This Homemade Salsa Verde recipe is incredibly easy and only requires 8 ingredients to make! It’s so refreshing and bold in flavor, you will never go back to store-bought Mexican tomatillo salsa again!! (Healthy, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free)
Continue to read on for tips! And, don’t miss the step by step photos and recipe video showing you exactly how to make this green tomato salsa!
Updated: This post was originally published in June 2014. I took new photos and updated the post below to include more information about how to make chunky tomatillo salsa!
If you have been a reader of this blog for any length of time you know I love all things sauce related. Dips, salsas, dressings, vinaigrettes, aioli – I absolutely love them all! Basically, it is my firm belief that life tastes better when it is drizzled, dipped, smothered and covered with sauce.
Today I am sharing one of my all time favorite Mexican salsas that doubles as a sauce, dip or dressing! Seriously, this green tomato salsa is so delicious and I always have it on hand! It’s the perfect for snacking and can also easily jazz up any dish!
Homemade Salsa Verde Recipe
This Mexican green salsa is vibrant, bold and full of fresh flavor! Tangy, smoky, slightly spicy and 100% refreshing, it’s a million times better that the store-bought variety!
This recipe calls for roasting (or grilling) the tomatillos and jalapenos until just charred to really bring out their flavor. While you can absolutely use raw tomatoes and peppers in this salsa recipe, you will be missing out on the added depth of flavor.
What is salsa verde?
Salsa verde, literally translated in Spanish as ‘green sauce’, is a cold, uncooked, green sauce.
While each country has their own green sauce, there are four popular types of salsa verde – Mexican tomatillo salsa, Italian pesto, Argentinian chimichurri and French sauce verte.
The ingredients and flavors vary greatly among each salsa, ranging from vegetable dense to oil-forward or vinegar-forward in taste.
What’s it made of?
The exact ingredients in Mexican tomatillo salsa vary from recipe to recipe. However, most salsas consists of finely chopped hot peppers, tomatillos, onion, garlic and cilantro.
Ingredients in verde salsa:
- Mexican chili peppers: Fresh chili peppers provide a little heat! I like to use a mix of smoky poblanos and mild jalapeno peppers. You can use substitute serrano peppers if you prefer a spicier kick! Regardless of the pepper you chose, make sure you remove most (or all) of the ribs and seeds or your green salsa will be very spicy!
- Tomatillos: Fresh tomatillos are the star ingredient! Tomatillos look like small green tomatoes wrapped in a thin, paper-like husk.
- Onion: White onions have the crispest texture and provide a sharp zing of flavor.
- Garlic: Fresh cloves of garlic give the salsa a deep, savory taste.
- Cilantro: Chopped fresh cilantro adds a ton of freshness.
- Lime Juice: Freshly squeezed lime juice adds a bit of acidity. However, don’t use too much lime juice because tomatillos already provide a bit of tart flavor.
- Sweetener: Agave or honey provide sweetness and balance.
- Spices: Cumin, kosher salt and ground black pepper round out all the flavors.
What is the difference between regular salsa and verde salsa?
Both regular salsa and Mexican green salsa are cold, uncooked salsas made from fruit. However, there are a few distinct differences between the two.
- Color: Traditional tomato salsa is red in color while salsa verde is green.
- Fruit: Salsa verde uses ripe tomatillos instead of traditional red tomatoes.
- Taste: Traditional salsa is slightly sweet and can range from very mild to spicy in flavor. Tomatillo salsa is tangy and zesty in flavor with an underlying smoky green chile taste.
How to make tomatillo salsa verde?
Homemade roasted tomatillo salsa is easy to make and loaded with fresh ingredients! Only 8 ingredients and 10 minutes of prep is required to make this Mexican staple!
- Roast the tomatillos and peppers (optional). Preheat grill to medium-high or oven to high broil. Toss the tomatillos and peppers with oil. Grill or broil until vegetables are charred and tender, about 8-10 minutes.
- De-stem and chop tomatillos and peppers. Cut the stems off of the peppers and remove seeds. Discard. Roughly chop the peppers and transfer to a food processor. Set tomatillos aside.
