Green Chile Sauce (Salsa Verde)

How to make a New Mexico-style salsa verde, green chile sauce, especially good with Green Chili Burgers. Tomatillos add a certain authentic sourness, poblano chiles a warm smokiness. This is definitely "not" a spicy-hot green chile sauce. In fact, it's almost smoky-sweet – and astoundingly good.

Green Chile Sauce (Salsa Verde) for Green Chile Burgers ♥ KitchenParade.com. Budget Friendly Meal Prep. Vegan. Low Fat. Low Carb.

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What Do Snowbirds Eat?

When my Minnesota snowbird aunt and uncle reach New Mexico for the winter in a few weeks, their first food stop will be for green chile burgers.

My aunt is adamant about the choice. With the winter's first green chile burger, she says, "I know that we are really back in New Mexico.” Somehow, green chile burgers proclaim, “Hello, New Mexico! We’re here! We’re back!”

So on my own trek to Santa Fe in August, I knew to hunt up a green chile burger, just to clinch, for sure, my arrival. Ha! Never once did a green chile burger appear on a menu!

So ever since, I’ve wanted to experience one as authentically as possible, even if concocted back here in the Midwest.

Green Chile Sauce (Salsa Verde) for Green Chile Burgers ♥ KitchenParade.com. Budget Friendly Meal Prep. Vegan. Low Fat. Low Carb.

Discovering Green Chile Sauce

First up, the green chile sauce, which, according to the cookbook The Feast of Santa Fe (affiliate link) is the sauce with many names.


  • chili verde
  • salsa verde
  • chile verde con tomatillos
  • salsa de tomatillo

And wow, this stuff is fresh and wonderful! It has that slight sour from the tomatillos, that smoky darkness from the roasted poblanos.

This stuff is good, worth a trip to the Southwest and definitely worth the hour it takes to make at home.

Green Chile Burgers ♥ KitchenParade.com, authentic green chile burgers, a specialty from New Mexico.

What to Make First with Green Salsa

Next up, green chile burgers!

At first I fussed with recipes for gourmet burgers, y’know, where you grind this with that and add this and poke that. My butcher laughed at these notions and packed up a big hunk of good ground beef. “You won’t be able to tell the difference,” he promised.

So simple good is simple does. Good ground beef. Salt and pepper. A toasted bun.

It gets no better.

We're back in Missouri. But for a few bites, I am transported back to the arroyos and rainbows of New Mexico.

Anyone Else Crazy for Green Chile?!

Ever since our trip to Santa Fe, I've put green chiles into one recipe after another. Note to Self: Never again leave New Mexico without sampling at least one green chile burger. Otherwise, obsessions with green chile sauce may ensue.


For Word Dancers: Chile vs Chili

CHILE Let's not put a chill in the room but can we talk chile vs chili? I've gone back and forth but at the moment in 2015, when I say"chile" it's to refer to hot and spicy capsicum peppers like jalapeños, poblanos, Hatch chiles, etc., also to the special dishes made from them.

CHILI That's reserved for hot soupy-stews that we serve by the bowl during cold weather.

But if you say chili? No problem! Either way, could we please just chill out and eat?

What's In Green Chile Sauce?

In all my recipes and most well-written recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. It's not that an ingredient can't be substituted by something else but when choosing the substitute, it's important to understand why the original ingredient was present in the first place.


  • Tomatillos Fresh tomatillos are so important here, adding both a touch of citrus and a lovely sourness. Remove the husks first, then briefly boil the fruit inside, this will keep the Salsa's flavors bright and fresh.
  • Poblanos Fresh poblanos are easy to find and inexpensive but at certain times of the year, you might come upon Hatch chiles, these would be a good (and spicier) substitute. Roast the poblanos whole over a gas stove or flattened in the oven, then remove the skins. We love the smokiness of poblanos, they're generally quite mild, just the right amount of heat for people like us who appreciate flavor more than heat. Did you know that once poblanos are dried, we call them chipotles? Ha!
  • Aromatics Sauté a little onion and garlic in olive oil, these will add texture and richness to the salsa.
  • Seasonings The herb seasonings are simple, just oregano and cumin plus some salt and pepper. That's it!
  • Thickener Flour thickens the salsa just a bit. Fine cornmeal would be a good substitute for anyone who avoids gluten.

Exploring Santa Fe

What an unforgettable afternoon! We stopped on the side of the road between Santa Fe and Taos, outside was pounding rain! But directly above were blue skies and sunshine. And then we looked toward the Rio Grande, an amazing rainbow!

Rainbow over the Rio Grande in New Mexico

Santa Fe Restaurant Recommendations

"Aqua Santa" is unimpressive from the street but the open kitchen and warm service make for a place I’d love-love-love to have in my own neighborhood. Sorry, update, this restaurant has closed. The Compound’s sunny outside patio made for a special lunch. Cafe Pasqual’s is a touristy spot but the friendly between-table banter and the easy breakfast choices took us back twice.

