This easy homemade salsa recipe only uses a few ingredients and is ready in under 30 minutes! You can make it mild or spicy, according to your taste.
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I can never get enough Mexican food. My mom craved it when she was pregnant with me. So, I guess I was literally born to love it. Mexico is one of my absolute favorite travel destinations, but since I can’t get there as often as I like, I love to make authentic Mexican recipes at home. This salsa verde is one of those recipes!
And listen, if you want to learn how to make Mexican salsa, you might as well learn from one of the best – Rick Bayless. I have three of his cookbooks, this recipe comes from Authentic Mexican. He is a wealth of information about the origins of these dishes, and how they are served throughout the country.
Maybe you’ve had this before, billed as tomatillo sauce, not as a salsa. But salsa actually just means “sauce” in Spanish. The smooth texture makes this recipe very versatile – it can be served hot as part of another dish like chilaquiles, or eaten at room temp or chilled for chips and salsa.
Are green tomatoes and tomatillos the same thing?
Nope. Green tomatoes are just the unripe version of any tomato variety you can think of. Tomatillos are their own unique thing. They remain green, and they grow with a leafy husk around them.
How to buy, clean, and prepare tomatillos
When purchasing tomatillos, make sure the husk is still nice and green, and that the fruit inside is bright green and firm. If the husks have turned yellow or brown, they are likely not very fresh and have been sitting around for a while, so avoid those.
When you are ready to use them, remove the husks and stems, and run the tomatillos under warm water to get rid of the sticky residue on the outside. If you find this to be a pesky task, you can also drop them into simmering water for a few seconds to make the husk easier to remove and clean the residue in one fell swoop. See how Justin Chapple does that in this video.
Tomatillos can be eaten raw or cooked. More often, you will find they are cooked in recipes, because that makes them less acidic. You can just boil them whole, and whiz them in a blender or food processor.
How to serve tomatillo salsa verde
How to make homemade tomatillo salsa
This is a quick Mexican salsa recipe that can be or used as a sauce for chilaquiles, enchiladas, tacos, and more.
Time Saving Tip:
If you don’t want to spend time cooking the tomatillos, you can shorten the recipe by about 10 minutes and used canned tomatillos instead. Your chiles will be raw when you add them to the food processor, which will make them a little spicier than if you had cooked boiled them with the tomatillos, so just be aware of that and adjust accordingly.
Adapted from Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless
1 lb fresh tomatillos, husks and stems removed, and rinsed clean of sticky residue (or 2 13 oz cans of tomatillos, drained)
1 to 3 fresh, hot green chiles such as serranos or jalapeños (3 will be very spicy!)
5 – 6 sprigs fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Salt to taste
Remove husks and stems from tomatillos. Run them under warm water to remove the sticky residue.
In a large pot, boil the tomatillos and chiles in salted water for about 10 – 15 minutes until tender and cooked through.
Place tomatillos, chiles, onion, garlic, and cilantro in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth, but retaining a little texture. Don’t totally liquify it.
I love my KitchenAid food processor for this recipe and so many others. It’s built to last and works just as well for bringing together a pie dough as it does for chopping frozen fruit.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot enough to make a drop of the salsa mixture sizzle, add all of it to the pan at once and stir frequently for about 4 – 5 minutes until the sauce thickens and darkens.
Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season with salt to taste.
Use tomatillo salsa verde immediately as a sauce for enchiladas or chilaquiles, or let cool and serve alongside tortilla chips.
More Mexican recipes
- 1 lb fresh tomatillos husk and stem removed, rinsed clean. (or two 13oz cans tomatillos)
- 1 fresh serrano pepper or jalapeño. Add more chiles if you like it spicier.
- 6 sprigs fresh cilantro
- 1 garlic clove peeled, roughly chopped
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
- Remove husks and stems from tomatillos. Run them under warm water to remove the sticky residue. In a large pot, boil the tomatillos and chiles in salted water for about 10 – 15 minutes until tender and cooked through.
- Place tomatillos, chiles, onion, garlic, and cilantro in a food processor. Blend until smooth, but retaining a little texture. Not liquified.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot enough to make a drop of the salsa mixture sizzle, add all of it to the pan at once and stir frequently for about 4 – 5 minutes until the sauce thickens and darkens.
- Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season with salt to taste.