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What is Green Chili Salsa?

This post has kindly been supported by The Hatch Chile Store, and may also contain Amazon affiliate links. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A cardboard box and a 1 pound pouch of frozen Hatch green chile are displayed on a wooden table next to a bowl of Green chili salsa.

Working with Hispanic foods as much as I do- I know that green chili salsa is gaining in popularity in the United States, and is showing up in more restaurants and grocery stores each year. Naturally, more people are asking the question: What is green chili salsa? Let me explain. (Bonus- recipe included at the end.)

Green chili salsa (or green chile salsa) is a sauce made from green chile peppers and a fruit called tomatillos (toh-mah-tee-oh’s). The peppers and tomatillos are roasted then blended with onion, garlic, cilantro and sometimes other herbs and spices to season and deepen the flavor of the sauce. It is also known as salsa verde- which simply translates to ‘green sauce’ in spanish.

For the sake of continuity, ‘chili’ will be spelled ‘chile’ for the remainder of this article. In the U.S. ‘chili’ with an ‘i’ on the end is the spelling used for bean stews, and ‘chile’ with an ‘e’ on the end is the proper spelling for chile peppers.

What’s the difference between green salsa and red salsa?

What is the difference between salsa verde and salsa roja (red salsa)? Which ones are hot and which are mild? Read on and I’ll explain.

Salsa verde is green because it is made with green tomatillos and green chile peppers. Red salsas are made with ripe red tomatoes. They taste very different from each other; red salsas have a bright spicy taste usually made with fresh raw ingredients, while salsa verde (green salsa) has an earthy, smoky, slightly tart taste and is made with roasted ingredients.

What is Salsa Verde made of?

A Hatch green chile pouch surrounded by fresh green and red chiles, sliced white onion garlic cloves and tomatillos.

Many wonder what salsa verde is made of exactly? Salsa Verde recipes are made from green chile peppers, such as jalapeno chiles, Hatch chiles, and/or poblano chiles, tomatillos, and most likely some onion, garlic, and fresh cilantro. The ingredients are all roasted before being blended together to make the sauce. Sometimes additional seasonings and herbs are included in the recipe, such as ground coriander seed, fresh lime juice, and mexican oregano.

Salsa verde is not just a dip for chips. It makes an excellent marinade for chicken, beef, or pork. I also love it as a garnish for my tostadas, fajitas, grilled kabobs, tacos, steak, or eggs. It can also be used as a green enchilada sauce, and the base for a classic pork and potato stew called chile verde.

A closeup picture of two tomatillos on a wooden counter. The closer is partially  unwrapped from its husk.

Tomatillos are a common ingredient in Hispanic cuisine; they look like green tomatoes covered in a papery leaf or husk. Nobody eats these things raw, they have a natural pungent and bitter taste. However, with the husk removed and the flesh roasted and blended with other ingredients, they provide a complimentary bright taste to any recipe.

Is green salsa the same as salsa verde?

As I stated earlier, green chile salsa and salsa verde are the same thing. There will be slight variations to all salsa recipes, including salsa verde, but in each recipe the usual foundational ingredients are the same: green chile peppers and tomatillos.

A bowl of Salsa Verde with a tortilla chip held above.

Is Salsa Verde hot or mild?

Salsa color does not determine how hot a salsa will be. Any type of salsa, whether it be salsa verde, the more traditional salsa roja (tomato based) and even fruit salsa can range from mild to extreme hotness. It all depends on the types of chile peppers included in the recipe.

Salsa Verde purchased at a grocery store generally tends to be toward a mild to medium hotness level (the technical term is Scoville units) because it is typically made with jalapeno chiles (medium hotness) and poblano chiles (very mild hotness). However there can be hot varieties as well. Best to check the label to see if it’s mild, medium, or hot.

If you’re eating salsa verde at a restaurant or you’re trying your neighbor’s homemade batch, ask whether it’s hotter or milder than a jalapeno. I find this a good way to measure because spiciness is really subjective and depends upon each person’s tastes. Most people are familiar with the hotness level of a jalapeno and can tell you

If you’re trying a Hatch chile salsa for the first time just check the label- it should say whether it’s mild, medium, or hot.

Salsa Verde recipe Ideas- what can you do with green salsa?

If you’ve got a store bought jar (or homemade batch) of salsa verde, you may be looking for some recipe ideas to put your delicious green salsa to use. Here is a comprehensive list of recipe ideas and links to some of the most delicious salsa verde recipes available free online:

What are Hatch Chile Peppers?

Hatch Chile peppers are world famous for their delicious flavors, produced by the unique climate and soil composition that exists only in the Hatch Valley of Southern New Mexico. These factors combine to grow exceptional-tasting chile peppers with smoky, sweet, and hot flavor notes. More people discover Hatch Chiles each year, and their popularity continues to grow.

Growing up in New Mexico where chile peppers are an integral part of the culture, I know that Hatch chiles have earned a reputation for being the best of the best. I personally only use authentic Hatch in all my cooking because it simply tastes amazing. You should be able to find canned Hatch chile in any supermarket these days, or you can order it directly like I do. Frozen chile is much, much better tasting than canned!

