Amazing Colorado Style Green Chile (Chili)

8 cups
2 hr 30 min

Colorado-style green chile is a hearty slowly simmered chile with fire-roasted tomatoes. Fire-roasted tomatoes give Colorado chile a rich flavor that distinguishes it from other versions.

While there are lots of green chile recipes out there, I stand by this as the perfect recipe! Enjoy it on top of burritos, eggs, and even as a stew. It is so versatile I even dip grilled cheese in it for that extra kick!

Colorado-style green chile is a local favorite. While there are many good recipes, I stand by this as a great recipe. Dare I say the best? Oh, I do!

I have made my famous green chile and taken it to chile cook-offs. Vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores all agree my recipe is a perfect blend of the best flavors!

If this is your first time making green chile, be prepared to fall in love. Our green chile (sometimes called chile verde) is so popular that 505 Southwestern and the Denver Broncos have a partnership to sell green chile at concession stands!

If you are in the mood, go all out and smother your burritos Christmas style, half green, and half red chile.

What is All The Fuss About?

Lately, I have been reading articles about green chile being the local must-try food in Colorado. I have to agree!

Starting in the fall, late August through late September, there are chile stands throughout Denver (possibly the state). It is a pastime to purchase a bundle of New Mexico chiles and watch them being roasted. While at the road stands, we always buy green and red chiles, along with poblano peppers.

Fun fact (ok maybe just fun for me) chiles are grown in Pueblo Colorado. In fact, it is such a big deal there is a Pueblo Green Chile Growers Association! The peppers from Pueblo are smaller and meatier in texture. Pueblo is in the southern part of Colorado, about 2 hours from the New Mexican border.

What is Colorado Style Green Chile?

Most people are familiar with the famous New Mexican Hatch green chile. The recipes are easily found throughout New Mexico and the American southwest. The New Mexican style is heavy on the actual green chilies and not a lot of other ingredients. However, in Colorado, we make a different type of green chile. Ours is stew-like made with fire-roasted tomatoes.

Colorado and New Mexico take their chilies very seriously. There has been a long-standing rivalry about whose chili peppers are better. Our governors even got in on the action and New Mexico placed billboards around Denver promoting their green chiles. Honestly, it's all good fun and rather funny.

Enjoyed as a Salsa

What do I Put Green Chile On?

Well, pretty much everything. Too broad? Honestly in my home, we make this green chile recipe in large batches and can it. It is in such demand that we ship it to friends and family throughout the country.

My personal preference is to enjoy it as a main course. Most of my family likes to smother eggs, breakfast burritos, traditional burritos, enchiladas, nachos, and even burgers in it. We also use it as a type of salsa with tortilla chips.

When I say the main course, I mean a stew served with warm tortillas and lime wedges. Because the chili can be spicy, depending on the pepper heat level, I load the bowl up with cheese and sour cream to cool it off. Then I shamelessly, eat it with Frito Scoops. It's not exactly low fat, but it's soooo worth it!


Buying Green Chiles

Most green chiles sold in stores are from the Hatch Valley of New Mexico. New Mexicans are very proud of their green chiles and with good reason. New Mexico chilies are the perfect blend of sweet and spice.

If you are in the Denver metro area, green chiles are roasted on the side of roads in different locations throughout the city. My two favorite places to shop are Lulu's roadside market in Brighton and roasted chile on Sante Fe. Lulu's has a large variety of different types of chiles including Pueblo chiles. If you are looking for additional stands, I recommend this site.

  • Canned - This is the most common form of green chiles. Purchase the fire-roasted chiles, the fire roasting makes a big difference.

  • Frozen - These can be found in a rectangle package in some grocery stores. In my grocery, they are between the frozen fruit and seafood sections. I know, it does not make sense. But if you can find them it is worth it. These chiles are close to fresh, roasted, peeled, and easy to cook with.
  • Fresh - You might be able to find fresh chiles in your store around late September. If you find these, roast them on your grill to blister the skin. Once the skin is blistered, peel it off. Then slice the chile in half and remove the seeds and veins before dicing.
  • Road Side Stands - In parts of the southwest in the fall you can find chiles being roasted in roadside stands. These chiles are amazing! If you are able to purchase fresh fire-roasted chiles it is worth the extra work. You will also have to remove the seeds and veins from these chiles.
Photo Credit - Tony's Market

Additions and Substitutions

I wrote this as a vegetarian recipe. However, it can easily be made vegan, gluten-free, or with pork. All are popular variations.

  • Vegan - To make vegan green chile cook the onions in olive oil or vegan butter. Also, use vegan butter when toasting the flour (roux).
  • Gluten-Free - If you omit the flour the chile will not be as thick. It will still taste great. Another option is to mix 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of water. Once mixed and smooth, add to the green chile at the very end of the simmering time.
  • Pork - Use 3 - 4 pounds of pork shoulder. Roast in the oven at 350f for 3 hours. Season with salt and pepper. Allow the pork to cool, then remove all the fat and shred it into the chile.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are hatch chiles?

Hatch chiles are grown in New Mexico. Hatch is the largest supplier of chiles and is often the first (and usually only) name that comes to mind with green chiles. However, green chiles can be found growing in Colorado as well. Colorado grows pueblo chiles, which tend to be "meatier" than hatch chiles.

What is the difference between red and green chile?

Red and green chiles are from the same plant. The difference is green chiles are picked early and red chiles are left to ripen on the vine. Red chiles are also often hung on large strands to dry out.

Lulu's Roadside Market in Brighton

Are chiles spicy?

In the spectrum of chiles, the green ones are milder. With that said, what is considered spicy really depends on the person. If you like the flavor, but want to tone down the spice, first look for chiles labeled mild. Then, if you are cooking fresh chiles, remove the seeds and the veins. This is where most of the heat comes from.

