Rajas con crema, a hearty dish made with poblano chiles, onion, crema mexicana and a little bit of cheese, is a favorite in my house. As one friend put it, “anything that comes out of your kitchen at least once a week has got to be good.”
Rajas are particularly popular in central and Southern Mexico, 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.
According to my husband, 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. In that case, you may want to soak them in a solution of vinegar and water so they’re not too spicy. If those two things don’t happen, sometimes I skip the vinegar and water soak after roasting the chiles. However, f you soak them too long, the chiles are a little sweet rather than spicy but still delicious nonetheless.
If you’ve never prepared rajas before, you’ll want to first read my tutorial on how to roast poblano chiles before you skip to the directions below.
Some rajas con crema 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. Mexican sour cream isn’t actually sour like American sour cream; it has a less acidic taste and a thinner consistency. 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.
RELATED: Vegetarian queso fundido with rajas
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). 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.
RELATED: How to roast poblano chiles
Rajas con crema
Yield 12 servings
Rajas con crema is a hearty dish made with poblano chiles, onion, Mexican sour cream and a little bit of cheese. It's used as a taco filling or served as a side dish.
- 5-6 poblano chiles, roasted, skinned and cut into strips
- 1/2 of a large white onion, sliced into rings and then cut in half (to make half moon strips)
- 2 tablespoons salted butter (do not substitute margarine)
- 5 ounces crema Mexicana
- 1/2 of coarsely shredded Chihuahua cheese
- A pinch of kosher salt, or more to taste
- Roast poblano chiles. Allow them to sweat for 15 minutes, then peel off the skins, remove seeds and cut into strips.
- 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.
- Add 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 5 ounces of crema and stir in well. Cook for about 2-3 minutes and then reduce heat to low and add a half cup of coarsely grated Chihuahua cheese (if you can't find cheese labeled Chihuahua, any cheese labeled "queso para fundir" will do). 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.
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.
You had me at “rajas.” Looking forward to reading and keeping up with you on twitter. follow me @ivette_mls
Veronica Ludwig says
Oh my Godiva!!! I had not seen this blog before tonight and now that I have…I’m in trouble!! This stuff looks SO good!! (new subscriber!)
wow maura, that looks good
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.
Monica Esquivel 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!
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!
Adam K. says
Thank you for posting this. It sounds delicious. Will be gathering the ingredients to make these today.
Maura Hernandez says
Thanks for stopping by, Adam! I’m making them today, too. Let me know how you like them!
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 😀
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.
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!)
Maura Hernandez 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!
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.
Maura Hernandez says
Hi Jeremy, glad you like the recipe. What you’re thinking of are molletes. 🙂
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.
jerry noe says
I LIVE IN NORTH MICHOACAN MEXICO….RAJAS CON CREMA ARE A MAIN PART OF MY DIET…SO UNBELIEVABLY DELICEOUS…I CAN´T BEGIN TO DESRIBE THEM…YOU SIMPLY GOTTA TRY THEM
TO ME THEY ARE NOT PICANTE ( HOT ), JUST DELICEOUS, BUT IF YOU TRY THEM FIRST IN MEXICO YOU MIGHT FIND THEM A LITTLE HOT AT FIRST, BUT THIS SLIGHT HEAT IS THE DOORWAY TO A RAINBOW OF EXOTIC FLAVORS
Please tell me you know how to prepare cecina, that sounds excellent in this meal.
Erika Grediaga 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 🙂
Larkspur Morton says
We love RAJAS! My husband has made this dish as a regular treat for about 20 years. He doesn’t put cheese in but rather melts cheese onto a flour tortilla in the oven, then pile the tortilla with rajas and top with slices of avocado (I sometimes add sour cream if it’s too picante. He uses just heavy cream and then cooks it down quite a bit. He also starts by cooking the onions long enough that they are moving toward carmelized. This creates more sweetness to go with the spicyness. Thanks for posting!!