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Whether it’s a cozy football Sunday, a relaxing weeknight dinner, or a house party with pals — I’m always on the lookout for comforting, crowd-pleasing dishes aside from the usual wings and dips. Rajas con crema is an indulgent hit and functions great as a dip, side, or even main meal!
Rajas con crema is a beloved Mexican dish featuring zingy poblano peppers and a rich cream sauce. I first had this served to me when in Urique, Chihuahua, Mexico when visiting the Copper Canyon. When I asked the chef, he gladly gave me the recipe and this is my version. It’s super simple to make, incredibly versatile, and all-around delicious.
It’s a great substitute for tapas party classics like Beef Queso Dip or Spinach and Artichoke Dip, or it can even be served as a main entrée with zesty, bold flavors similar to a Beef Enchilada Casserole.
Whether you serve it as a robust party starter or as a sumptuous Mexican-inspired dinner, this recipe will cost very little and take hardly any time to toss together. Watch the video below and see how to make these!
What is Rajas con Crema?
Rajas in English means “slices or strips”, and con crema means “in cream”. Because the side dish is almost always made with poblano peppers, it also goes by the name rajas poblanas.
After roasting poblano peppers, we cut them into slices and stir them into a creamy white cheese sauce. The sauce is rich and seriously delicious, made with Mexican crema, onions, corn, garlic, and plenty of cheese!
- Poblano Chiles – In this recipe, you’ll roast and slice fresh poblano peppers into rajas, or “strips,” similar to how classic pepper and onion dishes are served in America. Poblanos are milder chiles, and once mixed with cream and cheese, they aren’t very spicy at all — though they offer plenty of robust flavor! Use jalapeños if you’d like something spicier.
- Cream Cheese – Melted down, this is the base for a thick, rich cream sauce.
- Mexican Crema – This classic dip is a creamy, tangy concoction similar to sour cream. You can substitute with sour cream, which is a bit thinner, or crème fraîche, which is a bit thicker.
- Oaxaca Cheese – Also known as “quesillo,” this creamy cheese melts easily, making it ideal for this recipe. This cheese has a similar texture and taste to stringy mozzarella, so you can use mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or Chihuahua cheese as substitutes. Be sure to shred the cheese well so that it melts evenly throughout the dish.
- Corn – This adds an extra layer of flavor and texture to the dish, balancing the zesty peppers with bites of sweetness. It also makes the whole dish reminiscent of tangy, creamy Mexican street corn. Feel free to leave it out if you prefer.
- Onion – When cooked, onions naturally boast a robust, sweet flavor that pairs perfectly with peppers. Substitute with onion powder or bell peppers for a similar effect.
- Cumin – This adds a warm, earthy, and slightly citrusy note to the dish. Substitute with coriander, caraway, or paprika.
- 1. Roast your poblanos. Use a gas stovetop, broiler, or grill to roast and char the chiles over a flame. Get them nice and smoky, turning occasionally until they are blistered.
- 2. Let them steam. Once the poblanos are nicely charred, let them steam either in a bowl covered with a cloth or in a brown paper bag — about 5 to 10 minutes. Then, peel the skin and slice the chiles into 1-inch strips.
- 3. Get your ingredients simmering. After melting butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add onions and cook them until they’re soft. Add in your poblanos, garlic, corn, and seasonings. Let everything cook together for a few minutes, stirring often to combine nicely.
- 4. Make it cheesy. Add your shredded cheese, cover your pan, and turn off the heat. Let the dish sit covered until the cheese is perfectly gooey and melted.
- 5. Serve. Serve this cheesy dish while it’s hot with tortillas or tortilla chips. Or, add cooked, shredded chicken or beef to serve this as a hearty entrée.
Options for Roasting Chilis for Rajas con Crema
- With your grill preheated to about 450°F, place the poblanos directly on to the grill grates.
- Use tongs to flip each pepper occasionally, until the skin blackens and bubbles. This takes 2-3 minutes on each side.
