Before we moved out of our home in Southern California, we had a long list of garden chores that included clearing out the “weedy” tomatoes that had volunteered freely in our lower yard (weeds that I’m deeply missing now that we’re in Central Oregon, and tomatoes don’t volunteer in early spring anymore).
I harvested over a hundred pounds of ripe fruits for tomato sauce and sun-dried tomatoes (that I made in the oven), then tossed the spent plants into a big pile to be broken down and taken to our compost heap.
But there were still some unripe tomatoes lingering on the vines, so I decided to rescue the green ones, as it seemed like such a waste to let them go.
By that point, I was all green tomato pickled out (especially since I was still working through a few jars of green tomato pickles from last summer), so I wanted to experiment with a more savory recipe.
Related: Bacon, Chicken, and Green Tomato Soup
Green, unripe tomatoes (like tomato leaves) are perfectly edible. They don’t have the nutritional density of fully ripe tomatoes, and are usually more acidic than mature fruits, but they’re still delicious given the right recipe.
In the early stages when they’re firm and pale, green tomatoes have hints of tomatillo flavor on my taste buds — tangy, almost citrusy.
Eaten straight off the vine, green tomatoes aren’t all that inspiring if you’re used to juicy, summer-ripened tomatoes. They’re certainly not juicy, and if they were hit with frost right before you picked them, their texture turns mealy or mushy rather quickly.
But they easily take on the flavor of whatever they’re cooked with, so I thought… Why not substitute green tomatoes for tomatillos in one of my favorite condiments, salsa verde?
In my version of that traditional recipe, I roast my tomatillos to deepen the flavor and add some smokiness as a counterpoint to their sour profile.
I tried the same broiling technique with my green tomatoes, then prepared the salsa verde exactly as I have countless times before with jalapeño, onion, cilantro, garlic, and cumin. (These ingredients are the basis of my tomato salsa as well.)
The result: a new end-of-season staple for me!
Roasted green tomato salsa verde is bright and tangy with a little heat, and goes down easy with a bag of chips and an ice-cold beer.
I like my salsa a little chunky for dipping, but for pouring over meats, vegetables, and enchiladas, I prefer to blend all the ingredients together to make a smoother sauce.
What other ways do you like to use salsa verde?
Green Tomato Salsa Verde
Makes 2 cups
1 pound green, unripe tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1 jalapeño, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Juice of 1/2 lime
Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise and place them in a baking dish. (If using smaller varieties — say, 2 inches or less in diameter — you can leave the tomatoes whole.)
Add a generous drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and toss to combine.
Spread the tomatoes across the baking dish and broil for about 15 minutes until the skins are nicely charred on top and the fruits have started to collapse. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and set aside to slightly cool.
Add the tomatoes, jalapeño, and garlic to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.
Pour the mixture into a medium bowl, then stir in the onion, cilantro, cumin, and lime juice. If desired, add salt to taste.
View the Web story on green tomato salsa verde.
This post updated from an article that originally appeared on November 18, 2017.
DawnNovember 26, 2022 at 11:45 am
This is a lovely way to use extra green tomatoes from the garden. Thank yiu, very tasty!
JillSeptember 30, 2022 at 7:27 am
I’m excited to find a recipe that requires green tomatoes as mine are currently at risk for frost. Can this recipe be canned?
SonjaOctober 30, 2021 at 1:35 pm
I broil the jalapeños with the tomatoes. I think it gives it a bit more heat.
NikkiOctober 17, 2021 at 10:29 am
What a great way to use green tomatoes. I have always composted them in the past. Never again! This is an amazing recipe. I did adjust the jalapenos because I’m a wimp. 🙂
Alicia HusethOctober 2, 2020 at 1:09 am
I made this recipe today, as it’s going to freeze tonight in MN and I have a bunch of green tomatoes that didn’t get the peak of summer sun! I used San Marzano tomatoes and made the bulk of the salsa before work this morning; refrigerated the mix throughout the day. When I got home planned to finish it by mixing in the onions and cilantro. Wow! The San Marzanos congealed into what looked like gelatin, LoL. Added some diced ripe tomatoes and half an avocado. Thanks for the recipe, I can’t wait to make it again and eat warm with fish tacos.
