homemade tomatillo salsa

You know you live in Los Angeles when if you have not had at least 6 decent tacos in a week, well, you’re probably in a coma.  And dreaming of tacos in said coma.

taco abs

As someone who eats gluten-free, tacos are not only a cheap and easy one of the most delicious (yes cheap) things to find for lunch or dinner or after drinks munchy food, but they’re EVERYWHERE.  And so damn good and authentic.

So, let’s say you’re not on a liquid-incited rampage to find grub and you are choosing the civilized route to tacos in a taqueria.  You will notice, in proper establishments, that there are a variety of salsas and topping to choose from: radishes, chipotle, limes, pico de gallo, and then this salsa that is green and kind of looks like a runny guacamole but you know it’s not because you had to pay $2 for your side of guacamole already.  What is that?

That, my friends, is tomatillo.  And it’s delicious.

tomatillo still2 pouringtomatillo still 1

As some of you know, I worked at a James Beard award-winning Mexican restaurant in Portland, OR, owned and operated by a chef from Mexico, and so we made BOMB FOOD EVERYDAY and salsas and tortillas from scratch, of course!  (One must!)  And this tomatillo was a recipe I would had never attempted to make if I hadn’t seen the proper technique at his place, because I guess it’s kind of exotic to make a green salsa instead of just chopping up tomatoes, onions, and whatever peppers and calling it a day.  In North America, I feel like we’re used to salsa being red.  But it’s not always at all!

peeled tomatillos

Tomatillos are these tiny green peppers that resemble little tomatoes when peeled but they’re actually peppers.  They’re kind of tangy, a little sweet, and not too too spicy but still they have a pleasant kick.  Not a mouth biting one.  You can find them in most grocery stores, especially in Southern California, but if not try a Mexican/latin specialty food store.

Enjoy this recipe for tomatillo, and you can be transported to about at least 2 days a week of my dietary regime.  Oh yeah, bye bye abs.  (Well, not the salsa per se, but, you know, TACOS.)

peeling tomatillos

homemade tomatillo salsa

Serves 10+
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 35 minutes
Dietary Corn Free, Dairy Free, Diabetic, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Lactose Free, Nut Free, Soy Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Condiment
Misc Child Friendly, Gourmet, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold, Serve Hot


  • about 15tomatillos (you can find them in most grocery stores or Mexican food specialty stores)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion (cut into half moons)
  • 3 cloves garlic (smashed and peeled)
  • 1/4+ teaspoon sea salt
  • 4-6 cups water
  • lime juice and cilantro to taste


Step 1 Prepare your tomatillos by removing the outer layer to reveal the green-tomato-looking pepper beneath. Soak in cold water and wash gently.
Step 2 Heat olive oil in a large, deep pot. Sauté your onions over medium-high heat until transparent, maybe slightly browned. Add garlic and tomatillos. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute.
Step 3 Deglaze with water and add enough to just cover the tomatillos. Don't add too much or you will end up reducing your sauce for like an hour afterwards, which no one wants to do for no good reason.
Step 4 Add 1/4 tsp. sea salt and a few sprigs cilantro (the cilantro is optional but adds a nice flavor).
Step 5 Bring the mixture up to a boil, skim away the foam, cover, and reduce heat to low to simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
Step 6 Remove from heat and blend until liquid. There will be seeds, and that's OK.
Step 7 Pour blended mixture back into pot and reduce over high heat until it's 3/4 of its original volume. Let cool, season with lime juice and salt to taste, and you've got yourself some tomatillo salsa. Keeps in the fridge for up to a week.

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