Vegetarian Colorado Green Chile (Chili)

Colorado green chile (chili) is a hearty, slowly simmered sauce or stew made with Pueblo or New Mexico roasted Hatch green chiles, fire-roasted tomatoes, and spices. This recipe can be made vegan or vegetarian.

A bowl of vegetarian Colorado green chile with a spoon.
A bowl of vegetarian Colorado green chile with a spoon.

Recipe Snapshot

EASE: Easy
CUISINE: Southwest American
COURSE: Topping, Stew
TIME: 3 hours and 30 minutes

Watch How to Make Vegetarian Colorado Green Chile

YouTube video

What is Colorado Green Chile?

Colorado green chile is a regional specialty known for its spicy and flavorful characteristics. The base has warm tomatoes, green chiles, onions, roux, and broth. That is all you need to make this classic recipe!

Green chile is highly versatile. It can be used as a thick sauce smothered on burritos, enchiladas, eggs, and even hamburgers. It is also popular as a thick stew, my preferred way to enjoy it. If you are in the mood, go all out and smother your burritos with half-green and half red chile, Christmas style.

Selecting Green Chiles

Colorado green Chile ingredients, up close of chopped green chiles
  • Canned/Jarred – This is easily found at most grocery stores in the Hispanic section. Look for chiles that have been fire-roasted; the fire-roasting makes a big difference.
  • Frozen—Look in the frozen section, often with or near the fruits. These chiles are close to fresh, roasted, peeled, and easy to cook with. They are my favorite chilis.
  • 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, cut the chile 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!

Ingredients

Ingredients used in making Colorado green chile.

Green Chiles: Look for diced fire-roasted chiles.

Onion and Garlic: Combine with the tomatoes to form the base flavor.

Fire-Roasted Tomatoes: Add a rich, slightly smoky tomato flavor. Using fire-roasted takes this recipe to the next level.

Broth: I used vegetable broth. Other popular choices are chicken or pork.

Flour: All-purpose flour thickens the sauce. When made into the roux, it gives this chile a distinctive amber color.

Butter: Used to saute the onions and make the roux. I use vegan butter in the place of dairy butter.

Cumin: Gives the chile a deep flavor.

Jalapeno: Added to provide additional heat and complexity.

A saucepan filled with green chile.

Additions and Substitutions

Vegan – To make this recipe vegan, 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 three tablespoons of cornstarch with three tablespoons of water. Once mixed and smooth, add to the green chile at the very end of the simmering time.

Frequently Asked Questions

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. However, green chiles can be found growing in Colorado as well. Colorado grows pueblo chiles, which tend to be “meatier” than hatch chiles. (Source)

Red and green chiles are from the same plant. The difference is that the green color signifies that the chiles are picked before they are fully ripened, whereas red chiles are fully ripened.

In the spectrum of chiles, the green ones are milder. 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.

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 in Hispanic countries. The spelling with an “e” in the United States refers to the pepper, which 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, it is seasoned with a variety of seasonings.

Did you make this? Leave a comment below and let me know how it turned out.

Hand cupping a bowl of green chile.

Vegetarian Colorado Green Chile Recipe

Make vegetarian Colorado green chile or chili with fire-roasted green chiles and tomatoes either on the stove top or slowly simmered in a crock-pot. The result is a sauce that is a perfect stew or on top of eggs, burritos and so much more!
5 from 41 votes
Print Rate
Course: Sauces, Soup, stew
Cuisine: American, Southwest
Servings: 8 cups
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Equipment

  • Large pot or crock-pot
  • Small saute pan
  • Medium saute pan if following crockpot instructions
  • whisk
  • Knife and cutting board

Ingredients

  • 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 vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican Oregano (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons butter (or vegan butter)
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 – 2 pinch sugar (optional)

Instructions

Stove Top Instructions

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the jalapeño and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes more. Add the green chiles, cumin, Mexican oregano (optional) and salt, sauté for 2 minutes more, or until the chiles are fragrant.
  • Add the vegetable broth and canned fire-roasted tomatoes to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2-3 hours, or until the chili has thickened and the flavors have melded. Stir the chili occasionally to prevent it from burning.
  • While the chili is simmering, make the roux. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour to the melted butter and whisk until smooth. Cook the roux for 2 minutes or until it is golden brown. Add the roux to the chili and stir to combine.
  • While the chile is simmering, stir occasionally to avoid burning. For a thicker chile, take half the green chile and puree until smooth. Then pour the blended mixture back into the pot. Serve the chili hot, garnished with your desired toppings.

