Salsa Verde Recipe

Pace Picante sauce was a staple in my house growing up. Remember those “Get a rope” commercials? Ahaha. Those were the days. The days when Pace was a decent salsa. Then something happened, I don’t know, I guess I was around eight, and my parents quit buying Pace because they “changed the formula”. Well, that settled it in my mind, too, and I have not had Pace Picante sauce since.

salsa verde recipe

But my parents tell a funny story about when my little brother was actually little, like maybe three years old, they had some friends over and of course, had chips and Pace Picante sauce out. And little baby brother, I imagine, was hanging out in his drawers trying to talk to the grownups — not old enough yet to realize that grownups do NOT just “hang out” in their drawers — but he’s trying to act mature so he’s also helping himself to the chips and the picante sauce.

But it’s too hot for him. And he starts crying. And my mom gives him some water or something I’m sure, and all the grownups think it’s hilarious, I’m sure. And he stops crying. But then he eats some more chips and picante sauce. And it’s too hot again. And he starts crying again. And my mom laughs and gets him some more water again and so on and so on.

It took him several tries to learn that it was the Pace Picante that was making his mouth burn. Pretty. Fucking. Cute.

Which brings us all the way around to my absolute favorite, best salsa verde recipe. Use a serrano pepper for a hot sauce; a jalapeño for a milder sauce. If you like spice and you can find them, manzano peppers are incredible; they are hot, but also very fruity. Habaneros are a fine substitute, but if you go that route, I think it tastes better after a 24-hour time-out in the fridge. If you use manzano peppers, you will probably eat all the salsa within the first 24 hours. Just sayin’.

Blend this salsa verde up into a smooth puree and then use it to make my chicken enchilada casserole, too!

Salsa Verde Recipe Video – scroll down for recipe card

Salsa Verde Recipe


Salsa Verde

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4.8 from 5 reviews

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Prep Time: 8 mins
  • Total Time: 8 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x


  • 56 Tomatillos (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 hot chile (serrano, jalapeño, manzano or habanero chile)
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice, or to taste


  1. Peel the husks from the tomatillos and rinse off the sticky sap.
  2. Put them and the pepper on a cookie sheet and stick under the broiler for about 5 minutes or until they’re blistered, blackened, and softened.
  3. Remove the stem (and seeds for a milder salsa) from the pepper.
  4. Put everything into the blender and puree. Be CAREFUL when blending hot liquids. Place a dish towel over the lid and hold it down firmly. The heat causes a pressure build-up that can pop the lid off the blender and spray salsa all over you and your kitchen.
  5. If you prefer to use a molcajete, grind the onion and garlic with salt while the tomatillos cook. Then add chile and tomatillos a few at a time and grind until a rough salsa forms. Mince cilantro and add with lime juice.


This keeps refrigerated for about 4 weeks.
You can also use a small mango instead of the tomatillos for a sweet salsa. It’s muy excelente over fish. (But don’t roast the mango, obvs.)

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  1. Jason and Stacy on September 14, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Looks GREAT!

    • Hilah on September 14, 2011 at 8:40 am

      Thanks, Jason! That means a lot!

  2. David Reading on September 14, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Your cute, your sexy, you make cooking fun & I love your videos.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hilah on September 14, 2011 at 9:16 am

      Hi Dave! Lucky for you, new videos start next Tuesday! 😉
      Thanks for writing! Hope you like our new season even better than the last.

  3. Christopher on September 14, 2011 at 9:28 am

    This salsa is awesome. No joke.

  4. Brady Hamilton on September 14, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Similar to my recipe except I put in a roasted Hatch Chile instead of a manzano. Holy Crap is it good!!

    • Hilah on September 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm

      I bet that is superamazing! I love Hatch chiles.

  5. Randy on September 14, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Oh, drat! I just made salsa verde yesterday (a double batch, no less). And all of my sealable containers are full. I guess I’ll have to make the long trek north and buy some more at the Container Store.

    Where’d you get the manzano chiles? What do they look like?

    The more I think about it, the more I want to try this recipe. My recipe is very similar, but I like the idea of the lime juice. One thing I do differently is just slice the onions and then add them and the garlic to the cookie sheet and char them as well.

    • Hilah on September 14, 2011 at 1:23 pm

      They look like this
      They don’t keep very well, either. Maybe 2-3 days in the fridge and they start getting soft.

      • Hilah on September 14, 2011 at 1:24 pm

        And also, Fiesta has them and El Rancho.

      • Randy on September 17, 2011 at 1:15 am

        You weren’t kidding about their life span! I went to Fiesta tonight and they had 4 left. Two were already on their death bed and the other two barely made the ride home to my broiler 🙂

        • Hilah on September 19, 2011 at 7:55 am

          Yay! You found them!

