Salsas & Sauces/

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Salsa Verde
From Season 8, Mexico —One Plate at a Time
Servings: 1cup


  • 8ounces (3 to 4 medium)tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • Fresh hot green chiles to taste (1 or 2 serranos or 1 jalapeno), stemmed
  • 2large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 6 sprigs of fresh cilantro (thick bottom stems cut off), roughly chopped
  • 1small white onion, finely chopped
  • Salt


Roast the tomatillos, chile(s) and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler, until blotchy black and softening (they’ll be turning from lime green to olive), about 5 minutes. Flip them over and roast the other side. Cool, then transfer everything to a blender, including all the delicious juice the tomatillos have exuded during roasting. Add the cilantro and 1/4 cup water, then blend to a coarse puree. Scoop into a serving dish. Rinse the onion under cold water, then shake to remove excess moisture. Stir into the salsa and season with salt, usually 1/2 teaspoon.


      1. Tomatoes are berries, too; in addition, they are closely related (the nightshade family, Solanaceae––along with potatoes and chilies/peppers, by the way). I have never tried making salsa verde with green tomatoes, however. I’m sure it would have a different flavour profile.

      1. FYI, tomatillos are considered to be in the same family as Tomatoes. Both by definition can be considered berries. In scientific terminology, a berry is a fruit produced from the ovary of a single flower in which the outer layer of the ovary wall develops into an edible fleshy portion (pericarp).

    1. Yes it would be a roasted green tomato salsa but why not? Tomatillos aren’t in the tomato family as was pointed out but green tomatoes have a more acidic flavor profile so should make great roasted salsa. I would definitely use what you have, but if you get a chance grow some tomatillos next summer. they are a very pretty plant that even looks good as edible landscaping.

      1. Tomatillos, tomatoes, chiles, and peppers are all part of the family Solanaceae, as are eggplant and the infamous nightshades, and tobacco.

        Green tomato is more tart than ripe tomato, and will be somewhat similar to the flavor of tomatillo. I have used many unripe tomatoes this way when a freeze ended the summer growing season and leaving lots of unripe tomatoes on the vines.

        I think tomatillos may have a bit more spiciness to them than green tomatoes do, but by all means, use whatever you have! It’s all about making good food.

      2. Actually, they ARE in the same family (Solanaceae). Different genera, however (Physalis as opposed to Solanum)

      1. No, it is not *necessary* to roast green tomatoes. I’ve made green tomato salsa using raw tomatoes. It’s quite delicious. Roasting them is a different way, and totally different flavor, and both are completely acceptable.

    2. Similar and you may like it. Tomatoes and tomatillos are a good bit different, at least to me. However, if you were to simmer this until about 190° F. for a few minutes to make the green tomato flesh much softer it would likely be very nice over a medium rare bistek. I’d put a bite-sized chunk of raw green tomato in my mouth and mull it around before whacking up a bunch of green tomatoes. Speaking of which, those make a great snack when large-diced and seasoned as you prefer, then cornmeal battered and fried crisply, as one might prepare okra. But make it and advise.

    1. Rinsing the onions removes the onion after taste! It is such an important step for any recipe that calls for raw onion. Rinsing will give you the fresh crispness of a raw onion without any of the awful breath and flavor that it adds!

      1. I have also found it useful to a wonderful salsa to sprinkle apple cider vinegar on the chopped onions and shake it around. I have found this the critical step separating good salsa from Frontera Grill table salsa!

        1. Always epicurious, I tried you suggested apple cider vinegar sprinkle and found that it left an unpleasant aftertaste. Live and learn!

  1. Yes, you absolutely can use green tomatoes. There will be some difference in the taste, but they make a delicious roasted salsa. In fact, as I just made some this morning, so the experience is fresh. I prefer the more potent heat of habaneros, so I added one — fresh and minced — with the raw onion. I like the flavor of mexican oregano, so I also crushed a half teaspoon and mixed it in.

      1. Tomatillos are related to cape gooseberries which are a nightshade like tomato. They are unrelated to true gooseberries which are a relative to currants.

  2. This is our “go to” salsa verde and we LOVE IT. Every person I’ve shared it with has enjoyed it. My local Mexican (and favorite) restaurant makes salsa verde but not roasted. It has a beautiful pale green color. Finally, asked and they mentioned they put avocado in it. BINGO! Tried it last night with this recipe and it was great!!!

  3. Why do always rinse the onions? I’ve watched you on TV, where you also do this. Is is to make the onion milder or what?

    1. It is! When toy cut into an onion you create a sulfurous compound. That is what gives you indigestion and onion breath. But simply rinsing the onions removes this and leaves you with the bright, fresh, crunch of a raw onion without the side affects!

  4. I forgot to say I don’t let the mixture cool before blending. I prefer to sauce warm on my food. Of course refrigerate for overnight storage!

  5. can you either can or freeze this recipe….looks like I am going to have a pile of tomatillos this year…gardening experiment gone really right

  6. I have a lot of frozen tomatillos from last year’s garden. Do you think I could use them, or would the freezing/thawing process ruin them for this type of use…?

  7. I added 2 tbs. of apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup of dried tomatoes. Refrigerated over night to rehydrate and blend tomato taste. It may no longer be a true green sauce but it tastes very nice.

    1. no, not enough acid in this recipe for hot water canning.
      Look for a pressure canning recipe with similar ingredients for duration and PSI

  8. This was Excellent!!! (I used it for a garnish/sauce when making Marcela Valladolid’s Coca-Cola Carnitas…) This Salsa Verde Recipe ‘made’ the dish.

    It was the first time I made Salsa Verde. I was going to make it ‘raw’, but then saw this recipe. It was SOO delicious and easy. I made one tiny modification in that instead of the 1/4 cup of water at the end, I used 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar… It gave a tang and balanced out the heat.

