Hatch chile creamy rice | Homesick Texan

Hatch chile creamy rice casserole

In the mid-1990s, some Texan friends and I made the trek to the Upper East Side of New York City to eat at Zarela Martinez’s namesake Mexican restaurant. Zarela is an El Paso native and we were excited to have food prepared by someone from home.

It was a cool night and the restaurant was lit and lively. It was two stories, which was luxurious for Manhattan, and as we squeezed into the bar area to wait for our table, we ate crisp chips dipped into a vibrant salsa roja while sipping cool margaritas on the rocks.

While I don’t recall what we ordered that night, we had a wonderful time. Since this was the Upper East Side, which is an affluent area in the city, the prices were targeted towards the locals, and for my young friends and me, Zarela’s was delicious but a splurge. We enjoyed ourselves, but we never returned since it was too expensive for us.

Hatch chile creamy rice | Homesick Texan

About ten years later, Zarela’s announced that it was closing. Recalling our festive meal, I decided to go for lunch one last time. Even though it was daytime, the restaurant was dark and gloomy. I was the only customer and the energy had definitely shifted. It felt as if it had already been shut down. A waiter appeared and sat me at a two-top table by the door.

One of the reasons why I wanted to visit was because I’d heard about Zarela’s creamy, cheesy rice with green chiles. It sounded like pure savory comfort. Unfortunately, it was not available, and so I ordered enchiladas instead. After my meal, I left feeling that it was time for that restaurant to say its final goodbyes.

Later, I came across the recipe when it was shared by Zarela’s son, Chef Aaron Sanchez. As I read the method and ingredients, I saw that it was a comforting combination of tender rice, sour cream, corn, peppers, and cheese. A savory rice pudding indeed.

When I went to make this dish, I decided to swap out the poblano chiles that her recipe used for long green chiles instead. These peppers are native to the El Paso area, and they are abundant this time of year.

Hatch chile creamy rice | Homesick Texan

For added depth, I also added some spices and lime juice. Though the basic foundation that she originally presented was the same. It’s a fine dish and it makes a good side to roasted meats or enchiladas. It can also stand on its own with perhaps some beans added for a vegetarian one-pot meal.

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5 from 4 votes

Hatch chile creamy rice casserole

Course Side Dish
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8
Author Lisa Fain


  • 1 cup uncooked basmati rice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups corn kernels, either fresh or frozen and thawed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 6 Hatch chiles, roasted, peeled, and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnishing
  • 8 ounces white Cheddar, shredded (2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice


  • Cook the rice with 1 teaspoon of the salt, according to the package directions. When it’s done, remove the pot from the heat, leaving in the rice.
  • After the rice is done, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • In a large, cast-iron skillet, melt the butter on medium-low heat. Add the onions, and while occasionally stirring cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.
  • Add to the skillet the corn, cumin, oregano, cayenne, and remaining salt. While stirring, cook until the corn is softened and fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat. Transfer the corn mixture to the rice in the pot, then add the sour cream, green chiles, cilantro, half the shredded cheese, and lime juice.
  • Stir until everything is well combined then taste and adjust seasonings.
  • Transfer the rice back to the skillet, then top with the remaining cheese. Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • Serve warm, garnished with more cilantro.

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5 from 4 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. Texasgirl says:

    5 stars
    This is AMAZING!!!! Thanks for sharing with us.

    1. Lisa Fain says:

      Texasgirl–Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Greg Hughes says:

    5 stars
    Excellent recipe but it is extremely rich so in many cases I’d call this a 12 serving or more dish. I made it first for a cookout and it was a hit. I used canned green chilies. Pay attention to Lisa when she says dump the ingredients into the rice pot and return to the skillet. I stared out thinking I’ll just mix in the skillet and made a mess then moved to the pot to mix. I also used a bit more butter. In my opinion the lime is a bit too forward so I’d cut in half.

    I made it again last night to go with fried chicken. My sour cream was bad so I had to pivot. I used long grain rice boiled in chicken broth. A whole onion. Added a seeded jalapeño with the green chilies. Went with 1 tbsp lime juice. I simply mixed the corn and peppers with the rice and added Monterrey Jack as it melted quick so I didn’t bake and then topped wit cotija crumbles. It was a lot lighter dish.

  3. Martha Durrett says:

    My rice turned out dry. Not creamy maybe more liquid?

    1. Lisa Fain says:

      Yes, you could add more sour cream if you like.