Linda from Garden BettyNovember 15, 2020 at 2:12 am
You’re welcome Alicia!
Kate EckbladSeptember 17, 2020 at 4:47 pm
Linda- where did you get that gorgeous green basket?
Kate EckbladSeptember 17, 2020 at 4:48 pm
BTW, also going to make this recipe today! Lots of green tomatoes, and lots of tomatillos! Excited to try.
KatieSeptember 12, 2020 at 6:39 pm
Just made this with green cherry tomatoes and it turned out delicious, but thick like a sauce or a dip even after adding some liquid… It is great with chips but I think we’ll be smothering burritos with it!
Linda from Garden BettySeptember 16, 2020 at 10:02 pm
Yum! The consistency definitely depends on the type of tomatoes you have (some have more water content, more flesh, etc.). Glad you liked it!
KarenApril 24, 2020 at 8:44 pm
How long can this be stored for?
Linda from Garden BettyApril 30, 2020 at 4:50 am
About 5-7 days in the fridge.
Paul WhittNovember 2, 2019 at 3:28 pm
Too much cumin for my taste. Half would be ok.
Linda from Garden BettyNovember 22, 2019 at 12:33 am
Definitely adjust to your taste! Thank you for giving the recipe a try.
Denise D Howard ClattOctober 24, 2019 at 2:56 am
Can this recipe be canned? If so, hot water bath or pressure canner?
Linda from Garden BettyOctober 25, 2019 at 6:48 pm
I don’t know the acidity levels in this recipe, so I wouldn’t risk canning it. You can freeze it, however.
Anne CraigeOctober 13, 2019 at 1:47 pm
Can you use green cherry tomatoes?
Linda from Garden BettyOctober 25, 2019 at 6:36 pm
Absolutely! But the broiling time will be shorter, so keep an eye on your green cherry tomatoes to make sure they don’t burn onto the baking sheet.
Anne CraigeOctober 26, 2019 at 1:34 am
Thank you! Excited to give this a try.
StephanieSeptember 22, 2019 at 3:16 am
How long can this keep for? Wondering how else to prolong the life of my green tomatoes. Has anyone tried freezing green tomatoes?
Linda from Garden BettyOctober 25, 2019 at 6:39 pm
Depending on how cold your fridge is, this salsa should keep for 3-7 days. You can definitely freeze your green tomatoes to use later. Here’s a post I wrote on that: https://www.gardenbetty.com/preserving-tomatoes-by-freezing/ (You can freeze larger tomatoes by slicing them into thick wedges and freezing them skin-sides-down, before gathering them all into bags or jars for freezer storage.)
robWeeverOctober 25, 2018 at 8:04 pm
Tomorrow i’m making this salsa and 2 of your 4 green tomato pickles: garlic and dill and the other is the curried variation . fall is here and i’ve got a ton of a variety of hot peppers that i will slice and pickle in the same 2 pickling spice mixtures. Thanks much!
Linda from Garden BettyOctober 27, 2018 at 2:13 am
Yum! If you have peppers left over, you can also try my fermented hot sauce recipe: https://www.gardenbetty.com/fermented-hot-chile-sauce/
Silly little sheepDecember 3, 2017 at 10:51 am
It looks fantastic! I will definitely try this next year if there are any green tomatoes left at the end of the season.
Peggy ZortmanNovember 19, 2017 at 4:22 pm
Wonderful idea! Our tomatoes did not do well. We didn’t have a lot of ripe or unripe! Here’s to next year and many batches of green tomato salsa verde. Hope you are nesting into your new digs.
Linda from Garden BettyDecember 2, 2017 at 5:59 am
Yep, there’s always next year! And the great thing about recipes like this is that gives us hope when a crop doesn’t turn out as well as we’d hoped. 😉
YsaOctober 26, 2020 at 6:34 pm
Would it still be good with red tomatoes, I bought them half red and they have turned on me