Made with roasted tomatillos, jalapeños, and garlic, this Easy Homemade Salsa Verde Recipe is just the thing to add a burst of flavor to everything from baked chicken to burritos. You can even serve it as a dip with some corn chips. Though this recipe is mild, you can easily turn up the heat with an extra pepper or two.
After you whip up a batch of this green salsa, use it to make our Salsa Verde Chicken, which is just about the easiest chicken dish ever!
Easy Tomatillo Salsa Verde Recipe
Salsa verde is something I always have on hand to add flavor to nearly anything. The slightly spicy roasted flavor elevates any dish it’s added to, whether that’s tacos and burritos, scrambled eggs, or baked chicken. There are seriously so many ways to use this tomatillo salsa.
This version has a bit of heat to it but not too much. We’re a medium spice level family so I added just one jalapeno but you can easily turn the spice up a level or two. Or make it milder. Whatever you prefer! Just be prepared to make this green salsa all the time. It’s so good.
Salsa verde, also known as tomatillo salsa, is a salsa popular in Mexican cuisine. It translates to “green salsa” and that’s essentially exactly what it is. Instead of being red like traditional tomato-based salsas, salsa verde is made with tomatillos which give it the green color.
Tomatillos look like green tomatoes but even though the name means “little tomatoes”, they are not a tomato at all. They have an outer papery husk that needs to be removed before eating and they have a flavor that’s a bit earthy, with both sweet and tart undertones.
Salsa verde is made by blending tomatillos with peppers, cilantro, and garlic. It can be served chilled or warm and has just as many uses than traditional red salsa.
Tomatillo salsa can be as mild or spicy as you’d like it. Tomatillos themselves are not at all spicy so the spiciness will depend on the heat of the peppers used.
For mild salsa, omit the jalapeño completely and for medium, use just one. To reduce the spiciness, you can also remove the ribs and seeds after they’re roasted, which will reduce quite a bit of heat but still lend flavor.
On the other hand, for hot salsa, use two jalapeños. If you really love spicy, leave the seeds in and/or add a Serrano pepper for an extra spicy kick.
Tomatillo salsa verde is made with just a handful of fresh ingredients.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Tomatillos – Remove the papery husks, rinse, and dry.
- Jalapeno – This recipe uses one jalapeno for a medium spice level. You can use more or less depending on your preference.
- White onion – You want white onion for this salsa. It has a sharper flavor than yellow or sweet onions and balances out the other ingredients.
- Garlic – Keep whole and unpeeled for roasting.
- Cilantro – Use fresh cilantro. Just roughly chopped, since you’re going to throw it in the food processor (or blender.)
- Fresh lime juice – You can add more lime juice to taste. It’s essential to use fresh lime juice here.
- Salt – Again, you can adjust the amount of salt used to taste.
Here are a few ways to switch this recipe up.
- Creamy salsa verde. For a creamy version of this salsa, allow it to cool then blend in a diced avocado. It gives a beautifully creamy texture and also helps to balance out the spicy flavors.
- Roasted tomato salsa. In place of the tomatillos, you can use tomatoes. It won’t be a salsa verde, of course, but you’ll end up with a delicious roasted tomato salsa.
- Spice it up. As noted above, this recipe has a medium spice level, as that’s what we like in our house. If you prefer all things spicy, toss in a Serrano pepper to really kick up the heat.
- Raw green salsa. You can also make salsa verde without roasting the vegetables. In that case, it’s essential to use the freshest vegetables you can find. The flavor will also be different as you won’t have the earthy, charred flavor. I really prefer the roasted version.
How to Make Salsa Verde
Tomatillo salsa verde really just requires two steps – roast the vegetables then blend the vegetables.
(Scroll to the bottom for our easy printable recipe with the complete directions, and don’t miss the video below.)
- Roast the ingredients. Spread the tomatillos, jalapeños, onion quarters, and garlic (unpeeled) on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Broil for 5 minutes then flip and broil for another 4 to 5 minutes, until the vegetables are charred and blistered.
- Blend the ingredients. Take the peel off the garlic when it’s cool enough to handle. Transfer everything, including any juices, to a blender with the remaining ingredients. Pulse to reach a course puree, as you want it slightly chunky with some texture.
- Adjust the seasoning. Taste and add extra salt or lime if desired.
- Chill. Transfer to an airtight container and chill until needed.
Tips for Success
Here are a few tips to make your green salsa even better.
- Keep a close eye when broiling. Watch the peppers carefully as small peppers can burn quickly under the broiler. You want them to be slightly charred but not completely burnt.
- Don’t over-process the sauce. Do not blend the sauce until it’s completely smooth. It is a salsa so you want it to have some chunks and texture.
- Use water to thin if necessary. The salsa may seem thin when you remove it from the blender but it does thicken in the fridge. If it’s thicker than you prefer, blend in 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.
- Taste first – then add salt. I start with just 1/2 teaspoon of salt then add more if needed. I highly recommend waiting to add any additional salt until you’ve tasted it.
- Use ingredients the same size. Try to use tomatillos that are roughly the same size so they cook the same.
This green salsa has many uses and is great for adding to a recipe that could use a little extra flavor. Here are some of my favorite ways to use it:
- As a dip for corn chips.
- On top of cooked white rice or cilantro lime rice.
- In any type of burrito or burrito bowl, like Chipotle steak burrito, chicken burrito bowl, or even breakfast burritos.
- On any tacos, like fried shrimp tacos or fish stick tacos.
- A topping for baked chicken breast.
- Dolloped on Tex Mex Migas.
- On top of scrambled eggs for extra flavor.
- Swap out enchilada sauce and use some in chicken enchiladas.
- As a dip for quesadillas.
How to Store
Store homemade salsa verde in an airtight jar or container in the fridge. It will stay fresh for at least one week. If you added the avocado to make creamy salsa verde, it will last for about 3 days – be sure to press plastic wrap down to the surface of the salsa to help prevent the avocados from turning brown.
More Mexican Salsas:
- 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos (about 12 medium), papery husks discarded, rinsed and dried
- 1 medium jalapeno , stems removed (see note)
- 1/2 medium white onion , peeled, roots removed, quartered
- 2 cloves garlic , kept whole, unpeeled
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves , roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice , or up to 3 tablespoons, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt , or more to taste
- Preheat the broiler to high with a rack about 4-inches below the heat source.
- Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil, then spread the tomatillos, jalapeños, onion quarters, and garlic in a single layer. Place under the broiler for about 5 minutes to lightly brown the skins of the vegetables. (Watch carefully, since smaller peppers can burn quickly.) Using tongs, flip everything over and roast for another 4 to 5 minutes, until the vegetables are charred and blistered in spots.
- Remove from the oven and once cool enough to handle, take the peel off the garlic.
- Transfer everything (included any accumulated juices) to a blender or food processor along with the cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Pulse all ingredients several times until you reach a course puree (don't over process – you want it to be slightly chunky and have some texture. The salsa might seem thin, but it will thicken up after a few hours as it cools in the fridge. If it happens to seem really thick and you want to thin it out, you can blend in 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to your desired consistency.)
- Taste and season with extra salt and/or lime juice, if needed.
- Transfer to an airtight container and chill in the refrigerator.Use as desired: As a dip for corn chips, with cooked white rice, in burritos, a topping for baked chicken, etc.