Tomatillo Green Chili Salsa (Salsa Verde)

5 from 9 votes
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How to make a tomatillo green chili salsa (aka Mexican salsa Verde) with just 7 ingredients, roasted and blended into a delicious Verde sauce. This roasted  tomatillo salsa is simple to make, packed with flavor, and versatile enough to enjoy with tons of meals!

Salsa verde (tomatillo green chili salsa) in a jar

I’ve already shared what I dubbed as an ‘ultimate Mexican condiment,’ Salsa Roja. But where there’s salsa Roja, surely salsa Verde is to follow! This tomatillo green chili salsa combined the authentic Mexican flavors of tomatillo, chile peppers, cilantro, lime, onion, and garlic – for a delicious homemade salsa Verde that can be prepared in under 20 minutes!

Having previously shared recipes for Pico de Gallo and mango salsa, I’m not sure what’s taken me so long to make this tomatillo salsa… well, actually, yes, I do – getting the tomatillos! Since moving from London, I’m still getting to grips with sourcing all my usual ingredients where I’m now based. Finally, I’ve found the perfect tomatillo source – which means lots of delicious salsa Verde!

Salsa verde (tomatillo green chili salsa) in a jar with tomatillo and jalapeño next to it

Even better, it means lots of delicious Mexican dishes to enjoy the green salsa with – like with tortilla chips (yum) and with huevos rancheros (double yum!).

Best of all, this roasted tomatillo salsa verde recipe requires just 7 ingredients and takes under 20 minutes from start to finish!

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What is Salsa Verde?

Salsa Verde, aka ‘green sauce,’ is a spicy Mexican green sauce dating back to the Aztec empire, traditionally with a base of tomatillo and green chili peppers.

Tomatillo on a flat surface

Similar to salsa Roja, there are several methods of preparing this tomatillo salsa. This includes cooked tomatillo salsa – where the ingredients are roasted then ground; a Comal roasted salsa Verde – where the ingredients are cooked on a Comal then ground; and even a raw salsa Verde sauce with simply ground ingredients – no cooking necessary.

This tomatillo green chili salsa recipe is made using the cooked salsa method – which I love. It helps to enhance the flavors of the various ingredients and caramelize them somewhat in the oven. This yields a slightly sweeter salsa that is swoon-worthy!

What are tomatillos?

I thought I’d get this out of the way upfront – tomatillo and green tomatoes are NOT the same thing. Tomatillos are actually known as “Mexican husk tomatoes” or “Mexican groundcherry” and are a type of nightshade with a husk. They have a sweet and sour flavor (a little like a green apple but also lemon-y) that’s generally more acidic than tomatoes, with a sharper taste.

Cooked vs raw tomatillos in a hand
Raw and cooked tomatillo

Unlike tomatoes, tomatillos are firm even when ripe and have a dense and fairly dry interior. They can be enjoyed raw or cooked and are used extensively within Mexican and Central American cuisine.

When using them for salsa Verde, tomatillos are harvested early while the fruit is sourer. If they are allowed to continue to grow, they will become sweeter and have a seedier interior (which is when they are used as a tomato substitute).

The Salsa Verde Ingredients

Ingredients for salsa verde
  • Tomatillo: if you’re unable to find tomatillo, then you can use this same recipe with green tomatoes, though the flavor and texture won’t be exactly the same.
  • Jalapeño: you can use one of several types of green chile include jalapeños (which have a medium heat level), serrano (a little hotter), Arbol (even hotter), poblano (fairly mild-medium), or Anaheim (the mildest of these options) – based on how spicy you want the green chili salsa to be.
  • Lime: this is optional and isn’t a traditional addition. However, if you do add some, then fresh lime juice is best.
  • Aromatics: I used a combination of onion and garlic. Feel free to adjust the amount of garlic to personal flavor preference.
  • Cilantro: I use fresh cilantro using stalks and leaves. If you really dislike cilantro, you could try with parsley though it won’t be exactly the same.
  • Salt: just a little to enhance all the flavors and add depth to the salsa Verde.
  • Sugar(optional): if your homemade salsa verde is very sharp/tangy, then feel free to add in a bit of sugar to help balance the flavors.

Other Optional Add-ins & Variations

There are several recipe variations you can make to this green chili salsa, including:

  • Tomatillo avocado salsa: add in some finely cubed ripe avocado.
  • Omit the lime: as mentioned above, lime juice isn’t a traditional addition to this roasted tomatillo salsa. However, I love the extra ‘bright’ flavor it provides.
  • Green bell peppers: this mild pepper will add some bitter, fresh flavor without adding extra spice.
  • Other herbs/aromatics: capers, cumin, mint, and coriander seeds are all potential add-ins.

How to Make Tomatillo Green Chili Salsa (Salsa Verde)

Step 1: Prepare the vegetables

First, remove the husks of the tomatillos and then wash the tomatillos and chilis well.

Removing tomatillo husks

Step 2: Roast the vegetables

Spread the tomatillos, chilies, garlic, and onion on a parchment-lined baking tray and roast in a pre-heated oven for between 8-10 minutes at 400ºF/200ºC.

