Green chiles are a common ingredient in Mexican food. They grow well in hot climates and they can be harvested throughout the summer, but they reach their peak in late summer and are best when harvested then.
Green chiles come in thousands of varieties, and even some of the same types go by different names. This can be very confusing if you're looking for a specific type of green chile, so here are some of the more popular green chiles and some of the names they go by.
Recipes using Green Chiles
Types of Red Chiles
Anaheim and California Green Chiles (mild)
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These long, bright-green chiles were brought from New Mexico in the early 1900's and were bred to be more mild to suit the taste of Californians at the time. They were originally brought to Anaheim, a city in California, and they go by either name. These are one of the few chiles that retain their names when ripened and dried into red chiles. Thus if a recipe calls for Anaheim or California chiles, you should make sure you're getting the right ones for the recipe, fresh and green or red and dried. Keep in mind that while these green chiles are some of the mildest around, they can still vary in their heat level. This is a great chile for making Chile Verde
Poblano Green Chiles
From Puebla, Mexico, this type of green chile is a beautiful dark green hue and is much wider than the Anaheim chile. They are usually slightly hotter than the Anaheim as well, but sometimes they can be very mild. The poblano chile is dried when green and then it is called an ancho chile. This chile is great for making Chile Rellenos
and Chiles en Nogada
. Sometimes the Poblano is mistakenly referred to as a Pasilla chile.
New Mexico and Hatch Green Chiles
New Mexico Green Chiles
These long green chiles are virtually identical to California and Anaheim chiles, with one distinct difference. They are much, much hotter. Hatch chiles are New Mexico chiles that are grown in the small town of Hatch, New Mexico and are considered premium green chiles. every year there is a Hatch Chile Festival on Labor Day where up to 30,000 people come to the little town to buy and eat these delicious chiles. Hatch and New Mexico chiles can be used for the same dishes as California and Anaheim chiles but they are significantly hotter.
Chilaca and Pasilla Green Chiles
Chilaca Green Chiles
The chilaca green chile is long and narrow like the New Mexico chile, but it is a darker green in color like the poblano chile. When the chilaca is dried, it is known as a pasilla chile. Another version is "Pasilla de Oaxaca" which is a smoked pasilla chile.
Serrano and Jalapeño chiles
Serrano Green Chile
While these little chiles are green, they are very hot and more often used in salsas and as a flavoring, not as the main component of a dish. They can be roasted, but they can also be chopped up in their fresh state (discarding the seeds) and used as a topping or seasoning to add heat and flavor.