Although they are widely available in the US, I don’t think I have met more than a couple people here who use fresh tomatillos in their cooking. It may be partly because people are not familiar with them or how to cook them, but…. they are not an appealing ingredient as far as looks go with the first impression! But let me tell you why you should definitely give them a try.

They are from the tomato family, but are much firmer than red tomatoes and less juicy. They are green and covered with a papery husk, that tends to be speckled with dirt and sometimes randomly torn or stuck to the flesh of the tomatillo. This is because the skin of the tomatillo is a bit sticky and waxy. They also have a somewhat humid aroma, from the moisture caught in between the skin and the husk along their travels and storage time.

However, don’t let yourself be deceived by their cover and first appearance. Once you bring them home, peel the husk and rinse them off, you will see what a beautiful ingredient they are. They have a sensuous shape and a deep green shiny color. You will see even more beauty once you try their flavor and see all the things you can use them for.

In my opinion, they are one of the most unique ingredients in Mexican cooking. A bit tart, in a very peculiar way, they work wonderfully along spicy and sweet ingredients.

To buy them, don’t be shy about touching them. You have to confirm they are firm, with a bright green color and not mushed, wrinkled or colorless, signs of being old and bitter. They should be fresh and you can tell by the husk which should be papery, regardless if it sticks to the tomatillo or not. So grab the tomatillo and peek inside the husk to see what you are getting before you put it in your basket!


39comments inTomatillos

  1. Clare Gray-Bayne

    Jun 06

    My husband and I tried your recipe for Tomato, Tomatillo and Mango salad, and loved it. I made a dressing for it with balsamic vinegar, lime juice, honey and olive oil–a sweet/sour dressing and it was wonderful. We didn’t have any jalapeños or onions, and used dried basil, but got the idea…. we had never tried tomatillos before but really liked them. We used Honey Mangos–the smallish yellow ones. So sweet!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jun 08

      Yummy Clare, yours sounds like a delicious dressing! You have to make do with what you have on hand and be creative, good job 😉

  2. Laura Burgess Campos

    May 05

    I was watching your show today and wanted to try the agridulce sauce you made with tomatillos to go with halibut. How can I find the recipe?

    1. Pati

      May 06

  3. Ken

    Feb 05

    I have a can of Tomatillos, Achiote Sauce and some stir fry pork Cilantro, onions, garlic Mexican Oregano, flour and corn tortillas ….etc. What can I make that won’t take forever to cook. PS I am cooking for one.

    I live in the San Francisco East Bay where their is a large Mexican/Central population but achiote (or Annatto) sauce or paste was difficult to find. I went to 3 local Concord area Mexican markets and did not find it until a 4th. Is it a regional flavoring?

    Any suggestions welcome other than use fresh Tomatillos. I will check back in a few days before I get around to this menu.

    Walnut Creek CA

  4. Sylvie

    Jan 10

    I was intrigued by these husk-covered tomatoes when I saw them at my local market 2 years ago. They’re like the vegetable version of ground cherries.
    I love making fresh salsa with them… the flavour is so vibrant.
    Love love love your show and learning about so many beautiful places in Mexico and its wonderful and rich cuisine.

    1. Pati

      Jan 10

      I’m glad you love tomatillos and the show Sylvie!

  5. Kelley Brand

    Apr 20

    I think the world needs a Tomatillo Rotell style chunky salsa. Any recipes?

    1. Pati

      Apr 21

      You should try my Pico de Guac…it’s nice and chunky ;).

  6. Ana

    Apr 19

    Hola Pati, im so thankful I had to try many of your recipes, one of my favorite is your green pozole, so delicious, love you Pati

    1. Pati

      Apr 21

      Thank you Ana!

  7. Lorraine

    May 11

    Are tomatillos acidic like a red tomato my husband cannot eat acidic foods please help me

    1. Pati

      May 11

      Hi Lorraine, Yes, tomatillos are acidic.

  8. Amanda

    Aug 26

    Hi Pati,

    Thanks for sharing so many wonderful recipes. We grew tomatillos in our garden this year, and they have been absolutely fabulous. The tomatillo plant is really nice looking, and we are getting lots of fruit off of it. I love that your website has so many recipes for the tomatillos, including using them uncooked.

