Oven-Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Print Friendly

Andrea Meyers - Oven-Roasted Tomatillo Salsa with purple tomatillos

Follow Me on Pinterest

Have I ever mentioned that purple is my favorite color? I find the color exhilarating and like plants that bear purple fruits and vegetables, including tomatillos.

Our tomatillo plants were slow this year along with everything else in the garden. The extended cold, wet spring put a damper on things, making everything slow to grow and blossom. We finally harvested some tomatillos a few weeks ago, much later than last year, and with the early cold snap this week we didn’t get much of a growing season at all. All we can do is preserve what we have and hope for better next year.

This was our second year for growing tomatillos, and we planted two green and two purple, both of which took off in late July and shot up to about nine feet tall. The purple tomatillo fruits are generally smaller than the green, with shades ranging from bright amethyst to almost black.

Andrea Meyers - Purple tomatillos

The interiors are only slightly lighter in color than the exterior, and the salsa is a brilliant purple.

Andrea Meyers - Purple tomatillo halves

When the cold snap hit this week we started pulling things off the plants, hoping to save as much as possible. The tomatillos stopped producing but still have hundreds of little paper lanterns hanging from the four plants. Fortunately they stand up to cold better than tomatoes and peppers, so we have a little time to finish the harvest. We’ll roast the rest, make them into salsa, and freeze it for the winter. I don’t like to process salsa because it tastes cooked rather than fresh, but I do recommend using the salsa within a couple months before it gets freezer burn and loses flavor.

Roasting the tomatillos is easy, just spread them out onto a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil and cook under the broiler until they char, about 6 to 8 minutes. Once roasted, the tomatillos can be thrown into a blender with your own blend of chiles, cilantro, garlic, onion, limes, whatever sounds good, and you’ll have roasted tomatillo salsa. This works with either the green or purple tomatillos, and we make both. This year the tomatillos, garlic, and serrano chiles all came from our garden.

Andrea Meyers - Tomatillos in colander

Grow Your Own logo This is my contribution to Grow Your Own, a blogging event that celebrates the dishes we create from foods we’ve grown, raised, foraged, or hunted ourselves. I am the host for this final event of 2009, and you can send your post information to me at andreasrecipesgyo AT gmail DOT com. Posts are due on October 30. Grow Your Own is taking a winter break this year while we tend to some family matters, but we’ll be back in the spring ready for more fun. If you would like to host in 2010, please drop me a note. If you are new to the event, you can read more about the rules for participating and find the links to previous events at the Grow Your Own page.

Andrea Meyers - Oven-Roasted Tomatillo Salsa flavors


Makes about 24 ounces/710 ml.


baking sheet lined with heavy duty aluminum foil


3 pounds (1.4 k) tomatillos, color of your choice, husked and rinsed
1/2 medium onion, quartered (red for purple tomatillos, white for green tomatillos)
1 fresh chile, stemmed (Serrano or jalapeno work well)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
handful of cilantro leaves and tiny stems, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 lime, juiced


1. Spread the tomatillos out on the lined baking sheet stem side down. Place under broiler until charred, about 6 to 8 minutes. Some will crack and release juice, and that’s ok. Add tomatillos and juice to the blender jar.

2. On a dry skillet, toast the onion, chile, and garlic, turning until charred on all sides. Add to the blender jar. (Note: Remove the seeds of the chile if you want a milder salsa.)

3. Add the cilantro and lime juice to the blender jar. Blend all for a few seconds. Pour into a large bowl and serve, or pour into jars and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Can also freeze in plastic containers. I use the Ball Plastic Freezer Jars.

More Grow Your Own Recipes

Andrea Meyers - Jalapeno Jelly Andrea Meyers - Roasted Acorn Squash with Apples, Nuts, and Sage Andrea Meyers - Slow Roasted Tomato Hummus

More Tomatillo Recipes From Around the Blogs

Simply Recipes – Tomatillo Chicken Stew

What’s Cooking? – Mexican Tomatillo Rice

Kalyn’s Kitchen – Grilled Halibut with Southwestern Rub and Tomatillo Salsa

[Disclosure: This blog earns a small commission through affiliate links.]


  1. says

    Oh wow! I’ve never seen the purple tomatillos. Now I want to try growing them for sure. Thanks for the reminder, this weekend I need to pull out my tomatillo plants and harvest all the ones that are ready, which I think will be quite a few!

  2. says

    wow, they kept their purple color, even after being roasted!

    My tomatillos did as well as my tomatoes this year, which is to say, not that great. I will plant them again next year, as I loved the look of the paper lanterns in my garden. Maybe a good cover crop this winter will get my garden and dirt back to good health.

    • says

      Hi Gudrun. They do keep their purple color with roasting, though it lightens somewhat. I use red onions in the salsa, which also contributes to the color.

  3. says

    Thanks everyone! To anyone wanting to grow the purple tomatillos, we found plants at our favorite local herb farm, Debaggio’s. They carry a huge variety of herbs and vegetables, but I’ve also found seeds on Amazon and a few gardening sites.

  4. says

    I love roasted tomatillo salsa and always roast mine. I love these purple tomatillos. I was so bummed that mine didn’t grow. I’ll be back next year to that wonderful garden shop you shared to try again. I think I just need to take out some of those thorny rose bushes that grow all over the place and look a mess, and add in these plants. Next spring I’ll have to get some pointers. I did have tons of green ones. I better go grab what’s left. Purple is my favorite color too! I’m still getting things back together after BlogHer Food. Can’t wait til next year!!!!

  5. Candace Snook says

    What the hell!? I grew purple tomatillos this summer and the resulting salsa was a brownish grey colour! My tomatillos, although dark purple on the outside was quite green on the inside (even if I picked them off the ground, not off the plant) Is it roasting that creates that lovely grapey colour?

    • says

      Hi Candace. Our tomatillos had a lovely shade of purple inside and retained a pinkish purple color after roasting, though the color will fade more the longer they cook. As I mentioned in the recipe, we used red onions in the salsa, which helps with the brilliant color.

      • says

        Do you know what variety of purple tomatillo yours were? I grew mine for the express purpose of making purple salsa. I don’t know if there are more than one type of purple tomatillo but if there are, I am switching! Mine were Purple of Milpa

        • says

          Hi Candace. Purple of Milpa (Purple de Milpa) is a bit of a generic term for purple tomatillos. Milpas are the highland fields in which they grow in Mexico, hence the name. Though I did a lot of searching this year, I have not found further specific varieties of purple tomatillos.

  6. says

    I grew purple tomatillos this summer and the resulting salsa was a brownish grey colour! My tomatillos, although dark purple on the outside was quite green on the inside (even if I picked them off the ground, not off the plant) Is it roasting that creates that lovely grapey colour?

  7. says

    Hi Andrea,
    We grew purple tomatillos this year too. Ours were a very wishy washy color with large splashes of green. Yours were such an amazing color, I am jealous. My husband made jam out of everything this year, even the tomatillos. Still, my favorite use is in white chicken chili.

  8. says

    I planted a tomatillo this summer…and the label said GREEN…but low and behold my fruit is purple…so excited to find out this is OK…AND that there is a recipe! Can’t wait to try it with my harvest!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *