Salsa Verde

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Salsa Verde is our favorite green salsa; instead of tomatoes we use tomatillos–they give this sauce its distinct green color and flavor. This salsa is zesty, tangy, and has a nice underlying smoky flavor from broiling. Grab some chips– you’re going to need them!

Overhead image of the Salsa Verde in a bowl

Homemade Salsa Verde Recipe

Dip lovers, celebrate!

You aren’t left wanting anymore with just our red salsa recipe, because we’ve finally perfected our idea of the best Salsa Verde!

We’ve gone through bags of chips, prepared our favorite Salsa Verde Chicken a few times, and used it in our easy slow cooker Salsa Verde Chicken Soup. Obsessed a little? Yes, and we aren’t ashamed of it!

What Is Salsa Verde?

If you aren’t familiar, salsa verde is a type of spicy green salsa in Mexican cuisine, highlighting tomatillos and green chili peppers. The tomatillo-based salsa dates back to the Aztec Empire (documented by Spanish physician Francisco Hernandez). 

It’s a vibrant green sauce with a tangy and zesty flavor, a hit of spice, and welcome smokiness. Typically you’ll find this salsa served with chips, but it’s a great addition to so many dishes as a way to boost flavor and add texture.

QUICK TIP

Never used tomatillos before? They look like green, unripe tomatoes, and come in a dry, leafy husk that wraps around the outside. They taste nothing like tomatoes, though. They’re tart and sweet, not as juicy, and provide a zesty flavor that tomatoes can never match. When you remove the husk you’ll notice a slightly sticky substance. Just rinse that off and proceed with the recipe!

Process shots-- images of the tomatillos and jalapeños being baked and added to a food processor with the rest of the salsa ingredients

Why Make Your Own Salsa Verde?

If you’ve ever had homemade Salsa Verde, you likely need no convincing. If you haven’t though, I get it: what’s all the hype? 

  • You can customize it to your preference. This is the main reason we started making our own and haven’t ever gone back! Love spice? Great, it’s easy to bump up. Want it mild? Scale to your preference. It’s nice to be able to emphasize flavors you love more (like lime, cilantro, etc.) or minimize flavors you don’t care for as much. 
  • Economical. When you make your own, you can also make as much (or little) as you’d like to minimize food waste or spending at the grocery store. You pay a premium for someone else to make this sauce for you. The ingredients for this sauce are inexpensive and you can make it in bulk and freeze the leftovers. (Frozen leftovers are just as easy to use as opening up a can!)
  • It’s easy. Truly, making your own salsa verde is quick and simple — you’ll be amazed how fast it comes together.

Salsa Verde FAQs

1What is the difference between salsa and salsa verde?

“Verde” means green and the base is typically made with tomatillos. Salsa (red salsa, that is) is made from tomatoes.

2What does verde mean?

Verde is Spanish for green, so salsa verde means green sauce.

3Why is salsa verde so spicy?

The spice can widely vary from one brand of salsa verde to another. This is because it all comes down to what peppers or chiles are used. Some chiles/peppers are extremely mild while others are very spicy.

4Is salsa verde good for you?

Salsa verde is quite good for you! It’s packed with nutritious ingredients — primarily tomatillos! These little green fruits are packed with potassium, vitamin C, and have anti-inflammatory properties as well as antioxidants.

Besides the tomatillos, there are peppers, onion, and cilantro, which provide more fresh-veggie nutrition.

5What are tomatillos?

Tomatillos are small, green fruits that look somewhat like green tomatoes even though the two aren’t related. They have a dry, leafy husk and a tart, slightly fruity taste. They are extremely versatile and the main ingredient in our cilantro salsa verde!  When I say tomatillos are fruits, I say it in the same vein as when I say a tomato is also a fruit. They’re savory, even though biologically, they are fruit. Below are a few tips:

  • Aim to find tomatillos that are roughly the same size so they’ll roast evenly in the oven.
  • Look for tomatillos with husks that are relatively tight with firm fruit inside. Firm is that sweet spot between rock-hard and squishy.
  • Avoid tomatillos with loose husks that are shriveled, discolored, or spotted.
  • To remove the husks, pinch them back and pull them off from the fruit — the husk should peel off easily. The fruit underneath will be sticky from the husks, so give them a quick rinse in warm water before using.

6Is salsa verde spicy?

As written I’d rate this recipe as medium spicy. It does all depend on the jalapeños used– there is a great amount of variation in heat from pepper to pepper.

Overhead image of the salsa ingredients all blended together

How To Make Salsa Verde

  1. Broil: Remember that promise of smoky flavor? We get that here! Broil the jalapeños and tomatillos until charred all over. This adds loads of flavor with so little effort.
  2. Blend: Once ingredients are nice and charred, transfer them to a blender with the rest of the ingredients. Pulse until you’ve got the perfect consistency.
  3. Taste and season: Don’t forget to give the Salsa Verde a quick taste and adjust seasonings until the flavors are just how you like them.
  4. Chill: The salsa will seem a bit thin at first — this is normal. Allow time for the sauce to thoroughly chill, it thickens quite a bit in the fridge. (The pectin in the tomatillos is responsible for the thickening.)

