Tomatillo Salsa Verde

3 methods for making Tomatillo Salsa Verde, a delicious Mexican green salsa made with roasted tomatillos, chile peppers, lime juice, cilantro, and onion.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Growing up we always had a choice of two kinds of salsa – a red tomato salsa which we made from scratch, and a salsa verde, or green salsa, which we got from a bottle (Victoria brand).

As a kid I always thought that green salsa was made from green tomatoes, but actually it is made with a Mexican (distant) relative of a tomato, the naturally tart tomatillo (pronounced “toe-mah-TEE-yo”), which looks like a little green tomato covered with a husk.

Tomatillos

Salsa verde is really easy to make from scratch, all you need are tomatillos, onion, jalapeño, lime, and cilantro.

To make the salsa verde, you will need to cook the tomatillos, which you can do by either boiling them, broiling them in the oven, or pan roasting them. All three approaches are quick and easy, though with broiling or pan roasting, you get added flavor from the searing of the tomatillos.

Then it’s a quick spin in the blender with the other ingredients, easy!

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Updated photos and recipe. First published 2005.

Tomatillo Salsa Verde Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 3 cups

To cook the tomatillos, you can either roast them in the oven, brown them on the stovetop, or boil them. Roasting in the oven or browning on the stovetop will deliver more flavor. Each way works, though boiling is a more common way to cook the tomatillos.

Garlic is optional. You can either cook a few cloves with the tomatillos in any of these steps, or add one or two raw garlic cloves when you go to blend the salsa.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb tomatillos
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 2 cloves (or more) garlic (optional)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 Jalapeño peppers OR 2 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped (you can use whole for more heat if you want)
  • Salt to taste

Method

1 Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well.

2a Oven Roasting Method Cut the tomatillos in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Add a few garlic cloves in their skin (if using) Place under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes to lightly blacken the skins of the tomatillos.

2b Pan Roasting Method Coat the bottom of a skillet with a little vegetable oil. Heat on high heat. Place the tomatillos in the pan and sear on one side, then flip over and brown on the other side. Remove from heat.

2c Boiling Method Place tomatillos in a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove tomatillos with a slotted spoon.

3 Pulse in blender: Place the cooked tomatillos, lime juice, onions, garlic (if using), cilantro, chili peppers in a blender or food processor and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed.

4 Season to taste with salt. Cool in refrigerator.

Serve with chips or as a salsa accompaniment to Mexican dishes.

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Links:

Botanical information on the tomatillo, from Purdue University

Salsa Verde Chicken Bake here on Simply Recipes

Grilled Tomatillo and Corn Salsa

Chile Verde

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Showing 4 of 88 Comments

  • Patti

    This looks good. Do you think I could can it?

  • Jogueto

    I use one jalapeño and one poblano pepper since I don’t like it too hot. I broil everything together but the cilantro leaves; I finely chop everything with a butchers knife instead of the blender then add a little salt and yum!

  • Jan F

    Tomatillo salsa is my favorite! This looks like a great recipe. I believe I read somewhere that tomatillos are not related to tomatoes but are a relative of gooseberries, hence the papery skins. I make a green chicken enchilada with tomatillo salsa. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  • CK

    I love how versatile this recipe is. I’ve made it twice this summer, the first time broiling the tomatillos and using lots of cilantro, and it turned out really well and very bright green. The next time I tried pan roasting them along with the jalapeño and a little bit of sweet corn (and I didn’t have any cilantro) – it turned out really different (more yellow too) but quite delicious! Playing around with this recipe has been a huge help in getting through our CSA share!

  • Jan Schaller

    I made some last night and its bitter, big time! And reason why? Boiled, drained, added garlic, onion, green Pepper, lemon juice, sea salt, cilantro. Food processed it, tried it was very bitter, overnight in fridge– still bitter. Anything I can all?

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