Poblano peppers are a type of chili pepper that is popular in Mexican cuisine. They have a mild, earthy flavor that adds richness without too much heat. Many people wonder if poblano peppers are a good option for low-carb diets like keto or paleo. The answer is yes, poblano peppers are relatively low in carbs compared to other varieties of peppers. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the carb content of poblano peppers and how they can fit into a low-carb lifestyle.
The Nutrition Profile of Poblano Peppers
Let’s start by examining the basic nutrition facts of raw poblano peppers (per 1 pepper about 4-5 inches long / 116 grams) :
- Calories: 44
- Net carbs: 5.4g
- Fiber: 2.2g
- Sugar: 0.8g
- Fat: 0.5g
- Protein: 1.7g
As you can see, an average raw poblano pepper contains only about 5 net grams of digestible carbs. It also provides fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The majority of the carbs come from the natural sugars (mainly glucose and fructose).
When comparing poblano peppers to other common varieties, they are lower in net carbs than bell peppers (about 7g per pepper) and banana peppers (around 8g). They contain slightly more carbs than sweet mini peppers, which have only 3-4g net carbs per pepper .
Are Poblanos Keto-Friendly?
Many people following a ketogenic diet aim to keep their net carbs around 20-50 grams per day. Given that a single poblano pepper contains just 5g net carbs, it can easily fit into a keto eating plan. Adding some sliced poblanos to an omelette, salad, taco or chili can provide flavor without knocking you out of ketosis.
When incorporating poblano peppers into a keto diet, just be mindful of your total net carb intake for the day. Track your servings of peppers alongside other carb-containing foods like low-carb veggies, dairy products and nuts/seeds to ensure you stay within your daily carb allowance.
Poblano Pepper Carb Count in Different Serving Sizes
Here is a breakdown of the net carbs in different serving sizes of raw poblano peppers :
- 1 small pepper (58g): 3g net carbs
- 1 medium pepper (87g): 4g net carbs
- 1 large pepper (116g): 5g net carbs
- 1 extra large pepper (152g): 7g net carbs
- 1 cup chopped (149g): 7g net carbs
As you go up in size and quantity, the carb count increases. But even a whole extra large poblano pepper stays under 10 grams of net carbs.
Comparing Raw vs. Roasted Poblanos
What happens when poblano peppers are roasted? Does this alter the carb content?
Roasted poblano peppers have very similar nutrition to the raw version. According to USDA data, here is the carb content in 1 roasted poblano pepper (103g) :
- Total carbs: 7.5g
- Fiber: 2.1g
- Net carbs: 5.4g
Roasting seems to maintain nearly the same carb profile as raw. There is a slight difference, likely due to losses of water weight during roasting and reduction in gram weight. Overall, roasted poblanos can be counted the same as raw in terms of net carbs.
Carb Count in Stuffed Poblano Peppers
When poblano peppers are stuffed, the carb content will vary depending on the ingredients used in the stuffing. Some common stuffings include:
- Cheese – minimal carbs
- Ground meat – no significant carbs
- Rice – about 45g net carbs per cup
- Beans – around 20-40g net carbs per cup depending on type
Going with a cheese or meat stuffing will keep the carb count low. But rice or bean-based fillings will hike up the carbs quickly. Just 1/2 cup of rice adds over 20g net carbs to the total.
To keep stuffed poblanos lower in carbs, avoid using high-carb fillings like grains or starchy veggies. Focus on fillings like taco meat, fajita veggies, shredded cheese, sausage, etc.
Choosing Low-Carb Accompaniments
In addition to stuffings, the accompaniments you pair with poblano peppers can affect the total carb tally.
Some lower-carb options include:
- Bed of lettuce or cabbage instead of tortillas
- Cauliflower rice instead of regular rice
- Cheese shells instead of corn tortillas
- Serving on top of meat, fish or eggs
On the higher-carb side, common pairings like tortillas, taco shells, rice, beans and high-sugar salsas or sauces will ramp up the overall carb count significantly.
Tips for Working Poblanos Into a Low-Carb Diet
Here are some tips for enjoying poblano peppers on a low-carb diet:
- Use in moderation – 1-2 peppers at a time
- Add to eggs, omelettes, stir fries and salad
- Stuff with low-carb fillings like cheese and meat
- Pair with non-starchy veggies and healthy fats
- Avoid deep frying in batter (adds extra carbs)
- Count net carbs when tracking your intake
Are Poblanos Keto? The Final Answer
Poblano peppers contain about 5 grams of net digestible carbs per average-size pepper. This carb content is low enough to fit poblanos into a ketogenic diet, though fruits and vegetables do contain natural sugars.
When consumed in normal serving sizes, poblano peppers can be an excellent addition to a low-carb or keto eating pattern. They provide flavor, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants with a relatively small impact on net carbs. Just be mindful of portion sizes and accompany poblanos with low-carb ingredients to construct an overall keto-friendly dish.
Health Benefits of Poblano Peppers
In addition to being low in carbs, poblano peppers offer some great health benefits. Here are some of the top nutrients and compounds found in poblano peppers:
- Vitamin C – One pepper contains about 144% of the RDI for vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant and supports immune health .