The Hatch Chile Store is the premiere website for ordering your Hatch chile– they are incredibly good at shipping fresh authentic chile right to your door, whatever variety and hotness lever you prefer. It’s where I get all my Hatch Chile, and I must say the flavor really does stand out above any other chile pepper variety.

Wooden baskets at a farmer's market are filled with fresh New Mexico chiles; most of them are green, but a few are turning red.

Head on over now to The Hatch Chile Store to stock up on the most delicious Hatch chile you can buy anywhere- they’ve always got great deals on your favorite products!

Did you know I have a full-color cookbook with lots more easy and delicious New Mexican recipes? You can learn more about it here!

Roasted Hatch Chile Salsa Verde

I’ve included a delicious and easy salsa verde recipe featuring mild Hatch chiles. As I stated earlier, Hatch chiles have an exceptional flavor and taste great in salsa verde.

Looking down onto a rimmed baking sheet full of roasted green chiles, tomatillos, onion, garlic and spices.

Some salsa verde recipes will only ask you to roast the tomatillos and chiles. This is an opportunity wasted. Why not roast everything- including the onion and garlic to add additional depth of flavor?? So I developed a recipe that roasts ALL the ingredients except for the cilantro leaves for a fantastic tasting salsa verde.

I wrote out the recipe below for Hatch chile you have already roasted and chopped and stored in a freezer or jar. If you have fresh chiles you’d like to use, instructions for that are included in the recipe notes!

A cutting board showing a sliced, skinned poblano chile.

Once everything is roasted with a nice little bit of char- peel the chiles (scraping out the seeds if desired), and garlic and throw the peels away. Dump everything from your roasting pan, including all juices, into a blender. Add the cilantro leaves and blend away. It’s really that simple!

Looking down into a blender showing the individual ingredients used to make green chili salsa.
looking down into a blender full of blended green chili salsa.

If you’ve never tried green chili salsa, then this recipe is for you. It is absolutely fantastic, and makes a lot so you can freeze some for a later use.

You know what else is fantastic? Simply giving this recipe a star rating and a comment below! Your comments and ratings are greatly appreciated by me AND the Google algorithm. Thank you!

Did you know I have a full-color cookbook with lots more easy and delicious New Mexican recipes? You can learn more about it here!

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Roasted Hatch Chile Salsa Verde


  • Author: Emily
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 and 1/2 to 5 cups 1x

Description

This bright, tangy, yet deeply flavored sauce is a blend of ripe tomatillos, authentic Hatch green chile, poblano chile, onion, garlic, ground coriander, oregano and fresh cilantro. Uses include: dip for tortilla chips, meat marinade, salad dressing, garnish/topping for meats (including fish), and a base for delicious green chile verde stew. Instructions included for both frozen or fresh Hatch chiles.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1.5 pounds of tomatillos, husks removed
  • 1 poblano chile
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 6 whole cloves of garlic, smashed open but not peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 pound frozen roasted Hatch green chile (mild, medium, or hot)
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Set your oven to broil on high and, if necessary, move an oven rack to the upper middle position so it is close to the broiler element. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet by lining it with foil or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Wash and dry tomatillos to remove the naturally occurring sticky residue. Poke poblano chile with a fork to vent. Place the tomatillos, poblano chile, onion, and garlic (still whole with peels on) onto the prepared baking sheet. Spray all with nonstick cooking spray. Place under the broiler for about 5-7 minutes, flipping the poblano chile once half way through, until spotty black and brown all over and the tomatillos are bubbly on top (or have ‘popped’).
  3. Remove the baking sheet from the broiler, then imediately sprinkle the salt, coriander and oregano over the top. Allow the ingredients to cool until safe to handle.
  4. Remove the stem from the poblano and using a sharp knife, scrape the peel off the chile. Slice it open and scrape out the seeds. Discard the seeds, stem and peel. Remove and discard the peels from the garlic.
  5. Place the poblano chile, garlic, tomatillos, onion and all accumulated juices in the bottom of the baking sheet into a blender. Add in the roasted Hatch chile and the fresh cilantro. Blend for about 10 seconds until smooth(ish). Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve or freeze.

Notes

To use fresh Hatch chiles instead of frozen– place four Hatch chiles onto baking sheet in step 2 with the other ingredients and poke each with a fork to vent. In step 4, stem, peel and seed the Hatch chiles in the same way as the poblano chile, and blend up with all other ingredients in step 5.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Southwestern American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 52
  • Sugar: 0.7
  • Sodium: 262
  • Fat: 1.2
  • Carbohydrates: 9.5
  • Fiber: 2.7
  • Protein: 1.1
  • Cholesterol: 0

Keywords: Salsa Verde, chile verde, chili verde, tomatillo salsa, tomatillo, Mexican, salsa, Hatch chile

Did you know I have a full-color cookbook with lots more easy and delicious New Mexican recipes? You can learn more about it here!

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