Recipe Tips

  • Tomatillos: Try to use tomatillos roughly the same size. They should be firm to the touch, but not rock hard or squishy. Avoid tomatillos with loose husks that are shriveled or discolored. To prepare for this recipe: Pinch off the husks, scrub clean (they’re sticky) under warm water. Dry, and leave them whole to broil.
  • Modify the heat: If you aren’t a fan of intense heat, be sure to remove the seeds and ribs from the jalapeños before tossing them into the food processor. You can even slightly reduce the amount, but keep in mind that tomatillos are fairly sweet. The jalapeños help balance the sweetness. On the flip side, if you love spice, leave in as many ribs and seeds as you can handle!
  • No cilantro: If you don’t love cilantro, just leave it out. Try adding extra lime juice instead.

Image of a chip being dipped into the Salsa Verde

STORAGE

Can You Freeze Salsa Verde?

Store leftovers in an airtight container (we like to use Mason jars) and seal the top. Keep in the fridge for 4-7 days. (If a film begins to develop on the top or it smells off, you’ll know it’s not longer good to use.)

Freeze extra salsa by placing it in freezer-safe plastic bags. Thaw overnight in the fridge.

We haven’t personally tried canning this salsa, but check out this great resource by Heartbeet Kitchen for more information.

How Do You Eat Salsa Verde?

Beyond serving Salsa Verde with chips and calling it a day, this sauce enhances the flavor of so many dishes! It’s also a nice textural addition to so many recipes:

  • Top. Add to your favorite tacos, burritos, tostadas, crunch-wraps, quesadillas, enchiladas (really any tortilla-based meals).
  • Finishing Sauce. Drizzle over grilled chicken, fish, or steak (or black beans/refried beans if you’re vegetarian).
  • Add to a bowl. Replace other sauces or guacamole with a scoop of salsa verde instead in your favorite taco bowl or chicken burrito bowl.
  • Add to your favorite breakfast. Salsa verde is amazing drizzled over scrambled eggs, added to breakfast burritos, or used to amp up the flavor in a breakfast casserole! 
  • Replace salad dressing. If you have a hearty and loaded salad, this salsa can stand in for the dressing nicely.

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Salsa Verde

5 from 1 vote
Salsa Verde is our favorite green salsa; instead of tomatoes we use tomatillos, which give this sauce its distinct green color and flavor. This salsa is zesty, tangy, and has a nice underlying smoky flavor from broiling the veggies. Grab some chips, you're going to need them!
Print Recipe

Salsa Verde

5 from 1 vote
Salsa Verde is our favorite green salsa; instead of tomatoes we use tomatillos, which give this sauce its distinct green color and flavor. This salsa is zesty, tangy, and has a nice underlying smoky flavor from broiling the veggies. Grab some chips, you're going to need them!
Course Appetizer, condiment, Dip, sauce
Cuisine Healthy, Mexican, Vegetarian
Keyword Salsa Verde
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chilling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 8 -12 as an appetizer with chips
Calories 17kcal
Cost $5.62

Equipment

  • Sheet pan
  • Food processor or Blender

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds (9-12) tomatillos (Note 1)
  • 1-2 small jalapeños (Note 2)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped white or yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • Fine sea salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar, optional
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic (~2-3 cloves)
  • 2-4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

Instructions

  • BROIL TOMATILLOS: Place the oven rack about 4 inches below the heat source and preheat broil to high. Prep tomatillos (Note 1) and add those along with jalapeños (Note 2) to a sheet pan. Broil for 5 minutes or until blackened and beginning to blister. Remove the baking sheet and use tongs to carefully flip the tomatillos and jalapeños to the other side. Broil for another 3-5 minutes or until thoroughly blistered and nicely charred black.
  • BLEND OR PROCESS: Meanwhile, in a large food processor or blender add in all the other ingredients, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper (I add 1-1/4 tsp fine sea salt and 1/2 tsp pepper). (Start with less lime juice and add more later to taste.) Pulse 15-20 seconds to break down.
  • ADD TOMATILLOS: Add charred tomatillos and jalapeños to food processor/blender. Pulse until mixture is mostly smooth with no large chunks. Scrape down the sides as needed. Taste and add any extra lime juice, salt, and/or pepper as needed until flavors are vibrant. It will seem a bit thin at first -- this is normal. Allow time for the sauce to thoroughly chill, it thickens quite a bit in the fridge. (The pectin in the tomatillos is responsible for the thickening.)
  • CHILL: Transfer salsa verde to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Enjoy with chips or in your favorite dishes!

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Tomatillos: Try to find tomatillos roughly the same size. They should be firm to the touch, but not rock hard or squishy. Avoid tomatillos with loose husks that are shriveled or discolored. To prepare for this recipe: Pinch off the husks, scrub clean (they're sticky) under warm water. Dry, and leave them whole to broil.
Note 2: Jalapeños: Leave these whole for broiling. Then, if you aren’t a fan of heat, be sure to remove the seeds and ribs before throwing them in the food processor. If you're very concerned about any spiciness, add small amounts of jalapeños at a time (keep in mind, not all jalapeños pack the same amount of heat -- there can be a lot of variation!) Note that tomatillos are fairly sweet and the spice of the jalapeños helps balance the sweetness. (On the flip side, if you love spice, leave in as many ribs and seeds as you can handle!)

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 17kcal | Carbohydrates: 3.5g | Protein: 0.5g | Fat: 0.4g | Sodium: 195.1mg | Fiber: 0.8g | Sugar: 2.1g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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