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green chile cheeseburger

Recipe: green chile cheeseburger

Have you heard about the Threadcakes contest? It’s a fascinating event where entrants select a favorite Threadless t-shirt design (really cool t-shirts, by the way) and make a cake based on that design. Wait a second – they don’t just make a cake, they create edible works of art. This year (the second Threadcakes) I was one of the judges for the competition and WOW! I always talk about how less is more to me, and with regard to cakes it’s because I suck at cake decorating. So to flip through and marvel at each of the entries was an exercise in shouting out to Jeremy, “Come look at THIS one!” again and again until he gave up and just sat down next to me to see all of the lovely interpretations. Please hop over and have a look at the Threadcakes winners – while you’re there, you can grab a discount code for a purchase at Threadless too. Nice. Congratulations to the winners!

soaking up that september sun

I’ve noticed the light is changing around here. The sun is dropping lower as it crosses the sky and my local mountains are starting to take on a faint hint of autumn. It is ever so faint and the shift is subtle. In a couple of weeks it will be that familiar and welcome golden light streaming through the glowing yellow aspen leaves against our deep blue, gorgeous skies. That is Colorado autumn and it is my favorite time of year.

Many years ago, Jeremy and I flew from Ithaca, New York to Albuquerque, New Mexico to attend his grandfather’s funeral. Grandpa was the kind of gentleman who quietly walked you out to his garden in March to show you his tomato seedling projects. When he spoke to me, he would lean forward, smiling sweetly as if sharing a joke. One Thanksgiving when the entire family (and I do mean the ENTIRE family) sat around the long dinner table as dessert wound down, Grandpa sat down next to me and opened his genealogy project notebook. He showed me how much progress he had made in his research by connecting with people on the internet. He eventually turned to the later pages and pointed to Mom and Dad, and then to Jeremy and his brother. His finger moved back to Jeremy’s name which had an empty space next to it. “I’d be honored to have your name there some day.”

The funeral was in October – not a time we typically visited New Mexico. Hot air balloons dotted the skies and you could find Hatch green chiles roasting on several street corners and markets. This is quintessential Albuquerque in October. But for me, there will always be the memory of the sleepy, warm light of fall filtering across the speeding landscape as we transported Grandpa to The Santa Fe National Cemetery. So it was last week when I spied a little chalkboard sign outside of Whole Foods advertising Hatch green chiles from New Mexico. Inside, an employee was loading bags of diced chiles into a small freezer – these were not what I was hoping for. He pointed me to the cauliflower and said there were fresh chiles right next to them. While I stood running my hands over the chiles, the mental associations came flooding into my head. I remembered Albuquerque, Jeremy’s parents’ old house, his old pups (black and chocolate labs) Smudge and Chaco, Grandpa, Grandma, Uncle Bill’s awesome pies, looking in wonder at the dozens of colorful and odd shapes that drifted over the horizon during the Balloon Fiesta.

finally, i can show you fresh hatch chiles

for scale

These are Hatch green chiles, named for Hatch, New Mexico – a town at the southern border of the state also known as the home of the world’s best chile pepper. In New Mexico, when you say green chiles, you mean Hatch green chiles. I didn’t fall immediately in love with green chiles, but it grows on you – quickly. So when the chile harvest happens, you must be ready to pounce. My friend Kitt sent me reports of an early harvest and she wasn’t kidding. Late August?! No complaints here though! We decided to roast some chiles and make one of Jeremy’s favorites: green chile cheeseburgers.

roasting on the grill

seal them in a plastic bag to sweat the skins

I consulted with Bridget on Twitter the other day about grilling the chiles. She’s a native New Mexican who is now back in New Mexico – she gets it. They roasted nicely on the grill, although I think we could have roasted them longer (I will do this with the next batch I hoard buy) because we had a few tough ones that wouldn’t peel easily. I kept asking Jeremy if he thought they were done or not. Finally, he replied, “Jenni, I was sixteen when I left home. I didn’t pay much attention to cooking, just eating.” Fair enough. I think it’s hard to screw up roasting chiles.