    1. Pati

      Aug 27

      Hola Amanda, You are so lucky to have tomatillos in your garden!! You will have to let me know what you make.

  9. David Rowley

    Aug 15

    patie 3yrs ago lost my job and in the day started watching you got a lot out your shows. like I like chicken Tomatillos . I made it the very night my wife loves it. my stepkids, my son, my friends as well. today I am going make again! your show is the best. I cook different foods all the time from different counties ,I even do indian food, thai, vetems, American indain my people food. well hope to here back form soon. like to cook very much what I am good at next being karate teacher thanks for your show Sensei David Rowley

    1. Pati

      Aug 18

      Gracias, David! Thank you for watching & keep cooking. 🙂

      1. David Rowley

        Aug 28

        Dear do have anything else cook with tomatillo? and do have good cookies that I can make that a topping to them?
        please let a.s.a.p. thank you again love to more how you cook things of yours thanks again david

  10. jill

    Jun 26

    I’m so glad to have found your site – I just pinned a ton of recipes to try! I’m surprised to hear you say not many people in the US know about tomatillos – I guess mostly because I live in LA (and previously lived in Arizona) where mexican food is as basic as a burger, and the grocery stores have piles of tomatillos just like they would any other vegetable! anyway, i’m sure that’s not the norm everywhere – but LA can be your haven if you need it to be! 😉

    looking forward to trying to perfect my refried beans with your recipe’s tips – someday I will master them and make them taste as good as my local taqueria does!

    1. Pati

      Jun 29

      That is so funny, Jill… California and Arizona do have more access to Mexican ingredients, but who knows, maybe we will be able to find them all over more easily soon…

  11. Tina

    May 03

    Hi Pati,

    I love your show… I can’t wait to try the caramelized pecan brownies!!!! I have learned so much from your show. Thank you so much.


    1. Pati

      May 04

      Thank you, Tina!!!! Please do try them and more recipes too!

  12. Mary Jo Bailey

    Mar 30

    I watched your show for the first time today and loved it. I am looking for a recipe that you prepared. You were cooking with your sister and made a tomatillo dish and a chocolate and vanilla pound cake. I want the recipe for the tomatillo dish. How do I find it?

    1. Pati

      Mar 31

      Hi Mary Jo, I’m so happy you found my show! Thank you for watching!! Here is the green chilaquiles in roasted tomatillo sauce recipe you are looking for:

  13. Michael

    Jul 18

    Where do I find a three legged chicken?
    Great timing on airing the show. First year I’ve tried growing tomatillos and it’s been exceptional hot (in St Louis). Just picked the first batch of 3 lbs this afternoon.

  14. Bruce Cadenhead

    Apr 01

    Just ran across your show which is great! I live in a small market in western Pennsylvania. Is there some place I can get tomatillos?

    1. Pati Jinich

      Apr 05

      Hola Bruce, You can find tomatillos in a lot of main stream supermarkets, but if not, check out your local farmers market. Let me know if you have anymore questions!

    2. Alice Kruse

      Oct 02

      Hey, Bruce, I live in the Pittsburgh area, and just bought a little bag of prepackaged tomatillos at Giant Eagle. It;s the first time I have seen them in a local grocery store, so I was very excited! It was distributed by Interstate Produce out of Cleveland. If you can make it to Pittsburgh, there is a Latino grocery store called Reyna’s, in the Strip District, the wholesale produce district-turned retail food destination.

      Historically,, we have not had much of a Latino population here, so these foods have been hard to obtain. But I think that will be changing in the future,

  15. Steven Baer

    Mar 28

    On your episode on tomatillos (104?) there was a “tip” on storing the fruit. I believe it was a way to freeze it, but I had to answer the phone and missed it… PLEASE TELL ME THE TIP!!!
    Thank you

    1. Pati Jinich

      Apr 09

      Here is the tip Steven! First, peel, rinse and slice up the tomatillos. Then place the sliced tomatillos on a baking sheet and place in the freezer. Once the pieces of tomatillos are frozen, move to a ziploc bag. Then place in the freezer until you are ready to use . This process will prevent the tomatillos from mushing together. Let me know if you have anymore questions!

