Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce is a delicious and healthy homemade sauce that's so much better than store-bought! Caramelized tomatillos, peppers, and onions rounded with a wonderful blend of garlic, herbs, and spices make up this tangy, medium-spiced green sauce that will work in so many recipes - and as a salsa verde.
❤️ Why You'll Love This
"This green tomatillo enchilada sauce adds amazing flavor and a tangy brightness to any mexican dish you create. The heat level is completely customizable - making it perfect for almost everyone's taste buds!"
Easy to Make
You'll love how easy this beautiful green enchilada sauce recipe is.
Saute and cook the peppers, onion, and tomatillos until they start to get a nice golden color around the edges (caramelization) - add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until the peppers are soft. Get out the handheld blender and blend until smooth.
That's it - simple and easy.
This tomatillo enchilada sauce is such a crowd pleaser! It's tangy (from the tomatillos) with medium spicy heat. Most green enchilada sauces use a variety of green peppers or chiles - but not always tomatillos - making this sauce unique and different from your typical enchilada sauces.
Keeping it Healthy
Making your own tomatillo enchilada sauce means it is healthier and tastier than any store-bought can. Make it in batches and freeze some for later!
- This recipe is vegan and vegerian, as well as gluten free, low carb, and keto.
- No dairy is used in this recipe.
- To lighten up this recipe even more use a fat free vegetable broth.
- No unpronounceable ingredients are use. 🙂
- Only olive oil is used - a healthy fat.
- No added sugar is used.
How To Use
This tomatillo enchilada sauce is a beautiful sauce on its own, but there are always a few different ways to serve it.
Use it in:
- Green Enchilada Chicken Soup
- Seafood Enchiladas
- Green Enchiladas with Chicken
- Zucchini Enchilada Boats
- Healthier Green Enchiladas
Our favorite way to enjoy this sauce is with pulled pork enchiladas. We dip our corn tortillas in the sauce, fill with pulled pork and cheese, wrap them up and lay in a 9x13 pan. Top the pork enchiladas with additional sauce and cheese, then bake at 350-degrees F. Finish up with additional cheese, sour cream, and even more of this sauce!
Use as a topping for different proteins. Go ahead and smother steak and chicken or pork and seafood with it. It can also be used as a yummy sauce base for casseroles and soups!
Make some healthy vegan nachos and serve it over tortilla chips with sauteed chipotle vegetables! Don't forget the vegan cheese!
I love that it's a sauce and a salsa! 🙂 Make it as a snack for a party and eat with your favorite tortilla chips.
Use it as a dressing on my taco salads. It adds the perfect amount of spice and freshness. You could make it a creamy dressing by combining equal parts sour cream and salsa.
1 recipe is the equivalent to 1 (28 ounce) can store-bought sauce
Here are the ingredients you will need to make this tomatillo enchilada sauce recipe:
See the recipe card for quantities.
Extra-virgin olive oil - avocado oil can be used as well.
Yellow onion - feel free to utilize your favorite kind of onion. In this green sauce, I prefer a white or yellow onion to keep the bright color of this recipe.
Tomatillos - tomatillos are like a firm green tomato with a papery outer layer. They are tart when raw, but will mellow some after cook. They are what give this recipe the tanginess.
Poblano peppers - a mild chili pepper. This pepper is famous for roasting and making stuffed peppers due to its mild spice level.
Anaheim pepper - this pepper has a mildly sweet and spicy flavor. Anaheim peppers is an excellent choice if you don't tolerate spiciness; when ripe, this pepper is dark green or red.
Jalapeno pepper - this very popular and well-known hot pepper is an excellent addition to any salsa. Keep in mind that the heat level can vary from jalapeno to jalapeno. If you aren't sure how much to add to a recipe - start with a little and add in a little at a time. If you are sensitive to heat, a quick tip is to remove the seeds from this paper before adding them to the recipe.
Cilantro - adds a brightness and freshness to the sauce.
Canned green chilies (your preferred spice level) - substitute a diced poblano or anaheim in place of canned green chilies if you prefer.
Vegetable stock - use your favorite brand. You can also substitute chicken broth if you have that on hand.
Ground Black Pepper
Equipment and tools needed to make this enchilada sauce recipe:
- Cutting Board
- Chef Knife
- 4-Quart Stockpot
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Mixing Spoon
- Hand Blender (Immersion Blender) or Stand Blender - Tip: using a hand blender is super easy - no need to transfer hot liquids to a stand! If you don't have one - no worries - a stand blender works awesome.
Here are a few ways you can vary or make substitutions to your tomatillo enchilada sauce:
- Do you want a milder sauce? This recipe has a little heat to it (medium spicy). If you like it milder, use a mild can of green chiles or omit it completely and sub a mild poblano pepper instead. Start by using only half of the jalapeno and add a little in at a time.
- Want to make it spicer? If you would like, you may substitute more jalapeno or serrano peppers for the others. Some other spicy options would include habanero, Fresno, or chipotle peppers. Remember that chipotle pepper will give your sauce a smokier taste. If you prefer this sauce milder, remove the jalapeno and go with two poblano peppers instead of one.
- Use roasted tomatillos. To roast tomatillos preheat an oven to 400-degrees F. Peel and cut the tomatillos in half. Place on a baking sheet that has been coated with nonstick spray. Roast for 20 minutes or until very tender. Add to the enchilada sauce at the same time as the vegetable broth.
- Is your sauce too thick? Add a more vegetable broth. Is your sauce too runny? Reduce the liquid by simmering the sauce longer until it reaches the desired consitency.
- Want less tartness or tanginess? Once in awhile you might get a really tart tomatillo - addd a teaspoon or two of sugar or a sugar substitute to cut down on any tang.
