Tomatillo Salsa

What a difference homemade salsa is from the store-bought counterparts. I recently made this salsa recipe for the first Halal Test Kitchen event where I was able to easily demonstrate the making of this recipe in under a few minutes. Everyone at the event was able to make their own tacos and top with this delicious green salsa they now knew how to make.

Green Tomatoes on the Vine in My Garden These tomatoes from my community garden spot were perfect for this salsa, but traditionally, tomatillos are used instead. It just goes to show how versatile this recipe is–and very helpful when those tomatoes sitting on your vine just won’t ripen at the end of summer, yet it’s too cold to keep them outdoors any longer. More often than not, I make this salsa with tomatillos. They are easily found at Mexican grocers or international markets that cater to an Hispanic customer base, or simply those who love to cook interesting, multicultural cuisine. I like to give mine a bath in cool water to rinse off any dirt and debris before cooking, otherwise all that stuff just stays around them.

soaking tomatillos

I remove the husks as well and give another thorough rinse. The tomatillos may feel a bit sticky, which is normal. Don’t try to do anything about that- just proceed and the stickiness goes away in the cooking process.

remove husks


This is a cooked salsa so you’ll need to plan accordingly if you’re making it for a party or to go with a particular recipe. It really doesn’t take that long to make, but you still need to allow for the cooking-and cooling off- of the tomatillos plus the chili pepper or jalapeño and garlic that is boiled with it.

boil tomatillos

Approximately 15 minutes of cooking and an additional 10 for cooling down after straining the cooked produce. Strain it gently because the tomatillos become so soft that you can lose some valuable contents in this process.

drain and let cool

Because I throw in the garlic with the skin on, you can peel after the cooking and cooling process. It’s much easier than trying to fight it beforehand.

remove garlic skins

Once everything has cooled, you can add salt and cilantro to a food processor with the cooked ingredients and give it a whirl.

add cilantro and salt

It doesn’t take long and the mixture is slightly gelatinous, which is normal.


That helps the tortilla chips to cling to the salsa, anyway…

bowl of tomatillo salsa

And it makes it easier to spoon onto tacos, too…

This was my friend and neighbor’s reaction when she first tried it- so I asked if I could quote her, just for fun…

“The salsa was great. While there are a few brands of salsa out there that can be eaten with a spoon/fork like an Arabic style tomato salad, this one is definitely the kind that goes with nacho chips!  Tasting it alone with my tongue was average good; Eating it with the chips makes it perfect!  The salsa compliments the chips, and the chips make the flavor of the salsa stand out!  It totally serves the purpose of a salsa and  it certainly fits the original definition of sauce!”


Tomatillo Salsa (Green Tomato Salsa)

By Yvonne Maffei Published: June 22, 2009

  • Yield: 2 cups
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Ready In: 35 mins

Quick to make, this cooked salsa is great on tacos with meat or fish or simply as a chip dip. Easy to make for a crowd or small serving, too.



  1. In a deep saucepan, bring the water to a boil.
  2. Add the garlic, jalapeño pepper, and tomatoes.
  3. Cook on medium-low heat for about 20 minutes.
  4. Drain ingredients gently in a colander, careful not to loosen up the tomatoes and seeds. Place a plate underneath the colander, if necessary, to catch any large chunks of tomato. Let cool for about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the skin from the garlic and the stem and seeds from the jalapeño pepper.
  6. To a food processor, add the cooked ingredients, plus the salt and cilantro. Combine for about 10-15 seconds or until the mixture is smooth.
  7. Pour mixture into serving bowl and add finely chopped onion, if desired. Serve at room temperature and refrigerate any leftovers.

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  1. This looks gorgeous and sounds great. Especially in a summer of tomato blight when many farmers are picking their tomatoes early and green tomatoes are quite plentiful.

  2. Do you know if it can be frozen? I have tons of green tomatoes and I am wanting to make stuff that I can freeze, because I don’t have a canner.

    1. Hi Pam, thanks for visiting. I would suggest you chop up the tomatoes, dry them very well (even drain them through a strainer for a while if they are watery) and store in ziploc freezer bags. They will last a very long time and can be used in stews and such later on, although frying is somewhat of a challenge because they are so wet once removed from the freezer. All the best to you and happy freezing! Yvonne

  3. If you bring salsa to a boiling Temp, then pour it in sterilized canning jars, immediately place lids on and turn upside down on a flat surface the lids will seal without a canner. Just leave them alone for an hour or so.

  4. I have 3 huge stainless steel bowls full of green tomatoes that I had to pick because the weather is about to turn so I have been looking for a green tomato salsa recipe. I am so excited to try this. thanks!!!

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