One bite into the chile relleno at Nick’s in San Clemente and we wanted to move in next door. We’d had dozens of fried chile rellenos before, but this baked version stole our hearts. A plant-based version of this show-stopping dish had to make it on the blog!
Equally satisfying, our inspired, 10-ingredient version is HERE (cue cartwheels): a creamy white bean vegetable filling nestled into smoky poblano peppers smothered in red enchilada sauce and a garlicky cashew cream. You know you want it. Let’s make dinner!
What is Chile Relleno?
Chile relleno translates from Spanish to “stuffed chile.” Many variations of the dish exist, but they’re often stuffed with cheese or seasoned meat, then battered and fried.
Poblano peppers are the most commonly used peppers in chile relleno, and both the dish and the peppers are believed to have originated in Puebla, Mexico. Other peppers such as New Mexico, pasilla, or even jalapeño chiles are also popular.
The following is our inspired version that’s vegan and baked instead of fried!
How to Make Vegan Chile Relleno
This vegan chile relleno starts with broiling poblano peppers until blistered and tender.
Then it’s on to the white bean vegetable filling. Sautéed onion and garlic are the sweet, aromatic base, while white beans provide fiber and protein and corn adds additional sweetness.
Red enchilada sauce is the primary source of flavor for the filling and it also adds a little liquid to further soften the poblanos. Smoked paprika and cayenne are optional to further kick up the smoky + spicy notes. The remaining filling ingredient is baby spinach to add brightness and boost your greens intake with ease!
The final component is a quick cashew cream sauce (cashews, water, garlic, and salt) to mimic the cheesy texture and creaminess of the classic dish. We add some to the filling, some on top, and some after baking. Cheesiness all around!
We hope you LOVE this vegan chile relleno! It’s:
& SO flavorful!
Pair with your choice of rice (white, brown, or Spanish- or Mexican-style) or baked sweet potatoes and dinner is served! Craving an appetizer while the chile relleno is baking? Grab some chips and make our Easy Red Salsa, Go-To Guacamole, or Vegan Green Chili Queso.
More Poblano Pepper Recipes
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
Vegan White Bean Chile Relleno (Baked!)
PEPPERS & FILLING
- 3 medium poblano peppers
- 1 Tbsp olive oil (plus more for coating peppers)
- 1/2 large yellow onion, diced (1 onion yields ~141 g or 1 ¼ cup chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (optional but recommended if your enchilada sauce is not very flavorful)
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 (15 oz.) can white beans, drained and rinsed (we like cannellini // or ~1 ½ cups homemade)
- 1 cup frozen white corn
- 1 cup red enchilada sauce (DIVIDED // we like Siete or homemade)
- 1 cup packed baby spinach (or bunched spinach, chopped)
CASHEW CREAM SAUCE
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 3/4 cup water (for blending)
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- SOAK CASHEWS: Add cashews to a heatproof bowl and cover with hot water by at least 1-2 inches. Let them soak while you get started on the peppers.
- PEPPERS: Preheat your oven to high broil and place a rack at the top of your oven, leaving just enough room for your baking sheet to fit.
- Trim any stems from your poblano peppers and lightly brush with oil. Place them on a baking sheet. Broil on high for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until lightly blistered and slightly soft (see photo). Remove from the oven and cover with parchment paper or a plate to help the skin soften. Turn the oven off broil and preheat to 400 degrees F (204 C).
- FILLING: Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the olive oil, chopped onion, and minced garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, until the onion starts to look translucent. Add the 1/2 tsp sea salt (adjust if altering batch size), optional smoked paprika, and optional cayenne pepper. Stir and cook for another minute. Add the beans, corn, 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce (adjust if altering batch size), and baby spinach. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- CASHEW CREAM SAUCE: To a high-speed blender, add your soaked cashews, water, garlic, and 1/4 tsp sea salt (adjust if altering batch size). Blend on high until smooth and creamy.
- Add about 1/3 cup (adjust if altering batch size) of the cashew cream to the filling. Stir to distribute evenly.
- Once peppers are cool enough to handle, gently peel off the skin — you do not have to remove it all, just any pieces that come off easily. Use a paring knife to cut a lengthwise slit in the peppers and remove the seeds and stems.
- Add 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce (adjust amount if altering batch size) to the bottom of an 8 x 8-inch baking dish. Place the stemmed peppers on top of the enchilada sauce. Divide the filling evenly between the peppers and fold the sides of the peppers over the filling. Pour 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce (adjust if altering batch size) over the peppers and top with a generous drizzle of the cashew cream. You can reserve any extra cream sauce for serving! Bake for 20-25 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the chiles are soft.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container refrigerated for up to 5 days. Reheat in the oven or microwave.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with homemade enchilada sauce and without optional ingredients.