Green Chile Scalloped Potatoes: a Sassy Thanksgiving Side Dish!

Some of my most memorable Thanksgivings stand out due to their lack of traditional nature.  Like most, I’m fairly wed to the Thanksgiving ‘Big 5’ of turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy and cranberry sauce.  I’m usually not ready to swap them out for something really different knowing this meal only happens once a year therefore leaving the departures notable.

One such memorable Thanksgiving for me was when I was in college in California and my maternal uncle hosted my grandparents and I to a full Italian spin on the Thanksgiving faire.  As a child I really did not understand the cache of Thanksgiving; it presented itself as a gorging holiday with fairly uninteresting food to me coupled with weird things like ‘orange juice potatoes’ (sweet potatoes) and marshmallows.  I never understood if the Pilgrims wanted to be friends with the Indians (our vernacular at the time) why on earth they’d serve them that deadly dish.

My uncle’s Thanksgiving was the first recollection I have of reveling in the feast.  He was a very enthusiastic cook, brimming with passion about his menu.  He was a lawyer and working in the California court system at the time.  We dined at the home he shared with a colleague, also working for the courts and it was all very sophisticated, exciting and delicious.

Another memory that recently sprang to mind was a visit to the home of another relative (who may or may not be my mother) for the holiday.  Said relative was also brimming with excitement over a fantastic recipe she’d found.  The turkey is cooked early, stripped mercilessly from the bone, combined in a casserole with mashed potatoes and dressing and ‘voila’; one dish Thanksgiving.  Though she will labor in the kitchen it’s not her passion and I feel, for her, the joy she felt must had to have been similar to the person who invented the canned soup casserole; nirvana.  I was secretly horrified feeling it a travesty and wondering if the following year we’d all enjoy ‘Thanksgiving Smoothies’ where all the ingredients would be forced into the blender leaving a Willy Wonka beverage to be consumed briskly to end the holiday in 10 minutes or less.

All these shaping experiences lead me to my adult appreciation of the holiday.  I married someone who loves to cook and had better cooking stuff than I did (and mine was good).    Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday which he sees as a chance to dwell in the kitchen for days and experiment (always successfully I might add).  It’s taken the full meal pressure off me allowing me to prepare a few dishes of interest and incorporate some new additions with some flair knowing the mainstays are covered.

This year my Mom and Step Dad will join us.  In my mother’s defense, she’s now an avid reader of my blog as are a few thousand of her closest friends (Hi Ladies!  Thank you for reading!).  She will email asking where she might buy Seckel Pears and how to perfect a meringue so she’s redeemed herself from the discount Thanksgiving fiasco (and has prepared MANY years of the full spread too).  Her contributions will have a Southwest influence which we all love.  To play off of that I am making this luscious, simple Green Chile Scalloped Potato dish.

I love this side dish for many reasons, not the least of which is its versatility.  It is a creamy dish but not overly so.  One can make it as spicy as desired through the use of differing heat levels of chiles.  Store purchased canned fire roasted chilies and pre-grated ‘Mexican blend’ cheese can be used if time is running short.  It can also be bulked up and made into an entrée by the use of browned chorizo or other ground meats.  For our meal I’m keeping the heat more mild to please all multi generational diners and not overshadow the dishes with more subtle flavors.


  1. says

    This indeed does sound sassy! Love it. I have never ever strayed from the big 5. Ever. But for the first time this year, I’m not wrestling a whole bird, and roasting a turkey breast basted with a tarragon sauce and replacing my mom’s pumpkin pie with vanilla ice cream drizzled with pumpkin spice liqueur. It’s a big step for me. I’m not sure I’m ready to replace the mashed potatoes and gravy, but will pin this recipe to try very soon. It sounds absolutely wonderful Toni. Have a wonderful Holiday.

    • Toni | Boulder Locavore says

      Your menu sounds fantastic to me Lea Ann! My mom is bringing the mashed potatoes in a casserole form (not a surprise from reading this post right?!) but we surveyed the recipe and it sounds great. My best wishes to you and your family with a delicious Thanksgiving!