- Blend salsa. Add the onions and garlic to the food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped. Add the tomatillos and pulse again. Add in the cilantro, lime juice and agave (or honey) if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pulse until the vegetables are broken down, but the salsa is still chunky.
- Refrigerate (optional). For best results, transfer the salsa to an airtight container and place in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to develop for at least 30 minutes. Enjoy!
Tips for the best homemade salsa verde:
- When selecting tomatillos, look for ones with the paper-like husk still in tact. Tomatillos should be smooth and firm to the touch and green in hue.
- Always adjust recipes to your specific taste. If you like a thinner salsa, add water to the food processor until desired consistency is achieved. If the salsa is too tart for your taste, add agave or honey to taste.
How to make Mexican tomatillo salsa step by step photos:
What does salsa verde taste like?
Mexican green salsa is tart, tangy, zesty in flavor with a bright and refreshing taste. The level of heat, or spiciness, can vary greatly from recipe to recipe and can range from mild to hot.
Is it spicy?
While most tomatillo salsa incorporates green chiles (jalapeños, serranos or poblanos), each recipe or brand can range in spiciness from very mild to hot.
The best part of making your own salsa is your ability to customize the heat level to your specific taste! For spicy green salsa, leave all the seeds and ribs in the peppers. As well, you can add a serrano pepper for added heat! For a medium salsa, remove half the seeds and ribs from the peppers. For a mild salsa, completely remove all the seeds and ribs in the peppers. If you prefer a very mild salsa, leave the jalapeño pepper completely out of the recipe.
Why is Mexican tomatillo salsa green?
Salsa verde is green in color due to the fresh herbs and vegetables (peppers and tomatillos) used to make the salsa.
How to use salsa verde?
Salsa verde is a bright, versatile sauce that tastes delicious with everything! The most common way to enjoy verde salsa is with a bag of salty, crunchy tortilla chips. However, this green sauce is more than just a dip for chips! It’s a great way to liven up boring, bland dishes and it tastes absolutely magical with just about everything!
Ways to use green sauce:
- Dip: The most obvious use is as a dip for chips or raw vegetables.
- Chilaquiles: Use it as a base sauce to make breakfast chilaquiles.
- Scrambles: Toss it in scrambled eggs to add color and flavor.
- Dressing: Use salsa as a light salad dressing. Or, mix salsa with yogurt, mayonnaise or sour cream to create a creamy, punchy dressing!
- Soup: Finish soup off with a generous dollop of salsa for fresh flavor!
- Meat toppers: Topping for meat – Drizzle it over grilled steak, chicken, pork and more!
- Seafood toppers: Dolloped on top of grilled seafood – think: scallops, salmon, shrimp, white fish, and more!
- Marinade: Brighten up meat, chicken and fish by using it as a marinade.
- Tacos: Drizzle tacos with a bit of salsa and sour cream to add fresh flavor!
- Nachos, Burritos, Fajitas and Taquitos: Ditch regular salsa for tomatillo salsa as a topping for Mexican food.
- Enchiladas: Skip the enchilada sauce and use green salsa layered in enchiladas.
- Grains: Stir a bit of salsa into cooked rice or quinoa for a little Mexican flavor and flare!
- Vegetables: Liven up bland vegetables, such as beans or corns, with a bit of salsa!
- Mexican stir-fry: Use salsa instead of regular stir-fry sauce and create delicious Mexican chicken!
- Bowls: Drizzle or dollop a bit of salsa on top of vegetable noodle bowls and burrito bowls.
How long will salsa verde last?
Salsa verde should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Properly stored, salsa will keep well for at least 1 week.
How to tell if salsa is bad?
It’s very easy to tell if salsa has expired by using your senses!
Below are a few telling signs your salsa is bad or spoiled:
- Sight: Significant discoloration or a shriveled and darker appearance.
- Smell: Any change in smell or the development of any off-odor or rott.
- Taste: Older salsas tend to lose their fresh flavor and taste mushy or “off”.
- Mold: The presence of visible mold on the salsa.
Can you make salsa verde in advance?
