Tomatillo Salsa Verde

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 relative of a tomato, the tomatillo (pronounced “toe-mah-TEE-yo”), which looks like a little green tomato covered with a husk. Here’s a quick and easy recipe for making Salsa Verde.

Tomatillo Salsa Verde Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 3 cups.

To cook the tomatillos, you can either roast them in the oven, or boil them. Roasting will deliver more flavor; boiling may be faster and use less energy. Either way works, though boiling is a more common way to cook the tomatillos.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb tomatillos
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 Jalapeño peppers OR 2 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped (you can use whole for more heat if you want)
  • Salt to taste

I like to include a few garlic cloves in with the oven roasting method.

Method

1 Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well.

tomatillo-roasted-1.jpgtomatillo-roasted-2.jpg

2a Oven Roasting Method Cut the tomatillos in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes to lightly blacken the skin.

pan-roasted-tomatillos-1.jpgpan-roasted-tomatillos-2.jpg

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.

salsa-verde-blender-1.jpgsalsa-verde-blender-2.jpg

3 Place tomatillos, lime juice, onions, cilantro, chili peppers, sugar in a blender or food processor and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Season to taste with salt. Cool in refrigerator.

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

Links:

Botanical information on the tomatillo, from Purdue University
Simple tomato salsa

tomatillos-with-and-without-husks.jpg

59 Comments

  1. Stephanie

    Aren’t tomatillos fantastic? I personally used them for the first time while on my five-day Mexican food kick, leading up to Cinco de Mayo. Chicken Chilaquiles, and they were so good!

  2. Jacquie

    I browse through the recipes you have posted here all the time but this is the first time I have posted an entry to you. I just wanted to tell you that I made this tomatillo salsa verde last night after seeing how simple this recipe was. I was a bit nervous seeing as though I’ve never worked w/ tomatillos before. This was DELICIOUS and inspired me to make a whole Mexican themed dinner. Thank you so much for posting it~

  3. beckiwithani

    I’ve been using this recipe for a few months now after finding it on your archives. Very, very good! Thanks.

  4. Jen

    We have been making salsa verde for the last few years after learning how to make it from some friends from Chiappas, Mexico. If you want even better taste and flavor, use a mocajeta (like a mortar & pestle, but made from lava rock) instead of a blender or food processor. Much more authentic! We like adding green onions rather than white, and we boil the tomatillos instead of broiling them. it’s one of our favorite things to make, and it is really good on potato salad, believe it or not!

  5. Gina

    I accidently purchased tomatillos thinking I could substitute them for green tomatoes for a different recipe. A bit of research told me otherwise! So I found this recipe and wow! I will be using tomatillos much more often!

  6. Ariadna

    Hello, Elise… As I had mentioned in another post, I am Mexican. Your recipe definitely looks good!! Another thing you can do, if you want, is to make the salsa from fresh tomatillos, without broiling them, chile serrano, not jalapeño, and cilantro. You can use the molcajete or the blender; if you use the latter, you push the botton intermitently, so the ingredients don’t get totally smooth. After that, you add the salt and the onion, chopped. If you don’t want the tomatillos totally raw, roast them on a Comal; the broiler in the oven is so not necessary. Try it, I hope you like it.

  7. Jim Faley

    I tried your recipe last night and used it for an enchilada sauce – it was killer. I did doctor it up a bit – a little water to thin it out some, and some mashed avocado to tone down the acidity. Everybody loved it. thanks.

  8. Jim Faley

    I tried your recipe last night and used it for an enchilada sauce – it was killer. I did doctor it up a bit – a little water to thin it out some, and some mashed avocado to tone down the acidity. Everybody loved it. thanks.

  9. bettyannmanghi

    WoW what a great recipe! Today we celebrated my daughter’s 2nd birthday and we made your tomatillos salsa. It was a big hit especially with me. Since the theme was Dora the Explorer we got some tostados and refried beans and mexican style sour cream, avacados, cilantro, roast and shredded chicken and the like and voila, instant sucess. Thanks again for your quick and easy recipe!

