Let's get cozy and enjoy with a big bowl of this Colorado-style pork green chili! With its flavorful, tender chunks of pork shoulder and spicy peppers, this Colorado green chili is the perfect comfort food. Eat it as a hearty stew with your favorite chili toppings or smother it on your favorite dish.
What Is Colorado Pork Green Chili?
Colorado pork green chili is a flavorful stew made of tender pork shoulder, roasted green chiles, chicken stock, onion, garlic and cumin. Some recipes include tomatoes, tomatillos and potatoes, but this comes down to the individual chef's preference. I like to really let the green chile flavor shine, so I skip the tomatoes and tomatillos, but I love using potatoes for some extra heartiness.
As far as the specific type of green chiles, you can use either Pueblo and Hatch chile peppers. Pueblo chiles are grown locally in Southern Colorado while Hatch green chiles are native to New Mexico. However, the chiles show off a similar flavor profile, and you'll see green chiles stands here offer both varieties.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
A five-star reader favorite: This Colorado green chili with pork has consistently been one of the most popular recipes here at Burrata and Bubbles. Readers have raved about it, with one reader even saying this is the recipe that satisfied his decades-long search for a great green chili recipe.
Ultra versatile: I love eating this green chili as a stew with plenty of delicious toppings as pictured, but we Coloradans are also known to smother our green chili on almost everything — think breakfast burritos, enchiladas, burgers, curly fries, chile rellenos, nachos and cheesy eggs. If you can smoother it, you can bet someone in Colorado has doused it with ladles of green chili. You will get so many uses out of this recipe.
Easily feeds a crowd: Chili takes some time to make, so I like to maximize the effort to ensure there's plenty to go around. One batch can feed between 12-16 people.
Perfect for making ahead: While this chili makes for one delicious meal when served right away, it's even better the next day after the flavors have time to meld in the refrigerator. Plus, this green chili freezes beautifully if you don't get through a whole batch.
Bonus: If you love this stew, you'll also love my green chile-artichoke dip!
As you can see, you don't need a long list of ingredients to make this pork green chili stew. The green chiles are so flavorful, especially with the pork shoulder, that it's unnecessary to load it with a bunch of different spices. Outside of the pork shoulder and green chiles, there's a good chance you have most of the ingredients in your pantry.
Pork shoulder: Specifically, we're looking for the pork butt cut. Please note that this is not an entire cut of pork shoulder. Most grocery stores cut out small 3- to 4-pound pork butt roasts, and that's what we need here. A whole pork shoulder or butt is way too big.
Green chile peppers: I love getting my roasted green chiles from a roadside stand. These are all over Colorado during chile season. However, you can substitute canned, frozen or jarred Pueblo or Hatch chiles when they're not available.
Masa harina: This is our stew thickener. Masa is a flour made from dried corn kernels and is commonly used to make corn tortillas and tamale dough. While you can substitute all-purpose flour or a cornstarch slurry, you'll love the flavor the corn base adds to the chili. You can find masa harina by the other flour products in the grocery store.
Spices: Since the green chiles add so much flavor, we're keeping it simple. A little cumin, smoked paprika and black pepper are all we need.
Potato: Not everyone adds cubed potatoes to their stew, but you'll love the heartiness it adds.
Step 1: We first need to peel, deseed and dice our green chiles (photo 1), though we can skip this step if using frozen green chiles. The ones I've always seen already come prepped and ready to go.
Step 2: After we dice our chiles, we coat the pork shoulder with plenty of salt and pepper and sear it on all sides in olive oil over medium-high heat to give it a brown crust in a large Dutch oven or stock pot (photo 2). This step adds a nice caramelization to the pork and depth of flavor.
Step 3: Once we develop that lovely crust, we remove the pork and cook the onion and garlic in that delicious rendered pork fat (photo 3).
Step 4: Now we're ready to return the pork to the pot and add the green chiles, cumin, smoked paprika, pepper, chicken broth and diced potatoes (photo 4). We bring the chili to a low boil, pop on the top and lower the heat to simmer.
Let's pour ourselves a drink, give the pork green chili stew a stir every so often to prevent burning and cook until the pork is fork tender and shreddable. This typically takes about two to three hours.
Step 5: When the pork is ready, we remove it from the pot and give it a few minutes to cool. When it's cool enough to handle, we shred the pork with a couple forks, remove any bones and discard any excess fat. Now we add the shredded pork back to the chili (photo 5).
Step 6: To get that signature Colorado-style thickness, we now make a roux by whisking together masa and butter until smooth and adding it to the pot with the pork (photos 6-8). We then cook it for about five or 10 more minutes to allow the stew to thicken.
And that's it. Ladle that wonderful green chili into a large bowl, grab a spoon and savor every spoonful of this flavorful dish. A refreshing margarita on the side isn't a bad idea either.
Best Topping Ideas for Serving
Whether you need topping ideas for serving as a stew or smothering, these are a few of my favorites.
- Shredded cheese (bonus points for using a smoked cheese!)
- Sour cream
- Guacamole or avocado
- Red onion
- Crushed tortilla chips
- Fresh cilantro
- Jalapeño slices
- Lime slices
Oh, and don't forget to have plenty of warm flour tortillas on hand for dipping.
How to Store and Freeze
After cooking, let the green chili completely cool. Then, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. As long as it's stored correctly, it should last about four days.
This makes our chili convenient for serving at casual parties. Not only does that refrigeration time give the flavors that melding time but it also means you can make it well ahead of serving for easy entertaining. When you're ready to serve, you can heat it on the stove over medium heat and keep it warm right there in the pot or move it to a slow cooker on the warm setting for two to four hours.
