Elevate numerous recipes with this easy smoky recipe for poblano cream sauce. It’s only seven, easy to find ingredients and it comes together in minutes. This will be your go to sauce to pair with chicken, fish, tacos, enchiladas, nachos and more!
Want to create an easy, flavor packed recipe to pair with chicken, fish, steak and veggies? This poblano pepper based sauce is the perfect way to layer delicious flavors and a subtle amount of smoke into your most basic recipes.
Having this recipe in your back pocket is a great way to liven up your favorite tacos, nachos, or enchilada dishes as well. The combinations are truly endless, especially when it’s that easy!
Let me guide you through everything you need to know about roasting the poblanos, techniques for loosening the skins, mixing up the sauce and pouring over the best foods. Get the full recipe below and ready through the post for more tips and techniques from a culinary arts instructor.
- Knife and Cutting Board
- Plastic Bag or Bowl and cover
- Blender (I used a smaller smoothie blender bottle for this)
Here are some commonly asked questions to help you learn how to roast peppers and better understand how to use this sauce, the cooking techniques involved, and how to reuse it or pair it with your favorite foods. Let’s dive in!
Are poblano peppers spicy?
Poblano peppers are a very popular Mexican chili pepper that can be found year round at most grocery stores here in the United States (making this sauce great, even when it’s not grill season). You can often find them fresh in the produce section or sometimes dried (dried form is actually called an ancho pepper).
It’s considered to be a fairly mild chile pepper as well. According to the Scoville scale (a way to measure the heat in chilis) its in the 1,000-1,500 range. I also remove the seeds from this pepper before blending it into a sauce (this helps make it less spicy).
That being said, I personally love a little heat to this sauce and opted to roast a jalapeno to mix in as well. This is definitely optional, but a great option if you prefer more heat.
What ingredients are in a poblano sauce?
This is only seven basic ingredients (not including spices) and the are all easy to find. Here is a quick break down and a few options for substitutions:
- Poblano Peppers- These peppers are very common to find. Make sure to use fresh peppers that can be roasted to infused some smoky flavor.
- Jalapeno Pepper- Optional (like I mentioned above). I prefer to roast mine with the peppers so the flavor is amplified. I also prefer to remove the seeds, but you can keep them to really punch up the heat.
- Yellow Onion- While you can easily add this in raw, I again thing more flavor comes from getting this a little tender and charred on the grill. I throw half an onion on with my peppers to cook it and add flavor.
- Garlic- Add some minced fresh garlic
- Cilantro- Fresh cilantro adds a ton of brightness to this recipe, do not skip!
- Lime Juice- You can roast your lime halves on the grill. I find this helps you to get more juice out of them and adds a nice acidity to the cream based sauce.
- Mexican Cream or Sour Cream- This works to thicken the sauce. You can use a traditional Mexican cream or swap with sour cream. If you’re dairy free, sub with a little mayo instead.
- Sea Salt- For seasoning!
- Splash of water- Helps to slightly thin it out and help it blend.
How to grill poblano peppers:
Grilling a poblano couldn’t be simpler! Turn your gas grill to medium heat or light up your charcoal. Place the peppers over direct heat on the grill grates over the open flame or to really infuse some flavor you can place them over lit coals too.
Your goal is to blister and blacken the entire outside skin of your pepper. This is a technique that is great for cooking and steaming any peppers (bell peppers too) and to help you remove the outside skin (this has to be done to avoid the waxy texture it would give your sauce).
Rotate the peppers over the coals until totally blistered and charred. This takes about 5-6 minutes to do. Once they’re grilled, you need to let them steam to help you easily remove the skin.
I do this by placing them into a plastic bag, grocery bag, or even in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Allow them to rest 5-10 minutes and then with your hands or a paper towel peel the skins, slice them up and remove the seeds and stems and add them to your blender!
Do I have to have a grill to make this sauce?
No! You can easily recreate the same blistered skin effect using a gas stove or your broiler. Carefully do this with tongs and oven mitts as needed.
Making the sauce:
To the blender add your:
- cooked and peeled poblanos
- cooked and peeled (seeds removed) jalapeno
- roughly chopped, yellow onion
- a few garlic cloves
- the sour cream/ cream
- grilled limes, juiced
- sea salt
- splash of water (1-2 tbsp.)
You could also use an immersion blender, smoothie blender bottle (my favorite method), or a food processor to get it nice and smooth. Taste test and adjust seasonings as needed. If the mixture is too thick, add a splash more of water to help it thin out slightly.
Storing, reheating, and foods to pair it with:
Storing is easy! Keep this sauce in the fridge and reheat in a microwave safe dish as needed throughout the week. It also freezes well and is great when you want to whip up some Keto flautas or some mahi mahi fish tacos and need the perfect sauce on a busy weeknight.
Pair this sauce with:
- The best grilled chicken or crispy grilled wings seasoned with my homemade Tajin seasoning blend
- Cedar plank salmon burgers
- Theses Cauliflower Gnocchi nachos
- Over these incredible looking Chiles Rellenos or stuffed poblano peppers
- With this Reverse Seared Tri Tip
Easy Smoky Poblano Cream Sauce
- 4 Poblano Peppers
- 1 Jalapeno
- 1/2 Yellow Onion
- 2-3 Garlic Cloves
- 1/4 cup Sour Cream or Mexican Crema
- 1/2 cup Fresh Cilantro
- 2 Limes Juiced
- 1-2 tbsp Water optional
- 1 tsp. Sea Salt
- Preheat your gas or charcoal grill to medium heat. Over a direct flame, char your poblano peppers, the jalapeno, the half and onion, and the limes (halved).
- Move the peppers around frequently and allow the skin to blacken, char, and blister. Once the skins are coated, remove all the vegetables and limes off the grill.
- Allow the peppers to sweat inside a plastic bag or grocery bag. This should take roughly 5-10 minutes and helps the skins become looser.
- Peel the skins off of your peppers and discard. Trim off the tops and remove the seeds (be cautious with the jalapeno seeds and bare hands).
- To a blender or food processor add largely diced pepper pieces, the onion, the whole garlic cloves, the cilantro, and the limes juiced. Sprinkle in the salt and the sour cream/ crema to be blended.
- Allow everything to combine until smooth. If it looks a little too thick, add 1-2 tbsp. of water to help thin it slightly. Taste test to adjust seasonings.
- Serve warm over your favorite grilled chicken, fish, steak cuts, and more!