A fiesta of flavors and colors, these oven-baked, chicken stuffed poblano peppers are super flavorful, absolutely gorgeous, and surprisingly easy to make.
I often make a double batch of them, because even the leftovers are really good!
I adore Mexican cuisine. It's bursting with flavor! I love the liberal use of spices and especially peppers, and I enjoy the fact that many of the traditional dishes are at least moderately spicy.
These stuffed poblano peppers did not disappoint. They are super flavorful and I also like the way they look. The combination of peppers, shredded chicken and melted cheese is phenomenal. And while it may look like a complex recipe to make, it's actually quite easy, especially if you use pre-cooked chicken.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make these tasty stuffed poblanos. The full list and the exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview and some comments:
Olive oil: I love cooking with this flavorful oil. You can also use avocado oil, which has a higher smoke point and a neutral flavor.
Poblano peppers: They are widely available in supermarkets, usually in an area dedicated to spicy chile peppers.
Tomatoes: Try to pick red, ripe-yet-firm tomatoes.
Onion and garlic: I'm lazy, so I use the food processor to chop the onion, and I frequently use jarred minced garlic.
Seasonings: I use kosher salt, dried oregano, and ground cumin. Make sure the spices are fresh! A stale spice can easily ruin a dish.
Shredded cooked chicken breast: You can also use shredded rotisserie chicken. Just make sure to remove the skin. Its texture won't work in this recipe.
Shredded cheeses: I use mozzarella and cheddar. You can experiment with other melty cheese. Fontina, asiago, and provolone will all work beautifully in this recipe.
Cilantro: Fresh cilantro adds a great flavor to this dish. If you don't like cilantro you can use parsley instead.
It's surprisingly easy to make these stuffed poblano peppers. The detailed instructions are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of the steps:
You start by prepping the peppers. Remove a thin layer from their top, remove the seeds and membranes, then cut a slit down their side.
The next step: cooking tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spices in some olive oil.
Next, you remove the pan from the heat and mix in cooked shredded chicken, mozzarella, and cilantro.
Now, stuff the tasty chicken mixture into the poblanos and bake them in a broiler-safe pan.
The very last step is to sprinkle some cheddar cheese on top of the peppers and broil them just to melt the cheese.
If you can only find small peppers, you can use them to make this recipe, using 8-10 of them instead of four.
They might need slightly less time in the oven, but not necessarily. As you can see in the video below, I used 3 medium ones and 4 small ones (that's what was available at the farmers' market) and baked them all together for 30 minutes. They all turned out great!
Frequently asked questions
Poblanos have a rich flavor, a meaty texture, and mild to medium heat. Three of us loved the extra heat. One of us - the one who's under twelve - said she would have preferred stuffed bell peppers instead.
If you're not fond of spicy foods, you can certainly use the same tasty chicken filling to stuff sweet bell peppers.
Yes. Although they are fairly mild, they do contain capsaicin, which can be very irritating for some people.
I recommend wearing gloves when handling poblano peppers, especially if you know you're sensitive (I'm not).
You can, but they taste much better when cooked. Cooking also softens their outer skin which can be quite fibrous.
Variations and substitutions
I love this recipe as is and almost always make it as written. But in case you'd like to vary the basic recipe, here are a few ideas for you:
- You can use cooked and drained ground beef instead of chicken.
- Instead of mixing mozzarella into the chicken mixture, you can mix softened cream cheese or a shredded Mexican cheese blend.
- The same recipe can be made with bell peppers for those who don't like their food spicy.
- Smoked paprika is a nice addition to the spices used in this recipe.
If you'd like, you can serve them with toppings such as salsa, sour cream, or guacamole.
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in a sealed container, for 3-4 days. Reheat them in the microwave, covered, on 50% power, or in a 300°F oven. The leftovers are excellent, by the way.
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Chicken-Stuffed Poblano Peppers
- Olive oil spray
- 4 medium poblano peppers (1 lb. total weight w/ refuse, 12 oz. cleaned)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced (10 oz.)
- ½ medium onion, diced (4 oz.)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or ½ teaspoon fine salt)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded (10 oz.)
- 1 cup part-skim mozzarella, shredded (4 oz.)
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- ½ cup sharp cheddar, shredded (2 oz.)
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large rimmed oven and broiler-safe baking sheet with foil and spray it with oil.
- Rinse and dry the poblanos. Cut a thin slice off the tops and remove the core and seeds. Cut a slit all the way down the side of each pepper. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, salt, oregano, and cumin. Cook, stirring often, until liquids have evaporated, 5-7 minutes. Off heat, stir in the chicken, the mozzarella and the cilantro, mixing well.
- Divide the filling among the peppers, adding it from the top and pressing on it to fill the entire pepper. Pack the filling into each pepper to prevent it from spilling onto the baking sheet.
- Place the peppers on the prepared baking sheet, slit side up. Lightly spray them with olive oil. Bake until the poblanos are soft and charred in places, about 30 minutes (the smell will be amazing!).
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and switch the oven to broil. Top the peppers with the cheddar cheese, sprinkling the cheese on the open part where you've cut the slit.
- Broil the peppers 6 inches below the heating element (not directly below) just until the cheese is melted, 1-2 minutes. Let them rest for 5 minutes before serving.