the skins should peel away

slit the chile open and scrape out the seeds

I have several different green chile recipes and the level to which the chile is “processed” depends on the dish you want to make. If you want to make chile rellenos, then you want to leave the stem on after peeling off the skin. Some folks don’t bother removing seeds, but I really don’t like seeds in my chile rellenos. Just a slit down one side of the chile and a quick scrape with a paring knife should do it. For these green chile cheeseburgers or blue cornmeal-crusted green chiles, you can lop the tops, split the chiles open, and scrape the seeds off. Easy peasy. Or you can dice them up for recipes like green chile mayonnaise, green chile stew, roasted potato green chile salad, or goat cheese croquettes with green chiles. Don’t forget that you can always freeze these gems, just that they do get hotter (spicier) with time in the freezer. Crazy, I know – but I kinda love it.

a basic burger

top with cheese after you flip the burger

You can make your burger however you like. In this instance, I prefer a simple burger with salt and pepper so as not to detract from the green chile. Cheese is optional (but not if you are Jeremy). The whole point is to have a green chile on the burger. It’s a New Mexico thing. Land of Enchantment and all of that. I asked Jeremy how he liked the burger, if it was just like back home. He replied, “Nope, it’s better. Great food in a better location.” Green chiles in Colorado? It almost makes up for not having Trader Joes. Enjoy your burger, muchacho.

putting the new mexico in colorado

Green Chile Cheeseburgers
[print recipe]

2-3 large Hatch green chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded
4 hamburger patties (use your favorite recipe or use the basic recipe below)
4 hamburger buns (I’m a huge fan of brioche rolls, but if not brioche, then potato bread buns)
4 slices of cheese (cheddar, jack, swiss, you name it)
your fixin’s (ketchup, mustard, mayo, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.)

Roasting the chiles: If you are lucky enough to get your grubby little hands on fresh Hatch green chiles, here is how you roast them. Jeremy says it isn’t necessary to wash them, but I couldn’t help but give them a rinse (paranoid, me). Place them on a hot grill (or roast in the oven, but what’s the fun of THAT?) until the skins begin to char. You should take care because they sometimes pop and send a seed or two flying. Turn the chiles so that the skin chars all over. They should look burnt – if the skins are still pretty green, then they won’t peel properly and you will cuss. Once the chile skins are well charred (they will puff up some), remove them from the grill and dump all of the chiles into a plastic bag and seal it. Let them steam for a while until they are cool. Open the bag and begin removing the skins from the chiles. It should be relatively easy to do if you charred them properly. At this point, you can lop the tops off and slice the chiles open lengthwise to remove the seeds. [If you want to make chile rellenos, don’t lop the tops off, but do slice them open lengthwise and remove the seeds.] If you are wise, you bought and roasted a ton of chiles. After peeling and de-seeding, you can freeze the chiles whole or diced. Just remember that they GET HOTTER with time in the freezer.

Make the burger: Fire up that grill to high heat. When the grill is hot, slap the burger patties on and cook for about 3-4 minutes. Flip the patties over and place a slice of cheese over each burger. How long you let the burgers cook will depend on your grill and how done you want the burger. We like ours medium-rare (so another 3 minutes, but then again our grill sucks). Remove the patties from the grill and place on bun. Top the burger with a wide slice of roasted green chile. Serve immediately with all of the fixings. Makes 4 green chile burgers.

basic burger recipe
1 lb. ground beef (I like organic and I like 85% lean)
1/2 – 1 tsp salt (to taste)
1/2 – 1 tsp pepper (to taste)
pinch of garlic powder (optional)
whatever else you want to throw in there

Mix the beef and seasonings together until reasonably well-blended. Divide the meat into four equal portions and slap out four patties. I like to make mine flat and maximize the cross-sectional surface area because they shrink and plump up on the grill. I mean, what is more disappointing than a bite of hamburger bun with no burger?

32 nibbles at “green chile cheeseburger”

  1. Jeanne says:

    One of the first entries I read on urb – at least a few years ago – was about Hatch chilies. I just love your enthusiasm, Jen. Also, thanks for your thoughts yesterday. Nice reality check for the $ oriented.

  2. Belinda @zomppa says:

    Those chilis look sooooo good, especially on the grill. I wish I was that dog.

  3. Bridget says:

    Ah…happy sigh.

    I always under-roast the first batch too. I have trouble convincing myself that, in this case, it’s okay to burn my food.

