This amazing roasted salsa verde is my favorite Mexican condiment. Made with just a handful of fresh ingredients like tomatillos, chiles, and cilantro, this tomatillo salsa is perfect for dipping tortilla chips, huevos rancheros verde or salsa verde chicken!
Roasting the Salsa Ingredients
Until fairly recently I was quite oblivious to the many different Mexican salsas there are. For me, there were only guacamole and mild, medium or hot tomato salsas for dipping taco chips; with homemade varieties that included mango or pineapple.
However, living in Mexico has opened my eyes and palate! And my taste buds have spoken loud and clearly that they love salsa verde best. When given a choice – usually while ordering huevos rancheros or chilaquiles at a breakfast restaurant – I will always choose salsa verde due to the flavors of roasted tomatillos, garlic, cilantro, and jalapeno!
Shockingly, until now, I’ve never made a tomatillo salsa myself. Being able to eat so many delicious Mexican dishes whenever we go out, I haven’t actually learned to cook very many. But I decided that this has to change now. And of course, this roasted tomatillo salsa had to be one of the first things I needed to learn!
How to Make Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
My version of this tangy tomatillo salsa is a roasted green salsa and it is incredibly easy to make. This means that I char the tomatillos, chiles, garlic, and onion in a cast-iron skillet before I pulse them in a blender. You could also do this part on a baking sheet under the broiler in the oven.
The roasting step can be skipped altogether. However, in that case, you should still boil the tomatillos covered with water until somewhat softened (about 5 minutes) before blending with all other ingredients.
Once the tomatillos and other flavourful components are perfectly charred, they get blended into a smooth sauce. You should blend everything for about 30 seconds until fairly smooth but not uniform in colour. You still want to be able to see some black specks from the charred ingredients. The timing may differ depending on your blender. If you don’t have a high-powered blender, you could use a handheld immersion blender or a food processor instead.
You may expect that you will need to stir fresh lime juice into the salsa at some point, but it isn’t necessary since the tomatillos are so tangy. The other ingredients are so full-flavoured as well that you won’t miss lime juice at all.
While this roasted tomatillo salsa verde will be perfectly delicious at this point, tomatillos are quite watery like tomatoes. As a result, the sauce will be too liquid for picking up with tortilla chips or adding to your favourite Mexican dishes.
For this reason, I like to simmer the sauce on the stove for a few minutes to thicken. Simply bring the sauce to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to the heat to let the sauce simmer for about 5 minutes until thickened. Simmering uncovered allows the water to evaporate through steam, thus thickening the sauce.
What are Tomatillos?
Tomatillos are a Mexican staple, otherwise called husk tomatoes or Mexican ground cherries. They have a sweet and acidic flavour and lots of water in them like tomatoes. While they grow on a vine similar to tomatoes, they are actually quite different.
When the plant starts to set the fruits, a Chinese lantern shape forms. Over the season, the tomatillo grows, eventually filling out the husk. Some people will use green tomatoes in place of tomatillos in tomatillo salsa, but they really don’t have the same flavour, so just use tomatillos here.
This roasted tomatillo salsa is one of the most classic ways to use these green fruits, but you can enjoy them in numerous cooked and raw preparations. Consider trying them in soups, stews, or even in salads for an intriguing addition.
You could even dice them up by hand or in a food processor for a fresh salsa similar to pico de Gallo, or sprinkle them over baked nachos with some fresh chopped cilantro, chopped chilies, and green onions. Whatever you choose to do, this salsa recipe will be an excellent place to start enjoying this remarkable fruit.
Ways to Use Salsa Verde
This salsa is most commonly served with chips for dipping or on tacos, but you can enjoy it in a multitude of ways. It is particularly great to simmer this sauce with chicken for a chicken stew over rice, while you can also pour it over chicken enchiladas and bake it in the oven. Another great way to use it is to bring it to a simmer in a skillet, crack in some eggs, cover them, and allow them to gently cook until set. This is like a Mexican version of a shakshuka, which is eggs cooked in a delicious, spiced tomato sauce.
