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How to Cook Hatch Chiles: Roasted vs. Steamed


How to Cook Hatch Chiles: Roasted vs. Steamed

How to Cook Hatch Chiles: Roasted vs. Steamed

Whether you’ve finally decided to test your mettle at an upcoming tamale festival or are simply trying to make your own food gifts, knowing how to prepare Hatch chiles is essential. As the old adage goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. You can learn to roast Hatch chiles or simply steam them. Here’s how to do both.

How to Steam Hatch Chiles

Steaming is the fastest way to prepare Hatch chiles for whatever delicious meal you have in mind. It’s a simple process, and many people make a habit of steaming Hatch green chiles instead of roasting them. Although it’s quick and makes the skins super easy to remove, there are some disadvantages to going this route, which we’ll talk about later.

To steam your Hatch chiles, you’ll need to start by bringing about an inch of water to a boil on the stove. You’ll be placing a vegetable steamer or colander into the pot, so make sure the water isn’t too high.

When the water is boiling, place the colander in the pot and add the Hatch chiles. Many people opt to poke holes into the chiles for more even cooking, but this could remove more of the flavor. You’ll now cover everything with aluminum foil.

Once everything is airtight, reduce the heat to medium low and wait between three and five minutes. After removing the chiles and peeling off the skin, you’re done! You can cook a lot of chiles this way in a short time, since you’re able to start steaming new chiles just as soon as one batch is finished.

How to Roast Hatch Chiles

Roasting Hatch chiles is a process that’s not going to be as simple as tossing them into a colander, but when you’re learning how to make tamales, there’s not a chef out there who would recommend steaming over roasting. We’ll go more into that later, but for now, here’s how to roast Hatch chiles.

Your best shot at roasting the perfect red or green Hatch chiles is to use an open flame. This likely brings up visions of camping with chiles perched over the fire, but a grill will work in this situation. Even a broiler can be used to achieve the desired effect.

Once you’ve got your heat source nailed down, you can roast Hatch chiles by merely turning them over frequently on whatever source of heat you’re using. The skins will slowly blacken, and dependent on the temperature of your heat source, you should be done in about 10 minutes.

Once all the skin is charred, you can peel it off and remove the stems and seeds. Voila! You’ve officially roasted your first batch of Hatch chiles.

General Tips on Hatch Chiles

Once you learn a bit about the pros and cons of steaming vs. roasting Hatch chiles, you’ll no doubt start using one method exclusively. Regardless of the chosen method, though, there are a few general tips that can make your Hatch chile adventure more productive.

  • Don’t hold back: Don’t avoid preparing Hatch chiles simply because you think you have too many. Freezing chiles is a widely-used method for preserving them long after they’ve been cooked.
  • Give out food gifts: Would your freezer be overloaded for two months if you froze your Hatch chiles? Come up with some creative food gift ideas and surprise your friends and family.
  • Don’t restrict yourself: If you’ve ever tried a Tucson Tamale, you may have decided that tamales are the only way to enjoy Hatch chiles. Don’t put yourself in a box! Chile rellenos, Chilean humitas, Charquican stew and Korean steamed chiles are all great options!
  • Don’t forget the seasons: Hatch green chiles are delectable in their own right, but don’t forget that you have more options. Around November, you’ll have red Hatch chiles on your hands. Wait a few months from your first batch and see what all the fuss is about!

These general tips will take you far in the Hatch chile game. If your first batch doesn’t come out perfect, don’t get too worried. You can still enjoy them in Tucson Tamales at home or give them as food gifts. You’ll get it right next time!

Should I Roast or Steam Hatch Chiles?

Whether making vegan tamales for yourself or creating unique edible gifts for a loved one, roasting is the best way to go. The process is no doubt more drawn out than steaming, but roasting the chiles brings out the full flavor.

While the skin removal process is more difficult after roasting, the final taste outcome is well worth the effort. At Tucson Tamale Company we pride ourselves on using only 100% fire-roasted Hatch green chile to ensure the full authentic flavor in every tamale.

If you’re reading about the easiest ways to roast Hatch chiles online, you’ll come across suggestions to use a steaming method after you’ve begun roasting. This makes the skins easier to remove later, but all you really need to do is put the hot chiles in a paper bag for a few minutes and the natural release of steam will loosen the skins.

Hatch chiles have a very narrow harvest season, and if you have a short supply, there’s no use in wasting any. Unfortunately, most professionals agree that the steaming method is a waste. And once you’ve used up your whole stash, don’t forget that you can have enjoy them in Tucson Tamales delivered to your door year-round!

Tricks of the Trade!

Although you can prepare Hatch chiles in several ways, there’s really no denying the benefits of roasting. You’ll develop the fullest flavor that makes you feel right at home in the Southwest when you bite into one. Do you have a trick or two that you use when preparing your chiles? Let us know on Facebook!

5 Responses


September 02, 2022

My hatch green chili’s have been roasted and peeled. I don’t think the chili’s were roasted long enough, as the peeled chili’s are a bit firm. Is there anything I can do take the softer? (Without losing flavor)


September 02, 2022

A few tips. If you roast, the skins should slide off the pepper. Hold the stem and push the skins away towards the tip. Wear food grade gloves. Do not touch your face with them. Do as large a batch at one time as you can.

Then you can hold the pepper near the stem and pull the stem out. It’s not that hard but it takes time.

After that take a sharp knife and slit down the side of the pepper and take your thumb and push out the seeds, don’t worry if a few seeds remain, they will add some heat (spice) to the dish. Look up Hatch Green Chili stew, it’s a very traditional dish in New Mexico and Colorado.

The families who taught me this, used Hatch Chili’s as a Vitamin C supplement. Green Chili’s are a great source for Vitamin C and a stew is a great source of warmth for the winter.


December 24, 2018

I ordered several packages of vegetarian tamales . I believe 16 pkgs. my question is how do I cook them or heat them. What do you recommend . Please let me know. I am serving for Christmas Day
Thank you, Nadine


October 16, 2018

How do you get them to stay firm for stuffing, like when making rellenos?

Frank Casanova
Frank Casanova

October 16, 2018

What are some tips to peel the chilis after roasting? They rather hot, so I have resorted to using a pair of tweezers… but not sure how the “pros” do it.

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