- Utilize a healthier vegetable broth such as fat-free or reduced sodium.
- Modify your sodium intake by decreasing the amount of sodium suggested in the recipe or remove. The ingredients in this recipe allow for a lot of natural flavor. Salt will round the flavor out by complimenting the spices, but is not necessary if you need to restrict your sodium intake.
Here's how to make this tomatillo enchilada sauce:
For complete instructions, please see the printable recipe card below. 🙂
Lets get Started
Start by peeling the skins off the tomatillos, rinse, and cut into cubes. Set aside.
Chop the onion - it doesn't have to be perfect or finely chopped as it will all get blended.
Each of the three peppers can be cut in half length-wise, de-stemmed, de-seeded, and rough chopped. Set aside.
Next, take the cilantro and remove the stems as best you can from the leaves, chop the leaves, then set aside.
In a 4-quart stockpot, heat olive oil on medium-high heat and wait until oil begins to smoke slightly. Add onions, tomatillos, and peppers.
Saute until the vegetables caramelize and soften. (5 to 6 minutes).
Add Remaining Ingredients
Next, add all remaining ingredients, including minced garlic, cilantro, canned green chili, vegetable stock, cumin, salt, and ground black pepper.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 5 minutes to blend the flavors and reduce the liquid slightly.
Remove your saucepan from the heat and blend until smooth using a hand blender - or transfer sauce to a stand-up blender.
Adjust seasoning to taste.
Use It or Store It
You're done! Use it in your favorite recipe, or let it cool and then refrigerate it or freeze some for later!
- Getting a good caramelization is key to adding flavor to this recipe. Keep the heat on medium-high or even high if needed, until you start getting good color golden browning around the edges and vegetables soft.
- Once you add the rest of the ingredients turn the heat down to simmer and blend the flavors - you don't want a rapid boil or you will lose your liquid too fast.
- Use gloves when handling hot peppers if you have sensitive skin. Much of the heat in peppers comes from the seeds.
- Start light handed with your pepper and spices. It is easier to build your spice level up than it is to take it away.
- Stick to as many fresh ingredients for this sauce. Frozen peppers and onions will add water and blandness to the recipe.
- Have all of your ingredients set out, cut up and near you before you begin to ensure a quick and easy prep and cook time for the recipe.
Is tomatillo sauce the same as green enchilada sauce?
They are similar but not the same. Their base ingredients often include onion garlic, vegetable stock, and seasoning. Tomatillo sauce uses tomatillos and green chili peppers, while green enchilada sauce uses mainly green chili peppers - many recipes do not include tomatillos, but some do.
Is green tomatillo sauce spicy?
Green tomatillo sauce can range from mild to spicy depending upon the recipe. If you prefer a mild sauce and want to convert a recipe is calling for a hot pepper, you can substitute a mild pepper such as a poblano or anaheim in its place. The same goes for a recipe you want to make spicy, sub your favorite hot pepper.
Can you make it ahead of time?
You can make this dish ahead of time, absolutely! This sauce is served best on its own or is baked with other recipes. That makes this a straightforward recipe to prepare.
How long will this Enchilada sauce keep?
For best taste, you should use this sauce within 3 or 4 days.
How do I store this sauce?
You can store this enchilada sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or you can freeze it for up to 6 months.
Can you freeze this Sauce?
Yes! You can freeze this sauce in an air-tight container for up to 6 months. When thawing, remember that freezing a sauce can release additional moisture causing a thinner sauce.
If you tried this Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce Recipe, let me know! I'd love for you to come back and give the recipe a star rating and/or a review in the comments! 🙂 Let's stay connected, so please share photos of your creations with me and others on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest!
Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion (chopped)
- 3 tomatillos (peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes)
- 1 poblano pepper (de-stemmed, de-seeded, and chopped)
- 1 anaheim pepper (de-stemmed, de-seeded, and chopped)
- 1 jalapeno pepper (de-stemmed, de-seeded, and chopped)
- 1 tablespoon garlic (minced)
- 1 small bunch cilantro (stems removed and finely chopped)
- 16 ounces vegetable stock
- 4 ounces canned diced green chiles
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- In a 4-quart stockpot, heat olive oil on medium-high heat and wait until oil begins to smoke slightly. Add onions, tomatillos, and peppers.
- Saute until the vegetables caramelize and soften, about 5 to 6 minutes.
- Next, add all remaining ingredients, including minced garlic, cilantro, canned green chili, vegetable stock, cumin, salt, and ground black pepper.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 5 minutes to blend the flavors and reduce the liquid slightly.
- Remove saucepan from the heat and blend until smooth, using a hand blender ( or transfer sauce to a stand-up blender).
- Adjust seasoning if needed.
- 1 recipe is the equivalent to 1 (28 ounce) can store-bought sauce
- Don't miss all of our helpful hints, substitution ideas, cooking tips, and other delicious recipes that can be found in our post. Check it out!
- SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Use in your favorite enchilada recipe or as a topping for steak, chicken, pork, and seafood. It can also be used as a base sauce for salsas, casseroles, and soups!
- TOP TIPS: Getting a good caramelization is key to adding flavor to this recipe. Keep the heat on medium-high or even high if needed, until you start getting good color golden browning around the edges and vegetables soft. Once you add the rest of the ingredients turn the heat down to simmer and blend the flavors - you don't want a rapid boil or you will lose your liquid too fast.
- SUBSTITUTIONS: For a milder sauce sub mild peppers (poblanos and anaheim) and hotter peppers (jalapeno and serrano) for a spicier sauce.
© 2023 Seeking Good Eats™
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