Give your next taco night a boost with this Salsa Verde recipe and add it to your Cinco de Mayo menu! Green salsa aka Tomatillo Salsa, is made with tomatillos, roasted garlic and jalapeño for the perfect tangy, spicy flavor.
So, break out those chips and you can use it for other recipes, too!
Today’s salsa verde recipe takes a little more time than my go-to red salsa recipe. But the results are SO worth it!
Once you taste this green sauce, you’ll never go back to jarred salsa verde again. The fresh ingredients, zesty citrus and perfect balance of salty, smoky and spicy make it the very best green salsa I’ve ever served. It’s even beats out most Mexican restaurants I’ve tasted, too!
SAVE THIS HOMEMADE SALSA VERDE RECIPE TO YOUR FAVORITE PINTEREST BOARD!
What is salsa verde?
Salsa verde (green salsa) is a Mexican sauce made with tomatillos and green peppers. It’s been a staple of Mexican cuisine for generation, dating all the way back to the Aztecs. The main difference is that it’s tangier than most red tomato based salsas and gets its name from its distinctive bright green color.
Served as a dip for chips, or a topping for dishes like enchiladas and tacos, salsa verde is a quick and easy way to round out any Mexican or Tex-Mex meal!
What ingredients do I need for this salsa recipe?
Start by gathering these fresh ingredients.
- Tomatillos – The main ingredient! These look like small green tomatoes with a papery thin husks. For the best flavor, look for ripe tomatillos that are firm and vibrant green. Avoid ones that are overly ripe or have a yellowish color.
- Garlic – Use fresh garlic cloves with the skin on for this recipe.
- Jalapeño Peppers– This gives the salsa it’s spicy kick. The recipe calls for removing the seeds first. If you want a spicier salsa, you can leave some of the seeds intact.
- White onion – The balance of sharp and sweet mellow flavor makes it great for salsa. You can use red onion if you want salsa with more of a bite.
- Fresh Cilantro – Adds a zippy, fresh fragrance to salsa verde without overwhelming the flavor too much.
- Lime – This recipe uses the lime juice AND the zest to enhance the natural tang of the tomatillos.
- Ground cumin – Gives a boost to the smoky flavor of roasted garlic and tomatillos.
- Salt and pepper – added to taste
Once your ingredients are lined up, you could just blend them up to make a perfectly fine fresh green salsa. Many people love making their salsa verde this way. If that’s you, more power to you!
But if you want a truly out-of-this-world tomatillo salsa that runs laps around the competition, do yourself a favor: roast the tomatillos, garlic and jalapeño first!
Roasting brings out a fuller flavor in your tomatillos. It also softens the sharp and bitter tasting notes of raw garlic and jalapeño for a well balanced salsa.
How to Roast Tomatillos for Salsa
The great news is that roasting tomatillos takes hardly any extra effort.
First, switch your broiler on high. While it’s heating up, arrange the tomatillos, garlic cloves and jalapeño on a baking sheet.
Put the baking sheet under the broiler and let the ingredients roast until soft and slightly charred. The garlic and jalapeño pepper will likely finish roasting first. Remove them when they’re done and let the tomatillos keep roasting until the edges are charred (but not burnt).
As with anything involving the broiler: keep a close eye on your ingredients to prevent burning! I also rotate my tomatillos about half way through roasting to help them cook evenly on all sides.
The broiler is no doubt the fastest way to roast peppers and tomatillos. They can also be roasted in the oven at 400 F for about 20 minutes. Just drizzle the garlic, tomatillos and peppers with a bit of olive oil first.
Salsa Verde Instructions
Remove the skins from the garlic cloves. It should slide off easily now that the cloves are soft and caramelized. You’ll also need to slice the stem off your jalapeño and scoop out the seeds. You may want to wear gloves to do this. If not, definitely wash your hands afterwards just in case you rub your eyes.
Add the roasted tomatillos to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Now add the remaining ingredients and blend again until you get the consistency you want. For cooking, I like my salsa verde blended up completely smooth. If I’m eating green salsa as a dip with chips, I like it a little chunkier.
You can find the complete recipe, instructions and nutritional information in the recipe card below!
Can I make salsa verde ahead of time?
