gently warmed cheddar sauce over the top. (See notes)


  • To make your own taco seasoning, combine: ½ teaspoon chili powder, ¼ teaspoon ground cumin, ⅛ teaspoon oregano, ⅛ teaspoon onion powder, 1 pinch of cayenne, garlic powder and sea salt.
  • I always keep cooked grains around, and I like quinoa in this recipe for its texture and protein. But if you want to skip the step of cooking quinoa, you can simply increase the other filling ingredients. You'll need about 3 to 3 ½ cup to fill the peppers.
  • Don't overheat the cheddar sauce. Cook in a sauce pan on medium low heat, stirring frequently so that it doesn’t separate.

Nutrition (approximate)

Calories: 239kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 2g | Sodium: 576mg | Potassium: 1202mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 4400IU | Vitamin C: 127mg | Calcium: 107mg | Iron: 4.7mg

Tried this Recipe? Please share it!Mention @HealthyMidwesternGirl or tag #HealthyMidwesternGirl!

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Reader Interactions


  1. Barbara Bersch

    SO good and definitely satisfied my craving for Mexican food! Also, shared with my Vegan group on FB! Will be in my rotation of regular meals!! Thank you!!


    • Elizabeth Shah

      Yay! And thanks for sharing with your group.


  2. Alejandra

    Vegan Chile Relleno - Whole Food Plant-Based • Healthy Midwestern Girl (15)
    I am Mexican who grew up with authentic Chile rellenos and OMG this was absolutely delicious!! I added one extra Serrano pepper and made my own taco seasoning but kept everything else the same!! It was wonderful and I will be saving this recipe! My husband enjoyed it as well!


    • Elizabeth Shah

      Alejandra, I am SO pleased you enjoyed this recipe! Thanks for your kind words. 🙂


  3. Lisa

    Do you peel the skin off of the peppers? Mine is already peeling after baking them.


    • Elizabeth Shah

      You can peel the skins off if you choose, but personally, I just eat them. Enjoy! 🙂


  4. Jan Brandvold

    This is a fantastic dish! I made it almost as written except used a bag of frozen spinach, cooked in the microwave, then drained. I made all the components ahead and stored them in the fridge, then a little before dinner, assembled them, and cooked them in my toaster oven! I made the taco seasoning myself, and thought it was silly to do all that measuring for a one teaspoon yield, so multiplied it by six for future use. I’m glad I did, because it was barely detectable in the filling with just one tsp, and I wound up using two. Everyone needs to use their own taste...😊


    (Video) Vegetarian Finger Foods
    • Elizabeth Shah

      I couldn't agree more Jan! To me, a recipe is just a jumping off point. Thanks for your feedback, it's much appreciated.


  5. Brooke

    This was delicious!! The sauce was so good I will probably double it next time. We are trying to eat healthier and cut out (most) dairy products and it’s been a struggle for my partner- but he licked the bowl clean and even asked if we could put the recipe in our “regulars” cook book.


    • Elizabeth Shah

      Hi Brooke, Bowl licking good--love it! Thanks for your comments. 🙂


  6. Jennifer

    Vegan Chile Relleno - Whole Food Plant-Based • Healthy Midwestern Girl (16)
    Amazing! My daughter is vegetarian and allergic to dairy, so we eat vegan quite often. My husband is still skeptical of recipes that have been altered to be vegan, but couldn't stop raving about this dish! It is now saved in my favorites and will become part of our regular rotation. Thank you so much!


    • Elizabeth Shah

      Hi Jennifer, I'm absolutely thrilled to hear how your hubby likes this recipe! Converting the skeptics is like my all time favorite story :)))))


  7. Hannah

    Vegan Chile Relleno - Whole Food Plant-Based • Healthy Midwestern Girl (17)
    This was
    I changed nothing. It was good as is.


    • Elizabeth Shah

      Outstanding! So happy to hear you enjoyed this recipe, Hannah. And thanks so much for your comment. 🙂

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  8. Julianne E Cochran

    Where does the spinach go? I can't seem to find wherr to add it in the directions?


    • Elizabeth Shah

      The spinach is part of the filling. You saute the spinach first, then add the other filling ingredients to the pan (per Step 4 of the recipe). Hope that helps!


  9. Karla

    Could these be frozen and reheated?


    • elizabeth

      Hi Karla, I haven't tried this and not sure how well the cooked peppers would hold up. I've frozen unbaked stuffed pepper recipes in the past, but here, the peppers are actually roasted before stuffing. If you really need to freeze first, I might recommend simply cutting the peppers in half, filling, then freezing the recipe unbaked. (I'd probably freeze the sauce in a separate container.) You'd want to thaw it out before cooking, the you'd need to bake them longer to cook the peppers. But again, I haven't tried this so I can definitively say that this would work, but this would be my best guess. Please let me know if you give it a try!