You can optionally broil the ingredients for a couple of minutes in the end to slightly char the tomatillo/ peppers and add more of a smoky flavor to the green salsa.

Alternatively, you could broil, pan-roast, or even boil the ingredients – all of which are quick and easy. For the best flavor, I prefer oven roasting or pan-roasting, though!

Once roasted, allow the ingredients to cool just enough so you can handle them to remove the skins, stems, and seeds.

Alternatively, you can ‘prep’ the ingredients first by removing the stems and seeds from the chilies, the stems from the tomatoes, and the peel from the onion and garlic. Either way will work.

Before and after roasting the ingredients for salsa verde

Step 3: Blend the salsa Verde

Transfer all the ingredients to a blender or small food processor and process to your desired consistency. Then add the cilantro, salt, and lime juice (optional) and blitz a few more times until thoroughly incorporated.

Finally, give the roasted tomatillo salsa a taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.

Steps for making salsa verde

How to Store Salsa Verde?

Store: the tomatillo green chili salsa will last for between 7-10 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Freeze: allow the salsa to cool, then transfer to an ice-cube tray (to portion the salsa) or an airtight container, leaving 1-inch headspace, and freeze for between 3-4 months.

Allow the salsa to thaw in the fridge or at room temperature before enjoying. I’ve noticed it’s not quite as spicy upon thawing, and I’ll often add in a little additional fresh cilantro – but otherwise, it freezes wonderfully!

Pouring tomatillo green chili salsa in a jar

How to Serve

This Mexican green sauce/condiment is perfect to use in tons of different ways, including:

tomatillo green chili salsa in a jar

FAQs

How do you pan-roast the ingredients for salsa Verde?

Add a little oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high, then place the tomatillos, jalapeños, garlic, and onion in the pan (whole or roughly halves/chopped) and sear on both sides for 2-3 minutes.

Can you ‘can’ this recipe for longer-term storage?

I haven’t designed this tomatillo salsa recipe with canning in mind, so I can’t safely recommend doing so.

How to choose the best tomatillos?

Unlike avocados, mangos, and other similar ingredients, tomatillos are firm when unripe and ripe, so you can’t always tell a tomatillo’s ripeness by feel alone. However, if it’s squishy/mushy, then it’s overripe (avoid!).
Look for tomatillos with nice green color and don’t have lots of blemishes or damaged/shriveled skin. If the husks are loose and easy to remove, even better!

Can I prepare tomatillo salsa without a blender?

Yes – you could use a molcajete (or mortar and pestle) to hand ‘grind’ the ingredients for chunky salsa. If doing it this way, I mince the onion and garlic myself, then mash the chilies and tomatillos.

Scooping a spoonful of salsa verde

Recipe Notes

  • Adjust the heat: it’s extremely easy to adjust this tomatillo green chili salsa recipe to your preferred spice level. Simply adjust the amount of chili used- also, whether you include the seeds (lots of spice is in the seeds).
  • To extend the shelf life: you can add a little more lime juice or even a splash of vinegar like this apple cider vinegar.
  • Enjoy this salsa Verde raw: feel free to make a raw version of this tomatillo salsa by simply chopping and blending all the ingredients together. You could, optionally, reduce it on the stovetop for 15-20 minutes for a thicker texture and more enhanced flavor (this is called ‘seasoning’ the salsa).
  • Reducing the salsa: once you’ve blended the salsa (before adding the cilantro), you can optionally reduce the salsa further on the stovetop for a thicker salsa with a more enhanced flavor. This is 100% optional, but something a friend of mine always does.
  • To adjust the salsa texture: change how much you process the ingredients for different texture levels. You could also, optionally, blitz the onion and garlic first, then add the remaining ingredients to pulse a few times for a chunkier salsa without massive bits of garlic and onion.
  • If it’s too thick: feel free to add a little water to thin out the salsa. I don’t usually find this necessary, but it may make it more ‘dippable.’
  • Boiled vs. roasted salsa Verde? There are several ways you can prepare the vegetables for this green salsa. Boiling will yield a milder salsa with ‘fresher’ flavors. In comparison, roasted/broiled versions will add an extra layer of smoky flavor from the charred ingredients.
A jar with tomatillo green chili salsa

Other Mexican-Inspired Recipes

If you try this tomatillo green chili salsa (salsa verde) recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts/questions below. Also, I’d really appreciate a recipe card rating below, and feel free to tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

Tomatillo Green Chili Salsa (Salsa Verde)

5 from 9 votes
By: Samira
How to make a tomatillo green chili salsa (aka Mexican salsa Verde) with just 7 ingredients, roasted and blended into a delicious Verde sauce. This roasted tomatillo salsa is simple to make, packed with flavor, and versatile enough to enjoy with tons of meals!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 pound tomatillo or green tomatoes if that's all you can find
  • 3 jalapenos 60 g or serrano, arbol, poblano, or anaheim
  • 2 onions 120 g
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 oz cilantro or parsley if you dislike cilantro
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • sugar optional – to balance flavors

This yields about 1.5 cups of salsa verde

Instructions 

Step 1: Prepare the vegetables

  • Remove the husks of the tomatillos and then wash the tomatillos and chilis well.

