Tomatillo Salsa Recipe | Grilling

Tomatillos on the grill, and a bowl of grilled tomatillo salsa.

With the amount of Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes I've served up here, it should come as no surprise that Cinco de Mayo is probably my favorite cooking holiday. I start trying out party menu items weeks in advance, taking every opportunity to whip up some fine Mexican foods. Of course no Cinco de Mayo affair would be complete without salsa, and my current favorite is Rick Bayless's roasted tomatillo salsa.

Although the original recipe has the tomatillos cooked stovetop in a skillet, it's easily adaptable to the grill, and I actually find it cleaner and easier to make this over the flames. I grill tomatillo halves until they're completely soft, then pulse them together with some garlic, chiles, cilantro, and water. After adding in chopped onion, I adjust the seasoning with sugar and salt, and so quickly a beautiful and fresh salsa with a complex mix of tart, sweet, and spicy is ready to go. I always make a double recipe of this, because I usually finish a single myself before anyone else even gets a chance at it.

Adapted from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless.

Recipe Details

Tomatillo Salsa Recipe | Grilling

Prep 30 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 45 mins
Serves 6 to 8 servings


  • 8 ounces husked, rinsed, and halved tomatillos

  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled

  • 1 jalapeño or 2 serrano chiles, stemmed and roughly chopped

  • 1/3 cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro

  • 1/2 small white onion, finely chopped

  • 1/4 cup water

  • Sugar

  • Salt


  1. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread coals out evenly over the charcoal grate. Alternatively, set all the burners of a gas grill to high heat. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate.

    Place tomatillo halves on the grill, cut side down. Grill until browned and they begin to soften. Flip and continue to cook until completely softened. Remove the tomatillos to the work bowl of a blender or food processor. Let cool to room temperature.

  2. Add garlic, chiles, cilantro, and 1/4 cup of water to the bowl and pulse until coarsely pureed. Pour salsa into a small dish and stir in the onion. Thin the salsa out with more water if necessary. Taste and add sugar to if the salsa is too tart. Season with salt to taste.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
19 Calories
0g Fat
4g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 19
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 147mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 7mg 33%
Calcium 9mg 1%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 108mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)