Chile Relleno Pancakes


This tasted and felt just like a chile relleno, which isn't surprising, as we used the same ingredients. Not only did it taste the same, but I think it's easier to eat, since we don't have to worry about eating around the seedpod and stem. If you love chile rellenos as much as I do, you'll love these pancakes.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
25 mins
Additional Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
55 mins

I love chili rellenos and get requests for them all the time. I've wanted to do a video on them forever, but the classic presentation will just have to wait a little longer, as I skipped right to this much more user-friendly version. It's not just more user-friendly to make, but also to eat. However, don't confuse "more user-friendly" with easier, since they require the same amount of prep. But once the peppers are fire-roasted, the cheese is cut, and the batter made, everything gets much simpler, and way less messy.

Frying a proper chili relleno requires at least an inch of oil in a heavy bottomed pan. While the classic technique can produce beautiful and delicious results, the amount of splattering grease and oily vapors do make one wonder if the five minutes of frying time was really worth it. It was, since they're so damn good. But still, the idea behind the this approach was to get basicallythe same bite of food using just a little bit of oil in a non-stick skillet.

Besides that, once plated, there's something incredibly luxurious about being able to enjoy a chili relleno that's 100% edible, withnoseedpod or stem getting in the way. Also, the next real chili relleno I eat that doesn't have a few seeds mixed into the melting cheese will be the first. Since this was an experiment, I'm going to continue to play around with the method, and welcome any ideas for improving what I thought was a highly successful first attempt. So, for those reasons and more, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

a bowl holding a pancake version of chile relleno on a spiced tomato sauce
Chef John

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  • 4 medium poblano chile peppers

For the Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • ½ cup diced onions

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • salt to taste

  • 2 cups marinara sauce

  • 1 ¼ cups chicken broth, or more as needed

  • 4 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Pancakes:

  • 5 large eggs

  • 6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cubed

  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil, or as needed


  1. Char peppers over an open flame, turning often, until skin is black and they are almost soft. Wrap peppers in a few paper towels and then in a kitchen towel. Let steam in the towel for at least 15 minutes.

  2. While peppers rest, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, and a big pinch of salt; saute until onions turn translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in marinara sauce, 1 1/4 cup chicken broth, chili powder, oregano, pepper, more salt, cayenne, cumin, and cinnamon; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Add more chicken broth for a thinner sauce if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Keep warm until needed.

  3. Remove the charred skin and seedpods from the peppers and rinse out the loose seeds. Slice the pepper into 1/4-inch strips.

  4. Crack 2 whole eggs into one bowl, and then separate 3 more eggs, with the whites going into another bowl, and the yolks going into the first bowl with the whole eggs.

  5. Whisk until the bowl of whole eggs and yolks with a pinch of salt until light and airy. Gradually whisk in flour and set aside. Whisk the whites into soft peaks and use a spatula to fold the whites into the yolk mixture. You don't have to be too gentle, but the batter should end up light and foamy.

  6. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat, and place down a pepper-shaped or round-shaped layer of the batter, about 1/4-thick, using about 1/8 of the batter for each pancake.

  7. Cover the surface with sliced pepper and cheese cubes and spoon and spread another 1/8 of the batter over the top, covering up as much of the peppers and cheese as possible, going all the way to the edges.

  8. Cover and cook until the bottom is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes, before flipping over. Cover and cook the second side until golden brown, or until the batter is cooked though, and the cheese inside has melted, 3 to 4 minutes.

  9. Ladle sauce onto a plate or into a shallow bowl and top with a chile relleno pancake.

    close up view of a Chile Relleno Pancake over red sauce in a bowl
    Chef John

Chef's Notes:

If you don't have gas burners, you can use a blow torch or a gas grill to char the peppers--or you can skip this step and saute the peppers instead.

This is typically made with fresh tomato sauce instead of marinara, but that's what I prefer. You can use either.

You can use a mild white Cheddar instead of Monterey Jack, or a combination of the two.

This recipe makes about 3 cups of sauce, or 4 to 6 portions.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

466 Calories
28g Fat
31g Carbs
23g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 466
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 28g 36%
Saturated Fat 12g 59%
Cholesterol 275mg 92%
Sodium 1226mg 53%
Total Carbohydrate 31g 11%
Dietary Fiber 7g 24%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 23g
Vitamin C 45mg 224%
Calcium 412mg 32%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 742mg 16%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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