Salsa verde is a delicious green Mexican sauce that can be used in a variety of dishes. With its bright, tangy flavor from tomatillos and cilantro, salsa verde is a versatile condiment that can transform meats, eggs, vegetables, and more. Whether spooned over enchiladas, used as a marinade, or served as a dip, salsa verde is an easy way to add big flavor to your favorite foods. This guide will provide tips on how to incorporate store-bought or homemade salsa verde into your cooking.
What is Salsa Verde?
Salsa verde, Spanish for “green sauce,” is a flavorful green salsa made with tomatillos as the base. Tomatillos resemble small green tomatoes but have a tart, citrusy flavor. To make salsa verde, tomatillos are boiled, blended and mixed with ingredients like onions, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeño peppers, and salt. The result is a bright, tangy salsa ranging from mild to spicy depending on the amount of jalapeño added.
Store-bought salsa verde can be found in mild, medium, and hot varieties. It may also contain extras like avocado or pumpkin seeds. Homemade salsa verde allows you to customize the flavor to your tastes. Both jarred and fresh salsa verde can be used in many of the same ways.
Serving Suggestions for Salsa Verde
Here are some of the most popular ways to serve this zesty green Mexican sauce:
As a taco topping
Salsa verde is delicious spooned over tacos of all kinds. Try it on beef, chicken, pork, fish, shrimp, veggie tacos, and more. The brightness of the salsa verde perfectly cuts through the richness of meats. It also adds moisture and flavor to otherwise dry veggie tacos. Salsa verde gives a flavor boost to basic grilled meat or fried fish tacos.
As an enchilada sauce
Enchiladas with salsa verde make for an easy, flavorful meal. Simply dip corn tortillas in the salsa verde to lightly fry them. Then fill the tortillas with shredded chicken, cheese, beans, or other favorite fillings. Roll up and place in a baking dish. Cover with more salsa verde and cheese. Bake until hot and bubbly for delicious green enchiladas.
As a burrito or bowl topping
Burrito bowls and burritos are another great place to add salsa verde. Spoon it over rice, beans, meat, veggies, cheese, or any other burrito fillings. The salsa verde adds a tasty punch of flavor.
As a marinade or sauce for meats
Chicken, pork, beef, fish, shrimp and other proteins all taste amazing when marinated in salsa verde. The tomatillo, cilantro, and jalapeño infuse the meat with flavor. Grill, bake, or pan fry marinated meats for incredible results. Salsa verde also makes a delicious sauce when simmered with already cooked meats like chicken, pork shoulder, or beef.
Served with eggs
Eggs get a major upgrade when paired with salsa verde. Simply spoon it over easy fried, scrambled, or poached eggs. Use salsa verde to add flavor to breakfast tacos, burritos, and breakfast bowls. For an easy weeknight dinner, top huevos rancheros with salsa verde instead of red sauce.
As a dip for chips, veggies, or chicken
Straight from the jar, salsa verde makes a great dip for tortilla chips. You can also serve it alongside fresh veggie dippers like jicama, cucumber, radishes, and bell peppers. For a fun twist, use salsa verde as a dip for chicken tenders or nuggets.
Quesadillas get an extra flavor punch when one side is coated with salsa verde before being grilled. Use it on plain cheese quesadillas or ones filled with meats, veggies, and beans. The salsa verde adds delicious color and flavor.
In chili or stew
Add a spoonful or two of salsa verde to your favorite chili, stew, or soup recipe. It provides a nice subtle background flavor and color.
Salsa verde dresses up salads when drizzled over lettuce greens, grains like rice or farro, beans, roasted veggies, cheeses, and other salad ingredients. It pairs especially well with Mexican-style salads.
In dips and spreads
Stir a bit of salsa verde into dips like hummus, black bean dip, or creamy cheese dips for extra flavor. You can also add it to cheese ball spreads.
Take sandwiches up a notch by spreading salsa verde on bread or drizzling it over sandwich fillings. It’s particularly tasty on sandwiches made with black beans, grilled chicken, roasted veggies, avocado, jack cheese or Mexican-style ingredients.
On grilled meats
Brush or spoon salsa verde over meats on the grill, such as chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, fish, halloumi cheese, or vegetables. The char from the grill combines with the salsa for wonderful smoky, tangy flavor.
Use salsa verde as the sauce on Mexican pizzas. Simply spread it over the crust before adding toppings like cooked chorizo, grilled chicken, peppers and onions. The salsa verde adds great flavor in place of traditional pizza sauce.
Homemade vs. Store-Bought
Salsa verde is often available jarred in the Mexican foods aisle of grocery stores. Many major brands like Herdez, La Victoria, and Frontera make quality versions. Store-bought salsa verde offers convenience and consistent flavor. However, making your own allows you to control the spice level and customize the flavor.
