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This roasted tomatillo salsa, also called salsa verde, is a tangy salsa with a spicy kick! This one’s from the master of Mexican food himself, chef Rick Bayless.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (Salsa Verde)

Learning from the best is a total privilege, and we’re over the moon to have Mexican master Rick Bayless on our podcast! You might know Rick Bayless from his popular Frontera salsas, or Chicago restaurants Topolobampo or Frontera Grill? He was also host of the PBS show Mexico–One Plate at a Time, has authored 9 cookbooks, won various James Beard awards, and the title of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. Basically, he’s a complete boss in his space. And after we caught up with him, we found he’s a true teacher at heart and one of the most genuine souls. Keep reading for Rick’s own roasted tomatillo salsa recipe!

Related: Homemade Tortilla Chips

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (Salsa Verde) | A Couple Cooks

Why make roasted tomatillo salsa?

Alex and I joke that chefs we know have a thing called “chef brain”. Chef brain happens when you’re talking with a chef and suddenly they’re off on a tangent, telling you about exactly how they’d make a delicious recipe. And that’s exactly what Chef Rick Bayless did on his episode of the A Couple Cooks Podcast! Rick was a fount of ideas, throwing out all sorts of recipe ideas including this simple roasted tomatillo salsa.

After he talked it up, we couldn’t resist buying some tomatillos and making Rick’s signature recipe. Why make roasted tomatillo salsa at home when you can easily buy it at the store? Because it’s that good. It’s super tangy, garlicky, smoky, and a little spicy, perfect for dipping endless mountains of tortilla chips. And makes you feel like, “Yeah, I made this!”. For those other times when you’re pressed for time? I’m sure Rick wouldn’t mind if you bought his Frontera salsa verde!


What are tomatillos?

Despite their similar appearance and name, tomatillos and green tomatoes are two completely different foods. Tomatillos look like unripe tomatoes and have a husk that leaves a sticky residue behind when you peel it off. You can just rinse the tomatillos under warm water to remove the residue! They’re much denser than tomatoes and contain less water, and are slightly grainy in texture, yet still juicy. Their flavor is tangy and tart: perfect for salsa!

Tomatillos can be eaten raw in salsas and on sandwiches, grilled, or roasted and used in any number of sauces and soups. A few of our favorite ways to enjoy tomatillos include this roasted tomatillo salsa, these artichoke enchiladas, and this roasted tomatillo and black bean soup

Blender with roasted tomatillo salsa

How to make roasted tomatillo salsa

How to make roasted tomatillo salsa? It takes a few minutes to roast the tomatillos, but the effort is well worth it. Pair this recipe with our homemade tortilla chips. They’re easy and a staple in our household. Here’s a step by step tutorial:

Step 1: Roast tomatillos, serrano chili, and garlic.

Place the tomatillos on a baking sheet with a serrano chili and garlic. Broil them on high for about 10 minutes until tender and browned, turning at 5 minutes.

Step 1: Roast the tomatillos

Step 2: Blend!

Allow the vegetables to cool. Then transfer everything except for ½ of the chile pepper (including juices) to a blender. Add cilantro and water and blend to the desired consistency.

Step 2: Blend

Step 3: Mince an onion and stir it in.

Finely dice a small white onion. Rinse it under cold water and shake to remove excess moisture. Then combine with the tomatillo mixture in a serving dish along with the salt. Voila: roasted tomatillo salsa!

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa | Tomatillo salsa verde

How to serve roasted tomatillo salsa

Once you’ve made this incredible roasted tomatillo salsa: the sky is the limit on how to serve it! Here are some of our favorite ideas on how to serve it:

Podcast: listen to Rick Bayless!

We were thrilled to have Mexican chef Rick Bayless on our podcast; listen to him talk about this roasted tomatillo salsa recipe below.

Looking for more salsa recipes?

Outside of this salsa verde recipe, here are a few more salsa recipes we love:

This roasted tomatillo salsa recipe is…

Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, plant-based, and refined sugar-free.

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Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (Salsa Verde)

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  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x
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This roasted tomatillo salsa, also called salsa verde, is a tangy salsa with a spicy kick! This one’s from the master of Mexican food himself, chef Rick Bayless.


