Originally released in 1956, Sandia chile peppers are grown throughout New Mexico, particularly around the Mesilla Valley and Hatch. The Sandia Select variety was developed at New Mexico State University after green chile growers asked NMSU's breeding program for an improved variety that had thicker walls. The peppers start out green and mature to red, and they're smaller than the traditional Hatch pepper. Growers in the southwest region typically allow the peppers to ripen to red before they are harvested as the pods are processed and used in red chile powder and in chile flakes. The Sandia Select pepper is mild as it averages about 9,500 Scoville Heat Units.
Like Poblano peppers and Anaheim peppers, the Sandia peppers are commonly found in foods such as burritos, salsa, green chile enchiladas, guacamole, chile verde, and hamburgers and often labeled as "green chile."