Benefits of Homemade
- Adjust spice level by adding more or less jalapeños
- Use fresher, natural ingredients
- Avoid preservatives or additives
- Choose tomatillos and chilies at peak ripeness
- Add extra ingredients like avocado or pumpkin seeds
- Less expensive than store-bought
Benefits of Store-Bought
- Convenient, no prep required
- Always available, not seasonal
- Consistent flavor and quality
- Can be kept stocked in pantry
- Good option when tomatillos are out of season
- More varieties and flavor options
When preparing Mexican food at home, homemade salsa verde is worth the simple effort. But store-bought salsa can be a handy ingredient for quick meals and spur-of-the-moment cravings. Keeping both homemade and jarred salsa verde on hand offers flexibility in the kitchen.
Tips for Using Jarred Salsa Verde
When cooking with store-bought salsa verde, keep these tips in mind:
- Look for quality ingredients – Select brands made with tomatillos, cilantro, jalapeño, and other authentic ingredients. Avoid fillers.
- Choose a heat level – Pick mild, medium or hot salsa to suit your tastes.
- Stick to whole varieties – Salsas verdes labeled “smooth” or “blended” often have fewer chunks of veggies and herbs.
- Consider extras – Many brands add ingredients like avocado, pepitas, or pineapple for flavor.
- Give it a stir – Stir before using to distribute ingredients evenly.
- Use within shelf life – Once opened, store salsa verde in the fridge and use within 4-6 weeks.
- Drain the excess – Drain off some liquid if the salsa seems too thin for your purposes.
- Boost the flavor – Add a squeeze of lime juice, chopped cilantro, diced onion, or minced garlic.
Serving and Storing Salsa Verde
- Store open jars in the refrigerator.
- Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.
- Provide tortilla chips for dipping.
- Offer lime wedges to squeeze over the top.
- Garnish with cilantro.
- Accompany with Mexican beers or margaritas.
- Unopened salsa verde can be stored in the pantry up to a year.
- Once opened, transfer to a sealed container in the fridge.
- Use within 4-6 weeks for best quality and freshness.
- Salsa may darken in color over time but will still be safe if stored properly.
- If salsa verde grows mold, bubbles, or smells bad, discard it.
- To freeze: Transfer to freezer bags or containers leaving 1⁄2 inch headspace. Thaw in fridge before using.
Making Homemade Salsa Verde
Making fresh salsa verde at home lets you control the flavor and spice level. Follow this simple recipe:
- 1 1⁄2 pounds tomatillos, husked and rinsed
- 1 small white onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and sliced
- 1 packed cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
- In a medium pot, boil the tomatillos until softened and dull green, about 5 minutes.
- Drain the tomatillos and transfer to a blender. Add the onions, garlic, jalapeños, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and cumin.
- Blend on high speed until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Add more jalapeños for extra heat.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to use. Keeps about 1 week chilled.
Get creative with your homemade salsa verde by adding ingredients like avocado, pepitas, pineapple, corn, or extra cilantro. Adjust the flavor and spice to your liking.
Salsa Verde Recipes
Ready to put salsa verde to use in your cooking? Try these delicious recipes:
Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos
Marinate chicken in salsa verde then grill or pan fry. Serve in warmed tortillas with chopped onions and cilantro.
Salsa Verde Shrimp
Marinate peeled shrimp in salsa verde for 30 minutes. Skewer and grill until cooked through. Serve over rice or greens.
Salsa Verde Enchiladas
Stuff tortillas with shredded chicken and cheese. Roll up and bake with salsa verde and extra cheese on top.
Salsa Verde Pork
Combine salsa verde with diced pork shoulder. Bake or simmer until pork is fall-apart tender. Use in tacos, burritos, salads, or rice bowls.
Salsa Verde Grilled Vegetables
Toss zucchini, bell peppers, corn, and red onion with salsa verde. Grill until softened and lightly charred. Top tacos, nachos, or salads.
Breakfast Hash with Salsa Verde
Sauté cubed potatoes with salsa verde, black beans, peppers, and onions. Top with fried eggs.
Salsa Verde Lentil Salad
Toss cooked lentils with salsa verde, chopped tomato, onion, avocado, and cilantro. Chill and serve over greens.
With its zesty, herbaceous flavor, salsa verde can transform all kinds of dishes. Whether used as a condiment, sauce, or marinade, a jar of salsa verde is an easy way to add big Mexican flavor. Keep your fridge stocked so you can take advantage of its versatility in tacos, burritos, eggs, sandwiches, meats, and more. With proper storage, an open jar will last 4-6 weeks to be enjoyed whenever a craving strikes. For the freshest, customize salsa verde, whip up a quick homemade batch.