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What Is Poblano Sauce?

You may have seen poblano sauce mentioned in a recipe or on a menu. Most likely, you were looking at a South American dish when you found it. Perhaps it piqued your curiosity, or perhaps you tasted the sauce, realized it was divine, and wanted to know more about it. So, let’s deep dive into poblano sauce–what it is, how to make it, and what it tastes like!

So, what is poblano sauce? Poblano sauce is a versatile creamy and mild sauce made from roasted poblano peppers, some form of cream (sour cream, regular cream, or Mexican crema), as well as various seasonings to taste. Some make a warm poblano sauce; others roast the poblano peppers, let them cool, and make a cold version in a blender with sour cream. 

Poblano sauce is super versatile and can be served drizzled over a number of different dishes, as well as being used as a dipping sauce. 

So, now, let’s find out a bit more about the ingredients used in poblano sauce, how to make it, what it tastes like and what it’s traditionally served with. 

What Is Poblano Sauce Made Of?

Poblano sauce (or poblano cream sauce, or just poblano cream, or poblano crema) is made from roasted poblano peppers and some form of cream–regular cream, Mexican crema (similar to crème fraîche), or sour cream. You can use a vegan cream as a substitute and, if making the cold version of poblano sauce, even use soaked and blended cashew nuts. Poblano sauce also tends to have onions and garlic in it and, sometimes, cilantro. The warm (cooked) version of the sauce calls for stock (usually vegetable or chicken stock) and a white roux. 

Poblano sauce always contains roasted poblano peppers (unless you’re making a raw version) and some form of cream (unless you’re going for a vegan version with cashew nuts). 

Other ingredients vary, depending on how you like your poblano sauce and how you make your poblano sauce. 

The cold version of poblano sauce calls for your roasting the poblano peppers (and potentially onions and garlic) in advance and then blending them together with sour cream or Mexican crema (you can sub with crème fraîche, too) and seasoning. 

Some like to add fresh coriander. 

Cooked poblano sauce calls for roasted poblano peppers, some form of cream, some kind of stock (chicken or vegetable stock, usually), butter or oil, flour (fried with the butter/oil to make a roux to thicken the sauce), and, possibly, onions, garlic, cilantro, and other forms of herbs and spices.

Some even add chili to give it a bit more of a kick. 

The poblano pepper belongs to the Capsicum annuum family of peppers and has a fairly sweet, earthy taste and packs very little heat–about 1,000-2,000 SHUs (Scoville Heat Units).

 In other words, it’s much less spicy than the jalapeño pepper. 

You use green poblano peppers to make poblano sauce, meaning they aren’t ripe. 

If you let them ripen (and turn red), they will get a tad spicier, though they still can’t be considered particularly spicy compared to other peppers. 

Ripened and dried poblano peppers are used to make ancho peppers which have an even earthier flavor than roasted poblano peppers. 

You also use ripened poblano peppers to make Mulato peppers. 

These peppers are ripened longer than ancho peppers and are somewhat hotter. Anchos are used to make Mexican mole sauces. 

Recipe Option One for Poblano Sauce (Cold)

  • 1 pound of poblano peppers
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ cup of Mexican crema or sour cream
  • 1 tsp of salt

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Option Two for Poblano Sauce 

  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup of cilantro
  • 1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup of heavy cream
  • ½ cup of sour cream
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 1 tbsp of all-purpose flour
  • ¼-½ cup of vegetable stock 
  • ½ cup of Monterey jack cheese, cheddar, or a combination of the two

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Option Three for Poblano Sauce

  • 4 poblano peppers
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • ½ small onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • ½ tsp of cumin
  • ½ – ¾ tsp of salt
  • ¼ tsp of pepper
  • ½ – ¾ cup of reduced sour cream

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Option Four for Poblano Sauce

  • 3 poblano peppers
  • 3 tsp of oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ cup of milk
  • ¼ cup of butter
  • 1 tbsp of flour
  • 1 cup of Mexican Crema
  • Pinch of salt and pepper to taste

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Option Five for Poblano Sauce (Vegan) (Cold)

  • 3 Poblano peppers, also called pasilla peppers
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp of lime or lemon juice
  • 1 cup of cashew nuts
  • 1 cup of water

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Option Six for Poblano Sauce (with Spinach)

For Roasting

  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Poblano peppers, cut into large strips

For The Rest Of The Sauce

  • 6 tbsp of butter
  • ½ cup of flour
  • 2 cups of milk (warm)
  • 2 cups of chicken broth (warm)
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 cup spinach leaves

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Option Seven for Poblano Sauce

  • 5 Poblano peppers 
  • 1 bunch of spinach, trimmed and rinsed well 
  • ¾ cup of homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock 
  • 1 cup of loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves 
  • 1 cup of heavy cream 
  • 2 tsp of coarse salt

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Eight for Poblano Sauce (Cold)

  • 1 large poblano pepper roasted
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ¾ cup of sour cream
  • ½ red onion, sliced. 
  • ¼ cup of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

For full instructions, look here

What Does Poblano Sauce Taste Like?

Poblano peppers have a mild, earthy taste, which goes well when blended with the cream. It’s a very thick, creamy sauce. Usually, garlic is used to add some flavor, as well as salt and pepper. Sometimes the sauce contains cilantro, which adds a lot of flavor and freshness. If it’s the warm version of the sauce, you’ll find that the stock will add to the taste, too. 

Poblano sauce is fresh and creamy–poblano peppers have an earthy and sweet taste that’s also fresh, and if fresh herbs, such as cilantro, are used, you get a very fresh taste. 

If you taste the cold version of the sauce, usually sour cream or Mexican crema is used, which adds some tang to it. 

Often garlic and/or onions are used to give the sauce more flavor, and for the warm version, some form of stock adds depth to the sauce. 

What Do You Eat Poblano Sauce With?

Poblano sauce is served as a topping for enchiladas, burritos, tacos, quesadillas, meat, and fish. It’s used as a dip for vegetables and can even be used as a dip for nachos or french fries, should the fancy take you! 

Poblano sauce is one of those sauces people love to drizzle over just about anything from tacos and enchiladas to meat and fish. 

The cold version of the sauce is used as a dipping sauce for anything ranging from chips to raw vegetables. 

What Is Similar To Poblano Sauce? 

The dipping sauce version of Poblano sauce is similar to dipping sauces that have a sour cream base and are flavored with garlic and herbs, as well as a tad of chili. The warm version of the sauce is somewhat similar to a creamy roasted pepper sauce containing garlic and onions. 

The dipping sauce version of poblano sauce is similar in taste to just about any dipping sauce made with sour cream and garlic, perhaps onions. 

However, the roasted poblano peppers add a unique taste. It’s not the same as just taking some ground paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and blending them with sour cream. 

The taste of real roasted peppers is a lot stronger and gives the sauce a fresher taste. Likewise, you tend to use “real” garlic, not the powdered form (though technically, it’s just as “real”) when making poblano cream sauce. 

If you’re looking to compare the warm version of poblano cream sauce with another sauce, it would be a creamy sauce made with regular roasted bell peppers and perhaps some onion and garlic. 

Usually, roasted pepper sauce does not call for cilantro, however. 

Finally

If you love Latin American cooking or just Mexican cooking, you need to try poblano cream sauce. 

The warm version of this classic sauce can be used drizzled over enchiladas, tacos, fish, meat, and a plentitude of other dishes! 

The poblano dipping sauce is a fantastically fresh and flavorful yet mild sauce that can be used for nachos, French fries, and chips.

It will become a nice addition to your dipping sauce repertoire! 

Want to learn more about Mexican sauces? Then my other guides may be of interest: