Chile Relleno Casserole is combining all of your favorite flavors of this classic Mexican dish in one baked dish! It’s healthier and lighter with a dairy-free cheese sauce and cauliflower rice, but still loaded with flavor. This recipe is Paleo, Whole30, and Keto!
What is a Chile Relleno?
One of the first things I look for on a Mexican restaurant menu is a Chile Relleno! It’s one of my absolute favorite dishes to order out. A traditional chile relleno dish includes a poblano stuffed pepper with cheese and often rice and beef. It is usually fried in an egg batter and served with a Mexican infused tomato sauce.
After a recent reader request for chile rellenos, I figured it was time to make a dish we could all love! Chile Relleno casserole it is!
In true Wholesomelicious form, I have lightened up this recipe to make it healthy, but still absolutely delicious! As a nutritionist, these are my favorite meals to make. I love it when a client or reader tells me how much they love a meal that is also nutrient dense.
Why you will love this Casserole
Here are just a few reasons you will love this dinner:
- It’s loaded with Mexican flavor! Spices for the ground beef and smoky poblano peppers are the base
- The dairy-free queso mixed in adds so much depth and deliciousness!
- When you top with The Best Homemade Salsa you will ever eat, it’s honestly one of the best Mexican dishes ever.
- It’s kid friendly. I give you some more options down below on how I serve it to my kids.
- The cauliflower rice gives an extra layer of filling, and adds in fiber
- It’s simple to bake and makes plenty for leftovers or is great for meal prep
How to make Chile Relleno Casserole:
We do a few different steps to assemble this casserole. First, gather up your ingredients:
- Poblano peppers
- Prepped cauliflower rice or 2 large heads of cauliflower
- Avocado oil or olive oil
- Ground Beef
- Chili powder
- Cayenne Pepper
- Sea salt
- Tomato paste
- Apple cider vinegar
- Raw cashews
- Chicken broth
- Nutritional yeast
- Lime juice
- Salsa for serving
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Rice the cauliflower and slice the poblano peppers in strips or bite sized pieces. Brush with avocado oil or olive oil, and place both on a baking sheet. Transfer to the oven.
- While roasting, cook the ground beef in a skillet with onion. Add in seasonings, tomato paste, and apple cider vinegar.
- Meanwhile, make the dairy-free “cheese” sauce. Combine the soaked and drained cashews with broth, nutritional yeast, lime juice, and sea salt. Blend until creamy and smooth.
- In a 9×13 dish, assemble the casserole with the cauliflower rice, strips or bite sized poblanos, ground beef, and the “cheese sauce”.
- Whisk the eggs, and add to the casserole. Stirring all ingredients. Transfer to the oven to bake.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot topped with salsa, and extra “cheese” sauce.
Tips and Variations:
- Cauliflower Rice: you can use store bought cauliflower rice in place of fresh cauliflower. This helps to prep! You will need 16 oz
- Cutting the poblano peppers: If you prefer a more traditional “whole” pepper that you would find in a chili relleno recipe, you can just cut the peppers in half and assemble the casserole that way. Otherwise, you can dice up the poblano peppers and incorporate.
- Taco Seasoning: You can omit the spices and just use your favorite taco seasoning in place of the
- Protein: You can swap out the protein here! Feel free to use chicken or pork. You can even try with my Instant Pot Carnitas.
Serving and Storing:
- This dinner is best served with more toppings! You can use a traditional store bought enchilada sauce or salsa to pour on top. My favorite option is my Homemade salsa! Guacamole or avocado, sour cream, fresh cilantro, and green onion are also fantastic options.
- For a kid friendly variation, you can use cheese to serve. I wrapped the contents in a tortilla for my kids and they loved it. If serving to kids, I would definitely recommend cutting the poblano pepper into pieces as opposed to eating entire large pepper strips.
- For storing, this dinner will hold well for up to one week and is a great option for meal prep.
- You can also freeze in an air tight container for up to 3 months.
Lightened up Mexican Dishes you will love!
- Mexican Stuffed Peppers
- Beef Enchilada Casserole
- Chipotle Enchilada Meatballs
- Jalapeno Popper Chicken Burrito Bowls
Chile Relleno Casserole
Chili Relleno Casserole is a lightened up version of the classic Mexican dish. It's dairy-free, Paleo, Keto, Whole30 and low carb!
For the Chili Rellenos:
- 4 large poblano peppers
- 2 heads cauliflower (or 5 cups riced cauliflower)
- 3 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil (divided)
- 1.5 lbs ground beef
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp sea salt (divided)
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 large eggs
For the dairy-free "cheese" sauce
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 cup Salsa
- 1 cup guacamole
Before beginning, ensure that the raw cashews have been soaking in hot water for at least 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Rice the cauliflower by cutting into florets and pulse using a food processor. Slice the peppers into thirds or quarters length wise. Alternatively, chop the poblano peppers into bite sized pieces. Place the poblano peppers on one half of a large baking sheet, and the cauliflower rice on the other half. Brush with avocado oil or olive oil. Transfer to the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes. Once complete, reduce heat on the oven to 375.
Meanwhile, make the beef. Heat up a skillet to medium high heat. Once hot, add in oil and the onion. Saute the diced onion for a few minutes, then add in the beef. Cook until no longer pink, breaking up with a wooden spoon. Toss in the spices: cumin, paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Continue to coat the beef with spices, now stir in the tomato paste and apple cider vinegar. Reduce to a simmer, and let simmer for 3-5 minutes until everything is well combined. Set aside.
Now make the dairy-free sauce. Drain the cashews. In a high powered blender or food processor, blend cashews with chicken broth, nutritional yeast, lime juice, and the remaining sea salt.
Assemble the casserole by stirring together the cauliflower rice, poblano peppers, beef, and cashew sauce. Whisk together the 2 eggs, and stir into the casserole. Transfer to the oven and bake 25 minutes at 375 F.
Remove from oven. Let sit for a few minutes, then slice into pieces. Serve with salsa and any additional optional toppings: cilantro, green onion, and guacamole or avocado.