  10. salsa lover

    I agree with ariadna—fresh tomatillos are best (uncooked) for salsas. At least that’s how it’s done here in southern california. And serranos have a richer flavor that jalapenos just don’t match (they are spicier though). I also add a habanero or two to my salsa verde, and a few cloves of garlic. Yum!

  11. leanne

    I love this recipe and I was wondering, is it suitable for canning? I tried freezing it and the texture was a bit odd after it was thawed.

    As is, this recipe is not suitable for canning. For salsa canning I imagine that you would need to simmer all ingredients together for at least 10 minutes before sealing in sterilized jars. But I wouldn’t base a canning recipe on this suggestion, instead do research online to find a specific recipe suitable for canning. There are all sorts of perils when canning low acid foods such as this. ~Elise

  12. Andrew

    Thanks for the recipe! I just now made a batch and it came out absolutely fantastic! My mods: roasted the tomatillos & 2 jalapeño on the grill; peeled & *mostly* seeded the jalapeño; used a mix of 1/4 small white onion & two scallions; a handful (probably 1/2 c.) of cilantro; used a whole lime for the juice. It’s tasting *wonderful* fresh from the food processor, and I’m sure now that it’s in the fridge to get the flavors partying, it’ll be great with our dinner tonight.

  13. Mark Desjardins

    Although this recipe does not specifically state what kind of lime juice to use, I believe the juice from the tiny Key Lime is the best. This smaller lime is also grown in Mexico.

  14. Steve

    I made this recipe yesterday – it is really good and simple to do. I reccomend using more chiles than the recipe here calls for, I used 6 serranos and I think it could stand a couple more.

  15. JoAnna

    Are you supposed to peel the tomatilos after you broil them?

    No need to. The peels aren’t that thick, and they have all that wonderful roasted flavor. ~Elise

  16. Mike

    I enjoyed reading your recipe and some of the comments and variations associated with it. I am trying to collect some good Tomatillo recipes. I brought some seed back form S-Cal last year just to see if they would grow in the British climate. Grow?? OMG! I have so many now I am looking for any ways to keep and store them as possible

  17. Rey

    Another variation is throwing the tomatillos (after peeling and rinsing) on the grill and cooking until they are carmelized and blackened.

  18. Nikole

    I made this tonight and added a couple of ingredients – a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of chopped garlic; it’s the best salsa verde ever! Thanks Elise for the inspiration; it was a great addition to my fish tacos.

  19. Jenny

    I’m going to try out your recipe soon, and would like to use it to make enchiladas…is there anything else I would need to do to use it as an enchilada sauce?

    It’s ready to go as an enchiladas sauce. ~Elise

  20. libet sparks

    With this recipe I don’t add any sugar but I do add one hass avocado, it is very delicious.

    The sugar is just to take the edge off of the acidity of the tomatillos. I’m sure it would be quite delicious with a chopped avocado. ~Elise

  21. Tim Ross

    I made this recipe last night broiling the mysterious Tomatillos. The salsa was quite good I even added an avacado which I thought helped give it some body. Be careful when adding lime I added a bit too much influenced by my gastro-hubris.

  22. Ann

    I am planning on making this recipe but have two questions: 1) how spicy is it? and 2) if it is spicy how can I tone it down. -TY

    The spiciness depends on how many chilies, and how spicy they are, that you put in. If spiciness is an issue, I would start with a quarter of one jalapeno, and keep adding until you have the spiciness level you like. You can also leave out the chiles entirely if you want the salsa completely mild. ~Elise

  23. Wendy

    My cooking club is having a Mexican feast this weekend (I know, Cinco de Mayo has passed- but look at how much we can save on the half off decorations!). I am going to make your salsa verde and want your opinion- is it better to make the day before and let sit in the fridge overnight or can it be made the day of (our cooking club is one where we actually spend the day cooking together)? We LOVE your recipes.

