This chile verde sauce is made with fresh tomatillos and chile peppers which are at their peak in the summer, but it freezes well. I make the sauce in large batches and enjoy it long after the harvest. It is a great addition to breakfast eggs and chorizo, to pork stew, as a base for chilaquiles and many other favorite Mexican dishes.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Chile Verde Salsa vs Chile Verde Stew
How to Use the Verde Sauce
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Ingredients and Substitutions
Tomatillos and some sort of green chile are the two key ingredients of chile verde. Different cooks will use different varieties of green chiles, but most often you will see Poblano chiles used for mild heat and Serranos used for spicier versions.
Here are a few variations/additions or substitutions that you may want to try if customizing:
- Hatch chile peppers (medium spicy)
- Jalapeno chile peppers (spicy)
- Anaheim chile peppers (mild)
- Purple tomatillos instead of the green ones
- Purple onions
- Different herbs (oregano instead of cilantro for example)
Chile Verde Stew (Sauce) vs Chile Verde Salsa (Raw)?
Although the terms chile verde stew, chile verde sauce and chile verde salsa are sometimes used interchangeably, they are technically different.
Often, when “chile verde” is mentioned without being attached to the word salsa, it is referring to the stew version, with meat and vegetables but with green chiles and tomatillos as the star ingredients. The Hatch green chile is frequently associated with chile verde stew.
It is confusing at times because this tomatillo sauce cooked with broth and meat is called salsa in Spanish. Chile verde (stew or sauce) is a comforting sauce often served with a braised pork or used to smother crusted fish fillets (in the US you might see it as a topping for burritos).
“Chile verde salsa” is typically referring to the fresh condiment made with tomatillos, herbs, onions, green chiles and cilantro. Ingredients are usually used raw (chopped and blended together), but they can also be roasted first to give it a more sauce-like consistency.
By the way, you can grow your own chile peppers in a pot and enjoy fresh salsa all Summer. You can grow the peppers you like alongside the cilantro and keep it close to your house for easy picking. Just make sure and replace the cilantro occasionally, as it tends to bolt fairly quickly.
Condiment or Main Dish?
Chile verde is used as a base for many Mexican main dishes (like chilaquiles), whereas the raw chile verde salsa is typically used as a condiment.
It’s sometimes referred to as a Mexican mother sauce, because it has so many different uses.
I like to make a pureed sauce from roasted tomatillos and chiles and then freeze batches of this sauce in quart freezer bags. It’s then available all year to enhance breakfasts or Mexican main dishes.
**Cooking Tip: the spicier you make the salsa, the more salt you should add to offset the heat.
There are SO many uses for this simple salsa! Here are some of my favorite uses:
- Breakfast Baked Eggs with Chile Verde
- Beef or Pork Chile Verde Stew
- Addition to burritos/ tacos or carnita bowls
- Addition to my all-time favorite “chorizo and egg dinner”
- In vegetarian queso y rajas (cheese and pepper) tamales
- Topping for grilled fish or meat dishes (like this Grilled Salmon)
Why is Homemade Chile Verde Better?
My daughter lives in Denver, Colorado, where pre-made chile verde salsa is present in nearly every store. However, there are so many reasons to make fresh chile verde salsa at home.
One of the main reasons to make this salsa at home is it is simple. It only takes a few minutes and there are relatively few ingredients. Even the most novice of cooks can feel like a 5-star chef after making this salsa type of sauce.
Another important reason to avoid the store-bought versions is taste. When you buy products at the store, you have less control over the spice level, salt content or different preservatives and additives.
We taste-tested the recipe below against this Hatch chile verde sauce and found that, although both versions were good, all four of our family members preferred the homemade version.
Although the Hatch chile pepper version touts “medium” spice, it was too spicy for some of our family and not spicy enough for others. It also did not taste as fresh as our homemade version, but it was still quite good.
Here are some ideas of different ingredients you could add to the basic chile verde recipe below to change the flavor profile slightly:
- Lime juice
- Sugar/ salt
The final reason to make your own chile verde salsa is health. Store-bought products often have chemical additives or added sugar/ sodium.
As with the taste, when you make this at home, you can more easily add or take out certain ingredients that don’t fit with your specific diet.
Other Mexican Recipes We Think You’ll Love
If you love this chile verde sauce as much as my family does, here are some other great recipes to check out:
Homemade Chile Verde Sauce
Chile Verde Sauce
- 1 ½ lb tomatillos
- 2 Anaheim or Jalapeno chile peppers
- 3 green chile peppers poblano, serrano, Hatch or your preference
- 4-5 cloves garlic
- 2 Cups chicken broth
- 1 bunch green onions (scallions) coarsely chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro stems removed (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 Teaspoons sea salt more as needed
- Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse. Cut the tomatillos in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place peppers (whole) and 4-5 garlic cloves (in their skins) on the baking sheet. Roast tray of tomatillos and peppers and garlic under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes or until skins are blackened.1 1/2 lb tomatillos, 3 green chile peppers, 4-5 cloves garlic, 2 Anaheim or Jalapeno chile peppers
- Cool tomatillos and peppers for a few minutes. In a food processor or a blender combine roasted tomatillos, garlic, peppers, 2 cups chicken broth, green onions, cilantro and salt. If you want a spicier version, add some hot chile powder to the blender (I used a hatch chile powder)2 Cups chicken broth, 1 bunch green onions (scallions), 1 bunch cilantro, 2 Teaspoons sea salt
- Season to taste with additional salt. Can be used as salsa immediately, stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 1 week, or frozen to serve later with a wide array of Mexican dishes.
- This recipe makes 3 cups.
- The spicier you make this salsa the more salt you should add to offset the heat
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