Crock Pot Instructions

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the jalapeño and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes more. Add the green chiles, cumin, Mexican oregano (optional) and salt to the skillet and sauté for 2 minutes more or until the chiles are fragrant.
  • Pour the contents of the skillet into the slow cooker. Add the vegetable broth and canned fire-roasted tomatoes to the slow cooker. Stir to combine. Simmer on low for 4 hours or on high for 2 hours.
  • While the chili is cooking, make the roux. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour to the melted butter and whisk until smooth. Cook the roux for 2 minutes or until it is golden brown. Stir the roux into the chili.
  • While the chile is simmering, stir occasionally to avoid burning. For a thicker chile, take half the green chile and puree until smooth. Then, pour the blended mixture back into the pot.

Notes

  • Garnish suggestions include: cheese, sour cream, cilantro, avocado, tortillas, and/or Frito scoops.
  • For a spicier chili, omit the jalapeno and add it in as desired. Start with a small amount and add more to taste.
  • To make sure your chili is not too bitter from the tomatoes, add a small pinch or two of sugar.
  • If your chili is too thick, add a small amount of water or broth until you reach the desired consistency.
  • To add pork, roast 3-4 pounds of pork shoulder in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 hours, or until it is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Let the pork cool, remove the fat, and shred it into the chili.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Vegetarian Colorado Green Chile Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
111
Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
8
g
12
%
Cholesterol
 
11
mg
4
%
Sodium
 
1132
mg
49
%
Carbohydrates
 
9
g
3
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
3
g
3
%
Protein
 
1
g
2
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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42 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Really delicious , easy to make and able to make it spicy per your taste. Excited to have on hand! I put it in everything ??

    1. Awe, I love that you really liked it!!! And in true Colorado fashion, you put it in everything. I mean nothing is off limits here when it comes to Colorado Green Chile!

  2. Quick question. This has been my go too green chili recipe for years. I noticed this page was updated November 19, 2023. Why was the Oregano removed from the recipe? I wish I had printed it now, instead of just bookmarking it, as I no longer know how much Oregano to use? Thanks

    1. Hi Patrick, I am sorry about that. I received feedback that it was hard to find. I added it back in as optional. I should have done that the first time around. Sorry. Thank you for using my recipe!

      1. 5 stars
        Thanks. I’ve just been using normal oregano, as you are correct, it’s hard to find the Mexican version. Big meal for Thanksgiving tomorrow, and I didn’t want to change anything. Thanks again.

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe is very good! We loved it. We did add the pound of pork shoulder and slow cooked everything. Delish! This is a keeper we’re going to be making many times in the future!

    1. Thank you so much, Mitch! I am so happy you liked it and will keep making it. It is my family’s time favorite (and mine) recipe.

  4. There is no Mexican oregano available where I am located. What spice would your substitute? Regular oregano? Marjoram? Other?

    1. Hi Chris, in that case, I would omit the Mexican oregano. I have done that in the past and been happy with the sauce.

    2. mexican oregano is avail on amazon and using it makes a bit of a
      difference but if you aren’t having some everyday then you probably
      won’t notice the difference.

  5. Colorado and New Mexico have been battling over who holds the title for Worlds Best Green Chile.
    I always thought Hatch, New Mexico was the Chile Capital of the world. Up to now I was using the, “Bueno Flame Roasted” (plain green and white plastic tub container net weight 13 oz.) Hatch, New Mexico Green Chile.

    Then one day I spotted this green chile product, “Bueno Autumn Roast.” (black, red and orange 13 oz. container, with fiery flames and long green chiles on the front. Net weight 13 oz. also produced by Hatch Valle, New Mexico.) in the freezer section at our local Walmart. Several passes later I decided to try it and God be Truth, I cannot put it down or stop buying it. I’ve already forgotten about that other “Flame Roasted” guy.

    Both are produced by Hatch Valley, New Mexico but this one is just bursting with all kinds of flavor: it’s as if it’s already seasoned and prepared as if one already cooked it themselves at home.
    I don’t know how Colorado can ever top this one. Have you ever even tried it Colorado?

    Hands down! It’s world class all by itself. Can’t wait to try your Christmas recipe using the Hatch Autumn Roast frozen chopped Green Chile brand. Hope to keep you posted.