  16. Jimena

    Oct 12

    Hola Pati,
    Este verano mi esposo y yo plantamos semillas de tomatillo en nuestro jardin y se nos dieron muy bien. El problema es que la fruta salio muy tarde (las plantamos en julio), ya es octubre en Alemania y creo que por el frio no van a madurar todos los mini tomatillos que tenemos, ademas de que la planta puede morir en cuanto empiece a helar. Puedo meter la maceta a la casa, pero no se si sea suficiente.
    Tienes alguna recomendacion acerca de cuando sembrarlos el anio que entra (todavia tengo semillas que traje de Mexico) o si aguantan el frio, etc? Me muero de ganas de poder hacer mi propia salsa verde, asi como otras recetas que he encontrado aqui. Tambien me gustaria saber como saber si ya estan maduros! Mi esposo ha cortado algunos, pero siguen chiquititos y estoy segura de que estaban lejos de ser fruta madura.
    Mil gracias!

    1. Michelle Wolfson

      Mar 12

      Mi recomendacion es plantar las semillas en la primavera despues de la posibilidad de helar. El julio es demasiado tarde.

  17. Dick Hoxsey

    Aug 21

    Can we freeze tomatillos. We are growing them in our garden and will have a lot of them.
    Thank you

  18. Holly

    Aug 14

    I just wanted to let you know that the tomatillo is becoming more and more popular. Although I do have to admit that when I buy (most of the time for salsa verde) them a lot of times people ask me what they are. The health food store that I work at has Seeds of Change Seeds and I bought Purple Tomatillos de Milpa and am still waiting on them. Purple! I guess it will be salsa morado. Yum.

  19. Bob Hills

    Apr 10

    I thought I should bring to your attention another member to the tomato/tomatillo family, which I would suggest you try if you can find them. This wonderful fruit goes by many different names, cape goose berry, husk cherry, ground cherry, etc. I first came across these delicious fruit while on a cruise on the Danube in Germany. The first time I popped one in my mouth, my mouth lit up and I was taken with their special flavior. They look very much like a tomatillo, with a paper husk but range in size from about 3/8″ to about 1/2″ in diameter, yellow/orange to orange in color, and with a sweat tangy tast. Their origins are from South America but have made their way to Africa and Asia, like most of what the Americas have had to offer. I live around San Jose California and the frost/freezes we have do not have a major impact on the plant. They do need to be supported or they will lay on the ground. I have two plants and they cover an area about 10′ x 6′ while growing out of two support cages. I am able to harvest fruit from mid-spring to late-fall and use them in salads in place of cherry tomatoes, in different meat dishes and I have read that they are made into jellies and pies. The plants I have are going on their fourth year.
    I thank you for web page and was wondering if you have plans to put out a soft copy book? I have found that using a iPad in the kitchen is much easier than a hard copy book. For this reason I would encourage that if you do not have an e-book please consider doing one. You all but have one with what you have done with your web. To date I do have to confess I have created .pdf versions of some of your recipes so I have them at my finger tips, no pun intended.
    Thank You Again

    1. Pati Jinich

      Apr 11

      Hi Bob,
      Many thanks for that information. That cape goose berry sounds like an absolute delicacy! You’ve got me in trouble now, as I am dying to try it.
      I am so glad you like and enjoy mi recipes, and have them at your fingertips 🙂

  20. Jennifer Leal

    Apr 08

    I love to cook with tomatillos! I make my homemade salsa from them! People rave over it! :o) I would love to see tomatillo recipes! I just found your site through Paula Deans. So glad I did!
    Jennifer Leal

    1. Pati Jinich

      Apr 08

      Hi Jennifer,
      So glad you found my site!!! Let me know if you are craving anything special. There are some tomatillo salsa recipes in here as well as a brisket in a tomatillo and pasilla sauce in one of the articles for NPR (Michoacan foods are forever) that you can find under recipes. Will post more soon! Very best,

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