9 Best Tomatillo Substitutes

Are you craving some tomatillo guacamole or enchiladas, and you can’t find any tomatillos in your kitchen? Some of my favorite Mexican cuisines call for tomatillos.

And I have been in this situation more than once. So, today I’m going to tell you which nine substitutes I use to keep the flavors intact when I’m out of tomatillos. 

In this article, you will find tomatillo substitutes like Canned Tomatillos, Green Tomatoes, Green Bell Pepper, Salsa Verde, Gooseberries, Green Chiles, etc., and how to use them in recipes.

Keep reading to know where and how you can use these replacements in your recipes.

What is Tomatillo?

Tomatillo Substitutes

Tomatillo is sometimes called a Mexican tomato but is not a tomato at all. This tiny fruit is from the same nightshade family as tomatoes; however, taste, texture, and usage differ from tomatoes. It is not watery as a tomato and gives a tarty, citrusy punch to a recipe. 

Tomatillos rule significant Mexican recipes as they work perfectly in jammed, blended, saucy, and roasted dishes. Tomatillos vary in size and color; they can be small, medium, and regular sizes.

The primary colors include green, yellow, and purple; however, the medium-small green tomatillos are more popular.

9 Best Tomatillo substitutes 

1. Canned Tomatillos

Canned Tomatillos

Canned tomatillos are the closest substitute in terms of taste. However, canned ones are precooked and already diced, and sometimes there could be added salt to increase the shelf-life. 

These will not be as bright and firm as fresh tomatillos; the consistency becomes a little soft because of precooking.

So using canned tomatillos is not preferable for dishes that need healthy and fresh tomatillos. However, canned tomatillos can work well for soups, salsa verde, stew, chili beans, etc.

You can either buy online or at the Hispanic food section of a grocery store.

2. Green firm Tomatoes

If you are going to use tomatoes as a tomatillo substitute, you need unripe green firm tomatoes. To make it more citrusy, mix 2 tablespoons of lime juice

Even green tomato has a hint of sweetness higher than tomatillos; however, in most dishes, that does not alter the flavor before you use a tomato taste a little piece to select the ones with a more tart-like taste.

You can use green firm tomatoes to make chilaquiles, salsa, enchiladas, tacos, etc.

3. Green Bell Pepper

Green Bell Pepper

There are different colors of bell pepper available, but you need only green and fresh bell pepper to use in a tomatillo recipe.

Using green bell pepper to replace tomatillos can give you visual delights, and the crunchiness imitates the texture of tomatillos. Bell pepper is best when used raw because of the lack of any prominent sweet and sour flavor.

While creating a tomatillo effect, add one tablespoon of lime juice or tamarind paste to get the desired acidic flavor. 

4. Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde

You can make salsa verde with tomatillos, and it comes full circle when you replace tomatillos with salsa verde.

So if you have a container full of salsa verde and making a dish like tortillas or tacos, you are in luck.

The acidic flavor profile of salsa verde can be an excellent match for meat and seafood recipes. You can enhance the tangy taste of salsa verde with a splash of lime juice.

You can only use it for recipes that do not require the firm texture of tomatillos.

5. Gooseberries


Gooseberries are fresh and sour like tomatillos; both can substitute each other in many recipes. It is a sour cherry tomato-like tropical fruit. 

Gooseberries are small and come in golden, green, and red colors. The green gooseberries are used to substitute tomatillos. Using this substitution will add similar tart and sour flavors to the recipes.

However, the consistency of these sour berries is soft, pulpy, and watery, like cherry tomatoes. Therefore, it can only substitute the taste, not the texture of tomatillos.

6. Green Chiles

Green Chile

Some of the popular types of green chile that can potentially replace Tomatillo are Mosco, Hatch Mild, Sandia, etc. raw and fresh green chiles have a hot and fruit-like taste and firm, crunchy texture. 

Different types of green chile have slightly different variations of flavor. Choose the one that can deliver the spiciness you want. For the base of salsa verde, green chile can work well.

If you are aiming for a sour recipe, mix one tablespoon of tamarind paste or cilantro with green chile.

7. Red Chiles

Red Chiles

If you don’t have any green chile but have some red chiles in the pantry, you can still replace tomatillos in salsa or sauce recipes. Although because of its color, you won’t get the expected visual results. 

It has a caramel-like, spicy, and mild tart flavor, so replacing purple tomatillos in a dish is preferable. 

To add sourness to its spicy and mildly sweet flavor profile, use one tablespoon of cilantro. It contains more heat than green chiles and is used in popular Mexican recipes.

8. Cherry Tomatoes

Chery Tomatoes

The miniature compact version of tomatoes can substitute tomatillos in some recipes. Try to get green cherry tomatoes to get the firmness right. However, it’s similar to regular tomatoes because of its smaller concentrated form than tomatoes.

