Sep 13, 2023
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It’s really easy to make salsa verde (also known as tomatillo salsa) at home! It’s a simple combination of roasted tomatillos, chili peppers, garlic, onion, and cilantro. This vibrant green salsa adds a spicy, flavorful kick to any Mexican meal.
What is Salsa Verde?
In Mexican cuisine there’s two classic blended salsas – your classic red salsa and a green salsa, also known as salsa verde (which translates quite literally to “green salsa”). The latter is made from Mexican tomatillos, which are often mistaken for green tomatoes. But don’t be fooled as they’re not tomatoes, even though “tomatillo” does mean “little tomato.” I know it’s all a bit confusing. Just think of them as a very close relative, as they’re still part of the nightshade family, but their outer husk makes them a unique fruit in their own right.
The best salsa verde, which we’re making today, roasts the tomatillos, chile peppers, and garlic for that slightly smoky undertone, before being blended. You can also make the recipe by boiling the tomatillos, but I personally feel roasting imparts the best flavor.
And while many online recipes include lime juice, I can assure you after numerous trips to Mexico that there’s no lime juice in authentic Mexican salsa verde. I don’t doubt that it adds a delicious touch, but to keep this recipe as traditional as possible, we’re leaving that off today.
Salsa Verde Ingredients
- Tomatillos: You can find these in their husk (as seen in the photo above) in most markets. But before you start cooking with them, remember to remove the husks.
- Chile Peppers: You can use either serrano pepper or jalapeño peppers. Serrano peppers will be a bit hotter and spicier, while jalapeño peppers will be a bit more mild. Whenever I’ve had salsa verde in Mexico serrano peppers were used, while in the US I find jalapeño peppers are more often used. But it’s up to you!
- Onion & Garlic: Fresh onion and garlic add depth of flavor to this spicy salsa.
- Cilantro Leaves: Cilantro adds a refreshing and peppery punch.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below
How To Make Salsa Verde
Char in the oven. In your oven, turn the top broiler on and set a rack about 4 inches below the broiler. Place the tomatillos, chili peppers, and garlic on a baking sheet and broil for 5 minutes, then flip everything and broil for 4 to 5 minutes more. They’ll become slightly charred and blistered, which is just how you want them. Then, let them cool to the touch.
Pulse together. Transfer the tomatillos (and any juice that may have oozed out) along with the chili peppers, garlic, onion, cilantro, and salt to a high-powered blender or food processor. Pulse a few times until it’s perfectly smooth (or however you like your salsas blended).
In my opinion, roasting the tomatillos tastes far better than boiling them. Not only does roasting bring out a smoky, charred flavor, but it sweetens them up a bit which reduces the tomatillo’s natural tanginess.
Green enchilada sauce is meant to be a bit thicker and made with broth. So, I’d say it’s not an exact replacement since salsa verde is very light in texture. But if you’re making enchiladas, you might as well go the extra step and turn this into a thicker enchilada sauce.
Ways To Use Salsa Verde
You can use salsa verde in just about any Mexican dish. But here are a few ideas to get you started and inspired for your next dinner!
- Taco or burrito bowl topping: Drizzle this on top of your favorite tacos or burrito bowls! My favorites are salmon tacos or carnitas tacos and this barbacoa burrito bowl.
- Use it as an appetizer: This salsa can also be served with classic corn tortilla chips or cassava flour tortilla chips for a delicious appetizer.
- Make salsa verde chicken: This is a delicious slow cooker recipe where you cook chicken, salsa verde, onions, garlic, cumin, and oregano on low for 6 to 8 hours. Then shred the chicken to add to tacos, salads, tostadas, and more. Stay tuned for the full recipe!
- Make it a part of breakfast: Aside from drizzling this on top of huevos rancheros, I love to make salsa verde eggs! All you need to do is simmer some salsa in a small pan, crack two eggs on top, cover, and let it cook until the eggs are done. Then, slide the eggs onto a tortilla and top with Cotija cheese and cilantro — it’s so good!
- To store for the week: If you’ve got some Mexican nights planned out, keep a sealed jar of this salsa in the fridge! It will keep for up to a week. Just note that it will thicken after it’s been chilled.
- To freeze for later: Store it in a freezer-safe container, like this Weck jar. It will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer.
More Mexican Sauces & Salsa
No matter what Mexican recipe you make, a side of sauce and salsas are essential. Salsa verde is one of them, but here are a few others that I always make:
- Mango Salsa: Nothing beats this recipe for a juicy, sweet, and fresh salsa!
- Pico De Gallo: This classic chunky salsa is a no-brainer for meals or as an appetizer.
- Lime Crema: This is my go-to for taco night and beats the usual sour cream any day.
- Chipotle Sauce: For a sauce with lots of flavor, you’ll love this creamy chipotle version.
I hope you get a kick out of this homemade salsa verde recipe! If you make it, let me know how this turned out in the comment box below. Your review will help readers!
- Vitamix Blender My favorite high-powered blender I've been using for ages!
- 10 tomatillos, husks removed
- 1 to 2 serrano or jalapeno peppers, stemmed
- 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- ½ medium onion, diced
- ⅓ cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Char in the oven. Turn the top broiler on in the oven and set a rack about 4 inches below the broiler. Place the tomatillos, peppers, and garlic on a baking sheet and broil for 5 minutes, then flip everything and broil 4 to 5 minutes more, until slightly charred and blistered. Let cool to the touch.
- Pulse together. Transfer the tomatillos and peppers (see note below on heat level) to a food processor or high-powered blender along with the onion, cilantro, garlic, and salt. Pulse a few times, until your desired texture is reached.
- Serve. Pour the salsa verde into a serving bowl and enjoy!
- Serrano peppers are a bit hotter than jalapeno peppers. If you’d like a milder salsa use jalapeno peppers in the recipe or opt for 1 pepper. You can also slice and deseed the pepper after broiling and before blending, to reduce the heat.
- While many of my Mexican friends make this recipe with two whole serrano peppers (as I’ve shown today for an authentic salsa verde), that version definitely gets my sinuses going (aka it’s a bit too spicy for me!). I prefer to make this recipe with one pepper. So feel free to tweak the recipe to your preferred heat level.
- Also note that in the photos I forgot to stem the peppers before roasting, but I did remove the stems before blending.
- The salsa verde will be quite liquidy immediately after blending, but it does thicken up as it rests and cools.
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