What Is Salsa Verde and Will It Light My Tongue on Fire?

Even though my Irish-English stomach can’t handle spice, I simply cannot enjoy a burrito without adding sauce, which is why I go for the salsa verde. It always seems like a more reasonable option for my pathetic lack of heat tolerance. So let’s explore what makes salsa verde so essential.

What is salsa verde?

Salsa verde is a Mexican sauce dating back to the Aztec empire. As evidenced by its name, it’s green instead of the traditional red salsa.That is thanks to one of its main ingredients: tomatillo.

Tomatillos are a Mexican staple and part of the nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, and chili peppers. They are smaller than your traditional tomato, have green skin, and are often surrounded in a papery husk similar to an onion.

Salsa verde has become a central part of Tex Mex and Southwestern United States cuisine, and varies greatly in both ingredients and heat level, depending on your location. But one thing you can generally count on is that salsa verde is less chunky than red salsa. 

What is salsa verde made of?

The tomatillo is the base ingredient for almost all salsa verdes, replacing the standard red tomato in their salsa roja counterparts. Added to this are green chiles, serranos, or jalapeños. The amount and type of peppers used in a given recipe will dictate the heat level of the salsa. Other common ingredients in salsa verde include chopped onion, garlic, cilantro, and seasonings like salt and cumin.

Cooking or roasting the tomatillos and peppers prior to grinding them into the salsa base enhances their flavors and often creates a sweeter sauce. This is in comparison to a raw preparation, in which none of the vegetables are cooked, which has a stronger, tangier flavor.

best salsa verde

Best Salsa Verde

What’s the best salsa verde? We tasted a bunch of the top brands on the market to find the best salsa verde you can find at the grocery store.

What is salsa verde used for?

Salsa verde is a highly versatile sauce that can go on pretty much anything. As a dip, it works great with either chips or chicharrones. It is often drizzled on enchiladas or chilaquiles, and even used in a standard taco or burrito.

The uses of salsa verde only stop at your own imagination. Try it with your morning eggs or as an addition to a chicken soup. Use it to zest up a boring rice or vegetable dish. I don’t know if I’d dip chocolate chip cookies in salsa verde, but I’m not here to yuck your yum. If you like it, do it.

Is salsa verde spicy?

It can be! It still has those peppers in it and, as with salsa rojas, the amount and type of peppers will correlate to the amount of spice. However, there is something about the tomatillo that provides a certain sweetness, which often helps cut the heat. So, the next time you’re at a Mexican restaurant and provided with options, try the salsa verde. It’s usually mild enough even for a bland white guy like myself.

About the Author

Luke Field

Luke Field is a writer and actor originally from Philadelphia. He was the former Head Writer of branded content at CollegeHumor and was also a contributing writer and actor to the CollegeHumor Originals cast. He has extensive improv and sketch stage experience, performing both at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and with their Touring Company. In addition to writing, he also works as a Story Producer, most recently on season 4 of Accident, Suicide, or Murder on Oxygen. Keep your eyes peeled for his brief but impactful appearance as Kevin, the screaming security guard, in the upcoming feature The Disruptors, directed by Adam Frucci.

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