  4. Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks says:

    Now I’m HUNGRY! Growing up we’d roast bushels and bushels of green chiles to get the family through the winter. It was a whole-day affair with everyone having a function – I was a peeler. And, after the first hour we’d have burning fingers. Tip: when preparing such large amounts, wearing thin rubber gloves is advisable. Also, if you need to roast just a few (2 to 4) you can also do so directly on your gas stove top.

  5. Susan says:

    What a sweet, sweet man Grandpa was…that really touched me. As I’m sure you know, you’re very lucky to be married to a man from such a family.

  6. Collette says:

    I love the memory of Grandpa–really lovely. My dad used to live in Albuquerque and I now love, love green chiles. Green chile pizza–yum.

  7. Abby says:

    Your husband obviously comes from some very good stock.

    The more I read and write about food the more obsessed I become with flavors. Along with me my husband has become a big fan of anything spicy. There are a few nights left to grill before it gets cool here in N.C., and these burgers are calling my name!

    Loved the previous post, too, by the way.

  8. Kitt says:

    Nom nom! I need to go get a bushel for freezing. Put one of those on a grilled cheese sandwich and it becomes a chile relleno sandwich. Prefect for a chilly day.

  9. Wei-Wei says:

    Woah, they’re big! I love grilled/roasted peppers. They’re so lovely, and I learned that sweating trick a long time ago ;) If I hadn’t, I probably would have rinsed them! Does it take away the flavour if you do that?

  10. Dianne says:

    What a touching memory of Grandpa. Thank you for sharing. Your chilis look wonderful. Believe it or not, I spent the morning making White Chicken Chili. I would have loved to have some of yours. I had a heck of a time getting chilis. I have been checking the market all summer for any kind of chili pepper. I finally found some poblano peppers at Whole Foods. I was lucky to find them. Local markets on Long Island only seem to sell cubanelle, jalepeno, serrano, and bell peppers.

  11. Lydia says:

    Aw, this post makes me so homesick for New Mexico, Grandma and Grandpa. Balloon Fiesta is definitely my favorite time of year as well.

  12. Rosa says:

    In Switzerland, it is very autumn-like now. The light has changed and so did the temperatures…

    Terrific burgers, yummy!



  13. Melanie says:

    Many thanks for the picture of Keweah. She reminds me so much of my chocolate lab (who was with us for 13 years)! As I am in Shanghai for a couple years, its a little tough now to get another. There are plenty of spicy peppers here – though none so far as tasty as the hatch peppers. I really want to thank you for your blog. It think it does what blogs were “originally” supposed to do – it makes me happy to see a new post from you and “connect”.

  14. Nan says:

    My family fell in love with Hatch green chili’s while on a trip to Santa Fe. We loved the green spiciness. Upon returning home, I decided all our friends must learn the joy of the Hatch. One day, after finding them fresh in the market, I made a virtual tub full of hatch chili sauce for burgers and invited all our friends over. The burgers were a hit although making the sauce was quite the production — delicious but a production. I think I’ll like your version better. Just roast it, slice it open, slap it on the burger, et viola!

    The skies are pretty empty here and nature has quieted down. Nothing but crickets breaking the silence. Its a sure sign that fall’s coming when the birds have moved on and the scent of wood smoke is in the evening air. The corn is ready pick and the nights are cooling and clearing … my favorite time of year too!

  15. Pei Lin says:

    I took a gander at the wonderful works for Threadless Cake and they blew me away! Such intricate works of art!!

    Thanks for sharing such a warm fuzzy exchange you had with your grandad. They must have love you lots! Wonderful looking burgers! I still have not made mine though. I have been thinking about them for at least one year!

  16. farmerpam says:

    “I’d be honored to have your name here.” Brings tears to my eyes, how touching. Thanks for sharing.

  17. TheKitchenWitch says:

    You and I are channeling the same Chile God, because guess what I’m making for Labor Day dinner?

  18. Kath says:

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful memories of Jeremy’s grandfather! I so enjoy your writing.

    I have never tried hatch peppers, but I noticed some in my local store the other day. Perhaps it’s about time.

  19. Bing Chou says:

    I’ve seen but never tried Hatch chiles. Thanks for the motivation.

