Skip to Content

What is chile verde made of?

Chile verde, also known as green chili or green chile, is a popular Mexican and New Mexican stew or sauce made from roasted and peeled green chiles, herbs, and spices. But what exactly goes into making authentic chile verde? Here we’ll take a look at the key ingredients that give this dish its signature flavor and heat.

Types of Chiles Used

The star of chile verde is of course green chiles. There are a few common varieties used:

  • Hatch chiles – Probably the most popular choice, these chiles are named after the Hatch Valley in New Mexico where they are grown. Hatch chiles rate about a medium on the heat scale and have a bright, acidic flavor.
  • Anaheim chiles – Milder in heat, Anaheims have a bit fruitier flavor. They are one of the most widely available varieties.
  • Poblano chiles – These chiles can range from mild to moderately hot. They have a richer, darker flavor compared to other green chile varieties.
  • Jalapeño chiles – Spicier and more pungent in flavor, jalapeños can be used alone or mixed with milder varieties.

The exact type or blend of green chiles can vary by region and preference. New Mexican-style chile verde relies heavily on Hatch chiles while chile verde in Texas and other states may use more Anaheims. Mixing hotter and milder peppers helps balance out the heat level.


In addition to the chiles, traditional chile verde contains aromatic vegetables that add layers of flavor:

  • Onion – Yellow or white onions are commonly used. They provide sweetness to balance the heat.
  • Garlic – An essential component that rounds out the savory flavor.
  • Cilantro – The fresh, bright taste of cilantro leaves complements the richness of the chiles.
  • Oregano – Earthy Mexican oregano further enhances the flavor complexity.

Onions and garlic are typically cooked down with the chiles to develop depth. Chopped cilantro and oregano get stirred in near the end to allow their flavors to stay vibrant.

Broth or Cooking Liquid

Chile verde is not a dry dish. The chiles and aromatics are cooked down in a flavorful liquid that turns into a rich sauce or gravy. Options include:

  • Chicken or vegetable broth – Provides moisture and body.
  • Water or stock blended with tomato – Adds mild tomato flavor.
  • Green chile juice – Made from blended raw green chiles, this amps up the chile flavor.
  • Beer or wine – For depth of flavor along with acidity.

The cooking liquid choice impacts the overall flavor profile. Lighter broth or water-based liquids allow the chiles to shine through. Tomato-enriched or alcohol-based liquids lend a richer, more complex taste.

Meat and Other Ingredients

While the chiles are the star, chile verde often contains meat or other ingredients:

  • Pork shoulder or loin – Lean stew meat or pork chops add protein. Pork pairs especially well with the seasoning.
  • Chicken or turkey – Can be used instead of or along with pork.
  • Potatoes – Cubed russet or yellow potatoes add heartiness.
  • Hominy – The traditional sidedish soaks up the spicy sauce.
  • Beans – Black, pinto, or white beans boost nutrition and substance.

The recipe can be totally meatless by omitting the pork and using vegetable broth. Or small additions like potatoes or beans can stretch a little meat into a hearty meal. How substantial you make the stew is up to you!


Beyond chiles, a good chile verde gets layers of flavor from herbs, spices, and other seasonings like:

  • Cumin – Essential for adding warmth and smokiness.
  • Epazote – This herb has a distinct menthol-like flavor that complements the chiles.
  • Mexican oregano – Has a stronger, woodier taste than regular oregano.
  • Coriander – Provides a subtle, lemony note.
  • Bay leaf – Adds depth when cooked in the sauce.
  • Lime juice – A splash of acidity to balance the richness.
  • Salt and pepper – Needed to properly season the dish.

As with the chiles, feel free to experiment with the blend of seasonings to suit your tastes. The possibilities are endless!

Putting It All Together

Now that we’ve looked at the core components, let’s see how they come together in a basic chile verde recipe:


  • 2 lbs pork shoulder or stew meat, cubed
  • 3 lbs green chiles like Hatch or Anaheim, roasted, peeled, and chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish


  1. In a large pot, cook the pork over medium-high heat until browned, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and cook 2 minutes more until fragrant.
  3. Stir in the green chiles, broth, cumin, oregano, and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour.
  5. Remove bay leaf. Stir in the lime juice.
  6. Garnish with cilantro before serving.

This produces a simple but flavorful pork chile verde that highlights the taste of the green chiles. You can make it your own by tweaking the ingredients – add hominy or beans, use chicken instead of pork, add more herbs and spices, etc. The possibilities are endless for customizing it to your taste.

Regional Variations

While the above covers standard chile verde ingredients, recipes can vary significantly in different regions:

New Mexico

  • Uses mild Hatch chiles as the base
  • Heavy on cumin, oregano, garlic
  • Often contains potatoes
  • Served with warm tortillas or tamales


  • Spicier, with more jalapeños and serranos
  • Onion and garlic often cooked down longer
  • Cilantro less prominent
  • Beans and hominy commonly included


  • Utilizes milder Anaheim chiles
  • Can include tomatoes
  • Served over rice alongside beans and tortillas

So feel free to get creative with your own regional spin! The great thing about chile verde is how adaptable it is.


At its core, authentic chile verde contains simmered green chiles and aromatics like onion, garlic, and cilantro in a flavorful broth or sauce. To this flavor base you can add your choice of meat and vegetables, and season to taste with spices like cumin, Mexican oregano, epazote, and more. Regional variations throughout New Mexico, Texas, and the West Coast put their own spin on the classic dish. But no matter how you make it, chile verde is all about highlighting the delicious flavor of roasted green chiles!