Alternatively, you can freeze the chili. Like refrigeration, we first let the chili cool, spoon it into airtight, freezer-safe containers and freeze for four to six months. After that, you can still safely enjoy your chili, but the meat quality eventually fades as it sits in the freezer.
While I make this chili on the stove, I've had readers make this in the slow cooker with delicious results. I still recommend browning the pork shoulder on the stove first, and then you can move the roast to the slow cooker with the remaining ingredients and cook on low for eight hours. You'll also want to make the masa roux on the stove-top and then add it to the slow cooker at the end of cooking.
This depends on the heat level of your peppers. Both Hatch and Pueblo green chiles range from mild to extra hot. You can even mix and match the different heat levels to achieve your own spice blend.
There's no difference. Verde means green in Spanish.
Green chile roasting stands are generally open from August until November 1. When you first arrive, they'll ask for your preferred heat level and whether you'd like a full or half bushel. For this recipe, a half bushel has always been perfect, but you can certainly get a whole bushel and double the recipe or save those chiles for other uses.
Most stands offer fresh garlic for a small fee, and I always take them up on it. They then throw your chiles into a giant cylindrical gas roaster, quickly turn it until the chile skins are black and then transfer them to a large plastic bag, which allows the peppers to sweat and loosen their skins.
Variations and Substitutions
If you need to make some tweaks to this recipe, here are a few ideas.
- Add another variety of green chiles to the mix — roasted poblano peppers and Anaheim peppers work well.
- Prefer beef to pork? You can use a chuck roast instead. While this won't technically be a Colorado-style green chili without pork, it will still be tasty.
- Mix in additional seasonings, such as chili powder or Mexican oregano.
- If you prefer cubed pork to shredded pork, you can cut the pork shoulder into small chunks before browning.
Stir periodically: To keep the chiles from sticking, stir every so often, scraping a large along the bottom of the pot.
Err on the mild side for a crowd: For a party, I recommend opting for mild or medium green chiles unless you know everyone loves super spicy food. Anyone who needs more heat can top their chili with fresh jalapeño slices or hot sauce, but it's much harder for those who are sensitive to heat to calm the spice. That said, dairy is great for taming heat, so keep cheese and sour cream on hand.
Use pork shoulder, not pork tenderloin: Some recipes call for pork tenderloin, but I don't recommend this. This cut is too lean to stand up to the simmering time needed to develop the chili flavors.
Remove the chile skins while they're still warm: The chiles need time to sweet and loosen that skin, but don't let the chiles get cold. You'll find the skin peels much more easily when they're a bit warm.
With beer, you have a few great pairing options. Pale ale and pilsner are delicious, but I especially love a good doppelbock with this green chili. Doppelbock's caramel-like notes pair nicely with the pork's browned crust, and the sweet malt contrasts from the heat from the chile, particularly if you go for a hot variety.
For those times wine calls, tempranillo will take care of you. Like a doppelbock's malt, the red fruit in tempranillo balances the spice, and tempranillo isn't overly tannic, so you don't have to worry about the two clashing. Tempranillo also has higher acidity levels than other reds, which works well with the spicy green chile.
With the fall here, I hope you take some time for yourself to make this Colorado pork green chili. Every year I look forward to making a batch, and I'm sure it'll be a new favorite for you as well.
Enjoy More Chili Recipes
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Colorado-Style Pork Green Chili
- Large stockpot or Dutch oven
- Cutting board
- ½ bushel of roasted fresh green chiles approximately 7 ½ cups chopped chiles, mild, medium or hot, depending on your preference
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3-4 pounds pork shoulder roast
- Salt and pepper
- 4 garlic cloves grated or minced
- 1 onion diced
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 10 cups chicken broth
- 1 russet potato diced
- 1 cup masa or flour preferably masa but flour works well
- 1 cup butter
- Cayenne pepper optional, to taste
- Fresh jalapeno optional, diced, with seeds, to taste
- 1 lime juiced
- Favorite toppings such as cheese, sour cream, guacamole, chopped red onion, crushed tortilla chips, cilantro, lime juice and jalapeño slices
- If using freshly roasted green chile, remove the skin, deseed and dice. For frozen green chiles, thaw and dice if they don't come chopped, though most frozen green chiles tend to come diced. You can also used canned green chiles, though fresh or frozen is my preference.
- In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Liberally salt and pepper the pork shoulder roast. Once the oil is hot, cook the pork on all sides until it develops a nice crust. This should take about four to five minutes on each side. Remove the pork, add the onion and turn heat down to medium. Cook for about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Put the pork back in the stockpot and add the chiles, cumin, spiced paprika, pepper, chicken broth and potato to pot. Bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the pork is fork tender, about two to three hours.
- When the pork is tender, remove the roast from the stockpot and shred with two forks once it's cool enough to handle. Discard any bones.
- In a separate skillet, melt the butter to make a roux. Continuously whisk in the masa or flour for about four to six minutes. Return the shredded pork to the stockpot and stir in the roux. Cook for another five to 10 minutes until the green chile thickens to your liking.
- Taste the green chile and if you'd like to add more heat, stir in cayenne pepper or sauteed diced fresh jalapenos with the seeds. This step is optional. You can also add more salt to taste if desired. Turn off heat and stir in lime juice.
- You can serve immediately or refrigerate it overnight to allow the flavors to meld. Smother or eat as a stew. Garnish with your favorite toppings. Enjoy!
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.
- You can also freeze leftovers for four to six months. The chili will still be safe to eat after that time period, but the quality starts to go down.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.