This recipe for chiles en nogada is a classic Mexican dish that is made with poblano peppers stuffed with ground beef and pork. The peppers are then deep-fried and covered in a creamy walnut sauce. To top it off, we'll add some pomegranate seeds for a bit of sweetness. Follow this recipe to make chiles en nogada at home!
If you ask me which Mexican dish is my favorite, I will answer without hesitation “Stuffed Poblano Peppers in Walnut Sauce”. This dish is a true symbol of Mexican cuisine!
It is a culinary delight for your taste buds. It isn't just because it's delectable, but also because preparing it is so much fun for me. Everything from choosing the ingredients (which are numerous), coming up with the best version of this recipe, and then actually making it to enjoy with my family.
To show you how to make this authentic recipe for chiles en nogada as well as share its history, I would like to introduce our guest recipe maker: Gabriela Zaputovich used to be a food blogger, and now she is an excellent baker.
Poblano peppers in a walnut sauce (chiles en nogada) is a traditional dish usually served on the Mexican National Independence Holiday. It is typically prepared in México between the months of August and September, the best time to find all of the seasonal ingredients.
This is a popular dish at this time of year for restaurants, taverns, and housewives!
Preparing this Mexican dish could lead to asking many questions about the recipe itself and its historical value. So, I wanted to share some of the research I have collected over the years!
🌎 History Behind Chiles En Nogada
It is said that these stuffed poblano peppers were prepared to honor Puebla’s Iturbide at the end of the War of Independence. More specifically on his birthday, August 28 (Feast of St. Augustine). It was made by the nuns of the Convent of Santa Monica, wanting to use seasonal fruits in a recipe that has the colors of the Mexican Flag:
- Green for the pepper and parsley
- White for the walnut sauce
- Red with the pomegranate seeds
Others say it was made by the ladies of society at the time or the girlfriends of the soldiers. But, the funny thing is that no records are found about the recipe in the cookbooks published during the first part of the nineteenth century.
I always imagined that, somewhere in the City of Puebla’s Museum or in the Ex-Convent of Santa Monica, I would find this recipe like the most guarded gem inside a glass box, a yellowish paper manuscript with a nun’s handwriting for the original recipe for “Chiles en Nogada”... How amazing would that be?
I was later disappointed to learn that there are no historical records of the recipe until many years later!
📜 Fun Facts
Although many families in Puebla claim to be the sole owners of the original recipe for the stuffing and the walnut sauce, there is a lot of information that can make you think that everything is just a culinary legend greeted and embraced with popular enthusiasm.
I started researching the whole week to be certain of the publications that I have actually have a historical background.
Here are some interesting facts I found:
- 1849: “The Cook’s Manual” (El Manual del Cocinero y La Cocinera) was published in the form of booklets in the City of Puebla. The recipe for chiles en nogada does not appear though they have a recipe for a hen in walnut sauce. It’s also on the XVII century kitchen books.
- 1858: The publication of the “Nuevo Cocinero Mexicano” in a dictionary form recorded a recipe for stuffed peppers in a walnut sauce that included pork picadillo, covered with walnut sauce and garnished with pomegranate, and notes that the garnishing was optional.
- 1872: The publication of “ La Cocinera Poblana” was released and so does the book “El Libro de Las Familias”. Each has a recipe for a walnut sauce (one with peppers and one with ham). At this time, the walnut sauce takes an important role.
- Late nineteenth-century XIX: Diario del Hogar (Home Journal) published a recipe for cod stuffed peppers en nogada, where the walnut sauce, is not decorated with pomegranate seeds.
- Early twentieth-century XX: The chiles en nogada recipe, as we know it still not appearing regularly in the small cookbooks known as “recetarios”, is only a recipe for the more common stuffed peppers as we know them today.
- 1930: In this year, the culinary documents begin to register the recipe. Mercedes de la Parra and Professor Ana Maria Hernandez in their respective works recorded the recipe as we know it nowadays.
- 1942: The writer Agustin Aragon Leiva described in his “Diccionario de Recetas de Cocina”, a dish described as a masterpiece of the Mexican cuisine, making it clear that it was created in honor of Agustin de Iturbide: a Mexican Emperor who lasted 11 months in office after the War of Independence.
How this recipe came to be:
It seems that the legend of the “Chiles en Nogada” was the responsibility of two writers, Artemio del Valle Arizpe and Agustin Aragon y Leiva. They both distinguished themselves in the period of the decades from 1930 to 1950 for engaging in historic culinary commentaries.
Since then, the story is found in different sources and states categorically that the “Chiles en Nogada” were made in Puebla for the emperor of México.
Note: Any culinary stories about how a dish was created are important because it tells us a lot about the people that made it. About his cooking, and their worldview.
Do not forget, however, that in terms of practical use, that chiles en nogada had been consumed for many years, a fact that doesn't diminish their quality of an aesthetic element of the Mexican cuisine.