  • 8 ounces tomatillos
  • 1/2 serrano chile (or more, to taste)
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • Handful fresh cilantro
  • 1 small white onion
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Remove the paper from the tomatillos and rinse them. Remove the stem from the serrano chile. Peel the garlic cloves.
  2. Place the tomatillos, whole serrano chile and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet and broil on high for 5 minutes, until starting to blacken and soften. Then flip the tomatillos and roast the other side for about 5 minutes (the tomatillos will change from green to olive green).
  3. Allow to cool, then transfer everything except for ½ of the chile pepper (including juices) to a blender. Add cilantro and ¼ cup water and blend to the desired consistency. Taste, and add additional chile pepper if desired.
  4. Finely dice the onion, then rinse under cold water and shake to remove excess moisture. Combine with the tomatillo mixture in a serving dish along with the salt. Taste and add additional salt if necessary.


Adapted heavily from Rick Bayless

  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Blended
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Looking for more Mexican recipes?

Here are a few of our favorite Mexican inspired recipes:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Christy says:

    Love your podcast and blog! Could you just add the onion in as well to roast and then the blender? Thanks!

    1. Sonja says:

      Thank you so much, Christy! Great question. This is Rick Bayless’s recipe, so this is the way he does it. However, that sounds delicious and feel free to give it a try! Let us know what you end up doing!

  2. Julie@Cooks with Cocktails says:

    Yum, salsa verde is my favorite! Im going to try this version with enchiladas this friday :) Thanks for sharing. This made my “what to have for dinner” dilemma easy :)

    1. Sonja says:

      Absolutely! That sounds like a fantastic idea. Let us know how it turns out!

    2. Sonja says:

      Absolutely – hope you enjoyed it!

  3. Puja Darshan says:

    Hey Sonja, I am based in Banglore (India). :)

    1. Sonja says:

      Haha well I have no idea about whether tomatillos or salsa verde are available there! Let me know if you find anything out!

  4. Puja Darshan says:

    I do prepare salsa with roasted tomatoes, but never tasted salsa made with tomatillos.
    I am just wondering, If it is available here in store. BTW lovely recipe. Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. Sonja says:

      Salsa verde is widely available in stores in the US — where are you based? Thanks so much!

  5. Libby says:

    I loved this episode.
    When I started listening to a cooking podcast I wondered how it would work but I like it! And Rick made it all seem so, so easy! He was telling about that salsa and putting it over a skirt steak. I was like, “WOAH! I can do that fancy meal!” I’m definitely going to make it.
    Thanks for that interview!

    1. Sonja says:

      You are so welcome, Libby! SO glad you enjoyed the episode! I agree, Rick makes things sound so easy and inspiring. We immediately made the salsa verde and were surprised at how simple it was to put together — while it does involve roasting and blending and getting things dirty, but it wasn’t bad and the flavor was so worth it! Thanks again for listening and let us know what other episodes you try out!

  6. Fernando @ Eating With Your Hands says:

    Look at that color! So fresh and so clean :) This definitely inspires me to incorporate some salsa verde in one of my next posts. Even though salsa verde seems like a no-brainer knowing that my blog is centered around tacos and sandwiches, I’ve seemed to totally ignore it!

    1. Sonja says:

      Thank you! I agree, we don’t always think of salsa verde either, and now we want to have it around more! Let us know if you try it out!

  7. Katie @ Whole Nourishment says:

    I so miss having access to fresh tomatillos. So I’ve had to come up with an alternative sauce that reminds me a lot of salsa verde. But nothing beats the real thing like your recipe. I love the simplicity and freshness of this salsa. Can’t wait to listen to this podcast when I’m back home!

    1. Sonja says:

      Thank you, Katie! What is your alternative to salsa verde? Sounds intriguing! And, let us know what you think of the podcast!

      1. Katie @ Whole Nourishment says:

        Loved the podcast and loved hearing Rick speak about the wine region and fusion cuisine in Northern Mexico…..Must. Visit.

        And the green salsa I make is with cilantro, scallions, and lime. It’s suprisingly fresh and surprisingly similar tasting to the real deal. ;-)

  8. Tori says:

    Oh, how I adore tomatillos and this salsa sounds amazing! I really want to try it asap!

    1. Sonja says:

      It’s easy and delicious! Just don’t accidentally put in too many peppers like we did (I tried 2 serranos, which was a bit much)!