  10. Ian H

    Vegan Chile Relleno - Whole Food Plant-Based • Healthy Midwestern Girl (18)
    Outstanding! Made this tonight along with the vegan cheese sauce, it was so good! Somehow I didn't get my Serrano pepper from my basket to the conveyer belt at the store, so I sprinkled cayenne all over the veggies before roasting them and it was perfect!


    • elizabeth

      Thanks so much for sharing this Ian! I'm thrilled that you enjoyed these chiles rellenos + the cheese sauce. Love your save with the cayenne; sounds like it worked out perfectly. I can sure relate to the missing Serrano--I'm convinced grocery store conveyor belts eat ingredients like dryers eat socks. 😉


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Leave a Reply


Are chile rellenos good for you? ›

Worst: Chile Relleno

While the main ingredient here -- a chili pepper -- is healthy, this dish is anything but. That's because the pepper is stuffed with cheese, coated in batter, and deep-fried in oil.

What's the difference between Chile Poblano and chile relleno? ›

There is a big difference between a chile relleno and a chile poblano: chile relleno is a Mexican entree recipe; chile poblano is simply a fresh, large, mildly acidic chile pepper that can be found in your garden. Chile Rellenos are made from the roasted chile peppers poblanos.

Are chili rellenos high in carbs? ›

Chiles Rellenos, Filled With Meat And Cheese (1 chili) contains 10.2g total carbs, 8.5g net carbs, 21g fat, 15.6g protein, and 289 calories.

How many calories does one chile relleno have? ›

Cafe Rio Chile Relleno (1 serving) contains 12g total carbs, 11g net carbs, 29g fat, 14g protein, and 360 calories.

Are poblano peppers healthier than bell peppers? ›

The poblano pepper contains much more vitamin B2 than the serrano pepper, and the bell pepper contains none. As far as individual benefits, bell peppers are known for their ability to maintain and potentially improve mental health, as well as support healthy pregnancy from a significant level of folate in each serving.

What does chili relleno mean in English? ›

Chile rellenos (or 'stuffed peppers' in English) are a traditional Mexican dish made from roasted poblano peppers stuffed with cheese, then coated in a fluffy egg batter and fried until golden brown.

What does the word relleno mean in English? ›

(rəˈljeɪnəʊ ) noun. a Mexican dish of stuffed vegetable, usually peppers.

What does the Spanish word poblano mean in English? ›

po·​bla·​no pō-ˈblä-nō plural poblanos. : a large usually mild heart-shaped chili pepper especially when fresh and dark green compare ancho.

Do you peel the skin off of poblano peppers? ›

If you are eating poblano peppers fresh, you don't need to peel the skin (although it is fairly tough). Much like roasted red peppers, roasted poblano peppers have papery, unappetizing skins so it's best to remove them.

What is the lowest carb food at a Mexican restaurant? ›

Try carne asada (steak grilled with Mexican spices) or chicken dishes, sometimes served with grilled veggies and salsas. Again, carb counts vary based on the dish, but most meat and poultry contain zero carbohydrates.

Can I eat chile relleno on keto? ›

Forget tacos, you're here for Chile Rellenos. It turns out, even the original batter for Chile Rellenos is keto-friendly! It takes a little time and patience to roast the poblano peppers, but the reward is a deep, darkened, pepper filled with a blend of ooey, gooey cheeses.

Is relleno and poblano the same? ›

The big difference between a chile relleno and a chile poblano is that chile relleno is a recipe for a Mexican entrée and chile poblano is not a recipe, but simply a fresh poblano chile pepper, a large, relatively mild chile pepper with a deep green color.

How much protein is in a chile relleno? ›

Curbside at Victoria H‑E‑B plus!
% Daily Value*
Total Carbohydrate 58 g19%
Dietary Fiber 17 g68%
Sugars 0 g
Protein28 g
14 more rows

Do poblano peppers have health benefits? ›

Poblano peppers are a mild variety of chili peppers that are highly nutritious and equally delicious. They're rich in vitamins A and C, carotenoids, capsaicin, and other compounds that may act as antioxidants, have anticancer activity, and fight inflammation.

How many net carbs are in a chili relleno? ›

Trader Joe's Chili Relleno (1 tray) contains 27g total carbs, 23g net carbs, 18g fat, 22g protein, and 350 calories.

Are poblano peppers inflammatory? ›

Containing significant amounts of vitamin C and vitamin A, these green chiles contribute to both eye and skin health. Not only that, but the chile poblano also helps fight pain and inflammation (thanks to the capsaicin it contains).


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