      • Charlie Sommers on October 19, 2015 at 8:50 am

        Before I moved away from Nashville I used to shop at an Asian store that sold these tasty chilies as “giant habaneros” Manzano is Spanish for apple and they do look a bit like an apple. They aren’t as blisteringly hot as a habanero and are fruity enough that I have eaten them like an apple. It is recommended that you have access to a cold beer or two if you go that route,

        • Hilah on October 20, 2015 at 3:53 pm

          I haven’t seen them here in LA yet, but I’m going to look. They are so good.

  6. Eric on September 15, 2011 at 6:43 am

    Funny thing. We just had something VERY similar to this last night. We had friends over and were making flautas. Turns out we were out of Pace. So our friends run back over to their house (they live 1 block over) and bring back a mason jar of a salsa just like this.

    Apparently you can ‘can’ this stuff. They have jars and jars of it.

    I’m not sure they were using manzano peppers. The salsa had a little heat but wasn’t too hot. They couldn’t remember the pepper they used but they said it was a yellowish/red pepper.

    YUM. What a coincidence. 2 instances of poor PACE performance and Tomatillo sauce in one day. What are the odds!

    Love the show!

    houston TX

    • Hilah on September 15, 2011 at 7:59 am

      Ha! That is funny!
      I wonder if they used a ripe Hatch pepper like someone else mentioned in these comments. They aren’t too hot, but have a great flavor.
      I’m glad you found me!

  7. Eric on September 15, 2011 at 8:09 am

    As am I 😉

    houston TX

  8. Anna on September 15, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Well, crap. If I find a manzano here, it will be a miracle! Although, I do live in the ghetto and can hopefully find one on the pepper black market. I am dying for Tex Mex over here!!!!

    • Hilah on September 15, 2011 at 9:03 am

      Dangit! I’d mail you one but they seem to be the most perishable peppers on the planet.

  9. Luis on September 29, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    We would love to see you make a video showing you making this Salsa Verde.

    • Hilah on September 29, 2011 at 5:26 pm

      Hi Luis!
      I’d love to make a video for every recipe! Right now I don’t have the time. Gotta work to pay the bills, you know? 😉
      Check out this video on Salsa Roja – it might be helpful.
      Thanks for writing!

  10. Michael Hodges on October 11, 2011 at 11:38 am

    GREAT recipe! And for a little added fun, you can burn the crap (as in blacken) out of the tomatillos and peppers over a charcoal (or hardwood) grill for a good added smokiness if that’s your thing…

    • Hilah on October 11, 2011 at 11:46 am

      Yum! Smokiness is TOTALLY my thing, Michael. 😉
      Thanks for the tip!

  11. Stephanie on November 7, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    I made this as written, but it was a little spicy for me. So I added half an avocado, and I’ve got to say that it’s probably the best salsa verde I’ve ever eaten. And I live in Texas, so I’ve had some good salsa verde. Thanks for the recipe, Hilah!

    • Hilah on November 7, 2012 at 6:03 pm

      Congratulations, Stephanie! You’ve just invented your signature salsa recipe! 🙂 Great solution to a too-hot salsa. Thanks for sharing.

  12. CurtCole on January 30, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    This salsa is so amazing! Looking forward to making your chicken enchiladas recipe with it. Your book has transformed my kitchen from a room I just cleaned once a week to my favorite room in my house. Thank you! Also my coworker thank you, as I’ve been dazzling them with your food. Eventually I’ll introduce them to your book, but for now we’ll just all pretend it’s part of my gay magic.
    Thanks again,

    • Hilah on January 31, 2013 at 11:30 am

      Bahahaha! DEWD. Thanks for the LOLz. I think this wins “comment of the week”! Thanks for writing. 🙂

    • Hilah on February 1, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      I totally posted a screenshot of your comment on my facebook page today. It made me that happy!

  13. Russell on January 6, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    I LOVE Mexican & Asian food–they’re really my favorites–but I HATE cilantro. I mean REALLY cannot stand it. I know, I know: “How can you say you like Mexican & Asian food if you hate cilantro? That’s impossible!” No, it isn’t. I really love Asian food, esp. Vietnamese & Thai, both of which… use a lot of cilantro. I really love Mexican food, but… it uses so much cilantro. I go long ways to avoid it–I ask what’s in a recipe & order in restaurants based on its presence (or assurance that the amount is truly minimal). I can handle it in small quantities the hotter something is, so: if a salsa is REALLY spicy otherwise, the presence of cilantro seems to not be so awful, but in anything mild (like a Thai coconut-milk & shrimp soup) it makes me nauseous. After watching all the videos, I want to make my own salsa verdes & rojas & pico de gallos. What can I use as a substitute? Regular parsley? Oregano? Half of each for what the recipe calls for in cilantro? I don’t think cilantro is something that “just keep eating it–the more you eat it the more you’ll get used to it”. It just makes me want to be sick.

