Rajas con crema are the perfect topper for tacos, nachos, and even burgers. Roasted poblano peppers are combined with sautéed onions, cheese and cream to make a delicious appetizer or snack. You can serve them with tortilla chips and eat them as a dip, or tuck them into a warm soft tortilla for a tasty dinner.
I’ll give you variations and substitutions where I can, plus helpful tips and tricks for success. Read on for this info as well as the recipe. If you’d like to skip straight to the recipe, use the jump to recipe button at the top of the post.
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Why you should make this recipe
- Quick & Easy – This recipe is very simple, and it’s ready in about 30 minutes.
- Versatile – Rajas are very versatile. From tacos, nachos and burritos to a topping for burgers and even a dip, you can enjoy them in so many ways.
- Make Ahead – You can prepare the peppers and onions ahead of time, then combine them with the cream and cheese when you are ready to serve.
What are rajas?
Rajas are strips of poblano peppers that are roasted and peeled, then combined with sautéed onions, garlic, Mexican cream and cheese.
I love them on tacos and nachos, obviously, but they are also really good on a vegan burger.
These 4 ingredients do the heavy lifting in this recipe. In addition, you’ll need garlic, oil, salt & pepper.
- Poblano peppers – This mild chili pepper is the base of the recipe. The dried version of a poblano is an ancho chili.
- Onion – A yellow onion is perfect, as it lends a bit of sweetness.
- Crema Mexicana – Mexican cream is similar to sour cream, but it slightly thinner and has more of a tangy flavor. Substitute with sour cream if crema is unavailable.
- Oaxaca cheese – A mild, stretchy cheese similar to mozzarella or string cheese. Major cheese pull appeal.
How to make this rajas recipe
This Mexican recipe is a snap to make. If you’ve never roasted and peeled peppers before, don’t worry – it’s much easier than you might think.
- The first step is roasting the poblano peppers. You can do this on a grill or under the broiler in the oven. You can even do it in a hot pan on the stovetop if you don’t have a grill or an oven.
- Set an oven rack 4 – 6 inches from the broiler. Place the peppers on an aluminum sheet pan.
- Roast the peppers on all sides until the skin is blackened and blistered. Immediately put them into a plastic bag and seal or into a small bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.
- This will steam the peppers and make the skin easier to remove. Once the peppers have rested for 5 – 10 minutes, peel the charred skin off and discard.
Open the peeled pepper up and remove the seeds and membrane, then slice into thin strips. You may want to consider wearing gloves, if you have sensitive skin.
How to cook poblano peppers
If roasting and peeling poblano peppers is not on your agenda, you can simply slice them into thin strips and sauté them along with the onions.
The reason for roasting and peeling the peppers is to remove the skin, which can be a little tough and chewy. It makes for a more a pleasant bite if you’ve removed the skin, but ultimately, it’s up to you.
Yes. If you don’t want to roast and peel them, you can absolutely slice them up and sauté them with the onions. They’ll have the skin on, which some people don’t like, but it is your preference.
No. A chilaca pepper is the fresh version of a pasilla. An ancho pepper is a dried poblano.
Store the leftover rajas in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
No. Poblano peppers are mild. If you are very sensitive to spicy foods, you may find it has a little heat. Generally poblano peppers are not hot, but every now and then, you’ll get one that is hotter than normal.
Variations and substitutions
- Some recipes add corn to the mixture. This would be a great addition with fresh sweet corn in the summer months.
- Substitute Anaheim peppers for poblanos, if you can’t find them.
- Substitute sour cream for the crema Mexicana.
- If Oaxaca cheese is unavailable, use mozzarella.
You can also make these a vegan recipe by omitting the cheese and crema, or finding vegan alternatives for those two items.
- Pile a spoonful of rajas into these pumpkin black bean tacos or my chicken tacos with lime crema.
- Serve them with tortilla chips for a delicious appetizer.
- Top this pork burger with them for an extra kick.
- Tuck them into a warm tortilla for a tasty lunch or dinner.
Helpful tools and equipment
- Chef’s knife – This is the same knife that I own and use every day.
- Commercial grade sheet pans – I use these pans because they don’t warp in the oven.
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- 4 poblano peppers
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp. canola oil
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 3/4 cup crema Mexicana (or sour cream)
- 1 cup shredded Oaxaca cheese (or mozzarella)
- 1/2 tsp. Mexican oregano, optional
- Place an oven rack 4 - 6 inches from the broiler. Preheat broiler in oven (or heat grill).
- Place poblano peppers under the broiler and roast for about 5 minutes, until skin is blistered and blackened all over. Flip peppers over and repeat.
- When peppers are blackened all over, remove from heat and seal them in a plastic bag or put in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let them sweat for 5 - 10 minutes.
- Transfer to a cutting board, then peel the thin, blackened skin from the peppers. Slice them open and remove the seeds, stem, and membranes, then slice into 1/2" strips. Set aside.
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Sauté onions until they just begin to take on color, about 10 -12 minutes. Lower heat to medium low, add garlic and stir to combine.
- Add poblano strips, salt, pepper, Mexican crema, and oregano if using, to the onions. Stir to combine and let it warm through for 2 - 3 minutes.
- Add Oaxaca cheese and stir frequently over low heat until cheese is completely melted.
- Serve while warm.
*If you have sensitive skin, I would advise wearing gloves when working with peppers.
Add in 1/2 cup of fresh sweet corn for a summer variation to this recipe.
Substitute crema Mexicana with sour cream. You can add in a few tablespoons of cream cheese to give your rajas extra body and creaminess.
If Oaxaca cheese is unavailable, substitute with mozzarella.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 199Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 46mgSodium: 396mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 6g
Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.
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Originally published 1/31/16.