Recipes,  Sauces

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

It’s summer and most of the U.S. is swealtering under a blanket of record breaking heat. The last thing anyone wants to do is cook in a hot kitchen, right? Both my grandparents and my husband’s grandparents had outdoor canning kitchens and I think they had the right idea; get the heat out of the kitchen! This recipe is both flexible in cooking method and usage; cook it outside to beat the heat, and use it with multiple dishes.

First, while you can roast the vegetables in the oven, you can also cook them on an outside grill, keeping your kitchen cool. If you choose to cook outside, I recommend you still place the vegetables on a pan on the grill because the tomatillos will get very soft and you don’t want to lose any of their juice or any of the smaller pieces of onion and garlic.

Second, while the salsa can certainly be eaten right out the bowl with a big bag of salty, crispy corn chips, it’s equally delicious on grilled chicken tacos or even over tuna, grilled rare (both preparations we enjoyed).

Fresh Tomatillos
Fresh Tomatillos

If you’re not familiar with the tomatillo, even though it may look like a green tomato, it’s actually related to the cape gooseberry. It is a member of the nighshade family, so it’s also a distant cousin to the tomato. Tomatillos have a slightly sticky, papery husk which needs to be removed before cooking and range in size from about two to four ounces. Their season is May to October, but in California they are pretty much available year-round. One plant can yield up to a hundred tomatillos and my uncle swears by slicing and dehydrating them which he says makes them “sweet as candy.” Fresh, they’re slightly acidic, slightly sweet flavor pairs well with chicken, fish, and even pork.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Recipe

Printable Recipe for Tomatillo Salsa

2.5 lbs tomatillos
1 jalapeno
1 Anaheim chili (or small red bell pepper)
1 small red onion (about 8 oz)
2 cloves of garlic
oil for pan
1/2 bunch chopped cilantro
1 lime
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees or start outside grill and bring up to 350 if your grill has a temperature gauge. If not, put burners on high as if you were going to grill a steak, then right before putting in the vegetables, turn down to medium.

Clean the outer leaves off the tomatillos. Cut the outer skin off the onion and cut off the ends. Cut the onion in half and then each half into quarters.

Place the tomatillos, jalapeno, Anaheim chili, onion pieces and cloves of garlic on an oiled sheet pan. Roast the vegetables in the oven or on the grill (with the lid down) until soft, about 45 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.

Fresh and cooked ingredients for Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Fresh and cooked ingredients for Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Cut the end off of the jalapeno and then cut it in half, scraping out the seeds. Do the same with the Anaheim chili. Put the roasted tomatillos, peppers, onion and garlic into a food processor and “pulse” it on and off until pureed but still slightly chunky. Remove and place in a bowl. If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop it by hand or puree it in a blender but just be careful not to overdo it.

Squeeze in the juice of 1 lime, and add in about 1/2 a bunch of chopped cilantro. Add salt to taste.

Yield about 2.5 cups
It will keep in the refrigerator about 10 days in an airtight container.


  • Tyler

    I love cold salsa and chips during summer! I was just in Anaheim the other week, and the first thing I said when I stepped out of the airport is “I’m going to move here just for the weather!” It was great!

  • Maristella

    Cool, those tomatillos looks great for salad. I actually add it to my avocado salad but its not quite good with it so I’m finding recipe where I can enjoy tomatillos and this is it! Thanks!

  • Myra

    Salsa is a must have for summer. It’s also a great source of veggies for my kids, who love it with chips. I bet they’d love this version as well.

  • Donna

    I am thrilled to learn about dehydrating the tomatillos since I grew 4 plants this year and each plant is making more than 50 berries. They are nearly ping pong ball size. I am excited to try the dried flavor.

  • Georgia

    Thank you for the great way to use the multitude of tomatillos I have been growing in my garden. I am going to make your salsa today with the bucket I picked today. I also grow jalapeños, Anaheim peppers and red onions so I am thinking this is the perfect recipe for me!

  • mercedes

    I would like to know if I just cut the tomatillos in half in order to dehydrate I want them to last so I can use them in the winter
    and then rehydrate them in order to use them in salsa or whatever. My kids back in the north east love it but they are super
    expensive . If I can dehydrate them and store them in a tight fitting glass jar that would be great . Can anyone help me.
    tomatillos are hard to find back there.
    I live in Vegas they are all in Boson … thank you

    • formerchef

      I don’t know the answer, but I’ll try to find out. My guess is that re-hydrating them for salsa would be possible, but I don’t know if it would give you the results you want.

  • Whanz

    Salsa is really great to serve this summer. I love to eat it with cheesy pizza, my kids love it too. tomatillos is hard to find here and it is too expensive. We cannot by it with pieces but 1 kilo is required.

  • Anne McLane

    I found your website this summer searching for a marinara sauce and love your basic marinara (and the blog!!) and have frozen several batches of it. I had my first garden this summer and had tremendous success, especially with the tomatoes. But the frost came a couple weeks ago and we stripped the vines before it could take them. I’m left with an abundance of green tomatoes (a large wheelbarrow full) and wondered if there’s a way to adapt this recipe to use them instead of tomatillos. I would like to make a green tomato picante type salsa and welcome your suggestions. Thank you.

    • formerchef

      Hi Anne-

      Well that’s an interesting question! I say why not give it a try? Green tomatoes are certainly edible (hence “fried green tomatoes”), though I’ve never roasted them. I would just substitute them for the tomatillos. Do be aware the flavor will be slightly different (maybe missing some sweetness?). Let me know how it works.

      • Anne McLane

        It is delicious. I really love the idea of the roasted vegetables, and the green tomatoes made a delicious salsa. Different than the red tomato, but we like it just as much. I had a huge tomato crop and very little went to waste. Thank you for sharing your recipe and ideas.

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