  2. says

    This is a superb combination! But I will have to save it for the weekend (to go along with the leftover turkey.) I have a family of traditionalists and there are already two potatoes on the menu! You’re right, though, it’s the flukey Thanksgivings that stand out — like the time my nephew and I picked up the sweet potatoes that rolled onto the kitchen floor at the first Thanksgiving I hosted in my twenties.

    • Toni | Boulder Locavore says

      Funny isn’t it how Thanksgiving bears all its own rules? There is no Plan B. The ‘5 second rule’ takes on a whole new meaning! Hope you and yours will enjoy a warm holiday Rosemary!

  3. Don says

    I was just thinking about another side that wasn’t traditional and this recipe pops up! Great timing Toni! I’ll be doing a maple/bourbon brined turkey and smoking it with maple wood. The dressing will be sourdough, artichokes & Parmesan. So, the question is would this cheesy dish along with the stuffing constitute too much cheese (is there such a thing?). Toni – may you have a wonderful holiday and thank you so much for the guidance and support you’ve given me regarding my camera/lens and food photography. Will there be another issue of Sated?

    • Toni | Boulder Locavore says

      Hi Don! First of all, NO there is no such thing as too much cheese! This recipe is very creamy but not overly heavy or too cheesey. Just enough to support the melding of flavors.

      Your menu sounds fantastic! We have a heritage breed turkey this year and I’m anxious to see how that tastes. You did prompt me to go look about Sated ( Seems issue 2 is coming soon!

      Best of the holidays to you and your family Don!

  4. Cathy Morgan says

    Yes, I am one of your mom’s thousand friends and DO love reading your informative (and often humorous) blog. This recipe looks like a real winner. Thanks, thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving to your family (pups included!)

  5. Colleen says

    Toni, this looks so good, I want to make it right now. I might use Yukon Gold potatoes and dot the top with sliced Jalapeños since I like very spicy. With my Irish heritage, I feel there is nothing better on earth than potatoes and onions cooked together, and having adopted New Mexico as my home, green chilis just add even more wonderfulness. Thank you for your superb timing in offering up a new idea just when we are all wracking our brains to decide what to make!

  6. says

    Toni, I just adore your green chile scalloped potatoes…my kind of comfy-cozy side dish. I don’t think I would have this for Thanksgiving; only for one reason…I would not just get a small serving, and would totally fill up on the potatoes. We usually have just 2 kinds; mashed potatoes, and a sweet potato casserole, these 2 are ‘staple’ items, and have been for years!

    I’m bookmarking your awesome page for the scalloped potatoes to make as a side dish for just about every kind of meats to serve with, or even just by itself with a nice green salad…yumm!
    Have a Happy Thanksgiving:) xoxo

    • Toni | Boulder Locavore says

      Your idea of making it into a light meal sounds perfect Elisabeth. I feel we are entering the season of ‘Carbs and Sweets’ so salads would be most welcome too! We also could not omit mashed potatoes from our menu. It would not feel like Thanksgiving without it! Hope you and yours will have a joyful and delicious day!

  7. says

    I love scalloped potatoes, but have never thought to add green chilies to them. What a terrific idea! I love spicy (and often add jalapeno to my cranberry relish), so this would be wonderful for Thanksgiving. Thanks for the idea!

    • Toni | Boulder Locavore says

      Hi John. These really are great and not overly rich from the cream and cheese. I’ve decided having some heat in the meal really helps! Hoping you are having a great Thanksgiving!

  8. Jeremy says

    We just enjoyed this for Thanksgiving and really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing. This dish will get made often in our household.

    • Toni | Boulder Locavore says

      Thank you Jeremy! You’ve made my Thanksgiving. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Wishing you and yours a warm holiday (and one that has not left you as stuffed as I’m feeling at the moment!)

  9. Mandy says

    In search of a recipe to use up a bunch of green chiles…I tried this out! AWESOME!! I did a few things differently – 1) I combined my red onions and chopped fresh green chiles into a frying pan and heated them until they left an aroma (pulling them off before they browned); 2) I mixed monterey jack and pepper jack cheese; 3) I used whole milk and half & half. I doubled the recipe to use up all of the green chiles. Definitely will be doing again…possibly for dutch oven cook off next summer! Thanks for the great recipe.


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