Summer and salsa go together like Cheech and Chong – you can’t have one without the other. What… bad analogy? Then how about summertime and grilling outside? If that sounds good to you, then you’re really going to dig this roasted tomatillo salsa verde recipe – because we grill our tomatillos on the BBQ! It isn’t an absolute must; you can roast them in the oven instead (though that isn’t nearly as fun).
If you are growing tomatillos this summer, this salsa verde recipe is the perfect solution for “what the heck do I DO with all these things?” If not, don’t worry – just pick some up at your local farmer’s market or grocery store! There is always next summer for homegrown. I have a hunch you’ll thoroughly enjoy our bright and tangy roasted tomatillo salsa verde, either way. It is delicious, dippable, highly addicting, and freezer-friendly in case you end up with leftovers. It is also easy to customize the roasted salsa verde to suit your flavor preferences.
Before we get grilling, let’s chat about tomatillos real quick. Also, I should mention that this salsa verde gets even better after a day or two in the refrigerator, so if you can, plan to make it in advance!
The Low-Down on Tomatillos
Don’t confuse tomatillos with green tomatoes! As cousins in the nightshade family of plants, tomatillos do resemble green tomatoes once they are husked, but are markedly different. Tomatillos grow within a papery lantern, have a waxy exterior coating, and are still green and fairly firm when fully ripe. (Though there are also purple and yellow tomatillo varieties too). Tomatillos have a bright, tangy, wonderful flavor. Roasting tomatillos lowers their acidity and makes them more savory. Traditional salsa verde is made with tomatillos.
On the other hand, green tomatoes can be less flavorful, juicy, and even a tad bitter. Furthermore, green tomatoes contain a toxic glycoalkaloid called solanine. The levels of solanine found in green tomatoes is low enough to be considered not dangerous, but sensitive folks may experience gastrointestinal upset or headaches if they consume them. That said, it is possible to make salsa verde with green tomatoes. If you know they sit well with your belly and you don’t have access to tomatillos, feel free to try substituting green tomatoes in this recipe!
Are you using homegrown tomatillos for this recipe? If so, I suggest harvesting them before they’re overly ripe. A perfectly ripe tomatillo will grow large enough to fill out most or all of its papery exterior lantern, but remain green and fairly firm. Overripe tomatillo fruits are more soft, sweet, turn increasingly yellow over green, and usually self-harvest by falling off the plant. You can still use some of those of course! Truth be told, some people like them on the sweeter side. Yet we personally prefer the tart zesty flavor that green tomatillos provide for this roasted salsa verde recipe.
In the photos you’ll see in this post, we were making a double batch of this recipe. The amount below yields about 3 to 4 cups of finished roasted tomatillo salsa verde.
- 2 pounds of tomatillos, husked.
- ½ large onion of choice. We used a sweet yellow Walla Walla from the garden.
- 1 or 2 chili peppers, type and heat index of choice. I am not a huge spicy foods fan, so we used a Red Ember Cheyenne from the garden (a medium-hot but slightly sweet pepper). Serrano, green Poblano, Anaheim or Jalapeño peppers go very well, and lead to an even more green salsa verde.
- 4 or 5 large cloves of fresh garlic, peeled
- ⅓ to ½ cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, washed and stems removed
- 1 tsp sea salt (approximately, more or less to taste)
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- 2 tbsp fresh-squeezed lime juice
- Optional: avocado
- BBQ and veggie grill basket OR oven and roasting pan/glass baking dish. Find our favorite stainless steel veggie grill basket here.
- Blender or food processor
- Storage containers
- Husk the tomatillos by removing their papery cover. Next, give them a good rinse, but don’t go crazy wasting water by trying to completely get rid of their natural waxy feeling in the process. Trust me, I’ve tried! It will go away as they’re cooked.
- Peel and roughly chop the onion. It is fine to leave it in fairly large chunks – quarters or sixths is adequate. Also peel the garlic cloves.
- Wash and remove the stem of your chili pepper. For a more mild salsa, you could cut the pepper lengthwise and also remove the inner membrane and seeds.
- You will eventually need to rinse the cilantro and juice your lime(s), but you can wait and do that while the other goodies are roasting too.
Roast or Grill
- Turn on your BBQ grill to a medium-high flame, and preheat the grilling basket inside for about 5 minutes. Or, preheat your oven to 450F.
- Add the tomatillos, onion chunks, garlic cloves and chili pepper(s) to the grilling basket or oven roasting pan of choice. No oil needed!
- Roast the goodies until everything gets a nice little browned char, about 20 to 30 minutes (the time will vary slightly depending on the method and equipment used). Roasted tomatillos turn from bright green to olive green in color while becoming more soft. Some may even pop and leak!