  20. Valérie says:

    Omg, that looks so good! I probably can’t find this kind of chiles here, but I have a love for roast peppers and chiles in general, and just the concept of this burger is making my nouth water!

  21. Donna says:

    Please tell us that Grandpa lived long enogh to add your name to his book. He sounds as if he was like my own father in law, who always called me his favorite daughter in law (I was his only daughter in law).

  22. Ruth Ann says:

    Oh… green chiles. My friend from work is from New Mexico and she absolutely loves these. In fact, last year she shipped her clothes home from Taos and filled her suitcase with green chiles when she came home. They are New Mexican gold.

  23. Fiona says:

    JEN! I was at WF two days ago and what did I see? Roasted Hatch chilis.

    Without you, I’d have walked on by. What’s a Hatch chili? Whatever.

    But thanks to the posts from last time (when was that? I feel like I’ve been reading forever), I knew. So I bought a big box and now I’m ready. I froze some, but others will go onto buffalo burgers this week.

    And – reading the comments – now I’m inspired to make chicken chili, too.

  24. Laura B. says:

    Thanks to you I recognized these beauties in my local grocery store this morning (Northern California)! I just finished roasting them in the oven. Now, what to make with them…. decisions, decisions!

  25. angelitacarmelita says:

    Love, LOVE hatch green chilies! I haven’t been able to find them yet this year in NOVA, but I’m keeping my eyes out for ’em. And I want to thank you for the tid-bit about them getting hotter in the freezer! My batch from last year was so good and so very hot when I first roasted and ate them, but having subsequently frozen the rest of my (hoard) batch, I thought I was losing it as I thawed and used them.. I thought, wow, I don’t remember them being this HOT! still lovely….. and the simple and lovely gesture of ‘putting your name” in his book, was just that, simple and lovely, the fact that he articulated it meant you were really already there….

  26. Amy says:


  27. Eesh says:

    Lovely post and a great recipe, Jen. We made a version of these last night– the only major change we made was to puree up a couple of the chiles and add them to the ground meat. Loved them! I hope your Grandpa was able to add your name to his book :) Also, I hope the wildfire is not affecting you too much. Stay safe!

  28. Meredith Stevens says:

    Those cheeseburgers look delicious, plus what a fun way to incorporate some yummy chiles! I love your story and memories too, food often triggers certain memories for me as well. Cheers!

  29. Zach says:

    Haha I had this for Labor Day dinner too! Green chile is definitely one of the perks of living in ABQ again

  30. jenyu says:

    Jeanne – :) These New Mexicans sure do love their green chiles!

    Bridget – I’ll never under roast another chile again – what a pain in the butt to remove the skins when they aren’t burnt! ;)

    Susan – it’s so very true. Grandma and Grandpa were the sweetest people. xo

    Wei-Wei – I think rinsing is OK as long as you do it BEFORE you roast them.

    Dianne – you can order hatch green chiles online here:

    Lydia – xoxo

    Melanie – you’re so sweet, thanks!

    Pei Lin – I know! Right? I don’t know how they do it, but it’s incredible how beautiful some of those cakes are.

    TKW – go girl!!

    Donna – yes, he did :)

    Fiona – yeah woman! You knew EXACTLY what to do! wooo hooo!

    Laura – SCORE!

    angelitacarmelita – yeah, that puzzled the heck out of me the first time that happened. I couldn’t believe how spicy they got.

  31. Heather says:

    Hatch, NM is a location. The type of chiles grown in Hatch vary from NuMex Big Jims to Sandias (my personal fave) to Rio Grande chiles! :)
    People from anywhere outside of NM seem to think Hatch is a type of chile. Why is that? Hatch Farms puts out their brand of canned green chile which is probably a variety of different chiles that grow there, but it is not a specific breed of NM chili. That is a misnomer.

    Hatch just happens to be an area with that most magical combo of the right soil, the right climate and the right care. This is why they have such perfect chiles!

  32. April was in CT now CA says:

    Just bought a bag of these chiles at the grocery thanks to your posts about them and these burgers will be our dinner tomorrow night! I showed my Mr. the picture and asked how he’d like that for dinner he said “HELL YEAH!”. lol

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