Well, apart from historical discussions, this recipe is unquestionably a Mexican dish. It brings in the national colors and is a dish that should never be missing at the table of the Mexican Independence Celebrations.
🙋♀️ My Version Of Chiles En Nogada
With so many recipes, historical and culinary discussions, this is how I came up with my version of stuffed poblano peppers in a walnut sauce that I make my family every August and September.
I started out by gathering all the material I could (food magazines, newspapers, and books)- anything that could have any information regarding the recipe.
For peppers stuffing, what I did was stick with the main ingredients listed in the majority of the recipes, and created my own recipe trying to be as thorough as possible with the ingredients available today.
For la nogada (the walnut sauce on the peppers), so many recipes exist out there and they all claim to be there. I wanted to choose the one I liked and I honestly think it is a really good one!
Fair warning - You will need to start a few days before to peel the walnuts because that takes time. As soon I finish peeling them, I place them in a container with milk and place them in the refrigerator.
It is really important that you use fresh walnuts because it is easier to peel them!
Before I share my recipe, here are a few questions I've been asked about homemade chiles en nogada.
Can I use cracked walnuts for the walnut sauce?
You can use the packed kind but I would highly recommend using fresh walnuts. They have a nuttier flavor and it's easier to peel them.
What can I use if I don't have pomegranate seeds?
If you don't have pomegranate seeds, you could substitute them with diced apples or dried cranberries.
What other nut can I use instead of walnuts?
You can use pecans in place of walnuts if you are unable to find them or just don't like them. If you do, you'll only need 2 cups!
Make sure to rinse them 3 times in warm water to blanch them.
Is this dish served cold?
No, chiles en nogada are usually served at room temperature or a little bit warm.
Here is a list of ingredients you'll need to make every part of this dish...
- Ground pork and ground beef
- Garlic cloves
- Cinnamon stick
- Nuts (blanched almonds, pine nuts)
- Fruits (apples, peaches, pears)
- Veggies (white onions, tomatoes, plantains)
- Poblano peppers
For walnut sauce (nogada):
- Walnut halves
- Goat cheese
- Ground cinnamon
- Sweet sherry
- Pomegranate seeds
- Parsley sprigs
Please note: For exact measurements of the ingredients listed above, scroll down to the recipe card located at the bottom of this post!
To make things easier for you, I am going to break down the directions to make chiles en nogada into sections.
Note: A few days before you make this recipe, make sure to take the time to peel the walnuts. Then, place them in a container with milk and put it in the refrigerator.
- With a mortar or pestle, grind the cinnamons stick, garlic, and cloves. Once this has formed a paste, add water. Pass through a sieve and put to the side.
- Heat a large frying pan with oil over medium and cook onion and chopped garlic.
- Next, add in the ground pork and beef pork and cook thoroughly.
- Add the chopped tomato, raisins, almonds, and pine nuts.
- Keep simmering for about 20 minutes until the juices had reduced stirring occasionally. Add salt to taste.
- Stir in the apples, pears, peaches, and plantains to the frying pan and mix everything very well.
- Cook just for 2-3 more minutes.
- Remove the browned meat from the heat since we want the fruit to keep its shape. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it cool.
Note: Do not cover with a pot lid.
Roast poblano peppers
While the filling cools, prepare the poblano peppers.
- To remove the skin, roast each pepper over an open flame.
- Then, place them in a damp cloth and cover (This way they retain more flavor than placing them in a plastic bag).
- Once it has cooled down enough to handle, peel the skin off of the peppers with your fingers.
- After peeling the peppers, make a slit cut lengthwise in each one. Remove seed and veins.
- Soak them in water with vinegar and salt. (This gives a great flavor to the peppers).
- After 15 minutes, dry them with paper towels.
Stuff poblano peppers
- Once the peppers are ready, we start to stuff them with the pork and beef filling using a spoon.
Tip: Be careful not to overstuff the poblano chiles or the filling could get out of the pepper while frying it.
Make batter and prep peppers
- Beat the egg whites to form stiff peaks and then stir in the yolks one at a time and keep beating until you have a nice fluffy batter.
- Add salt.
- Spread the flour on a large plate and coat the peppers lightly, one by one. Make sure they do not open while doing this step.
- Once the peppers are covered with the flour, dip into the beaten eggs making sure it's well coated.
Fry them up
- Heat up about ⅔ inches of oil in a large frying pan.
- Carefully place each poblano pepper in the hot oil and do not overcrowd the skillet.
- Fry each side until it gets a deep golden color.
Note: It takes practice to master this step! I use a spoon spatula turning in a way that one of the sides faces the frying pan wall. Then, turn back again to cook the other side of the pepper. (It looks like a triangular shape).
- Once the poblano chiles are fried, place them on paper towels. I change the paper several times to absorb as much oil as possible.
Make nogada sauce
- Remove the prepped walnuts from the refrigerator and place them in your blender along with the goat cheese, sugar, milk, pinch of cinnamon, and sweet sherry.
