rajas con crema

Rajas con crema, a hearty dish made with poblano chiles, onion, Mexican sour cream and a little bit of cheese, is a favorite in my house. And by favorite, I mean that over the last few months we’ve been eating it at least once a week. As one friend puts it, “anything that comes out of your kitchen at least once a week has got to be good.”

There are two tests for me to know if I’ve made a good batch: first, whether I get a “que rico,” and second, whether I get a “pica.” I know it’s particularly yummy when I get a groan with the first bite and a “pica bien rico!” According to José, rajas con crema are the best when the poblanos have a spicy bite, but they’re not too hot. Usually you can tell how hot the poblanos are when you’re removing the seeds after roasting because the heat will burn your skin and if you breathe in too deeply, you might cough. If those two things don’t happen, sometimes I skip the vinegar and water soak after roasting the chiles. If you soak them too long and all the heat dissipates, the chiles are a little sweet rather than spicy but still delicious nonetheless.

Rajas are particularly popular in central and Southern Mexico, so I’m told, and are so versatile I’ve seen them served as breakfast, lunch and dinner. I can’t speak for all of Mexico, but at least in Mexico City when someone is talking about rajas, they are usually talking about strips of poblanos or this dish specifically.

Some recipes call only for cream, and lots of it; others call for so much cheese that it’s more of a queso fundido in disguise. My version, based on a recipe José grew up eating, strikes a perfect balance. Some people like to eat rajas con crema over rice, or as a side dish with meat like carne tampiqueña (a grilled filet or skirt steak) or cecina (a thinly-cut aged salted beef). Some people like to put tomatoes in it, which is not my style–pero lo que sea de cada quien–but to each his own. In our house, as you may already be fully aware if you’re a regular reader, the taco is king. However you decide to serve it, though, I guarantee it won’t be long before you’re making it again.


First, follow my directions on how to roast poblano chiles.

You’ll need a total of 5-6 poblanos, depending on how big they are. Get them to the stage where they are done sweating, you’ve removed the skins and seeds and placed them in the vinegar/water solution to take some of the heat out if necessary.

chiles poblanos asados

Then move on to this:
  • 1/2 of a large white onion, sliced into rings and then cut in half (to make half moon strips)
  • 2 tbsp salted butter (do not substitute margarine)
  • A third of a 15 oz. container of crema Mexicana
  • About a half cup of coarsely shredded Chihuahua cheese
  • A pinch of salt if desired
Using a deep skillet, melt the butter and cook the onions in the butter on medium-low heat until they start to change color and caramelize a bit (slightly transparent and a little brown). Turn off burner and remove pan from heat.

Finish with the chiles. You’re going to remove them from the vinegar/water solution and rinse them with cool water if you soaked them to remove some of the heat. Then cut them into strips. I like to cut them about as wide as my pinky finger, and not too long so they’re bite size.

Put the chile strips (rajas) in the pan with the onion, stir to coat well with the remaining butter, and warm over medium heat until the rajas are warm and a little wilted.

Add about a third of a 15 oz container of crema and stir in well (Mexican sour cream isn’t actually sour like American sour cream; it has a less acidic taste. I buy V&V Supremo brand). Cook for about 2-3 minutes and then reduce heat to low and add a half cup of coarsely grated Chihuahua cheese (queso para fundir). The cheese should melt slowly and not be gooey, and it should be barely visible once incorporated. It’s really more of a bonding agent so the cream doesn’t get soupy. Once the cheese is melted, turn your burner as low as it will go, just so it is on to keep the rajas warm.

chiles poblanos en rajas con cebolla y mantequilla

We like to serve them in corn tortillas as tacos. Sometimes I make cecina to accompany the rajas but they can stand up as a vegetarian meal on their own or as a hearty side with rice, beans, meat or whatever else you’d like.

Yields about 12-15 tacos.

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, and reheated on the stove over medium heat or in the microwave at 30-second intervals.

  • How do you like your rajas?


  1. TThorne says

    I’m frequently in Mexico and this dish (particularly in Northern Mexico) is a popular breakfast dish. I made it this weekend without the Chihuahua Cheese (just didn’t have any) and upped the Crema Mexicana to about two thirds of the jar and it tasted just like what I have in Mexico. Some recipes don’t call for roasting the Poblanos, but I think it’s key to the dish.

  2. says

    Just made this tonight for my husband, with a side of rice. It was delicious! Definitely going to be making it more frequently!

    Thank you for sharing! I’m so glad I found your site. I’m always told “You can’t cook Mexican food by recipe!” 😛 But this site is EXACTLY what I’ve been searching for in order to become a better!

    • Maura says

      Monica, thank you so much for your lovely comment! So many of the family recipes that appear here are given to me in the “pinch of this” or “handful of that” style, which seems to be so common in most Mexican families. I know that a lot of people are too apprehensive to cook that way, so I’m glad my site can help others learn how to cook familiar dishes with actual portions. A lot of the time, there is guesswork involved, and sometimes I have to make a dish two or three times to get it right. Once you achieve a certain level of comfort in the kitchen, you’ll be able to operate on minimal directions, too. Thanks again, your comment really made my day!

  3. Alexandra Boneo says

    Hola, me llamo Alexandra y vivo en la frontera entre EU y Mexico, en una pequena ciudad llamada Agua Prieta, Sonora. Me da mucho gusto haber encontrado tu sito para experimentar cocinar comida mexicana de Mexico, muy diferente a la comida mexicana de la frontera.
    Gracias por compartir con nosotros tus recetas. I can’t wait to try this one!

    Great website too! Alex 😀

  4. says

    Amanecí con un súper antojo de rajas con crema, compré los aditamentos y heme aquí preparándolas. Gracias a tu receta saldrán exquisitas! Se puede añadir un poquito de caldo de pollo en polvo y salen mas deliciosas.

  5. Peter says

    You refer to “the vinegar and water solution” for soaking the peppers, but I can’t see where you specify what kind of vinegar and what the ratio is of water/vinegar? Also how long do you soak them? And do you soak them AFTER they have been roasted, or before?

    (Sorry for being thick about this!)


    • says

      Hi Peter, my apologies that it was not clear! I usually use just a tablespoon or two of white distilled vinegar diluted in about 4-5 cups of water if I soak the poblanos because they’re too spicy. About 15-20 mins of soaking should do the trick – you want them to lose some of the heat, but not all of ut. Hope this helps! If you find yourself in a jam, please feel free to head over to our facebook fan page at facebook.com/theothersideofthetortilla for quick help. I receive notifications via email whenever someone posts something on the wall there so that I can answer questions quickly. And I always answer questions via Twitter as well if you’re on there :) Happy cooking!

  6. Jeremy says

    It is sooo hard finding a good/classic recipe for this. Thank you!

    When I lived in Mexico I would eat (phonetic spelling) moyeteeee con rajas most mornings. Awesome. Basically a small slice of french style bread with refried beans and then the rajas on top.

    I still make it this way about once a year when i need my moyeteee con rajas fix.

    Thank you mr. cafateria man in Torreon.

  7. Karen says

    I love rajas but have always made then fried in oil instead of butter. Tried your recipe today with only one addition – a few cloves of garlic with the onions. Taking them to a Cinco de Mayo gathering and am looking forward to seeing the reactions.

  8. jerry noe says


  9. says

    I looove this dish! It’s my favorite, and the one my mom makes whenever I come visit. She, however, adds chicken to hers, and we eat the dish with rice and beans. I have to try your recipe :)


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