    • Hilah on January 6, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      Hey Russell!
      You are not alone. Whether you love cilantro or it makes you want to puke is totally genetic! To some people, it tastes like soap or other nasty things and it always will. So at least you have a good reason to hate it. 🙂
      There isn’t really a good substitute for cilantro in Mexican cooking that I have found. In Thai/Vietnamese recipes a lot of time you can use some mint or basil instead, but for Mexican food I think the best choice is to just omit it. This salsa would still be good without cilantro. Oregano is a very different flavor and to me doesn’t go well in fresh salsas. I use it occasionally in salsas made with dried chiles. A little parsley would add some “green” flavor, but I don’t even think it would be necessary. Tomatillos, lime, garlic, and peppers make a great sauce on their own.
      I’d say make this recipe, but leave out the cilantro and taste it. Add a tablespoon of minced parsley if you want a grassy flavor, but I bet you’ll like it just fine without either!

      • Russell on April 13, 2014 at 8:46 pm

        Dear Hilah:

        Thanks for the suggestions! I still want to make my own salsas w/your recipes. I’ll probably substitute in a bit of fresh parsley as you suggested. Another question: you have SOOOOO many wonderful Tex-Mex & Mexican recipes, but do you have a chili powder recipe? I haven’t found one on the web-site–apologies if that is in the cook-books I have not yet purchased (I keep meaning to). Thank you again for making such wonderful videos.

        • Hilah on April 14, 2014 at 11:23 am

          Hi Russell!
          I don’t keep many spice blends, homemade or otherwise, on hand. For chili powder, I prefer to use a pure ground chili powder like New Mexico or ancho chili powder and then add whatever other spices the the recipe individually. BUT … that’s not very helpful to you so here’s my dad’s basic chili powder blend 🙂

          6 tablespoons ground dried ancho chilies (you can buy dried peppers and remove the stems and grind them yourself or buy pre-ground)
          2 tablespoons ground cumin
          1 tablespoon crushed dried oregano
          1/2 -1 teaspoon cayenne pepper for a spicy chili powder

          Use this to make chili or tacos

          • Russell on July 9, 2014 at 9:36 pm

            Dear Hilah:

            I don’t know why I didn’t realize you’d responded to my question w/your father’s chili recipe until now! My apologies & thanks so much. All the other chili powder recipes I’ve seen I have to toast things & it gets kind of complicated in a hurry & I need the KISS principle. Thank you again! I will try ASAP!

  14. Karen on April 11, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Thanks a bunch for this recipe! I tried to reach out to Pace once I could no longer find their original salsa verde to see if maybe my local stores just stopped carrying it. Pace didn’t have the courtesy to respond. I haven’t purchased any of their products since then. This is definitely the closest I’ve come to their original salsa verde. I’ve added jalapenos the last few times but will definitely try the habeneros next time. I also add a pinch of kosher salt and about a teaspoon of white vinegar. I took it to share with family on Easter and they loved it. I just made another batch and am waiting for it to do its thing in the fridge but I just don’t know if I can wait that long.

    • Hilah on April 12, 2015 at 2:24 pm

      Excellent, Karen! 😀 Thanks for sharing your additions. So glad you like the salsa.

  15. Michele on September 29, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Thanks for the recipe. How did you know I’ve been going salsa verde crazy lately and buying in jars with additives (much to my dismay)?!

    Also wanted to give a thumbs up to the granite mortar and pestles sold by Import Food in Thailand. I love them even more than the Mexican molcajete due to the smooth surface. They make a big deal out of how heavy they are so at first I got the smallest and then worked my way up until I got the largest one! I kept the largest and the second smallest and gave the others away to grateful recipients. They are just awesome (and a very good price):

    • Michele on September 29, 2016 at 11:56 am

      CORRECTION: I kept the SMALLEST and the LARGEST.

    • Hilah on September 29, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      Cool! Looks very similar to mine

  16. Tony on September 29, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    Shut up,

    I have your knife. Found it in Tokyo.

  17. micki on October 4, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    i love your videos so easy to follow .keep up the great job you are doing thanks for being there when i need a good recipe.i also like your vocabulary it makes me smile.

    • Hilah on October 5, 2016 at 7:02 am

      Thanks, Micki!

  18. Lisa on January 25, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Hi Hilah, I’m looking for your secret hot sauce recipe. Where’s it hiding?

  19. Samantha on March 9, 2018 at 8:01 pm

    I really enjoyed this recipe. Made it as written. So yummy not spicy but really good. Let it sit for a few hours to let everything get to know each other.

    • Hilah on March 13, 2018 at 8:25 am

      Great to hear, Samantha!

  20. Gail Normand on March 21, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    I would guess from the use of the F word you used talking about your little Brother, that you are either a high school dropout, or a GED recipient. I am not personally offended by the F word, and occasionally use it myself. I don’t however, use it in the presence of women, children, or other men I don’t know well. The use of it in your story did not make the story more humorous or entertaining. It only showed your lack of class and judgement.

    • Hilah on March 21, 2019 at 1:48 pm

      Well, your guess would be wrong. But my guess about you, which is based on your terribly judgmental comment here is that you are a terribly judgmental, probably quite unpleasant, person to be around.

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