If you replace Tomatillo in a dish, add lime juice to create a sour and acidic feel. Adding lime juice can also help to build a delightful aroma in your salsa verde recipe.

9. Gooseberries and Green Pepper (Roasted)

Gooseberries and Green Pepper

Gooseberries and roasted green bell pepper together can create a flavor and texture very similar to tomatillos.

This remix will give you tangy, tart hints of gooseberry and mildly sweet and spicy flavors of roasted bell pepper.

Mixing both will also ensure that the consistency of tomatillos is perfectly mimicked. You will love the deliciousness of Chile Verde or salsa verde using this combination. 

What does Tomatillo taste like?

I think if we could taste the color green, it would be like Tomatillo. This small tropical fruit has a tangy, sweet tartness that made it famous in many top cuisines.

In different colors of Tomatillo, the balance of the flavors shifts slightly. However, fresh green tomatillos have the most prominent tartness that makes them so popular. 

Uses of Tomatillo

Because of its one-of-a-kind taste and texture, tomatillos are used in various dishes, especially in Mexican cuisines.

Because of the health benefits, you can eat it raw or cook delicious food with different tomatillos. 

Popular dishes that require tomatillo are enchiladas, guacamole, salsa verde, chile Verde, Tomatillo bloody mary, salads, savory sauces, and tacos tortilla, and the list goes on.

Health Benefits of Tomatillo

Some of the health benefits of Tomatillo are:

  • Boosts eye health

Tortillas have vitamin A, which is essential to maintain good eye health. In addition, consuming raw or cooked tortillas can prevent or slow down eye-related diseases like Cataracts.

  • Promotes weight loss

Tortillas have a low-calorie count and low fat; this makes them an excellent option to add to your weight loss diet. Tortillas are also full of fiber, so eating tortillas can make you feel full for a more extended period. So your food consumption can be controlled easily.

  • Protection against anime and colds

Tomatillo has vitamins A, B, C and nutrients like potassium, iron, and magnesium. These vitamins and nutrients promote the healthy production of blood and lower the risk of anemia. Tortilla soup can also help prevent colds. 

  • Promotes heart health and controlled blood pressure

Potassium present in tomatillos helps with blood circulation and eliminating bad cholesterol from our body. In addition, potassium promotes lower blood pressure and improves heart health.

  • Reduces cancer risk

Tomatillos have antioxidants and phytochemicals like Ixocarpalactone, which helps reduce the risk of mouth and lung cancer.

Side Effects of Tomatillo

For patients with arthritis and inflammation, tomatillos are not recommended. 

If you have any allergy to any nightshade vegetable, totally avoid consuming tomatillos.

If you don’t have any of the three conditions mentioned before, tomatillos are probably safe for you to eat. In addition, tomatillos do not have any proven side effects.

Common Queries About Tomatillos

Tomatillo VS Tomato

You can call them cousins, as they are from the same nightshade vegetable family. However, the taste, texture, and use hugely differs.

Tomatillos have a more sour and tart flavor with mild sweetness, and tomatoes have more sweetness than tomatillos and mind sourness. Tomatoes generally do not have tartness like tomatillos.

In texture, tomatoes are pulpy and watery, where tomatillos are firm and crunchy. Green tomatoes have a better texture yet are not similar to tomatillos.

In dishes that require mashed cooked tomatillos, green tomato can work as a substitute. However, substituting tomato in a recipe with Tomatillo is harder to do as tomatillos have more prominent flavors.

Can I use Salsa Verde instead of Tomatillos?

Yes, you can use salsa verde instead of tomatillos in some recipes. In any cuisine that requires crunchy, fresh tomatillos, salsa verde is a deal-breaker. It can be used to make tortillas, tacos, and some of the savory sauce recipes.

To use salsa verde as a substitute, you have to increase the sour and tart flavor to match the effect of tomatillos. You can do that with lime juice, cilantro, or tamarind paste. It’s preferable to use salsa verde made with tomatillos.

Are Tomatillos toxic or healthy?

Tomatillos do not have any toxins in them. You can take out the outer husk covering and sticky coat and consume raw or cooked. If you don’t have an allergy related to the same food group, there is no risk of eating tomatillos.

Tomatillos are a healthy choice; they can help improve eyesight, heart health, anemia, etc., and also helps fight cancer.

I have consumed tomatillos in different forms, and it’s just never enough. And why not keep eating this sour delight when it has so many health benefits to bestow upon us.

Use fresh tomatillos or tomatillo substitutes for cooking authentic food and experimenting with the flavors to create something even more delicious.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to comment below; how did the recipe turn out when you used one of the tomatillo substitutes. And also, a comment on which ingredient substitutes you want me to unveil next time.

I’m a passionate food blogger on a journey to become a go-to person who can help others prepare delicious foods. I share recipes, food substitutes, and other cooking tips. Read more about my journey...

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