    Great Salsa Verde recipe.. Highly Recommend. Take the time to roast the tomatillos, peppers and garlic. Easy and worth the minimal effort.

  9. I tried this with a splash of lime and more cilantro and it was Devine. It was heavenly your way but I love cilantro and lime.

  10. Question – After roasting the chilies, do I need to peel them? Can’t figure out if the charred skin is part of the roasted flavor.

    1. Hi Nancy –
      The tommatillos tend to get fairly watery when frozen – but it can be made up to a day or 2 ahead!

  11. @katy lawrence – firstly thanks for all your informative responses to the recipes on the site, I’ve found them to be very helpful!
    How long will this keep in the fridge? I’ve made the Chipotle tomatillo, and habanero salsas and I store them in squeeze bottles in the fridge, they seem to keep for a long time due to the high acidity.. Hoping this might keep for several weeks as well? I’d love to add a green salsa to the mix!
    If it won’t last, I was thinking about doing the roasted jalapeño salsa and storing that.. Will that keep? The idea is to have a bunch of delicious salsas that will last so I can squirt them on foods /tacos /burritos as I make them!


    1. Hi Dain –
      This is a tricky issue – the reality is that there is a lot of acid naturally in the tomatillos, so most likely this recipe will keep longer. However I can’t promise exactly how long any of this will keep. If you are simply making this and refrigerating I would not recommend keeping it for more than a few weeks.

  12. The video does not indicate garlic is used but the written instruction call for garlic

    1. Sometimes Chef Bayless uses garlic and sometimes he doesn’t. Feel free to add the garlic and add a little more if you like the flavor of garlic.

  13. Followed the recipe almost to a T but i like to take it up a notch adding
    some extra spices here and there. The results are better than store purchased.
    Best part it made a quart of salsa for less than a dollar. Thanks for the posting

  14. I got tomatillos at the farmer’s market today and thought this would be a good use for them. But the salsa I made came out quite bitter and without any nice flavors or heat to speak of really… I may have slightly over roasted the 2 serranos and I chose to also roast the onion, but that doesn’t seem like it should have the effect of making the whole batch taste bad. Maybe my tomatillos weren’t ripe?? I popped a raw one in my mouth before putting the rest in the oven and it didn’t taste good.

    1. There are many factors in your situation. The tomatillos could have been under ripened OR you roasted the chiles too long like you said. I would say try it again and let me know how it turns out.

  15. I just made this with my first crop of tomatillos. Super easy and delicious too. I know about chile verde but in what other dishes would you suggest I use this tomatillo salsa? I have a lot of tomatillos ripening! For this recipe, I actually had frozen some of them because I didn’t have enough right away. I roasted them just a little longer. I think more water comes out that way but it still tasted great.

    1. So no one commented on the fact that the written recap lists garlic, but the video does not include it…. So have folks made it with the garlic…did Rick Bayless fail to follow his own recipe here or does he not use garlic?
      Thanks for your thoughts!

      1. Sometimes Chef Bayless uses garlic and sometimes he doesn’t. Feel free to add the garlic and add a little more if you like the flavor of garlic.

    1. Sometimes Chef Bayless uses garlic and sometimes he doesn’t. Feel free to add the garlic and add a little more if you like the flavor of garlic.

  16. Has anyone tried cannng this recipe after assembling all the ingredients? I was just wondering if it still tasted as good. I love it fresh!

  17. I would really love to know if you have a recipe that is similar to Cantina Laredo”s warm salsa ? My very novice guess would be a roasted tomatillo and tomato salsa

  18. I have made this recipe several times and I love it. It’s simple to make and it last a while I’m my refrigerator. It’s very delicious. Probably the best salsa Verde I’ve had. I love it on eggs, pork, and fish. I like to stir a little in my guacamole. It’s my go to recipe for salsa.

  19. If you de-stem the chile but leave the top on it ads a more complex flavor, nature put it there for a reason.

  20. Great salsa verde! My two cents – using a paring knife, remove the small core from the top of the tomatillos before roasting.

  21. Simply the BEST Salsa Verde.. Thank you Rick Bayless for another amazing recipe. This is my go-to Salsa Verde recipe. I have made it for many office functions and am asked to make it again and again. My Hispanic BFF claims its even better than her Moms salsa verde (sorry Vanessa’s Mom!) The taste is amazing with or without the garlic. I sometimes make it without garlic and the tartness of the tomatillos really shines through.

  22. Rinsing “raw” onion with water to get rid of the after effects (from eating it) yet keeping the fresh crisp texture…perfect. I’ve been cooking since in my teens, and I never knew that! Thank you for that great tip 🙂

  23. I make an older version you showed with pan roasted garlic and Serrano peppers (and no cilantro and onions). It’s more effort, but worth it.

    The simple three ingredient version freezes well. You can mix it with some mayo for an invigorating sandwich spread.

    1. No need to refrigerate before serving, but if you have some leftover it will keep in the fridge a few days. Just make sure it’s covered.

  24. I’ve been making this salsa for years- it’s amazing. Also makes a mind blowing guacamole when you add avocado. Another favorite/staple is your roasted tomato salsa. A little sweeter (I use sweet onion) and so could you could eat it with a spoon. Thank you for the wonderful recipes!!

  25. This salsa is consistently the best I’ve ever made, far better than my efforts with red salsas (other than pico de gallo), including salsas with toasted dried chilis. Like many of my Mexican friends who are excellent home cooks, I cut the salt and throw some dry caldo de pollo in for added umami. There’s a reason they sell Knorr Caldo de Pollo in giant bottles in Mexican groceries–it works with everything!

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