Everyone should have a basic salsa recipe in their arsenal, one that is good for everyday use and that doesn’t require loads of strange ingredients or tons of time to make. This roasted salsa verde is IT. Tomatillos, onions, garlic, and peppers blacken on the stovetop in a dry skillet, resulting in a simple 5-ingredient salsa verde good for tacos, tostadas, eggs, chilaquiles…the possibilities are limitless.
This salsa is so easy and flavorful, I hope I can convince you that you don’t ever have to use store-bought salsa again!
What is salsa verde?
Salsa verde literally translates to green (verde) sauce (salsa) in English. Salsa verde is made with a base of tomatillos (which gives the salsa its green color), onions, peppers, garlic, and salt. Most recipes that I have seen for salsa verde use jalapeño or serrano pepper. Instead, we use habanero for its unique flavor and spice. Serrano pepper, however, could be substituted if you want a salsa that is milder than habanero but still has a spicy kick. Or, you could omit the pepper entirely for a truly mild sauce.
I have tried this salsa with jalapeño and wasn’t a big fan. Something about the taste of that pepper in this salsa didn’t work for me. Maybe the jalapeño was having an off-day. Maybe I just wasn’t feeling the jalapeño flavor. Maybe jalapeño will be the best pepper you can use in this salsa, but it wasn’t for me.
Raw vs. Roasted
This salsa can be made cruda (raw) or roasted as in this version. The roasted version brings out a sweetness to the ingredients and provides a charred outer skin resulting in an interesting texture and flavor in the final sauce.
A raw salsa verde (salsa verde cruda) is good in a different way. The ingredients are fresh and light. Plus, if you are in a hurry, raw salsa is fast and easy to make. It can be ready to go in the time needed to put the ingredients in a blender. I love a fresh salsa verde on crunchy taquitos, enfrijoladas, or amaranth fritters. A roasted or cooked version, however, is essential for chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, and enchiladas.
How to make roasted salsa verde
This roasted salsa verde is so easy to make that I hope it convinces you never to buy salsa again!
Start with fresh ingredients
Look for firm, bright green tomatillos. Peel back the husks at the grocer to look for blemishes and wrinkles before buying. The habaneros should also have firm, shiny skins. I have seen habaneros range from green to orange-red in color. Any color will work here, although, in my experience, the orange and red varieties are spicier. I typically have white onions on hand and this is what I use most often in this salsa. I have used red onion here as well and liked the resulting taste. This salsa is super customizable so feel free to interchange peppers, onions, and even tomatoes for tomatillos for a red version!
Start by heating a non-stick skillet or griddle on medium-high heat on the stove. Meanwhile, prep your ingredients. Tomatillos can be slightly sticky once the husks are removed. Be sure to give them a good rinse to remove any stickiness. When the skillet is hot, place the ingredients in the skillet and allow them to roast untouched until the skins begin to blacken. No need to stir. Turn each of the ingredients occasionally to allow the skins to blacken and char on all sides. You will notice that the garlic and peppers will finish first, followed by the onions and tomatillos. Therefore, ingredients should be removed from the skillet as they finish cooking. The tomatillos are done when they are charred on all sides and slightly softened.
Add salt to the ingredients and blend to your desired consistency. I prefer my salsa mostly liquid, with no large chunks of any ingredients in the final sauce.
Did you like this recipe? What did you use it for? Let me know in the comments!
Roasted Salsa Verde
- 6 medium tomatillos, husked and washed about 500g (~1 pound)
- 1/2 medium white onion, cut into large chunks about 125g (~1/4 pound)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1-2 habanero peppers (substitute serrano peppers for milder salsa)
- Salt to taste
- Heat skillet or griddle over medium high heat
- Once the pan is hot, add tomatillos, onions, garlic, and peppers to the dry skillet. Vegetables should be whole, with exception of the onion.
- Let vegetables cook until charred, turning occasionally to allow them to blacken evenly, 15-20 minutes
- Once vegetables are cooked, place in a blender, taking care to remove the chile stem at this point. You will notice that the garlic and peppers will finish cooking faster than the onions and the tomatillos. Remove each ingredient as it is finished to avoid burning.
- Add salt to taste
- Blend to desired consistency (I prefer the salsa to be mostly blended, with small chunks of vegetables, but you could go chunkier or smoother depending on what you want to use it for)
- Adjust salt as necessary
- If salsa is too thick, you could add broth or water to bring to your desired consistency