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Tomatillo Salsa (3 ways – raw, roasted and fermented)

Tomatillo Salsa is super easy to make with just a handful of ingredients. With a few simple tweaks you can make 3 varieties of this salsa with the same ingredients to use as a sauce or a dip – raw, roasted and lacto-fermented.

A small jar of roasted tomatillo salsa with a blender in the background

Tomatillo salsa, sometimes called salsa verde, is a Mexican condiment often used as a dip or a sauce. It’s widely available in jars from the grocery store, but it’s such a simple recipe if you can find fresh tomatillos is worth making it yourself!

I first tried making this green salsa when I saw tomatillos at my local farmer’s market. I didn’t know that tomatillos are grown in Ontario (Canada) but now I look forward to the season close to the end of summer every year.


Tomatillo salsa is made with just a few ingredients, almost all of which I can find in my local farmer’s market. Whether you are making it to serve fresh & raw, lacto-fermented or roasted the ingredient list remains the same. The one notable difference is when you are fermenting you need to be sure to use enough salt (about 2 – 5%) to ensure that the mixture ferments and inhibits mold growth.

Tomatillo Salsa Ingredients
  • fresh tomatillos
  • jalapenos (with or without seeds)
  • fresh cilantro (leaves and stems – the stems contain a lot of flavour!)
  • fresh garlic
  • white onion
  • fresh squeezed lime juice
  • salt

See the recipe card for quantities.

Fresh tomatillos with husk removed


You can make 3 different versions of tomatillo salsa with the same ingredients: raw, roasted and lacto-fermented. Local Ontario-grown tomatillos are only available for a short time in the summer, so in addition to making a raw and roasted version of this recipe, I’ve also made a fermented version that can last for a long time in the fridge.

  • Raw – This is the simplest version to make. All the prepped ingredients go into a blender and get processed until smooth. That’s it!
  • Roasted – With this version the onion, garlic, jalapeno and tomatillos get roasted before going into the blender with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Lacto-fermented – This version takes a bit longer to make (to allow the fermentation process to take place) but it also lasts for a longer time in the refrigerator.

See the recipe card notes for instructions on making the roasted and fermented versions.

What is the difference in flavour?

Each version of this green salsa has a slightly different flavour profile to suit different tastes or applications.

  • Raw – Raw tomatillos are slightly acidic, and paired with fresh cilantro this version of the salsa is bright and fresh with just a bit of acidity from the tomatillos and lime juice.
  • Roasted – The acidity of the tomatillos is tempered when cooked, and the roasted onion and garlic are slightly sweet resulting in a milder and sweeter version.
  • Lacto-fermented – This is similar in flavour to the raw version with a bit more acidity and tanginess. The longer that it ferments the more tangy it will be. You’ll notice that, as with the raw recipe, the colour will start off a beautiful vivid green. As the salsa ferments the colour will start to change to duller green. This is a normal part of the process.


All 3 versions of this tomatillo recipe should be stored in the fridge in an air-tight jar. The raw and roasted variety will last about a week in the fridge, while the lacto-fermented will last several months.

What I love about this recipe is that it is so easy to adjust to your tastes. Do you like it more spicy? Add another jalapeno, or a hotter pepper if you prefer. If you prefer a more garlicky version add some additional garlic. I really like cilantro so will often add more.

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Tomatillo Salsa (3 ways – raw, roasted and lacto-fermented)

A small jar of roasted tomatillo salsa
Tomatillo Salsa is super easy to make with just a handful of ingredients. With a few simple tweaks you can make 3 varieties of this salsa with the same ingredients to use as a sauce or a dip.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Serving Size 6


  • 1 pound fresh tomatillos
  • 1 – 2 fresh jalapenos stem removed
  • 1 – 2 cloves of garlic peeled
  • ½ medium white or yellow onion skin removed
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro, leaves and stems washed
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tsp salt

Additional ingredients for Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

  • 1 tsp canola oil use any neutral flavoured oil


  • Remove the husks from the outside of the tomatillos and give them a rinse with water.
    1 pound fresh tomatillos
  • Cut the tomatillos in half (or quarters if they are large) and add to the blender or food processor.
  • Add remaining ingredients to the blender or food processor and process until all ingredients are broken down into a sauce-like consistency. You may need to use the tamper to push the ingredients down.
    1 – 2 fresh jalapenos, 1 – 2 cloves of garlic, ½ medium white or yellow onion, 1/2 cup packed cilantro, leaves and stems, 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice, 1 tsp salt
  • Give your salsa a taste to see if it's to your liking. If you want you can add more jalapeno, salt, garlic or cilantro and blend to combine.
  • Pour your salsa into a jar with a tight lid and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.


To make roasted tomatillo salsa you will need 1 tsp neutral flavoured oil:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F. 
  2. Toss tomatillos, jalapeno, garlic and onion in a bowl with the oil until coated.
  3. Lay the ingredients on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the skin on the tomatillos just start to brown.
  4. Add all ingredients to the blender and continue following the recipe.
To make fermented tomatillo salsa you will need additional salt to facilitate the fermentation process:
  1. Use 1 tablespoon of salt for this version of the recipe. Salt inhibits the growth of bad bacteria and allows the salsa to ferment safely at room temperature.
  2. Follow the recipe for raw salsa from the recipe card and pour your salsa into a canning jar with a tight light.
  3. Allow to ferment at room temperature for 3 – 5 days. 
  4. You may see bubbles forming in the jar, this is normal.
  5. Each day push on the lid of the jar. Pressure builds up in the jar during the fermentation process, and if the lid feels very firm you may want to slightly twist the top of the jar to release the pressure. Do not remove the lid as you don’t want to add air into the jar.

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