There are over 1600 varieties of chiles, and many are considered green chiles as most are green at maturity before turning red. When it comes to cooking, “green chile” most commonly refers to a Hatch or Anaheim chile with a distinctive fruity green chile taste.
My personal favorite green chiles:
I’ve tried dozens of varieties, but I cook with the same varieties over and over.
- Hatch Mild (NuMex 6-4) – a very mild chile, just a hint of heat, but lots of fruity roasted green chile flavor. I go through a couple bushels of these a year. I use them in recipes that call for mild chiles, like egg dishes, cornbread, salmon or others with distinctive flavor that you don’t want to overpower. All my chili verde dishes have at least 2 cups of mild chiles; if I want a hot chili verde I add an x-hot chile or even xxx-hot Dynamite.
- Big Jim (medium) – this medium-hot chile is my “workhorse” chile – I put it in just about everything and I go through about 2 bushels a year. This is a big, meaty chile with a good fruity chile flavor. If I want a mild dish with some bite, I mix mild chiles with Big Jims. You just can’t go wrong with Big Jims.
- Sandia (hot) – These are hot with a robust green chile flavor. Certain dishes just need a hot chile, and Sandia or Mosco are my first choice.
- Mosco (hot) – Mosco chiles are similar in heat to Sandia, and also have a great fruity green chile taste. They are larger than Sandia and far meatier with very thick walls. If you want a hot chile for rellenos, the Mosco is a perfect choice. Moscos are one of the best sellers in Colorado. A Mosco is a selective variety of the Mirasol chile much larger and meatier than the traditional Mirasol – some use the terms “Mosco” and “Mirasol” to refer to the same chile.
- Barker (x-hot) – I’m generally not an x-hot person, but I use Barkers in chili verde or various dishes where I want some serious heat. Often I mix them with milder chiles.
Here are pictures of the most popular varieties:
Many chile vendors sell “Hatch Mild,” which most often is a 6-4. There is no variety of chile with the name of “Hatch Mild.” When you buy Hatch Mild, you do not know for sure what variety you are buying. The 6-4 Chile is a mild hybrid that usually has a distinctive, fruity green chile taste.
Big Jim Chiles are one of the biggest sellers of all the fresh chiles. As you might guess from the name, they are also among the largest chiles and can grow to be as much as a foot long. These are medium hot chiles with a meaty, sturdy wall. They have a robust distinctive fruity green chile taste and are ideal for stuffing. Big Jims are a common choice for Chile Rellenos. Most Big Jim chiles are grown in New Mexico.
Sandia Chiles are hot, but not overly hot. They generally are smaller than the Hatch Mild and Big Jim and have medium thickness walls. They usually have a full-bodied fruity green chile flavor and are a favorite for many who like some definite heat in their chile dishes. The Sandia is not usually selected for chile rellenos as they tend to split when stuffed. Most Sandia Chiles are grown in New Mexico.
Hatch X- Hot Chiles:
Like the Hatch Mild, there is no actual variety with this name. Most often, when you buy Hatch Hot chiles, you are getting Espanola Chiles. These are X-Hot and are a favorite for those who like really spicy dishes. Though they are not the hottest, they have lots of heat plus that nice fruity green chile flavor.
The Mosco is a selectively bred derivative of the ever-popular Mirasol chile, and has become perhaps the most popular variety of chile in Colorado since 2010. Over 10 years in development, the Mosco was bred specifically to be a much larger, meatier version of the Mirasol. Though the taste and heat is basically the same as a Mirasol, the Mosco is about 3 times larger and far meatier. The Mosco is X-Hot with a robust, fruity green chile taste.
Dynamite Chiles are famous for their XXX heat. These chiles generally have lots of heat and less of the distinctive fruity green chile flavor. They are much smaller than most other green chiles (like those above) and have thin walls. They split easily and are difficult to stuff. Nearly all Dynamite Chiles are grown in Colorado, particularly in Brighton or Ft. Lupton. Dynamites are usually more expensive than other varieties.