Weekly Recipes

The Ultimate Guide to Great Green Chili

(aka Irresistible Chile Verde)

For anyone on a quest for the very best recipe for Green Chili

Green Chili Pork Stew


What is green chili? Green Chili is a thick soup with green chile peppers as the primary ingredient. A very basic green chili might have little more than pork, green chiles, onions and/or garlic, and water or chicken broth. More elaborate green chilis might include many spices, tomatoes, thickener, and much more. Types of Green Chili

  • New Mexico Green Chili: Usually made with pork, lots of New Mexico green chiles, no thickeners, no tomatoes, sometimes with tomatillos (but there are many exceptions that use tomatoes and thickeners) New Mexican chefs tend to use fresh ingredients and strive to prepare green chili that showcases that fresh roasted Azteca Taqueria's Green Chiligreen chili taste. New Mexico Green Chili tends toward few ingredients and simple, balanced flavor combinations. If you think of the dish as a piece of music, it’s like a haunting melody with only a guitar as accompaniment; no percussion. Our favorite New Mexico Green Chili Recipes
  • Colorado Green Chili: Made with pork, typically hot, with lots of green chiles + jalapenos or serranos, tomatoes, and thickened with flour or corn masa. In Colorado, we like our green chili hot and packed with flavor. While a New Mexican may see the tomatoes and thickener as smothering the green chile flavor, the Colorado chef is making the dish more robust with a rounder, fuller flavor. If this dish were a piece of music, we’ve added another instrument or two – perhaps a horn or sax, but still no percussion. Our favorite Colorado Green Chili Recipes
  • Tex-Mex Green Chili: Usually made with pork, but perhaps beef, often heavy on tomatillos and light on green chiles, sometimes includes nopales. When it comes to the Tex-Mex version, we usually see less emphasis on the roasted green chile flavor. There is heat and the tangy taste of tomatillos and the somewhat tart, green-bean taste of the nopales, we have a different character to the flavor of the dish. In music terms, you might say we’ve shifted to a different set of instruments, perhaps with a violin carrying the melody … still no percussion. Our favorite Tex-Mex Green Chili Recipes

Wow! Thanks for finally clarifying the difference. It’s wonderful to get it … at last! Well …keep your shorts on. Actually, the above descriptions are gross oversimplifications. In this era of fusion cuisine, all these distinctions between regional cooking styles have blurred into one long continuum. In reality, many prominent New Mexico chefs put tomatoes in their green chili, some Tex-Mex chefs wouldn’t dream of putting nopales in green chili, and Colorado is such a melting pot, someone will argue with whatever Colorado green chili you come up with. But you have to give me points for trying. I’m anticipating a barrage of hate mail. In fact, I welcome it. Go ahead and read my favorite – subject was “Green Chili – My Foot!” So….. What type of Green Chili competes in the International Chili Society World Champion Chili Cookoff? ICS rules specify that green chili must include meat (any kind), green chiles, various spices, no tomatoes, no beans, no pasta. Hence, ICS cookoff green chile most closely resembles New Mexico Green Chili … at its core. In general, the world champion recipes rely heavily on spices and added canned or jarred sauces. The champion recipes also go heavy on the meat. Sticking with our music analogy, when you decide to take your recipe and compete on the international stage, you need to add a symphony … and percussion. Are the ICS World Champion Green Chili Recipes really the best of the best? The bottom line is that the World’s Championship Chili Cookoff ™ is a competition. It’s not about being authentic or getting creative with recipes or developing the recipe that will excite the most people. It’s about winning. This means pleasing a specific set of judges. Are the winning recipes good? Of course. Are they the best? Well, that’s a matter of opinion. Get the nitty-gritty here.Is there a formula for great green chili? pork

  • pork
  • sausage or bacon
  • chopped onion
  • garlic
  • chicken broth
  • lots of real New Mexico green chiles
  • salt
  • spices to taste (see below); go overboard and you run the risk of being entered into a cookoff

What if I want to get creative? Pick 2 from column A, 3 from column B, column C, and 2 from column D (see below) Ingredients for classic green chili, expanded: Meat

  • Pork
  • Sausage
  • Bacon
  • Chicken
  • Sausage
  • Beef (if you’re in Texas)
  • Alligator*


  • onion
  • garlic
  • green chiles (ideally, New Mexico/Colorado varieties, such as Hatch Mild (6-4), Hatch Medium (Big Jim), Hatch Hot (Sandia), Pueblo Hot (Mirasol or Mosco), and for those who like it really hot, Dynamite (from Brighton or Ft. Lupton, CO)
  • canned green chiles (if you’re desperate)
  • jalapenos or serranos
  • tomatillos
  • tomatoes
  • bell pepper
  • cilantro
  • lime juice


  • chicken broth – for flavor and consistency
  • water


  • cumin
  • oregano
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • jalapeno powder
  • green chile powder
  • celery salt
  • bay leaves

Allergies: Is Green Chili Gluten-Free?

In general, gluten that may be in chilis, both red and green, would be in flour used for thickening. Flour is often used for thickening, especially in white chicken chilis and some chile verdes, but at times is also used in red chilis. Corn starch and corn flour do not naturally have gluten; there may be some cross contamination in the corn flour production. The spices used in chili are most often gluten free, but if the packaging does not state this explicitly, assume it’s not. Individual spices are more likely to be gluten free than spice mixes. For a comprehensive list of foods containing gluten, see Andrea Sprague’s Ingredients That Contain Gluten; this is a great reference to consult when shopping. Also try out her popular gluten-free Big Batch Chili recipe.

* Yes, I have had alligator green chili. Tastes like chicken.