Step 2: Roast the vegetables

  • Spread the tomatillos, chilies, garlic, and onion on a parchment-lined baking tray and roast in a pre-heated oven for between 8-10 minutes at 400ºF/200ºC.
    You can optionally broil the ingredients for a couple of minutes in the end to slightly char the tomatillo/ peppers and add more of a smoky flavor to the green salsa.
    Alternatively, you could broil, pan-roast, or even boil the ingredients – all of which are quick and easy. For the best flavor, I prefer oven roasting or pan-roasting, though!
  • Once roasted, allow the ingredients to cool just enough so you can handle them to remove the skins, stems, and seeds.
  • Alternatively, you can ‘prep’ the ingredients first by removing the stems and seeds from the chilies, the stems from the tomatoes, and the peel from the onion and garlic. Either way will work.

Step 3: Blend the salsa Verde

  • Transfer all the ingredients to a blender or small food processor and process to your desired consistency. Then add the cilantro, salt, and lime juice (optional) and blitz a few more times until thoroughly incorporated.
  • Give the roasted tomatillo salsa a taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.

How to Store Salsa Verde?

  • Store: The tomatillo green chili salsa will last for between 7-10 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
    Freeze: Allow the salsa to cool, then transfer to an ice-cube tray (to portion the salsa) or an airtight container, leaving 1-inch headspace, and freeze for between 3-4 months.
    Allow the salsa to thaw in the fridge or at room temperature before enjoying. I’ve noticed it’s not quite as spicy upon thawing, and I’ll often add in a little additional fresh cilantro – but otherwise, it freezes wonderfully!

Notes

  • Adjust the heat: It’s extremely easy to adjust this tomatillo green chili salsa recipe to your preferred spice level. Simply adjust the amount of chili used – also, whether you include the seeds (lots of spice is in the seeds).
  • To extend the shelf life: You can add a little more lime juice or even a splash of vinegar like this apple cider vinegar.
  • Enjoy this salsa Verde raw: Feel free to make a raw version of this tomatillo salsa by simply chopping and blending all the ingredients together. You could, optionally, reduce it on the stovetop for 15-20 minutes for a thicker texture and more enhanced flavor (this is called ‘seasoning’ the salsa).
  • Reducing the salsa: Once you’ve blended the salsa (before adding the cilantro), you can optionally reduce the salsa further on the stovetop for a thicker salsa with a more enhanced flavor. This is 100% optional, but something a friend of mine always does.
  • To adjust the salsa texture: Change how much you process the ingredients for different texture levels. You could also, optionally, blitz the onion and garlic first, then add the remaining ingredients to pulse a few times for a chunkier salsa without massive bits of garlic and onion.
  • If it’s too thick: Feel free to add a little water to thin out the salsa. I don’t usually find this necessary, but it may make it more ‘dippable.’
  • Boiled vs. roasted salsa Verde? There are several ways you can prepare the vegetables for this green salsa. Boiling will yield a milder salsa with ‘fresher’ flavors. In comparison, roasted/broiled versions will add an extra layer of smoky flavor from the charred ingredients.

Ingredient Notes:
  • Tomatillo: If you’re unable to find tomatillo, then you can use this same recipe with green tomatoes, though the flavor and texture won’t be exactly the same.
  • Jalapeño: You can use one of several types of green chile include jalapeños (which have a medium heat level), serrano (a little hotter), Arbol (even hotter), poblano (fairly mild-medium), or Anaheim (the mildest of these options) – based on how spicy you want the green chili salsa to be.
  • Lime: This is optional and isn’t a traditional addition. However, if you do add some, then fresh lime juice is best.
  • Cilantro:  If you really dislike cilantro, you could try with parsley though it won’t be exactly the same.
  • Sugar(optional): If your homemade salsa verde is very sharp/ tangy, then feel free to add in a bit of sugar to help balance the flavors.
Other Optional Add-ins & variations:
There are several recipe variations you can make to this green chili salsa, including:
  • Tomatillo avocado salsa: Add in some finely cubed ripe avocado.
  • Omit the lime: As mentioned above, lime juice isn’t a traditional addition to this roasted tomatillo salsa. However, I love the extra ‘bright’ flavor it provides.
  • Green bell peppers: This mild pepper will add some bitter, fresh flavor without adding extra spice.
  • Other herbs/aromatics: capers, cumin, mint, and coriander seeds are all potential add-ins.

Read the post for answers to more top FAQs!
Course: Appetizer, Side
Cuisine: Mexican
Freezer friendly: 3-4 Months
Shelf life: 7-10 Days

Nutrition

Serving: 2Tbsp, Calories: 24kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 101mg, Potassium: 170mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 403IU, Vitamin C: 13mg, Calcium: 14mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

5 from 9 votes (8 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. Steph says:

    5 stars
    Made this today. It turned out really good. I tripled the recipe and tastes great.

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Glad you liked it, Steph!