If untangling the best parts of a tedious recipe and weaving them back together in a simpler way sounds appealing, you and this chile relleno casserole are about to get real cozy.
With certain dishes that you might make to order a few at a time, the method for transforming it into a crowd-pleasing casserole is obvious. Take French toast, for example. Layer the bread in a baking dish, douse it in an eggy custard, toss in the oven, bake, and call it a day.
Or rather, call it breakfast.
Case in point: deconstructing roasted, stuffed, battered, and fried poblano peppers to make a layered, eggy casserole.
A similar transformation takes place when making stacked enchiladas montadas instead of your classic rolled and filled enchiladas. It’s simpler to construct, with the same comforting and delicious flavors you crave.
I love taking something familiar and creating a new dish that still flaunts its best original features. Feel free to disagree with me here, but I find this to be one of most satisfying ways to flex your creative culinary muscles.
If you’ve ever enjoyed chiles rellenos, you know the deal. It’s a joyous symphony of satisfyingly gooey melted cheese stuffed – hence the “relleno” portion of the name – into a roasted poblano pepper, batter-dipped, and fried. Yum.
But with this recipe you can skip the painstaking construction and the pan full of hot oil with an eggy breakfast casserole that’s easy enough to make before you’ve even had your first cup of coffee.
Poblanos are roasted under the broiler until they’re charred and blistered, making the skins easy to remove. The result is smoky, slightly sweet, tender, and delicious. And you can even roast the peppers ahead of time if you’re not into early morning prep work.
If you have a gas range or grill, rotating the poblanos over an open flame is another option. For more tips, read our guide that features three different methods for roasting peppers.
After slicing, the roasted peppers are layered with shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese that will flawlessly melt into gooey nirvana…
As for the batter the poblanos typically take a dip in before frying, an eggy base reinforced with a little flour is poured over the top instead, resulting in a perfectly puffy casserole.
If you’re wondering what baking powder is doing in this recipe, here’s the gist:. it keeps the eggs fluffy and gives the base an airy lift.
Served with a tangy tomato sauce made with garlic, onion, cumin, and jalapeno that’s prepared while your casserole bakes in the oven, this winning dish is a fantastic option for breakfast or brunch. But feel free to serve it any time the mood strikes.Print
Give classic chiles rellenos a reboot and make a tasty breakfast casserole layered with smoky roasted poblanos, fluffy eggs, and cheese.
For the Casserole:
- 2 1/2 pounds poblano peppers (about 8 large)
- 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
- 1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese, divided
- 8 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 small)
- 2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno (about 1 large)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon chili powder blend
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion tops
- Preheat the broiler on high and make sure the rack is about 6 inches from the heating element. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil.
- Arrange the peppers in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets and place in the oven. Flipping occasionally with tongs so they roast evenly, broil until the skins are charred and blistered on all sides, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn off the broiler.
- Transfer the peppers to a large mixing bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside and allow the peppers to steam for 10 minutes.
- While the peppers are steaming, preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan or a 3-quart casserole dish with nonstick spray.
- Add the flour, baking powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, salt, and black pepper for the casserole to a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside. Add the eggs and milk to a large mixing bowl and whisk until frothy. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined.
- Remove the plastic wrap from the bowl and peel the peppers. Remove the stems and seeds, and slice the peppers into long strips.
- Spread half of the peppers in the bottom of the baking dish and top with 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese and 1/2 cup cheddar. Repeat with the remaining peppers and cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the top.
- Place in the oven. Bake until the eggs are set and the casserole is puffy and golden-brown around the edges, about 45 minutes.
- While the casserole is baking, make the sauce. In a medium saucepot over medium heat, add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. When the oil is shimmering, stir in the onions, jalapeno, cumin, salt, and chili powder blend.
- Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and chicken stock, stir, and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Boil for 1 minute, then remove the pan from the heat and puree with an immersion blender until smooth, or transfer to a high-speed blender or food processor, working in batches if necessary. Allow to cool for a few minutes before blending in a countertop appliance and vent the top to avoid pressure buildup and steam burns, placing a clean kitchen towel over the opening in the lid if needed. Return the sauce to the pan.
- Bring back to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the tomatoes are cooked and the sauce has thickened slightly. Whisk in the vinegar and season to taste with additional salt if necessary. Place a lid on top to keep warm.
- Remove the casserole from the oven. Set it aside to rest for 10 minutes before slicing into portions. Spread about 1/2 cup of the sauce on each plate and top with a slice of the casserole. Garnish with the cilantro and green onion tops and serve.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
- Category: Casserole
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Breakfast
Keywords: chile relleno, casserole, breakfast, vegetarian
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Gather, Measure, and Prep Ingredients
Preheat the broiler, selecting “high” if your oven has multiple temperature options, and set one of the oven racks about 6 inches from the top coils.
Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil for easy cleanup. Get out a large cutting board and a chef’s knife.
Shred the Monterey Jack and cheddar with your box grater. For this recipe, we’ve opted to use these readily available cheeses rather than the classic cotija or queso Oaxaca typically used for the filling, since we prefer their melting quality in a casserole. Feel free to use pepper jack if you want to add a little extra spice.
Open the cans of tomatoes and set them aside, and set out your eggs.
In a medium mixing bowl, measure the flour, baking powder, garlic powder, onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and the freshly ground black pepper. Whisk until thoroughly combined and set aside to use in the casserole.
Measure and then whisk to combine 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the chili powder blend in a small bowl. This will be used for the sauce.