- Vitamin A – Poblanos are high in provitamin A carotenoids like beta carotene, which can be converted to retinol by the body .
- Vitamin B6 – Important for metabolism, nerve function, and red blood cell formation.
- Iron – Required for blood production and oxygen transport.
- Magnesium – Plays a role in over 300 enzyme reactions in the body.
- Capscaicin – This compound gives poblanos their mild heat and may have anti-inflammatory properties .
- Antioxidants – In addition to vitamin C and A, poblanos contain antioxidants like capsanthin and quercetin .
Potential Downsides of Eating Too Many Poblanos
While nutritional dense and low in carbs, some potential drawbacks can occur if you eat very large amounts of poblano peppers on a regular basis.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- May irritate the digestive tract in sensitive people, especially raw.
- Can trigger heartburn or reflux symptoms in those prone to these conditions.
- Contains oxalates which may contribute to kidney stone development in those prone to them.
- Has solanine, a compound that can build up in the body over time to potentially toxic levels if over-consumed .
- Adds up in carbs if eating extremely large portions.
To avoid any issues, stick to normal serving sizes of 1-2 peppers at a time and moderate your intake if you notice any digestive discomfort.
Whole vs. Chopped Poblanos
You can add poblano peppers to recipes either whole (such as stuffing the pepper) or chopped (such as adding to eggs or tacos).
In terms of carbs and nutrition, there is no major difference between whole vs. chopped poblanos.
The only potential impact is that you may end up consuming more volume of chopped peppers than you would a whole pepper. As a result, the carb count could be slightly higher.
Otherwise, choose between whole or chopped poblanos based on your recipe needs and personal preference!
Low-Carb Recipes Using Poblano Peppers
Looking for some keto recipe inspiration using poblano peppers? Here are some delicious low-carb options:
- Poblano Pepper Egg Muffins
- Chorizo Breakfast Stuffed Poblanos
- Keto Egg in Poblano Boats
- Chicken Fajita Stuffed Poblano Peppers
- Creamy Shrimp Poblano Soup
- Roasted Poblano and Steak Salad
- Poblano Beef Enchiladas
- Poblano Rajas (sliced poblanos with cream and cheese)
- Roasted Poblano Pepper Salsa
- Cilantro Poblano Coleslaw
Get creative with how you incorporate poblanos into keto-friendly dishes!
Where to Buy Poblano Peppers
Poblano peppers are becoming more mainstream and easier to find in regular grocery stores. Here are some places you can buy fresh poblano peppers:
- Major grocery chains like Kroger, Safeway, Wegmans, etc.
- Farmers markets
- Latin grocery stores or markets
- Specialty stores like Whole Foods
- Online through sites like Amazon Fresh
Poblano peppers are sometimes labeled as “pasilla peppers” as well. You can find them year-round, but they are most abundant and at their peak in the summer months.
How Long Do Poblano Peppers Last?
Fresh poblano peppers will usually keep for about 1-2 weeks when stored properly in the refrigerator. Here are some tips for maximizing freshness :
- Store whole, unwashed peppers in a loose plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the fridge.
- Wash just before using.
- Use within 5-7 days for best flavor, but will last up to 2 weeks.
- Do not store below 41°F as this can damage texture and flavor.
- Signs they are going bad: shriveling, mushy texture, brown/grey appearance.
For longer storage, poblano peppers can be frozen either raw or roasted for 2-3 months until ready to use .
Picking Ripe Poblano Peppers
When selecting fresh poblano peppers, look for these signs of ripe, peak quality:
- Smooth, shiny, unblemished skin.
- Firm, taut, not mushy.
- Deep green color (some red undertones are okay).
- Heavy for its size.
- Fresh green stem and cap.
Avoid poblanos with spots, wrinkles, cracks or very soft spots.
Are poblanos hot?
Poblano peppers register between 1,000 to 2,000 Scoville heat units, which classifies them as mild to medium heat. They offer a hint of chili flavor without being overly spicy or hot for most people. The exact spice level can vary based on growing conditions and the individual pepper.
What are poblano peppers similar to?
Poblanos are often compared to bell peppers and ancho peppers. They are larger and milder than a jalapeno but offer a bit more flavor than a bell pepper. When dried, they are called ancho chiles.
Can you eat poblano peppers raw?
Yes, poblano peppers can be eaten raw in dishes like salsa, salads, slaws and on taco. However, some people may find raw poblanos slightly irritating to the mouth or digestive system. Roasting brings out more of the flavor and makes them easier to digest.
Do you need to peel poblano peppers?
Poblanos do not need to be peeled to be edible. However, some people prefer removing the charred skin after roasting, which can be done by rinsing under cool water or rubbing off with hands or paper towels. Leaving the peel on is fine too.
The Bottom Line
Poblano peppers are an excellent choice for low-carb and keto diets. With only about 5g net carbs per pepper, they provide big flavor and nutrients without spiking blood sugar levels. Pay attention to portion sizes, accompaniments, and stuffings to construct an overall keto-friendly poblano dish. In moderation, poblanos can be a delicious addition to everything from breakfast to dinner.