- On the grill, keep the lid closed but stop to toss the veggies around with tongs every 5 minutes or so. In the oven, give everything a stir about halfway through.
- When they look done, allow the roasted tomatillos, onions and pepper to cool slightly (maybe 15-20 minutes) before continuing to the next step.
- Carefully transfer the roasted tomatillos, onion, garlic and chili pepper to a blender or food processor.
- Add the called-for fresh cilantro, lime juice, salt, and cumin. I suggest erring on the lighter side of the recommended cilantro, lime or salt if you’re not a huge fan of them. You can always add more! We personally love our roasted tomatillo salsa vera with plenty of all three.
- Pulse or blend until everything is thoroughly combined and reaches the texture you desire. Some folks like a more chunky salsa verde while others prefer it traditionally smooth. If you’d like to incorporate avocado, you can either blend some in now to create an extra creamy salsa verde, or wait and add chunks or slices later upon serving.
- Give your almost-finished roasted tomatillo salsa verde a preliminary taste test. Adjust the seasonings if needed, but keep in mind the flavors will continue to develop as the salsa cools!
Cool & Serve
Before digging in, allow the roasted salsa verde to cool in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. The flavor gets even better with time, and the natural pectins in the tomatillos make the salsa thicken.
Store the salsa in the refrigerator, and use within one week of making. If you have extra, freeze the salsa verde in freezer-safe containers, such as wide-mouth pint or half-pint jars or these BPA-free plastic freezer containers. For best flavor, use frozen salsa within 6 months, defrosting it in the refrigerator before use.
Ways to Use Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde
This roasted tomatillo salsa verde can be used just like any other salsa – on tacos, burritos, tostadas, nachos, taco salad and more! Of course, that also includes eating it alongside your favorite dipping chips. To elevate your chips and salsa experience, try making your own baked sourdough tortilla corn chips. If you have a sourdough starter, they’re very easy to make!
As previously mentioned, this salsa is excellent when blended with avocado to create a creamy avocado salsa verde. It is also very easy to transform roasted salsa verde into chili verde enchilada sauce! Simply heat it on the stovetop with some vegetable or chicken broth to your desired consistency. Roasted salsa verde is great in fresh corn salad, cold summer pasta salad, and on top of meals!
Are you as hungry as I am now?
YUM. Good thing we have some salsa in the fridge because it’s about time I sign off for lunch! I hope you all enjoy this roasted salsa verde recipe as much as we do. Please feel free to ask any questions, and stop back by for a review! If you like this recipe, you’ll probably also love our simple roasted tomato sauce. It’s even easier! Happy grilling out there.
Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde (Green Salsa)
- grill basket and outdoor BBQ, or roasting pan/baking dish and oven
- Blender, or food processor
- 2 pounds tomatillos (husked)
- 1/2 large onion of choice (sweet yellow or white recommended)
- 1 or 2 fresh chili peppers of choice (jalapeño, poblano, Anaheim, cayenne)
- 4 or 5 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, washed and stems removed
- 1 tsp sea salt (approximately, adjust to taste)
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tbsp fresh-squeezed lime juice
- optional: 1 to 2 ripe avocados
- Peel/husk and wash the tomatillos
- Peel and roughly chop onion
- Peel garlic gloves
- Wash chili peppers and remove stems. Remove seeds/inner membrane for a more mild salsa.
Grill or Roast
- Combine tomatillos, onion, garlic and chili peppers either in a BBQ grill basket, OR in a glass baking dish or roasting pan.
- On the BBQ: Grill over a medium-high flame with the grill lid closed for 20 to 30 minutes (stirring every 5 minutes) until everything gets a nice browned char.
- In the oven: Roast on 450F for approximately 30 minutes. Roasted tomatillos turn from bright green to olive green in color while becoming more soft. Some may even pop and leak!
- When they look done, allow the roasted tomatillos, onions, garlic and pepper to cool slightly (maybe 15-20 minutes) before continuing to the next step.
- Carefully transfer the roasted tomatillos, onion and chili pepper to a blender or food processor.
- Add the called-for fresh cilantro, lime juice, salt, and cumin (scaling up or down based on personal flavor preferences)
- Pulse or blend until everything is thoroughly combined and reaches the texture you desire.
- If you’d like to incorporate avocado, you can either blend some in now to create an extra creamy salsa verde, or wait and add chunks or slices later upon serving.
Cool & Serve
- allow the roasted salsa verde to cool in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. It becomes more thick and flavorful with time.
- Store in the refrigerator and use within one week, or freeze in freezer-safe containers and use within 6 months.