Exploring the Different Varieties of Green Chile in New Mexico

1/10/20243 min read

green glass bottle beside white and blue ceramic plate with food
green glass bottle beside white and blue ceramic plate with food

Green chile is a staple in New Mexico cuisine, and while it may be categorized by temperature, such as mild, medium, hot, or extra hot, the distinctions between the varieties run much deeper. In this article, we will delve into the diverse world of green chile and explore the various breeds and their unique characteristics.

The Rich Variety of New Mexico Green Chile

New Mexico has a long-standing love affair with chile peppers, and as a result, numerous varieties have been developed over the years. These varieties cater to different preferences, whether it's size, heat, or mass production. Let's take a closer look at some of the notable breeds:

1. Big Jim

One popular variety is Big Jim, known for its size and meatiness. These chiles are bred to be larger, making them ideal for stuffing or grilling. Big Jim chiles are mild to medium in heat, making them a versatile option for those who prefer a milder spice level.

2. Lumbre

If you're seeking a chile that brings the heat, Lumbre is the one for you. Bred specifically for its fiery flavor, Lumbre chiles pack a punch and are perfect for those who enjoy a spicy kick in their dishes. These chiles are not for the faint of heart and are best used sparingly.

3. Arizona 88

While many varieties of chile are bred for their flavor and heat, some are primarily developed for mass production. Arizona 88 falls into this category. However, it's important to note that we do not sell this variety as we believe it to be an inferior product. Nevertheless, you may find Arizona 88 chiles in most grocery stores.

Discovering the Purpose of Each Chile Variety

Every chile variety serves a specific purpose, whether it's for culinary use or cultural traditions. Here are a few examples of how different chiles are utilized:

1. Miss Junie

When it comes to hot chile, we typically turn to Miss Junie. This variety offers a balanced level of heat and flavor, making it a popular choice for those who enjoy a spicy kick without overwhelming their taste buds. Miss Junie chiles are well-suited for a wide range of dishes, from salsas to enchiladas.

2. Sandia

If you've ever seen the iconic ristras hanging in New Mexico, chances are they were made with Sandia chiles. Developed by Roy Harper in 1956, Sandia chiles are known for their vibrant red color and medium heat. These chiles are often dried and strung together to create decorative ristras, adding a touch of New Mexican charm to homes and restaurants.

3. Barker

For those who crave an extra hot experience, Barker chiles are the way to go. These chiles are bred specifically to provide a fiery sensation that will satisfy even the most seasoned spice enthusiasts. Use Barker chiles sparingly to add a bold kick to your favorite dishes, but be prepared for the intense heat they bring.

4. Numex no. 9 - The Original "Hatch" Chile

When it comes to Hatch chiles, one cannot overlook the significance of Numex no. 9. Developed by Fabian Garcia, this chile variety is considered the original "Hatch" chile. Known for its rich flavor and medium heat, Numex no. 9 chiles are a staple in New Mexican cuisine. Whether roasted, used in sauces, or incorporated into traditional dishes like green chile stew, these chiles embody the essence of New Mexico's culinary heritage.


Green chile is more than just a measure of heat; it is a diverse and vibrant world of flavors and traditions. From the meatiness of Big Jim to the fiery intensity of Barker, each variety has its own unique characteristics that cater to different tastes and culinary preferences. Whether you're a fan of mild chiles or crave the spiciest of peppers, exploring the diverse range of green chile varieties in New Mexico is sure to be a flavorful adventure.