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Chiles en Nogada are stuffed poblano peppers with flavorful meat picadillo filling. Creamy walnut sauce, pomegranate and cilantro garnish the top. Make this recipe for an impressive Mexican meal!
This stuffed chiles dish is perfect for serving on special occasions because it’s one of the regional Mexican dishes that is served on Mexico’s Independence Day, on the 16th of September.
The word Nogada comes from the Spanish word Nogal, which means walnut tree. So, literally, Chiles en Nogada translates in English to chiles with walnuts.
The dish is very sophisticated, with layer upon layer of spicy, sweet, and sour flavors. The contrasting textures of the filling are also intriguing; tender meat, fresh and dried fruits, and crunchy pepitas.
On top of the stuffed peppers are a creamy nogal sauce (walnut sauce), cilantro, and crunchy pomegranate arils..
Did you know?
The toppings on chili en nogadas, white walnut sauce, red pomegranate arils, and green cilantro, represent the colors of the Mexican flag.
- Meat– In authentic versions of the dish, the filling includes seasoned ground beef or pork. I prefer a lighter protein, which is why I use chicken breast meat. Ground chicken will work fine if that’s what you prefer.
- Poblano chiles– Poblanos are the perfect size to hold the filling for the dish. Choose poblanos that are firm, with shiny, smooth skin. Skip any with black spots or bruises, and also avoid any with wrinkled skin (a sign that they are over ripe).
- Filling– Sweet fruits and aromatic vegetables are combined with the meat for the filling. Although the ingredients can vary based on taste preferences, most chile nogada recipes include some type of dried fruit, plus fresh apples and pears. My choice for the dried fruits is apricots and cranberries.
Note: I have made this without the apple and pear and it is just as good, but the added flavors and textures are great.
- Nogada Sauce– The walnut sauce that binds the dish together is made with walnuts, white wine and cream, which slowly reduces and coats the chicken mixture beautifully.
Plenty of Poblano
To see the process of making chiles en nogada from start to finish, watch the video in the recipe card at the bottom of this posts.
- ROAST THE POBLANOS
This can be done on your grill, under an oven broiler, or over an open flame on the stove top. Char the outside of the peppers completely.
Allow them to cool, which helps release the skin, making it easier to scrape off. I like to drop the roasted and charred peppers in a brown paper bag and close it tight.
Let them steam and cool down, it makes it easier to remove the charred outer skin. Make a small incision down one side and open partially. Remove any membrane threads and seeds. Set aside.
- MAKE THE FILLING
Add the vegetable oil to a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cumin and cook for about 5 minutes. Add half of the diced onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the diced apples, apricots, cranberries, pears and garlic and cook for 3 minutes.
Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the white wine and simmer until the chicken is tender and sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with sugar, salt and pepper, and then remove from the heat. Set aside to cool slightly.
- STUFF THE POBLANOS
Divide the chicken filling evenly between the roasted peppers. Be careful not to overfill them or you’ll have trouble closing them.
Now, gently pull the sides of the pepper up and over the top of the filling. You don’t need to completely encase the filling, but you do want the sides to prevent the filling from falling out.
- MAKE THE NOGADA SAUCE
Place the walnuts in the food processor and pulse until crumbled. Chop the cilantro and get the pomegranate arils all ready for garnishing. In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, cook the other half of the diced onion in the oil until translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add the minced garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it is almost completely evaporated, about 15 minutes. Add the heavy cream and simmer until reduced by half, about 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the chopped walnuts and season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Pour the walnut cream sauce on top of each stuffed poblano pepper and sprinkle with the cilantro and pomegranate arils.
It’s a fitting tribute to the Mexican flag indeed!
Although the ingredient list is a bit long and it does take some time to make the dish, Chiles en Nogada is a true masterpiece of a meal. One amazing labor of love!
The great news is, the dish can be made ahead of time, and you can freeze it as well!
Make ahead instructions for Chiles en Nogada
Stuffed peppers freeze beautifully, and there is a lot of prep work that can be done ahead of time. So, take advantage of the adaptability and make the dish ahead.
- Roast and clean the chiles.
- Make the chicken filling,
- Stuff the chiles. After adding the filling, cover and seal the pan well and either refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Before serving, thaw them out and reheat in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes while you make the cream sauce to spoon over the top.
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Chiles en Nogada + Video
- 4 poblano peppers , roasted and peeled
- 1 lb chicken breasts skinless, boneless , diced
- 1 medium onion , diced (separated)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp each salt and ground black pepper
- 1/2 Granny Smith apple , peeled and diced
- 1/2 pear , diced
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup dried apricots , chopped
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 tbsp roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup dry white wine
- pinch of sugar
- Fresh cilantro leaves , for garnish
- Pomegranate arils , for garnish
- Start your grill, broiler, or over an open flame on the stove top, char the outside of the peppers completely. Allow to cool and scrape off the outer skin off. Make a small incision down one side and open partially. Remove any membrane threads and seeds. Set aside.
Meat and Fruit Filling
- Add the vegetable oil to a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add half of the diced onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, cumin, kosher salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes more.
- Add the diced apples, apricots, cranberries, pears, garlic, pumpkin seeds and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the white wine and simmer until the chicken is tender and sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with sugar, salt and pepper to taste, and then remove from the heat. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Stuff each poblano pepper with a quarter of the chicken mixture and set aside. Gently wrap the sides together so pepper encases filling.
- In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook the other half of the diced onion in the oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it is almost completely evaporated, about 10 minutes. Add the heavy cream and simmer until reduced by half, about 10-15 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Stir in the chopped walnuts and season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Pour the walnut cream sauce on top of each stuffed poblano pepper and sprinkle with the cilantro and pomegranate arils.
- Recipe adapted from Barrio Cafe.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.