Is it chili or chile?

The two are often confused. I have even confused them within this blog. However, the two are very different. Here is the best way to keep them straight.

  • Chile with an "e" at the end is the most common spelling used in Hispanic countries. The spelling with an "e" in the united states refers to the pepper. This pepper is the main ingredient and seasoning in green chile. The plural is "chile" or "chiles."
  • Chilli with an "i" refers to the beef stew. That stew is not made with chile peppers. Instead is seasoned with a variety of seasonings.
Colorado Style Green Chile (Green Chili)

Read This Before Working With Fresh Chiles

When working with fresh, including fire-roasted, chiles the oil can stay on your hands for several hours. As a precaution, I recommend removing your contacts and, if at all possible, wearing gloves. Once the oil gets on your hands, it isn't easy to get off.

Amazing Colorado Style Green Chile (Chili)
Recipe details
  • 8  cups
  • Prep time: 30 Minutes Cook time: 2 Hours Total time: 2 hr 30 min
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  • ▢ 1 medium white onion, diced
  • ▢ 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ▢ 1 jalapeno, diced
  • ▢ 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ▢ 1 cup green chile diced
  • ▢ 2 - 14.5 oz canned fire-roasted tomatoes
  • ▢ 3 cups broth (vegetable, chicken, or pork)
  • ▢ 2 teaspoons cumin
  • ▢ 2 teaspoons salt
  • ▢ 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • ▢ 3 tablespoons butter (or vegan butter)
  • ▢ 3 tablespoons flour
  • ▢ 1 - 2 pinch sugar (optional)
Garnish Suggestions (Optional)
  • ▢ roma tomatoes, diced
  • ▢ sliced avocado
  • ▢ grated cheese
  • ▢ sour cream
  • ▢ cilantro
  • ▢ flour tortillas
  • ▢ Frito Scoops (best thing ever)
Stove Top Instructions
Prep: Dice onion and jalapeno. Mince garlic. Measure green chiles (dice if needed)
Make: Heat olive oil in the bottom of the pot or pan, and saute the onions for 2 - 3 minutes. Add jalapeno and garlic, and saute for two more minutes. Add green chile, and spices (cumin, salt, and Mexican oregano), and saute for an additional two minutes. Add broth and fire-roasted tomatoes, stir well and bring to a boil.
Roux: Melt the butter in a small saute pan, once melted add in the flour, and whisk in flour until smooth (this is the roux). Allow the flour to bubble and cook for two minutes or until golden brown. Add roux to green chile and stir to fully incorporate into chile.
Simmer: Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 2 -3 hours stirring as needed to avoid burning.
Serve: If serving as a stew, garnish as desired.
Crock Pot Instructions
Prep: Dice onion and jalapeno. Mince garlic. Measure green chiles (dice if needed)1 medium white onion, diced, 1 jalapeno, diced, 2 garlic cloves, minced
Make: Heat olive oil in a saute pan and saute the onions for 2 - 3 minutes. Add jalapeno and garlic, and saute for two more minutes. Add green chile, and spices, and saute for an additional two minutes.
Crock-Pot: Turn the crockpot on low for 4 hours of cooking time or high for 2 hours of cooking time. Pour broth and fire-roasted tomatoes into the crockpot. Add the sauteed onions, jalapeno, garlic, green chile, and spices to the crockpot.
Roux: Melt the butter in a small saute pan, once melted add in the flour, and whisk in flour until smooth (this is the roux). Allow the flour to bubble and cook for two minutes or until golden brown. Add roux to green chile in the crockpot and stir to fully incorporate into chile.
  • I like my green chile on the spicier side. To ensure your chile comes out to meet your taste, I recommend: Omitting the jalapeno and adding it in as desired. Begin with ½ cup of green chile and adding in increments until you find the desired amount of heat.
  • Omitting the jalapeno and adding it in as desired.
  • Begin with ½ cup of green chile and adding in increments until you find the desired amount of heat.
  • I recommend simmering for the best flavor, however, it is not critical.
  • The chile might taste a little bitter from the tomatoes, add one or two small pinches of sugar to offset the bitterness.
  • If the chile is thicker than you prefer, add ¼ cup of water or broth until you achieve the desired thickness.
  • To add pork to this recipe, you will need to use 3 - 4 pounds of pork shoulder. Roast in the oven at 350 for 3 hours. Season with salt and pepper. Allow the pork to cool, then remove all the fat and shred into the green chile.
Sinful Kitchen
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  • Kathy Nelson Kathy Nelson on Sep 18, 2022

    Hello, Not Hatch green chilies, but Pueblo green chilies is the true Colorado chili.

    • Sinful Kitchen Sinful Kitchen on Sep 18, 2022

      100%. Their texture is perfect for this recipe. They are hard to find, even in Denver. I drive to Brighton just to get them.

  • Jules B Jules B on Nov 05, 2022

    Hi! I live in Denver and go to Musso farms in Pueblo a few times during chile season to buy them but, also see several roadside roasters set up in Denver every year (some are Hatch, but there are Pueblo too). Musso’s, like Lulu’s and Palombo’s in Brighton, roast them by the bag but, I buy and roast my own at home. This year, I ran out and was lucky enough to get to order Pueblo chiles by the pound from a new grocery deliver service in Denver who had them for $1.79 a pound. I ended up ordering 6 more pounds to roast and freeze to tide me over through winter. I couldn’t find my recipe I have used in the past and after looking through several to refresh my memory, this one fit the bill. I made it tonight with some minor adjustments (added epazote and mushroom powder) and it is delicious. Thank you for sharing!