Gas Stove Top Burner
- Place one or two poblano peppers directly over the open gas flame set to medium heat.
- Use tongs to turn each pepper occasionally, until the skin blackens and is bubbly all over.
Oven Broiler (Or Toaster Oven Broiler)
- Position an oven rack 6 inches below the broiler, then preheat the oven (or toaster oven) broiler to 500°F.
- Place whole, uncut peppers on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Broil, turning occasionally, for 10 minutes, until all sides are black.
There is also the option of roasting poblano peppers on a sheet pan in a 450° oven, but it does take a bit longer. Depending on the size of them and how many you are roasting, it can take as long as 40 minutes.
To shorten the roasting time, you could cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds, then roast them cut side down on the pan.
Roasting Poblano Peppers in an Air Fryer
- Lightly spray peppers with oil and place them into the air fryer basket.
- Use the highest setting on your air fryer and set the cook time to 6 minutes. After the first 6 minutes, use tongs to turn the peppers over and set time for another 6 minutes.
- Continue cooking and turning them until the peppers are black and bubbly all over.
Want other ideas for using poblanos?
FAQ and Recipe Notes
Most often, rajas poblanas iis served as a Mexican side dish, but stir in some cooked shredded chicken or beef and it makes it a delicious main course!
There are several peppers with less spicy heat than a jalapeno, including Mirasol, dried Guajillo, poblano, dried ancho, banana, and Anaheim.
Think of this dish as a rich, Mexican version of Italian peppers and onions. You can add cooked meat like shredded chicken or pork to make it a meal of its own, or you can serve it as a perfect taco night side dish. Slather it inside a tortilla with rice or scoop it with tortilla chips.
In this recipe, the strips of poblano peppers are mildly spicy. They aren’t as hot as jalapeños or serrano peppers, but they are a bit spicier than banana peppers or bell peppers.
Though the two taste very similar, Mexican crema is slightly thinner in consistency than sour cream. It also has a higher fat content and a slightly more subtle sour taste, making it the perfect creamy condiment to melt for this peppers con crema recipe.
While the combo of spice and cheese might be a little rough on some stomachs, it’s a classic and delicious combo. The dairy components of cheese help soothe the palate and break down the compounds in spicy foods, balancing out the heat and making for an enjoyable dish overall.
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If you have any leftovers, store them in a covered container in the fridge and use them up within 3 to 4 days. Unfortunately, cream sauces and cheese sauces don’t freeze well.
To reheat the rajas con crema, place the contents in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally until it’s warmed through. Avoid using high heat, as the consistency of the sauce will become grainy. For the same reason, avoid reheating the leftovers in a microwave.
Rajas con Crema (Roasted Poblanos in Cream)
Roasting Poblano Chiles
- Either roast and char the chiles over an open gas flame (stovetop), under a broiler, or on a BBQ grill.
- Roast the poblanos on stove top flame, turning them over occasionally, until skins are charred and blistered, about 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can place them on a baking sheet under an oven broiler until the skins blacken and blister. Or, place them on a hot barbecue grill and cook until the skins blacken and blister.
- Transfer the poblanos into a bowl and cover with a kitchen towel, or seal in a brown paper bag to steam for 5-10 minutes. Peel the charred skin from the roasted poblano peppers and slice them into 1 inch strips.
- Melt butter in a saucepan or skillet and saute onions over medium high heat until softened. Add garlic, roasted poblano slices, corn, salt, pepper and cumin. Cook for 2 minutes stirring often.
- Lower heat to medium, add the cream cheese and Mexican crema. Mix well and cook for about 5 minutes or until the cream starts to bubble.
- Add shredded cheese, cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let it sit covered until the cheese melts. Serve immediately with warm tortillas, tortilla chips or as a side dish (See Note 2).
- Good substitutes for Oaxaca are Monterey Jack, Chihuahua or Mozzarella.
- To serve as a main dish, add cooked and shredded chicken or beef.
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.