Love and Olive Oil

Kitchen Basics: Salsa Verde

Homemade Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Salsa verde (quite literally, ‘green sauce’) is a green salsa made from tomatillos in place of the usual red tomatoes. Don’t let the name fool you, however, as tomatillos are not simply an unripe or green tomato. In fact, the two fruits are only distantly related. While they are both members of the nightshade family (along with peppers, potatoes, and eggplants), tomatillos are actually more closely related to the gooseberry than a tomato. The papery husk may be its most distinguishing feature, covering the bright green fruit, which tends to have a slight stickiness to them that you’ll definitely want to rinse off before using.

Tomatillos for Salsa Verde

While green salsas are often more mild than red ones, this recipe lets you control the heat to your personal tastes. If you like it hot, use a hotter serrano pepper and leave in the seeds. If you like more mild salsas, remove the seeds and/or use a milder pepper like a jalapeño or anaheim. As long as it’s green it can be used in this recipe.

The result is a tart and tangy salsa perfect for dipping chips, smothering over enchiladas, or mixing into your tamales. Broiling the components first (you can also char them on a grill if you prefer) gives the salsa a rich, roasted flavor that compliments the tartness of the tomatillo perfectly.

Homemade Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Yes, you can buy jarred salsa verde and save yourself some time, but where’s the fun in that? If you can track down fresh tomatillos, it’s definitely worth the extra effort to make your own from scratch.

I think next time I’d definitely up the cilantro, both because I love the flavor and it’d make the salsa a bit more verde (green). That’s the beauty of this basic recipe, you can so very easily adapt it to your tastes and preferences, whether you like it hot or mild, sweet or tangy.

Salsa Verde

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  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatillos (about 6), husks removed and rinsed, halved
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 5 green jalapeño or serrano chiles
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup low-salt chicken broth or water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice


  1. Preheat broiler. Place tomatillo halves, garlic, chiles, and onion on a lightly oiled, foil-lined baking sheet. Broil for 6 to 10 minutes or until blackened and blistered in spots. You may want to remove the garlic and peppers sooner if necessary, and cook the tomatillos and onions for slightly longer. (ALternatively you can grill the vegetables as well for a similarly charred flavor). Let cool slightly, then transfer to a food processor or blender. Seed chiles for milder salsa, if desired. Add cilantro and sugar (more or less to taste) and puree until mostly smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over high heat. Carefully add tomatillo mixture and stir until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add broth and lime juice and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced to 2 1/2 cups, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt, sugar, and/or lime juice, if desired. Salsa will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 1 week.

Recipe from Epicurious.

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  1. My favorite guacamole is basically this recipe mixed with lots of avocados and cilantro. For less spicy, but still getting that “smokey pepper flavor” I go with poblanos and make sure they are peeled after a nice 10 minutes in a plastic bag to steam them the rest of the way (more necessary for poblanos than jalapenos). MMMM can we go back to summer?

  2. I;n not sure why, but tomatillos have always intimidated me, but now I have to try and make this salsa; it looks terrific

  3. sounds really good!!

  4. Those tomatillos are gorgeous!

  5. I love homemade salsa verde. Thanks for your lovely version of the recipe.

  6. I absolutely adore salsa verde… and now that we’ve moved across the pond, I’ve been so discouraged by the inability to find Mexican ingredients! I miss salsa verde (and real tacos!) so much!

  7. We just harvested a ton of those little gems this weekend. Guess who’s making salsa verde today? Have you been reading my diary?

  8. Love the pictures:-) Looking forward to tasting:…

  9. Tomatillos are so good! This salsa is calling my name! ; )

  10. This is perfect for all the leftover tomatillos at my house! Thanks so much for the recipe, it looks really good. I love cilantro too so I’ll definitely be adding a bunch!

  11. I make my own sauce too, but roast my tomatillos, jalapenos, garlic and shallots along with a sprinkling of sugar and cumin…after the veggies have roasted and are kind of charred a little…I puree with my immersion blender. Love it. My recipe is based on Sunny Anderson who used to have her own foodnetwork show.
    This one also looks good.

  12. This recipe sounds like a definite keeper.  I like salsa verde much better than any red salsa, and I, too, would up the cilantro.

    Just a botanical note for those who might be interested:  the gooseberry that is related to tomatillos is actually the cape gooseberry (or cape ground cherry, as it is known in South Africa – or Inca berry or Aztec berry when it is from South America), not to be confused with the tart fruit that looks like a green grape with vertical stripes, which is used to make pies and jam, which is in a totally unrelated plant family.

  13. This looks wonderful! I love making homemade salsa verde with fresh tomatillos this time of the year, your variation sounds very similar :) 

  14. I enjoy tomatillos but never quite know what to do with them. This looks wonderful. Thanks for sharing. 

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