It's the chile-est time of year: Hatch a plan to find a SoCal roasting now, heat fans

Crackle crackle: New Mexico's most piquant pod, the Hatch pepper, is about to start its spicy season.

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What to Know

  • Hatch green chile season begins in late July/early August
  • The famous and fiery fruit, a New Mexico culinary icon, is roasted and then bagged or boxed at several grocery stores around Southern California
  • Some stores have pre-ordering options; check with your local market for more information

Just when things begin to heat up in July, they get extremely chile, as in green chile, the luscious, tongue-testing, super-flavorful pods o' magic that are grown in and around Hatch, New Mexico.

For it is around the middle of the summer season when the celebrated spicy fruits begin to show up at local Southern California grocery stores, sitting in boxed stacks awaiting their turn in large roasters.

And come August? That's when the Hatch green chile scene will be in full and fiery crackle, with hot-hot roasters turning across the region as peppers tumble inside, growing more magnificent with each rotation.

But before you start your search for this enchilada-topping, stew-enhancing, eat-it-with-cream-cheese-and-crackers staple, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Grocery stores will share their roasting schedules on their sites, typically, but one central place to check? Melissa's Produce, which has an impressive rundown of its 2023 California roasting dates on this page.

Stores don't usually roast every weekend, keep in mind; rather, they'll pick a Saturday or Sunday in late July, August, or early September to make chile magic, so do make sure you plan to visit your local market on the right date.

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Ordering several pounds of roasted green chile in advance? That's become a popular choice in recent years, but you may see other temptations when you arrive, like freshly made green chile muffins or salsas, goodies that you can purchase on-site.

Removing the crackly chile skin once the peppers have had a chance to cool down? That happens once you are back at home. Then into the freezer they go, awaiting their roles in all sorts of autumn and winter dishes, the sorts of meals that benefit from a bit of kick.

(Well, you may eat one or two or a dozen before freezing, as a treat for peeling all of those peppers in one fiery-fingered go.)

Gelson's, Pavilions, and Vons are some of the participating SoCal stores but do check in with your favorite shop spot if you don't see them on the list. They might have a roasting planned, too, or even special chile dishes on their deli or prepared foods menus.

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