This easy recipe for Tomatillo Salsa Verde (Green Salsa) combines tomatillos, jalapenos, onion, and garlic and is great with chips or use it as a condiment too!
I could share with you that this recipe for Tomatillo Salsa Verde (Green Salsa) has been on my blog for a long time but I promise you, I doubt any of my readers have ever seen it.
It was one of those recipes that I loved and added as a text file when I first started a recipe blog, no photo at all, and the truth is I don’t need the recipe to make it so I totally spaced it was even included here.
So you could say what’s old is new again, but this would be more like raising something from the dead!
Tomatillo Salsa Verde is a type of spicy, green sauce in Mexican cuisine based on tomatillo and jalapeño peppers. It doesn’t take a lot, these few ingredients combined together make a delicious salsa.
The tomatillo-based Mexican salsa verde dates to the Aztec Empire, and was documented by the Spanish physician Francisco Hernández. It is very distinct from the various medieval European parsley-based green sauces.
This ‘sauce’ takes quite a veer from those. First things first. Tomatillos aren’t baby tomatoes. Even though the Spanish name translates to “little tomato,” they are something else entirely. What are tomatillos then?
These little fruits (yes, like tomatoes and cucumbers they are fruits) are native to Mexico, but because of their resistance to disease, more and more American farmers are growing crops of tomatillos.
Sometimes called ‘husk tomatoes,’ they do look very much like unripe green tomatoes but for the dry, paper like husk that wraps around them on the outside.
While some might confuse them with green tomatoes, the color of the fruit is a beautiful bright green when ripe. Tomatillos are also slightly more acidic and have a less sweet flavor than ripe and unripe tomatoes, and importantly, they are ripe when they are green.
Can you make this salsa with green tomatoes? You can, but make sure to add the lime juice, they will need that extra citrus punch.
To prep a tomatillo, you simply remove the husks and discard. The fruit itself has a sticky feel to it that is easily removed from the surface with warm water.
Truthfully I have never eaten them raw, I always buy them to use for this salsa, but they do have a bright, acidic flavor that would be a nice addition to a fresh garden salad.
I imagine you could make salsa with raw tomatillos but I prefer to roast the them asking with the jalapeño, onion, and garlic to bring out their flavor; it will mellow the acidity in the tomatillos too and makes for a deeper more robust salsa.
If you look closely you might see some flecks of red in this green salsa. All my fault because I didn’t get to this salsa quite quick enough after purchasing ingredients, but I actually loved it.
Jalapeños are a lot like Green Bell Peppers. What we normally use are vegetables that are not yet ripe. I had these peppers on my counter a bit too long it seems…and a couple of them ripened!
I decided to try using a combination of the green and red varieties and it might be my preference.
The jalapeño, like most peppers, increase in heat the more they ripen so I didn’t actually want to throw caution to the wind. This recipe calls for six jalapeños; I changed that up for myself to be 4 green jalapeños and two ripened red ones. Yes it is a bit spicier so do the same if you like your salsa a bit hotter. Still not a ‘burning can hardly eat it’ hot, just a touch spicier.
I love the foods inspired by our neighbors down south in Mexico. When I first moved to Denver, my kids were little and we ate few spicy foods; we had moved from North Carolina and were in more of a Southern food mode.
But in Colorado, you eventually do as Coloradans do and add a fair amount of Mexican food to your diet.
Still, I hesitated with jalapeños for a very long time; I have a visceral reaction to green bell peppers so the poor jalapeño, poblano, serrano, and my favorite, Hatch green chiles, suffered. I mended my ways and while the bell pepper remains my nemesis I have learned to love all of the other green varieties.
I love adding a simple preparation of nachos to a meal; they are as easy as piling some chips with cheese, either cheddar or a combination of Mexican cheeses, some chopped onion and cilantro and several dollops of the Tomatillo Salsa Verde on top.
They are not a big effort with lots of ingredients; it means the salsa really shines. Perfect with this icy cold margarita when I’m in the mood to go one hundred percent Amigos!
My daughter Emily first introduced me to Tomatillo Salsa Verde when she stayed with me for a week several years ago and it was the first time I had ever seen a tomatillo; not sure where she had picked it up in her travels to Australia via Nebraska and Connecticut, but I’m glad she did.
Since then I’ve made a modification here and there; even this week I added some lime juice and yes, I’ve decided that is worthy of including in the recipe. A bright citrus note is always a good thing in a dish like this!
I had never bothered with listing ingredients and sharing that old version so I decided the time had come to define it better and share it with the world. It is so simple and the results from those efforts are worthy. Here’s all you need (complete recipe and instructions at bottom of post):
- 2 pounds tomatillos, husks removed & washed
- 6 jalapeños
- 4-6 garlic cloves
- 1 medium-large onion
- 2/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 teaspoon salt
I remember so clearly when I first tried this salsa; Emily had also used it to make a dish she called Tomatillo Chicken. She even had a blog she had posted it on. That was years ago and not something she has done for a very long time.
She has a full time job with Continental Tire that in non-Covid times takes her to Germany and Mexico, she has a new baby, she sings with a local choir…what do you mean you don’t blog anymore!
Such a slacker (no she’s not) but now I’m determined to try my hand at using this with some chicken and cheese and seeing if I can create my own Tomatillo Salsa Chicken (I did it!); hopefully soon!
Anyway, thanks to Emily I now have this Tomatillo Salsa Verde blog-ready and it’s a great recipe…thanks sweetie!
More Mexican Inspired Dishes
- Mexican Hot Chocolate Pie
- Refried Bean and Beef Nachos
- Nacho Momma’s Beef, Bean and Cheese Tortilla Dip
- Grilled Corn Salsa with Poblano Chiles
- Spicy Tex-Mex Chicken Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings
- Chile Relleno Soup
- The Best Homemade Enchilada Casserole
- How to Make Cajeta – Goat Milk Caramel
- Mexican Hot Chocolate with Tequila
- Orejas (Mexican Pan Dulce)
- Roasted Poblano Pepper and Corn Soup
PIN IT! ‘Tomatillo Salsa Verde (Green Salsa)’
Tomatillo Salsa Verde
- 2 pounds tomatillos husks removed & washed
- 6 jalapeños
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 medium onion
- ⅔ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- Juice of one lime See Notes
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Peel the onion and chop it in half, crush the garlic with a large knife and remove the papery skin, and leave the jalapeños and tomatillos whole. Roast on a baking sheet in a 400°F oven for about 15 minutes, turning all over halfway through roasting time.
- Remove from the oven and let cool to the touch. Remove the seeds and rough chop the jalapeño, and peel and chop the onion.
- In a food processor, add all roasted ingredients, plus cilantro, lime juice, and salt and pulse until all ingredients are chopped and desired consistency is reached. I like it best left a little chunky.
- I processed about half at a time and then blended everything together in a big bowl.