- Puree until you have a smooth creamy sauce.
Serve and enjoy!
- Place the peppers in a serving dish and cover with the walnut sauce, garnish with the pomegranate seeds and sprigs of parsley.
Note: This dish can be served cold or at room temperature.
📚 More Authentic Mexican Recipes
If you enjoyed this recipe for chiles en nogada, take a look at some of these other authentic Mexican recipes:
- Chiles Toreados
- Roasted Poblano Peppers and Cheese Tacos
- Chicken With Creamy Poblano Sauce
- How To Make Mole Poblano
- Roasted Poblano Pepper Cream
I hope you make this chiles en nogada! If this recipe was of any help to you, come back to let me know your experience. Please leave us a comment done below and tell us all about it!
By Guest Author: Gabriela Zaputovich
She used to own the blog “Gabriela, Clavo y Canela”, someone that was born in Paraguay but married to a Mexican. As she says, half of her heart belongs to México where she has lived for more than 11 years and where her children were born.
Her thirst to learn the cuisine of her new country took her to conduct intensive research, which, as the logical consequence, led her to understand the heart and soul of the Mexican cuisine and love the delicacies that have been a treasure in México for centuries.
This post is just an example of her avid love for our cuisine!
Mexican Chiles En Nogada (Stuffed Peppers In Walnut Sauce)
Ingredients for the Stuffing-Filling
- 1 Lb. Ground pork
- 1 lb. Ground beef
- ½ of a medium white onion finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove
- 5 cloves
- ½ stick of cinnamon about 1.5 inch
- ¾ cup pine nuts
- ¾ cup raisins
- ¾ cup chopped blanched almonds
- 1 Plantain peeled and chopped.
- 2 medium size apples peeled and diced (place in water with lemon juice to avoid oxidation, drain before using)
- 2 peaches chopped About 1 cup
- 2 medium-size pears peeled and diced (place in water with lemon)
- 2 large tomatoes peeled, seeded and finely chopped
- ⅓ cup oil
- Salt to taste
- 16 to 18 Poblano peppers
- 12 eggs separated
- About 1 cup of All Purpose Flour
- Oil for frying
WALNUT SAUCE INGREDIENTS:
- 3 ½ cups 14 oz. Walnut halves (You can also use pecans in case you can’t find walnuts. If using pecans you will only need 2 cups, rinse 3 times in warm water to blanch them)
- 7 oz. goat cheese
- 1 pinch of ground cinnamon to taste
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ cup of sweet sherry
- Seeds of 2 pomegranates and springs of parsley to garnish
- Place the onion, pork and beef in a large frying pan with the oil and cook thoroughly
- I a mortar or pestle grind the cinnamons stick, garlic, and cloves. Once this has formed a paste add water. Pass through a sieve and add to the already cooked meat. (Your kitchen will start flooding with wonderful aromas)
- Add the chopped tomato, raisins, almonds and pine nuts. Keep simmering for about 20 minutes until the juices had reduced stirring occasionally. Add salt to taste.
- Stir in the apples, pears, peaches and plantain to the frying pan and mix everything very well. And cook just for 2-3 more minutes. Remove promptly from heat since we want the fruit to keep its shape. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it cool. Do not cover with a pot lid.
This is how the stuffing looks:
- Now, while the filling cools, prepare the poblano peppers. To remove the skin first we roast them over a high heat flame. Then place them in a damp cloth ( This way they retain more flavor that placing then in a plastic bag).
- After peeling the peppers, make a slit cut lengthwise in each one, remove seed and veins. Soak them in water with vinegar and salt. (This gives a great flavor to the peppers) After 15 min. dried them with paper towels.
- Once the peppers are ready, we start to stuff them with the filling using a spoon being careful not to overstuff or the filling could get out of the pepper while frying it.
- Heat about ⅔ inch of oil in a large frying pan.
- Beat the egg white to form stiff peaks and then stir in the yolks, one at a time and keep beating until you have a nice fluffy batter and add salt.
- Spread the flour on a large plate and coat the peppers lightly, one by one. Making sure they do not open while doing this step.
- Once the peppers are covered with the flour, dip into the beaten eggs making sure it is well coated.
- Carefully place the peppers in the hot oil, do not overcrowd the skillet. Fry each side until it gets a deep golden color.
- It takes practice to master this step, I use a spoon spatula turning in a way that one of the sides faces the frying pan wall. Then turn back again to cook the other side of the pepper. (It looks like a triangular shape)
- Once fried place on absorbent paper or paper towels. I change the paper several times to absorb as much oil as possible.
- Remove the walnuts from the refrigerator, place in your blender along with the goat cheese, sugar, milk, pinch of cinnamon and sweet sherry. Puree until you have a smooth creamy sauce.
- Place the peppers in a serving dish and cover with the walnut sauce, garnish with the pomegranate seeds and sprigs of parsley. This dish can be served cold or at room temperature.
- I hope you prepare it and come back to tell me how it came out……