    Hi Wendy, in my opinion, it makes no difference. You can easily make this ahead. ~Elise

  24. Mary

    Just wanted to say I really enjoyed the salsa. I used it for an enchilada recipe I tried and was very happy with fresh salsa that tasted great! Thanks so much, I didn’t know how easy it was to make! Now I will make it for chip dipping as well.

  25. first time gardeners

    Today we picked our first toms and cilantro.We made your verde, we skiped the sugar. It turned out great.LOVE IT!

  26. Kristin

    This is really good! Like it was mentioned in a previous post, I used green onions, both the white & green parts, in place of the onion. In addition, I substituted garlic salt for the salt part, and a can of diced green chilies for the jalapenos. You have to try this!

  27. Layla

    Oh man! I was looking for a recipe for tomatillos. We have about 20 plants and we can not pick them fast enough! I can’t even give them away, they are falling down all over the ground! Everyone who tried them almost all threw up LOL! because the variety I grew (pineapple and purple) don’t taste good raw. Hope this recipe will change their minds :0)

  28. Angie

    Anyone know how far ahead I can make this salsa verde? How long will it last in the refrigerator?

    As is, it will last several days in the fridge. If you want it to last more than say, 3 or 4 days, you should make the salsa and then bring it to a simmer for 10 minutes on the stove, pour into a clean jar, seal, let cool, and then store in the fridge. ~Elise

  29. LORIE BONNETTE

    Oh my goodness. My husband & I LOVE any type of green sauce. I had never made any before making this recipe last night. I always follow a recipe to the T the first time I make it so I know what it is “supposed” to taste like.
    This is AMAZING! Super easy & quick. I roasted the tomatillos in the broiler. A snap to make & far better than anything in the store. I was done in less than 30 minutes.
    Elise you get an A+ as usual! Thanks for wonderful recipes.

  30. André L Michel

    I grew up with salsas; verde, roja, borracha, negra and many others. I like the recipe you gave, but I would skip the sugar, add garlic and a lot more chiles (serranos, whole with seeds and veins). Some times you cook the onions and the garlic, unless you prefer the raw taste, and add the cilantro once the tomatillos have cooled.

  31. Rich Greninger

    We added 1/2 of a green tomatillo (4 cm dia.) to our chinese chicken stir fry (about 4 cups of completed food)! It added some tartness which caused the dish to be even more tasty (I had 3 helpings my wife had two)!!

  32. TSpencer

    Roast the onions and peppers as well, throw in a couple garlic cloves… when processing, add a couple avocados and about a third cup of sour cream. If you simmered instead of roasting, use a little of the broth to thin if needed, or if you roasted them, use a little chicken broth. This is GREAT as a dip or over grilled chicken!

  33. Pat Elfer

    I love the idea of the recipe is great…..
    Yes just a little sweet will make the next batch a little less sugar. Thanks

  34. Candy D

    I love the salsa Verde at Moe’s, so I found yours while looking for one to adjust for my spice level and allergy. I am allergic to onions and by doctor’s orders also cannot eat things that are too spicy. To substitute for the onion, I used four big cloves of Elephant Ear Garlic, and to keep the heat down I chose two fresh Anaheim Peppers. I removed the seeds and ribs from the peppers, then roasted them in the broiler with the tomatillos. I also, exchanged the sugar for Splenda. It is great on chips, but equally wonderful on my first attempt at making tamales from scratch.

  35. keith herring

    My sauce is very tangy and tart. Am I not using enough sugar in my sauce? I’m using roasted peppers, onions, garlic, salt, and a little sugar.

    Fresh tomatillos can be quite tart. You may want to balance that tartness with a little more sugar, to taste. ~Elise

  36. Beekeeper

    I just found out this week that you can pressure can anything and not worry about what’s in it. You just find the lowest pH ingredient and can it per that ingredient’s time in the Ball Blue Book. If you are nervous about this info, call your local extension service and verify. Good luck!