    Thanks for the article and new recipe. Pretty basic recipe so should do well.

    1. Hi Beckie, Colorado and New Mexico have been batteling it out forever:) We both love our green chile! I have tried the Bueno brand. In fact, I use their red chile paste to make the red chile sauce. I find it at King Spooers next to the fruits, which I will never understand. I always want to include Bueno in my red chile article. I think it makes a thicker chile than the dried pods or the ground pepper. However, I am not sure if it is easily found outside of Colrado. If you know, kindly let me know. I would love to include that in my article.

  6. 5 stars
    I made this chili as the recipe called for and it was fantastic. I gave some to a co-workers and they loved it as well. I am adding this to my go-to list.

    1. Sherry, thank you so much for your comment! I am so happy you and your co-worker loved it. Thank you for spreading the word of my green chile.

    1. Hi Mindy, Green chiles are the best!

      I have canned this for years and shipped it all over the place. When I can, I use the canning button on my Instapot for 20 minutes. Water bath canning will not get hot enough to safely can green chile. Note of caution, I am not an expert on canning. Because of this I always recommend checking the safety guidelines and recommendations before canning anything.

      1. 5 stars
        Ruth, thanks for the helpful hint about the Instant Pot. We’re newbies to InstantPot but will try this! My Mom used to can when I was growing up so I know how, but I wasn’t aware of this feature with IP. Thanks again!

      2. Hi Mitch, my first instapot was actually a pressure cooker. About a year later, they took off and were sold as instapots. Always ensure the instapot you are using can reach an internal pressure of 15 psi.

  7. 5 stars
    With fresh chiles and tomatoes in abundance, I roasted up some of each and made this recipe yesterday. It turned out really great – thanks for publishing the recipe!

    1. You are so welcome! I am so happy you liked it and thank you for letting me know. It made my day!

  8. 5 stars
    Hi Ruth,
    I stumbled onto your blog looking for a vegetarian green chile recipe (I don’t eat pork), and I am so thankful I found you. I moved to Colorado in 2016 from California. California Mexican food is very different than Colorado Mexican food, so I was instantly turned off by everything being drowned in green chile here. Also, it’s hard to find vegetarian green chile in most restaurants here in CO. Well, I have to admit I have finally been converted. I had the most delicious crispy chile relleno smothered in vegetarian green chile in a family-owned restaurant in downtown Denver a few months ago. So now I am on a mission to make it myself. Can I use this recipe to smother other foods like enchiladas or burritos or is meant to be eaten from a bowl with toppings? The restaurants version also seemed a little more brown so I will take your advice and cut back slightly on the tomatoes. Anyway, thank you for any information you can share with me and your great recipes!

    1. Hello Rachel,

      Welcome to Colorado and our beloved green chile! I am so thankful you found me.

      Yes, you can use this recipe to smother enchiladas, burritos, etc. In my house, we smother everything in this chile recipe, even grilled cheese sandwiches. When the kids want it thicker, I just make a larger batch of roux (equal parts flour + water). The recipe calls for two tablespoons, but you can make it three or four tablespoons. As long as it is equal parts flour and water, combined before adding to the chile you are good. I recommend increasing the flour + water combination in small amounts until you reach your desired thickness. Also, do not directly add flour to the recipe, it will form clumps that are next to impossible to get out.

      You are right about Colorado Mexican food is very different than California. My theory is that the styles in Colorado and New Mexico were heavily influenced by the Pueblo Indians and their love of chiles. While NM lay claims to all things green chile, historically they have also been grown in Colorado. If you are up for a small road trip, in the fall drive out to Lulu’s roadside farm in Brighton. They carry a large variety of green chiles including the pueblo variety from Colorado.

      I am not sure why the restaurant versions are brown, except for maybe the meat? I must say that as a vegetarian, brown and greyish foods do not look to appealing to me… Also, where did you find good green chile downtown? Was it at Sams or D’Corazons? I am always down for trying a new Mexican restaurant.

      Ruth

      1. 5 stars
        So sorry it took me this long to get back to you. And the restaurant is D’Courazon! How did you know? I have been back twice already and it’s delicious every time. I will definitely be heading to Lulu’s based on your recommendation. I haven’t tried your recipe yet. It’s been too hot. Looking forward to the cooler weather so I can make this.

