Salsa verde

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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.

A bowl of salsa verde

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.

Ingredients for salsa verde on a table

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.

Roasted ingredients on a sheet pan for salsa verde

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).

Salsa verde ingredients in a blender

Common Questions

Is it better to roast or boil tomatillos?

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.

Can you use salsa verde in replacement of green enchilada sauce?

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.

Blended salsa verde

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 Crockpot recipe where you cook chicken, salsa verde, and ground cumin on low for 6 to 8 hours. Then shred the chicken to add to tacos, salads, tostadas, and more.
  • 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!
A spoonful of tomatillo salsa

Storage Tips

  • 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!

A bowl of salsa verde with a spoon

Salsa Verde

5 from 5 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 13 minutes
Total: 18 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

This homemade salsa verde (tomatillo salsa) adds a spicy, flavorful kick to any Mexican dish. It's your classic green salsa in Mexican cuisine! Watch how I make it in the video below.

Video

Equipment

Ingredients 
 

  • 10 tomatillos, husks removed
  • 1 to 2 serrano or jalapeno peppers, stemmed
  • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions 

  • 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.
    Roasting salsa verde ingredients on a sheet pan
  • 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.
    Blending tomatillo salsa
  • Serve. Pour the salsa verde into a serving bowl and enjoy!
    Salsa verde in a serving bowl.

Lisa’s Tips

  • 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. 

Nutrition

Calories: 25kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 389mg | Potassium: 181mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 134IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 0.4mg
Course: sauce
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Green Salsa, Salsa Verde, Tomatillo Salsa
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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16 Comments

  1. Oh my goodness, this Salsa Verde was so delicious, and so easy. I can’t eat anything too spicy and only used 1 Jalapeño, next time I’m going to add a second. I used it to make my Salsa Verde Chicken tonight and it delivered. Thank you so much for all the amazing recipes.

  2. Absolutely delicious!! I used jalapeños as I couldn’t find Serrano peppers. It was the first time I used tomatillos. This will definitely be made again & again.
    The sour cream addition is a must in my opinion. Thank you again for your splendiferous recipes.

    P.S – love your cookbook!5 stars

    1. Hi Penelope – I haven’t used the canned version myself, but other people have tried it with the canned kind and said it worked fine!

  3. Love this recipe, Lisa. I’ll make it whenever I have time. When I don’t, do you have a good brand of premade of salsa Verde that you would recommend?

  4. How much salsa does this recipe yield? I’m thinking of making your crockpot salsa verde chicken which calls for 2 cups of salsa verde.

  5. Perfect salsa Verde! First made this to go with your salmon tacos but we loved it so much we make it on its own to eat with chips or eggs. Very easy and tastes so fresh and bright.5 stars

  6. This turned out even better than I expected. And I love how it thickened up overnight in the fridge. It was the perfect consistency for dipping with chips!5 stars