Homemade tomatillo salsa actually tastes best if made in advance so the flavors have a chance to develop and meld! Essentially, the flavors intensify and the taste just gets better with time. I recommend making the salsa at least 1-2 hours in advance. However, you can make it up to 4-5 days in advance.
Can salsa be frozen?
Mexican salsa freezes beautifully! To freeze, make sure you store the prepared salsa properly in freezer-safe zip-closure bags. Salsa will keep in the freezer for 2-3 months.
Fresh, flavorful and a million times better than the store-bought variety, you are going to love this homemade green salsa!!
Until next time, friends, cheers – to getting saucy!
Looking for more easy dip recipes?
If you love this dish, try one of these delicious dips next:
The best Tomatillo Salsa recipe plus step by step video 👇
Salsa Verde Recipe (Green Chile Salsa)
- Food Processor or High Power Blender
- Oven or Grill (optional)
- 1 1/4 pound Tomatillos – husks and stems removed, rinsed & dried (about 9-10 small tomatillos) (SEE NOTES)
- 2 Poblano Peppers (SEE NOTES)
- 1 Jalapeno Pepper (SEE NOTES)
- 1 TBS Vegetable Oil , plus more for oiling grates
- ½ large White Onion – peeled & roughly chopped (SEE NOTES)
- 2-3 cloves Garlic – peeled
- 1/3 Cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves – loosely packed, or more to taste
- 1 ½ TBS Fresh Lime Juice or more to taste (see note)
- 1-4 tsp Agave or Honey – OPTIONAL (SEE NOTES)
- 1/2 tsp Cumin
- Kosher Salt & Ground Black Pepper
To Serve: Chips, Vegetables or use in your favorite Mexican dish!
- OPTIONAL FOR CHARRED SALSA: Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat (see note if using oven). Lightly oil the grates to prevent sticking. In a large bowl, toss the tomatillos, poblanos and jalapeno and with oil. Place the vegetables on the hot grill. Grill vegetables, turning often, until the skin is charred and the vegetables are tender, about 8-10 minutes. Remove vegetables from the grill and transfer to a plate. Set aside to allow to cool slightly. (Optional – If you don’t like a strong smoky flavor, use your hands or the back of a paring knife to scrape off some of the charred skin and discard.)
- Prep peppers and onions: Cut off the stems off the peppers and discard. Cut peppers in half lengthwise and remove seeds if you want a mild salsa. Roughly chop the peppers. Set the tomatillos aside.
- Blend Salsa: Place the onion, peppers and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped (about 10 pulses). Add in the tomatillos and pulse again to roughly chop (about 8-10 pulses). Add in the cilantro, lime juice, agave and cumin. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pulse again until vegetables are broken down, but salsa is still chunky. Taste and adjust for seasoning with more lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper if desired. Continue to pulse if a thinner salsa is desired.
- Refrigerate: For best results, cover salsa, transfer to the refrigerator and allow the flavors to marry for at least 30 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy! Or, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Peppers: The spiciness or heat of your salsa is controlled by the amount of seeds and ribs you leave in the peppers. For a very mild salsa, completely remove all the seeds and membrane from the peppers. For a mild salsa, leave half of the seeds and ribs. For a spicy salsa, leave all of the seeds and ribs.
- Tomatillos: When selecting tomatillos, look for ones with the husk still in tact. Tomatillos should be firm to the touch and green in hue.
- Raw Onion: If you don’t like the bite of a raw onion, soak the chopped onions in water for 10 minutes prior to adding them to the food processor. Be sure to thoroughly drain and pat dry before using.
- Sweetener: The agave (or honey) in this recipe is entirely optional. I like to add a couple teaspoons to balance the tart flavor.
- Charring Vegetables: If you don’t want to use a grill, you can char the peppers and tomatillos under the broiler. Adjust oven rack so it is on the middle-upper shelf. Preheat oven to high broil. Add vegetables to baking sheet and broil for 6-10 minutes, rotating pan and flipping vegetables over as necessary to get an even char.
- Salsa Consistency: If you like a thinner salsa, add water to the food processor until desired consistency is achieved.
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