Yes, you can prepare salsa verde in advance. However, the salsa loses some of its flavor and freshness the longer it sits so I don’t recommend making it too far ahead of time. Store salsa verde in the refrigerator in an airtight container and enjoy it within one week. You may need to add a small amount of water to thin it out before serving.
Can I substitute tomatillos with green tomatoes?
While both tomatillos and green tomatoes have a similar color, they have distinct flavors. So if you’re considering making green salsa with green tomatoes instead of tomatillos — don’t do it! Tomatillos have a tangy and slightly citrusy taste, while green tomatoes are more tart. It’s best to use tomatillos for an authentic salsa verde flavor.
It’s easy to mix up tomatillos and green tomatoes in the produce section, especially if the fruits aren’t clearly labeled. You can identify tomatillos by their thin papery husk. Make sure to use only tomatillos, not green tomatoes, for authentic salsa verde.
What to serve with salsa verde
When salsa verde is on the table, I usually just grab a bag of tortilla chips and dig in!
If you can resist eating it all as a dip, make sure to try some as a topping for this Chicken Chilaquiles recipe. Something about the vibrant tanginess of this salsa makes it the ideal complement to eggs. It’s a fabulous addition to Huevos Rancheros (Mexican scrambled eggs) too.
At dinner time, drizzle homemade salsa verde onto a platter of shrimp tacos or carne asada taco boats. Or just keep a jar of it on the table for everyone to add to their meal during your next taco night.
Different Ways to enjoy Salsa and Dip Recipes
Say goodbye to boring, bland jarred salsa. My easy salsa recipes are here to jazz up your dinner table!
- Avocado Salsa – a creative blend of guacamole and fresh salsa with corn and tomatoes.
- Raspberry Mango Salsa – a sweet and mild salsa topping perfect on tilapia and other grilled fish.
- Best Quick and Easy Tomato Salsa Recipe – a restaurant stye salsa made with fire roasted canned tomatoes, plenty of garlic, and jalapeño.
- Classic Guacamole – a tortilla chip’s favorite dip!
- Edamame Guacamole– Green soy beans add a nourishing boost to the familiar avocado dip.
- Pico de Gallo – you’ll love this easy chunky salsa with fresh tomato, onion, garlic and more.
Homemade Salsa Verde (Tomatillo Salsa)
- 1 pound tomatillos about 8, husked and rinsed
- 3 cloves garlic papery skin still on
- 1 jalapeño pepper whole (seeds and membranes removed after roasting)
- ½ cup white onion roughly chopped
- ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat your broiler on high. Place the tomatillos, whole cloves of garlic (with their papery skins still intact), and whole jalapeño pepper on a baking sheet. Make sure to space them out evenly.
- Broil the tomatillos, garlic, and jalapeño pepper until they become slightly charred and soft, turning them over once during the process. This should take about 10-15 minutes. Keep a close eye on them to prevent burning. The tomatillos will likely take the longest to roast, so remove the other items beforehand if needed. I remove the jalapeño and garlic in about 8-10 minutes.
- Once charred, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Transfer the tomatillos, jalapeño pepper, and garlic cloves to a plate to cool slightly.
- Peel off the papery skins from the roasted garlic cloves. They should be soft and slightly caramelized.
- After the ingredients have cooled, slice the stem off of the jalapeño pepper and remove the seeds and membranes to help control the spice level (leave the seeds/membranes in if you want a spicier salsa). You can wear gloves or wash your hands thoroughly after handling the jalapeño pepper to avoid irritation. Roughly slice the jalapeño.
- In a blender or food processor, add the roasted tomatillos and fully blend. Add the sliced jalapeño pepper, roasted garlic cloves, chopped onion, cilantro leaves, lime juice, lime zest, salt, cumin, and pepper. Blend the ingredients until you achieve a smooth consistency. If you prefer a chunkier salsa, pulse the mixture a few times until you reach your desired texture.
- Taste the salsa and adjust the seasoning if needed, adding more salt, pepper, or lime juice according to your preference.
- Transfer the salsa verde to a serving bowl and let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. Alternatively, refrigerate the salsa for a few hours and serve it chilled.
- Serve your homemade salsa verde with tortilla chips, as a topping for tacos, quesadillas, grilled meats, or any dish that could benefit from a zesty and tangy green salsa.
- Enjoy right away or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- Recipe makes 2 cups and nutritional information has been calculated for 6 servings.
- See blog post for more recipe tips and tricks.