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Smokey Salsa Verde Takes Your Tacos to 10

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You’re certain to leave bland and boring jarred salsa behind forever once you try this smoke kissed homemade version.

Whether you lean toward tacos, burritos, tamales, or enchiladas, central to every Mexican dish is salsa. Salsa simply means “sauce” in Spanish, but that’s the only thing simple about it. Dating back to the Aztecs, salsa comes in many forms and can be composed of a variety of ingredients.

In 1992, salsa slipped past ketchup to become the top-selling condiment in the U.S. It has recently been pushed to second place behind mayonnaise, but who wants to put mayonnaise on a taco? While most versions fall into two major categories, red and green, they can feature a variety of ingredients including tomatoes, tomatillos, onions, chiles, cilantro, and even fruit.

In most authentic Mexican restaurants they offer both red and green salsas and, depending on the region they are from, one will be spicier than the other. Normally, the green one is hotter, but not always. Green salsas, or salsa verde, is usually made from tomatillos but some recipes call for green tomatoes instead. Either way, I like mine with a kick, usually supplied with one or more Jalapeños. If you are really in love with heat, substitute habaneros or ghost peppers.

Now I’ve been making a variation of the salsa featured in the recipe below for years and while it was really, really good, I kept thinking about how I could make it better. Then, it occurred to me: what if we gave the ingredients a little char? So, I grilled the tomatillos and peppers on my grill until the skins were blackened then finished the recipe like I normally did. Wow, what a difference! The char amps up the salsa and gives it a nice smokey flavor that complements all your Mexican dishes. It’s especially tasty with Huevos Rancheros, my favorite Mexican breakfast.

Smokey Salsa Verde

Smokey Salsa Verder
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5 from 8 votes
This smokey salsa verde will take your tacos to 10

Sauces and Condiments
difficulty scale


About 1 cup.
Servings: 4 people


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes


  • 4 tomatillos
  • 1-2 jalapeños
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 sprigs cilantro Some use only the leaves, but I like to throw in the whole sprig for a more rustic salsa.
  • 1/2 teaspoon Morton Coarse Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 lime (for juice)
About the salt. Remember, kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page


  • Prep. Remove the husk from the tomatillos and wash off the sticky film on the skin. Wash the jalapeños.
    tomatillos with husks
  • Core the tomatillos to remove the stem and center and discard. Cut the stem off the jalapeño(s).
    Cored tomatillos
  • Fire up. To char the tomatillos and jalapeño(s), heat your grill to warp 10 (maximum heat). Alternatively you can use a skillet over high heat or in the broiler.
    tomatillos in broiler
  • Cook. When using the broiler, use a shallow roasting pan and a wire rack to keep the items off the bottom of the pan where they might stew in the liquid. Place the pan within 3-4 inches of the heat source to get the best char. Place the tomatillos core down first. If you use a grill be aware that the tomatillos will start to break down as they char and it will be hard to move them without crushing them.
    charred tomatillos in broiler
  • When the bottom of the tomatillos are charred, flip them core up. This is important because as the tomatillos cook, the core will fill with liquid which would otherwise drip into the pan. Be sure to also turn the jalapenos periodically so that they char on all sides.
    charred tomatillos in broiler
  • Prep again. Once everything has a good char put the tomatillos and jalapeño(s) into a blender or chopper. Remove the seeds from the jalapeños or other peppers if you want to reduce the heat.
    If you charred the ingredients under the broiler then there should be some liquid from the tomatillos at the bottom of the pan. This flavorful liquid is great to add to the salsa as well. If the liquid has caramelized, simply squeeze the lime juice into the bottom of the pan and use a silicone spatula to reconstitute it before adding to the blender or chopper.
    Manual food chopper
  • Remove the outer skin from the onion and roughly chop. Roughly chop the garlic and cilantro. Add the onion, garlic, cilantro, salt, sugar, cumin, and lime juice to the blender or chopper and puree along with the tomatillos and jalapenos until the desired consitency is reached.
    blended salsa verde
  • Serve. Serve the salsa in a shallow bowl to make it easy to dip your corn chips. You can serve the salsa as is or stir in a couple of tablespoons of tomato salsa for an extra layer of depth. In a sealed container, the salsa keeps for at least a week in the fridge.
    Salsa verde in a shallow bowl

Nutrition per Serving

Serving: 1oz | Calories: 25kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 293mg | Potassium: 147mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 196IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg

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Published On: 2/23/2022 Last Modified: 9/7/2023

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    Jim was head of our technical team for 15 years until he died in November 2023. We were all in shock. He was an Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) and Adobe Certified Instructor (ACI) with over 30 years of experience working with graphic design and office productivity software. He had written 10 books for Adobe Press [...]


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