  37. Garyods

    Thanx for the recipe. I’ve been fumbling around trying to blacken whole tomatillo’s under a broiler or over a grill. Turning them was usually a pain as they had started to soften.

    (Slapping forehead – cut them in half dummy before they go under the broiler.)

    Thanx

  38. Chris

    I just made this salsa and it’s fantastic! I love that I don’t have to buy it in a jar, full of sodium. Thanks! Tonight, it’s your chicken enchilada recipe!

  39. martin d

    This is a great recipe but I thought it was a little too mild. Second time I made it I left the seeds in the serrano peppers and it was perfect.

  40. JoniD.

    I’m curious. The recipe author said that tomatillo’s are “related” to tomatoes. Does that mean they are a fruit as well? I think they taste a little bit like a tomato when they are cooked. Can anyone tell me are they an actual member of the tomato family? thanks.

    According to the Wikipedia, tomatillos are the same family, but different genus from tomatoes. They are fruit. ~Elise

  41. Liana

    Awesome awesome salsa! I have been in the kitchen almost every night cooking up dishes I find on your website; after moving back into my parents house, I finally have a fantastic kitchen to work in. I recently traveled back to Massachusetts for my college’s homecoming and brought NY bagels for my friends who request them. I always bring extra, which I was able to barter with a farmer for a pound of his famous tomatillos. I am so glad I did, and so is my family…this salsa was unbelievably delicious, especially since I had never even heard of the fruit before. Thanks for all the recipes, yummyyyyyy! :-)

  42. ken

    I was looking for a chicken recipe and found this http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/salsa_verde_chicken_bake/ on this site which then brought me to this Salsa Verde recipe.

    It looked almost too simple, so I tried it. I followed the directions exactly (oven broiled) except that based on some of the reviews I added one additional chile and I also added 3 cloves of chopped garlic. Used my immersion blender and in about 30 seconds I had the BEST Salsa Verde I have every tasted!

    Great job, thanks.

  43. Just a guy

    This is an absurdly easy process. I just made a batch to slather over chicken tacos and now have more than enough to go on top of my breakfast omelette.

    I think next time I will broil the jalapeños and a few garlic cloves in the pan with the tomatillos.

    I may even toss in a Thai chile for a bit more heat.

  44. Hellionz

    The Taco truck I normally buy my green salsa wasn’t out today and I was craving bad. So went to the grocery and the can stuff just wasn’t going to cut it. So I “asked” google for Mexican Green Salsa and this recipe came up first. I got all what I needed, tried it and WOW!! Guess the guy in the taco truck ain’t gonna see me anymore. :/)

  45. norita

    Made it for my husband, and he loved it! I also enjoyed it. I will be making it again tonight and next week for family coming in for spring break. Thanks for saving me!

  46. Suzanna

    We just built a new greenhouse on our farm in Costa Rica and I have a bumper crop of tomatillos for the first time. I don’t have an oven but would like to roast them in a frying pan. Would that work?
    Thanks for your help

    Yes, I would suggest quartering them and frying them in an olive-oil coated skillet, like I did with this recipe for scrambledeggs with tomatillos. Once soft you can purée. ~Elise

  47. Gary

    I love making tomatillo salsa. But this recipe’s addition of sugar is out of place for me. I make it with your ingredients, plus raw garlic cloves and salt, and no sugar. Tomatillos also do not need to be cooked. I usually chopped them and process them raw.

  48. Richard Broyles

    We also use tommies fresh, right straight into salads all the time. It’s amazing how sweet they actually can be. Or my wife uses them to juice with for her liquid lunches !!

Post a comment

Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for waiting. First time commenting? Please review the Comment Policy.

Some HTML is OK. URLs are automatically converted to links. Line breaks are automatically converted to paragraphs. The following HTML tags are allowed: a, abbr, acronym, b, blockquote, cite, code, del, em, i, q, strike, strong