Otherwise, enjoy this sauce with your breakfast eggs or even this Instant Pot Shredded Chicken with this salsa in place of traditional tomato salsa.
How to Store Tomatillo Salsa
While you may gobble up the entire batch with your significant other or family, you can safely store it for a few days in your fridge. Simply place in an airtight container and place in the fridge until you are ready to use for your favourite green salsa recipes or just to enjoy with chips.
This should keep for between 5 and 7 days without deteriorating too much, however, I recommend consuming within the first 3 days for the best flavour. If you know you won’t be able to eat the rest within the week, you can freeze it as well. Just place it in freezer bags or airtight containers until you are ready to use it again. If you choose to freeze it in jars, though, just make sure there is at least a ½-inch worth of headspace to ensure that it doesn’t break due to expansion.
More Mexican Recipes You'll Love:
- Mexican Quinoa Bowl with Avocado Salsa
- Chiles en Nogada (Stuffed Poblano Peppers)
- Blender Salsa
- Vegan Burritos
- Instant Pot Pulled Pork Adobo
- Prickly Pear Margarita
- Black Bean Quesadillas
Roasted Salsa Verde Recipe
- 1 pound tomatillos about 6 large ones
- 1-2 jalapeño or serrano chiles stem removed (deseeded for mild salsa; for medium heat I used 1 jalapeño including seeds)
- 2 garlic cloves
- ¼ medium white onion
- ⅓ cup water
- 1 bunch cilantro about 1 cup
- ½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- 1 tablespoon flavorless oil like avocado, grapeseed or refined coconut oil
- Wash the tomatillos with cool water and pat dry. Remove stem from chiles, and deseed for mild salsa. Peel the garlic cloves.
- Heat a cast iron skillet on high until very hot. Add the tomatillos to the skillet and roast them until blistered with black charred spots. Use tongs to carefully turn them occasionally.
- Turn heat to medium and add chiles, garlic cloves and onion. Roast until they also are blistered with charred spots and have softened; about 5 minutes.
- Take skillet off heat and add water to loosen any charred pieces stuck to the bottom.
- Let everything cool a little, then add contents of skillet (tomatillos, chiles, garlic, and onion, including water), cilantro and sea salt to a blender. Blend for about 30 seconds until fairly smooth.
- Heat oil in the skillet, then pour in the blended salsa mix. Bring to a boil, then simmer until salsa thickens; about 5 minutes.
- Use right away, or cool and store refrigerated in an airtight container.
I made this recipe last night for my Cinco de Mayo party - it is beyond excellent! Definitely not for those who like a mild salsa, this one has a lovely level of heat, perfect pairing with a red salsa to give guests some variety!
Jennifer @ Leelalicious
Hi Leslie, thank you for your wonderful review! I'm glad you enjoyed the level of heat in the salsa.
I've made a variation of this recipe for years, but this is a good one. In my little part of Texas, we have many Latino friends, so I've learned mucho about AUTHENTIC Mexican cooking from them and their Mamasitas. I'm also a big fan of premium EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), most of it from Greece. Although garlic isn't necessarily a Mexican staple, I use a little just because I love garlic. Mexican and Mediterranean foods are my favorites.
I'm a bit confused. I thought y'all lived in Alberta (although I can't imagine why), but now it seems that y'all are living in Mexico (?). Just curious.
By the way, you are gorgeous!
Jennifer @ Leelalicious
Hi there! Thanks for the wonderful review! Yes, Regina and her family live in Mexico now. You are very fortunate to have Latino friends to learn Mexican cooking from. 🙂
We made this today using lime juice (covering the bottom of the pan) and ⅓ cup water to loosen the charred tidbits.
Came out excellent!!
I've also charred on the grill, then steamed them to loosen the skins before using my food processor or stick blender. I prefer the stick, because is gives me more control. BTW, don't go short on the cilantro!