If more heat is what you’re after, add 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper along with the spices whisked into the flour.
If you prefer to keep the dish at a mild heat level, since chiles rellenos is not typically an incredibly spicy dish, you can also minimize the spiciness of the sauce by removing the jalapeno seeds and ribs.
Step 2 – Roast the Peppers
Arrange the poblanos on the baking sheets, fitting as many as you can in a single layer on each without overcrowding – placing them too close together will cause them to steam, rather than roasting.
Place the peppers under the broiler and turn on the oven light if your oven door has a window on so you can keep an eye on them. You could also keep the oven door open a crack instead. As soon as the tops become charred and blistered, use tongs to rotate each pepper.
Be careful while doing this! You’ll need an oven mitt to protect your hand as you hold the baking sheet steady. If you are holding a pepper by the stem with the tongs, it may slide right out as the skins soften. Try to manipulate them from the center instead.
Continue flipping as needed until the skins are dark and blistered all over, for about 15 to 20 minutes total.
Remove the pans from the oven. Turn off the broiler and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Transfer the peppers directly into a large mixing bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it aside, allowing the peppers to steam for about 10 minutes. This will make it easier to remove the skins.
Step 3 – Mix the Dry and Wet Casserole Ingredients
While the peppers are steaming, lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan or a 3-quart casserole dish with nonstick spray and make the egg mixture.
Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl, add the milk, and whisk until frothy and well combined.
Add the flour and spice mixture to the egg mixture a little at a time, whisking between additions. Continue whisking until thoroughly combined with no lumps.
Step 4 – Prep the Peppers
Working with one pepper at a time when they’re cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skin. Using a clean dish towel or fork will help to loosen the skin before peeling.
Slice down the middle and use your knife to gently remove the stems and seeds. Repeat with the remaining peppers.
Slice the roasted poblanos into long strips. You should have about 3 cups total, and any extras can be saved in the refrigerator for another use.
If you prefer to skip roasting poblanos altogether, I can offer a little shortcut. You know those canned green roasted chilies? These are often actually poblanos or Anaheim peppers, a green mild type that’s already been prepped for you.
If you opt to make this substitution, I won’t tell if you don’t! Fire-roasted canned tomatoes can also be used in the sauce in place of regular to boost the smoky flavor of the finished dish.
Step 5 – Assemble and Bake the Casserole
Scatter half of the sliced peppers over the bottom of the prepared casserole dish and top with 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese and 1/2 cup cheddar. Repeat with another layer of each.
Pour the egg mixture over the top. Keep in mind that the eggs will puff a bit as they cook, so you don’t want to use a baking dish that’s so small it’s filled to the rim.
Place the casserole in the oven on the middle rack and bake until the eggs are cooked through, for about 45 minutes.
The edges will be golden-brown and puffy with a bit of browning on top as well, and the center of the casserole will be fully set.
Step 6 – Make the Sauce
While the casserole is baking, move on to the sauce. I think this homemade component is the key to the whole dish that really makes this meal something special, whether you’re enjoying it for breakfast during the week or brunch on a leisurely weekend morning at home.
If you’ve already done enough prep for the day and you’re ready to sneak in your first Lazy Sunday nap instead, you could serve this casserole with a citrusy pico de gallo and a dollop of sour cream or Mexican crema.
Then again, if the thought of tasty made-from-scratch pico has piqued your interest, we have a recipe for that too!
Add the oil to a medium saucepot over medium heat and swirl to coat the pan. When the oil is shimmering, add the onions, jalapeno, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon chili powder blend. Stir to coat the veggies in the spices. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, for about 30 seconds. Scraping to release any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, pour in the canned tomatoes and chicken stock, then turn the heat up to medium-high.
Bring the mixture to a boil and continue boiling for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Either using a handheld immersion blender or transferring the mixture to a high-speed blender or food processor, puree until you have a smooth sauce.
Be sure to allow the sauce to cool a bit for safety before blending if you need to, and vent the top of countertop appliances by removing the lid plug or food pusher, placing a towel over the top to prevent splatters. We don’t want any steam burns here!
You can also loosely wrap a clean kitchen towel around the top of the pan when immersion blending to prevent splatters. Never use an immersion blender in a shallow pot, and make sure the blades are fully submerged in the liquid.
Return the sauce to the pan if you used a countertop blender or food processor. Bring the sauce back to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are cooked and the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.
Whisk in the vinegar, and season the sauce to taste with additional salt if necessary. Cover the pot with a lid so it stays warm.
Step 7 – Plate and Serve
Remove the casserole from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. This lets the ingredients set completely and helps to keep the eggs from deflating, which can happen if you slice into it too soon.
Chop the cilantro and green onion tops for the garnishes while you wait.
Spread about 1/2 cup of the sauce on each plate and top with a slice of the casserole. Garnish each serving with cilantro and green onion tops and serve.
Forget the Fork Altogether
I’m not necessarily suggesting that you dive in face first (though I guess you could do that…)
This casserole is best when it’s fresh from the oven, but I’ve also been known to reheat the leftovers with some roasted potatoes and extra cheese, all rolled up in a tortilla with plenty of sauce to make a hearty breakfast burrito.
Craving a little extra texture? Feel free to serve some homemade tortilla chips on the side!
How will you chow down on this delectable casserole? Share your creative serving suggestions in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
Gooey, melty cheese adds richness to everything in my life. If you feel the same way, try these cheesy recipes next:
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Ashley Martell on December 1, 2014. Last updated on October 31, 2022. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu and Nikki Cervone.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”