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New Mexico Chile | Hatch Chile Guide A to Z

hatch chiles falling out of a box

New Mexico Chile, also known as, Hatch Chile is grown and harvested in the Hatch Valley of New Mexico. Learn more about Hatch Chile Peppers from iHatchChile

What are Hatch Chile Peppers?

It’s no secret why everyone is obsessed with Hatch Peppers. Named after the original growing area in Hatch, New Mexico, authentic Hatch Peppers are truly a Southwestern favorite. No other pepper is prized more than this variety which grows in the Hatch Valley, just north of Las Cruces. The valley, which stretches along the Rio Grande’s southern-most bend before crossing into Texas and Mexico, is covered with row after row of these green leafy pepper plants for most of the summer. Chefs say that the intense sunlight and cool nights in this valley result in a uniquely flavored pepper that’s unrivaled by any other.

How hot are Hatch Chile Peppers?

Hatch peppers are the only variety pepper where the heat is determined by the seed variety (i.e. Mild, Medium, Hot, and X-Hot seed varieties). Most Hatch peppers are about a third as hot as a typical jalapeno pepper, but they can get as hot as a Manzano pepper (~12,000 SHU).

Because there are different varieties of chili peppers that can be categorized as Hatch Chile Peppers, there heat levels can vary from a fairly mild 1,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) to around 12,000 SHU.

The Scoville Scale measures the relative heat of hot peppers, and most Hatch chiles score between 1,500 and 2,500 units—about the same level of heat as poblano or Anaheim peppers.

Different types of Hatch peppers:

NuMex Big Jim
NuMex Sandia
NuMex Joe E. Parker
New Mexico 6-4
NuMex Heritage 6-4
NuMex Heritage Big Jim
Barker Extra Hot
NuMex R Naky

The most popular varieties you’ll find in the store are:

  • Big Jim
  • 6-4
  • Barker

Taste Profile:

Hatch peppers are hugely popular in the Southwest and surrounding region for their unique flavor profile. They are quite earthy in flavor, similar to the Anaheim chili pepper, but unmatched in flavor because of their growing region, in Hatch, NM. Some say their flavors are defined by the rich regional soil in which they are grown, though others argue that the soil is irrelevant, and that they taste great wherever they are grown. (I disagree with that!)

They can be eaten raw, offering a crisp, spicy flavor and a mild pungency similar to an onion, though they are typically roasted which gives them a smoky, rich, earthier, sometimes buttery flavor.

Hatch green chiles offer a bit more bite, while aging them to ripened red Hatch chiles mellows them and the heat they deliver from an initial bite to more of a blooming back heat.

Also, my buddy Michael from Chili Pepper Madness has some more great recipe and flavor notes here.

How to cook with Hatch Chile Peppers:

Hatch Peppers have a meaty flesh with heat that varies depending on the variety, making them ideal for use in Hatch Chile Chili, Enchilada Soup, and Hatch Chile Margaritas. But it doesn’t just stop there. You can also try roasting and using them in salads, soups, stews, dips, and sandwiches. For even more great ideas on how to use this incredible chile, purchase a copy of Melissa’s Hatch Chile Cookbook.

Click Here for at home Hatch Roasting Instructions

removing seeds from green chile

Where to find Hatch Chile roasts:

I set out to answer that question almost a decade ago, with this handy too: Hatch Chile Finder

I list all the fresh hatch chile roasts that we can find across the country.

hatch chile map of the US Hatch Chile locator

When is Hatch Chile season?

Short Answer: August – September

Hatch chile peppers have a very short (6 weeks) cultivation season, as they are larger peppers with very thick walls. They are typically harvested in August and September each year, though the season can be extended a couple weeks on either side, depending on the weather. This is referred as Hatch chile season.

Additionally, once per year, the state throws a massive party for Hatch Chiles, referred to as the Hatch Chile Festival, where the city population goes from around 2000 people to over 20,000 people!

Can I substitute Anaheim Peppers for Hatch Peppers?

Technically…yes, you can. You can grow the different types of Hatch peppers from seed or purchase seedlings and grow them in your own garden anywhere that chili peppers can be grown. However, as they won’t be growing in Hatch, New Mexico, you won’t get the same wall thickness, flavor profile, and they can’t actually be called “Hatch Chile Peppers”. 😉

When can I buy Hatch Chile Peppers?

Be sure to check out our Hatch Chile Finder to locate fresh hatch chile roasts. If you’re looking for chiles online, here are a couple resources:

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