Tomatillo Sauce

Although I love to cook, sometimes I just want to put a few things together for a quick and easy dinner. It is so often I those days that I don’t want to cook, that I really need a healthy and comforting meal to relax after a hectic day. I try to keep a jar of tomatillo chile sauce in my pantry for one of those quick days. While this sauce is readily available at a grocery chain in Texas, I can’t buy the sauce in Michigan or North Carolina.

In the category of you never know what you will find at the farmers market, I was thrilled to find a farmer selling tomatillos and a variety of chile peppers. When I saw her bumper crop, I knew this was the answer to my tomatillo sauce woes. Now that I have finally learned to can, I quickly bought a ten pound bag of tomatillos along with a pile of poblano and jalapeño peppers. Luckily for me my CSA bag included several heads of garlic, onions and a huge bunch of cilantro.


Tomatillos are a member of the nightshade family. The fruit resembles a small green tomato covered with a papery husk. The tomatillo is very tart with a lemony acidic flavor. When the tomatillo is mature the fruit is green and the husk is loose and easy to remove. The tomatillo has a soapy coating so  you need to rinse them well after husking.


So on a cool rainy day, I cleared off my counters, got out my canning equipment and started husking. And seeding. And chopping. Lots of chopping. Due to my blender phobia-that is a tale of caution for washing sharp blades that I will save for another day, I chopped all of my ingredients.  You could easily use a food processor or blender to chop everything. If you do use a machine, chop the peppers, onion and garlic together and then the tomatillos separately. I like a my tomatillo sauce to be a little chunky.


With all the husking and chopping and cooking and canning, I managed to get the job done in less than three hours. When I was finished, I had ten pints of tomatillo sauce. This tomatillo sauce is great on scrambled eggs, tacos or enchiladas. A family favorite is chicken tomatillo stew. Use your imagination, the tart and spicy tomatillo sauce is a tremendously versatile pantry stocker.


Of course you don’t have to make this tomatillo sauce in massive quantities. It is a quick sauce to make for immediate use. The recipe that follows is for a small quantity.  Two pounds of tomatillos will yield about a quart of sauce. This would be enough for a large pan of enchilada or a pot of stew to feed a family. If  you want to make enough to can, just multiply the ingredients by how much you want to make. Excellent canning instructions are available from the Ball Jar company.

Tomatillo Sauce

  • 2 pounds tomatillos
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Seed the peppers then finely dice the peppers, onion and garlic. Add oil to a large sauce pan and then add the peppers, onion and garlic. Sauté over a medium heat until everything is softened. Be careful to not brown these or the garlic will become bitter.

Husk the tomatillos and rinse well. Chop the tomatillos into a medium dice and then add to the sautéed peppers mix. Add a half cup of water. Cover the pan and simmer the mixture for about a half hour stirring occasionally. The sauce is done when the tomatillos are softened and cooked down. If it is too watery, just remove the lid and simmer for a little longer to reduce the liquid. Add the cilantro at the very end so the flavor doesn’t cook out. If you are an anti cilantro person, try adding it earlier in the cooking process or completely omit it.

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