      2. Hi Rachel,

        I am a natiave, Denver local, and green chile lover:)

        I love Lulu’s for their wide selection alone. You can also find some of the green chile varieties also roasted, peeled, and diced in the refrigerated section. Another option is King Soopers. In the frozen section by the fruits, you can usually find green chiles. Over the years I found it was much easier to buy a bag of 505 roasted, peasted, and diced green chiles at King. It’s about $5 and saves a lot of prep work.

  9. 5 stars
    I tried this with roasted green chilis and fire roasted tomatoes OMG don’t look back it is wonderful and will making it on the Comp train around Colorado Thank you

  10. 5 stars
    Lemme just start off by saying that CO green chile is probably one of the most underrated regional foods in America. Like it’s served nowhere except CO. And I’m glad there’s no people from NM on this thread. They never can seem to respect Colorado green chile. My thought is; New Mexico green chile and Colorado green chile are two very different foods altogether. NM is more a sauce, CO is more a stew. It’s like comparing NM red chile with Texas-style chili con carne; two completely different things. Yet they can’t let us have our staple. SMH.

    Anyway, thank you so much for this recipe. I’ve been dying to make some myself.

    1. Hi Keenan, you are 100% right! There is such a huge difference between the two versions. I am a Colorado all the way kind of girl:). In fact, besides drenching food in it, I also eat it as a stew. Let me know if you have any questions and I hope you love this recipe as much as I do!

  11. This recipe is so clutch – I grew up in Denver but live in New York and cannot find green chile to save my life. I can’t wait to make this.

    1. Thank you so much! Classic Colorado green chile is getting harder and harder find in Denver. Love that you are old school. Let me know how it turns out.

  12. 5 stars
    Hi Ruth, I just used your recipe to make this famous Colorado dish. It came out really well. I’m lucky to have neighbors that love food as well, they gave us a bag of Roasted Colorado Green Chiles. I live in the Springs, though I’m not from here. My first experience with this type of green chile chili was for breakfast , it was poured on a cheese omelette. I fell in love with it!!! Now I can make my own at home. Thank you for the recipe.

    1. Hello Jodel, I can’t even begin to tell you how you just made my day! I am newer to blogging and I am always afraid someone would not like my recipe or I did not write the instructions well. That you like it made my day!

      This is authentic, almost old-school, Colorado green chile. I tend to see less of it in Colorado but is the only kind of green chile I will eat. You are lucky in the springs, you might be able to find Pueblo Green Chiles. They are grown just outside of Pueblo and are a little meatier than their Hatch counterparts.

      We do put it on just about everything in Colorado. LOL. I saw a meme on Facebook the other day using Forrest Gump and Bubba with shrimp, but with Colorado and green chile in it’s place. Sums us up Colorado green chile:)

      1. Ruth,
        I grew up in Pueblo, CO, but moved away over 30 years ago. I enjoyed green Chile much of my time there, but could never find a recipe to make it. I’m curious about yours, although the appearance of yours (pic in column) is quite different from what I remember. Many restaurants served it in Pueblo, and it had a green/light brown appearance. Might there be a variance in the tomato/Chile balance? I would love to make it, but I long to capture the taste from years past.
        I’d welcome any thoughts or advice!

      2. Hi Steve, that is a really good question. Like you, I grew up in Colorado (I am still here) and the green chile I ate as a child always had tomato.

        The recipe I use originally came from the Rocky Mountain News back in the 70’s/80’s. My mom would make it and I loved it as a child. Many years ago I lost the clipping and recreate it the way I remember it. One district thing I remember from that recipe was explaining how in Colorado we use tomatoes vs. New Mexico.

        I agree that my green chile does look different from other posts. I think that is two parts; I use more tomato and the pictured chile is vegetarian. Without the meats and it’s oil it does look different.

        You could always reduce the amount of tomatoes. Start by making the chile without and adding in until you achieve the flavor/color you are looking for.

        Here are two examples with tomatoes that use meat. It does add a sheen. Is this what you remember?

        https://www.food.com/recipe/colorado-green-chili-537986

        https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/sams-no3-kickin-green-chili-recipe-1923947.amp

        Let me know how I can help. I am all about Colorado style green chile. Seriously, I can it year around for my family. That how much we eat.

  13. 5 stars
    I love the sound of this chile but I doubt I can find the green chile that you talk about here (UK). Would this recipe work with jalapenos in their place or would that change the flavour too much? I

    1. Hi, that would change the flavor too much. Do you have poblano peppers? They would taste great.

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