Salsas & Sauces/

Oaxacan Pasilla Tomatillo Salsa

Salsa de Pasilla Oaxaquena y Tomate Verde
From Season 9, Mexico—One Plate at a Time
Servings: 11/4 cups


  • 1 to 3(1/4 to 1/2 ounce total)dried chiles pasillas oaxaquenas OR 3 to 6 dried chiles chipotles colorados (chiles moritas) OR 3 to 6 canned chiles chipotles en adobo
  • 3large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 8ounces (about 4 medium)tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • Salt
  • Sugar


Set an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat. If using dried chiles, break off their stems. Toast the chiles a few at a time: lay on the hot surface, press flat for a few seconds with a metal spatula (they’ll crackle faintly and release their smoky aroma), then flip and press down to toast the other side. Transfer the toasted chiles to a bowl, cover with hot water and let rehydrate for 30 minutes, stirring regularly to insure even soaking. Pour off all the water and discard.

If using canned chiles, simply remove them from the adobo they’re packed in.
On a heavy, ungreased skillet or griddle over medium heat (you’ll already have it on if you’re using dried chiles), roast the unpeeled garlic, turning occasionally, until blackened in spots and soft, about 15 minutes. Cool, slip off the papery skins, then roughly chop.
Lay the tomatillos on a baking sheet and place about 4 inches below a very hot broiler. When the tomatillos blister, blacken and soften on one side, about 5 minutes, turn them over and roast the other side. Cool completely on the baking sheet.

Scrape the tomatillos (and any juices that have accumulated around them) into a food processor or blender and add the rehydrated or canned chiles and garlic. Pulse the machine until everything is thick and relatively smooth (detectable little bits will add textural interest).

Transfer your salsa to a serving bowl and stir in enough water, usually 3 to 4 tablespoons, to give the salsa an easily spoonable consistency. Taste and season with salt, plus a little sugar, if you want to soften the tangy edge.


  1. If I could only have one salsa in my kitchen, this would be it. So good I’m almost tempted to just eat it off a spoon–if it weren’t so spicy, I probably would! I use chiles moritas, because I love their smokiness and heat. This is a great salsa for beef, beans, or other boldly flavored foods. I find it a tad overpowering for eggs (much to my dismay since I’m lazy in the mornings and would love to just make simple breakfast taquitos with this stuff). I catch myself looking for things to make that will compliment this salsa, whereas I normally plan meals in the reverse. Try it!

  2. Simply delicious, afraid the sugar would change the flavor, I left it out. So aromatic and tasty. I blended the canned chipotles with the roasted garlic, then added the roasted tomatillos, four tbsp. water salt and pulsed until desired consistency.
    Goes great with black beans!
    Give it a try.

    1. One must try this with pasilla oaxaquenas. Chipotles are similar but don’t replicate that authentic flavor. This is a ubiquitous table sauce found all over Oaxaca. Some recipes call for fried shrimp and other aromatics.

    1. Delicious! I made new Yukon potatoes with sage and chives and had tomatillos, jalapeños and dried adobe on hand so I used it as a side. I didn’t add the salt or sugar and didn’t mind the tang. Very healthy recipe to satisfy a snacking craving. How long will this keep in the fridge? A few days?

  3. I just made this dish and it’s really good and really spicy. Only thing is , it’s just me today so can you successfully freeze the salsa or will it lose something if i do ?

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