The poblano is a mild pepper that's perfect for Southwestern cuisine. They're a key ingredient in some amazing Mexican dishes such as chiles rellenos and mole sauces, but they also make a great replacement for bell peppers if you're looking for something with a bit more flavor -- the poblano's taste has been described as being quite rich and earthy. Here's everything you need to know about this chile and why you need to add it to your grocery list ASAP.

Are Poblano Peppers Hot?

multiple poblano peppers stacked on top of each other in a large pile

Fans of milder peppers will love the poblano pepper since the spiciest poblanos are only 1,500 Scoville heat units (SHU). To put that into perspective, the hottest pepper in the world -- the Carolina Reaper -- comes in at 2,200,000 SHU.

That being said, it's important to keep in mind that 1,500 SHU is still high enough to give off noticeable heat. When you compare the poblano to similarly thick peppers, like green peppers, the poblano packs a punch. In the wider pepper world, it's nothing to be worried about -- PepperScale.com calls it two to eight times milder than a jalapeño.

What Can I Do With Poblano Peppers?

Like most peppers, poblanos are incredibly versatile. They're great additions to meat dishes, they can bring some fresh flavor to a salad, and they can even be a tasty snack on their own. Here are our favorite uses of our pepper pal, the poblano.

cooked stuffed peppers and tomatoes in a bowl of juices

Stuff Them

Bell peppers are typically used for this dish, which involves stuffing a hollowed-out pepper with a mix of rice, meat, and cheese (and occasionally other veggies if you want to feel real healthy). Poblano peppers are on the thicker side, meaning they're close to the bell pepper in terms of crunch and "meat." It's this thickness that makes them excellent candidates for stuffed peppers. All you need to do is follow this recipe and replace the bell peppers with poblanos and bam, you've got an upgraded version of standard stuffed peppers that'll blow those bell pepper basics away.

Roast Them

Speaking of upgrading flavors, roasting is a great way to amp up that rich flavor of poblanos. There are a few ways to roast peppers, all of which follow the same pattern -- roast, steam, and peel.

Most pepper enthusiasts claim that roasting over an open flame produces the best char and flavor. To do this, you'll need a gas stove set to high (or, if you have one, you can toss them on a grill with a decent flame). Simply place the pepper over the flames, turning it every minute or so with tongs to make sure the pepper is roasted evenly. Once most of the pepper is blackened with roasted goodness, seal it in a plastic bag or wrap it in plastic wrap or foil to let it steam for 10 or so minutes.

roasted pepper that is charred resting on a wood table

After it cools off, you'll need to scrape off the blackened bits and remove the stem and seeds. Our favorite way to do this is by donning a pair of disposable kitchen gloves and doing it by hand, although you're welcome to use a knife or fork instead.

If you don't have a gas oven or grill, you can also put the peppers on a baking sheet and throw them under a broiler set to high for a few minutes, turning them consistently to make sure the peppers get an even char. After that, all you need to do is steam and clean them, and you've got the same great flavors as if you'd roasted them over a wild flame.

Dry Them

Much like how a dried jalapeño is called a chipotle pepper, a dried poblano becomes an ancho chile. If you ever accidentally buy a few too many peppers, this is a great way to preserve them while gaining access to host of new flavors. Check out our guide on how to dry peppers at home without any special equipment.

Other Poblano Pepper Recipes

Chiles Rellenos

This is technically a variation on stuffed peppers with a twist. Chiles rellenos are often battered and deep-fried, which makes them taste even better. The recipe does call for a good number of ingredients, but who could refuse a fried roasted pepper stuffed with all kinds of cheeses and spices?

There are several vegan variations available, so anyone can experience the wonder of this Mexican classic.

Chiles Rellenos on a plate next to rice

Chiles En Nogada

These are basically an expanded and more authentic version of stuffed peppers. This recipe is a tad more on the gourmet side, so you'll need a lot of ingredients for the sauce, stuffing, and garnish. But once you finish it, you'll be left with poblano peppers stuffed with fruit, pine nuts, and tomatoes. A creamy walnut sauce tops everything off beautifully for this impressive dish.

Rajas

Also known as creamy poblano pepper strips, this dish takes about 25 minutes to make and yields four to six servings. You won't need many ingredients, and the recipe is a bit simpler to make. You'll essentially be mixing the peppers with onion, cheese, corn, and a few other ingredients.

Calabacitas Con Elote

This recipe is a delicious side dish (or main dish) you can whip up in a pinch. It's also a very versatile dish -- you can easily add diced pork or strips of roasted poblano peppers. Just combine the peppers with corn, zucchini, garlic, tomato, and a few spices of your choice. The chef recommends serving with rice.

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