But my favorite place of all is in a small casita north of Santa Fe that doesn’t take reservations, a little spot called Karina’s Kitchen. Oh wait – that’s not a restaurant, it’s the home of the Gluten-free Goddess herself, Karina Allrich. She and her husband Steve hosted a memorable birthday supper, where we feasted on simple pleasures like this gluten-free cucumber salad and formed friendships easy to imagine lasting a lifetime.

Best Green Chile Burgers in New Mexico

My aunt recommends two spots for green chile burgers in New Mexico, the Owl Bar and Manny's Buckhorn Bar & Grill, both in San Antonio, New Mexico.

Green Chile Sauce (Salsa Verde) for Green Chile Burgers ♥ KitchenParade.com. Budget Friendly Meal Prep. Vegan. Low Fat. Low Carb.



GREEN CHILE SAUCE

Hands-on time: 50 minutes
Time to table: about 2 hours
Makes 3 cups
    TOMATILLOS
  • 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed
    POBLANOS
  • 1 pound poblano peppers, stems, seeds and membrane removed, halved
  • Olive oil
    SALSA VERDE
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 a large onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1-1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

TOMATILLOS Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the tomatillos, cover and return to a boil. Let boil for 5 minutes, drain. Transfer to a food processor, process until smooth.

POBLANOS Meanwhile, place a large sheet of foil on a baking sheet. Skin-side up, flatten the peppers onto the foil, rub a tiny bit of oil on the skins and put under the broiler until the skins bubble and blacken. Fold the foil over to form a packet, seal and let rest for 5 minutes. Peel off and discard the skins. Add the flesh to the tomatillos and process until smooth.

SALSA VERDE Meanwhile, in a large pot or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil on medium heat until shimmery. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and barely golden. Stir in the flour and stir well, let cook for a minute. (Cooking the flour in an almost-dry pot helps cook off some of the rawness. It takes just a minute but makes a big difference in the resulting flavor.) A tablespoon at a time at first, add the stock, fully blending in each tablespoon before adding another.

Stir in the tomatillo-poblano mixture, the spices and seasoning. Return pot to a boil, watching carefully so not to burn the bottom. Reduce heat to maintain a very slow simmer. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Can be eaten immediately or covered and refrigerated until ready to serve. Usually, you'll rewarm it for serving.

ALANNA'S TIPS Sure, it's easy to roast one or two peppers on a gas stove. But for a bunch of peppers, the oven is only way to go. Here's a step-by-step lesson, How to Roast Peppers in the Oven.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per 1/4 Cup: 51 Calories; 3g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 122mg Sodium; 6g Carb; 2g Fiber; 3g Sugar; 1g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 1 & PointsPlus 1 & SmartPoints 2 & Freestyle 1 & myWW green 1 & blue 1 & purple 1
Adapted from The Feast of Santa Fe: Cooking of the American Southwest by Huntley Dent, a fabulous cookbook for anyone interested in authentic southwestern cuisine.

More Recipes Starring Tomatillos

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Green Chile Scrambled Eggs Easy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas Fall Stew Baked in a Whole Pumpkin
~ more tomatillo recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade

~ more tomatillo recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
Tomatillo Recipes ♥ KitchenParade.com.

More Recipes Starring Poblanos

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Roasted Veggie Enchilada Casserole Poblano Steaks Pork & Poblano Skillet with Creamy Slow-Cooker Beans
~ more poblano recipes ~
Poblano Recipes ♥ KitchenParade.com.

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ tomatillo recipes ~
~ poblano recipes ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2008, 2015 (repub) & 2020

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.

Comments

  1. Anonymous9/29/2008

    No, no no! Best green chili cheeseburger in Santa Fe is at Bobcat Bite out on the old Las Vegas highway! Makes my mouth water RIGHT NOW just thinking about them!
    Our best effort at home (so far!) has been with grilled ground buffalo burgers, just-roasted-and-peeled-and-chopped poblano peppers, and muenster cheese, all on a whole wheat bun!
    Love your recipes,

    Deretta
    Bethany, OK

    ReplyDelete
  2. Green chile burgers? Hola, I wish I knew. I would have grilled some for us. Next time.

    Muchas gracias from our humble casita where you are always welcome. And I agree- simple is so good! xox

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  3. That salsa verde looks mighty fine perched on top of that burger. Delicious!

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  4. Saving this recipe right now and will probably be making it this weekend. Sounds great! (Green chile cheeseburgers sound good too.)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous2/16/2010

    You realize that tomatillos are Mexican, not NEW Mexican, right? Same goes for Poblanos.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yum! Always looking for new WW recipes to give a kick of flavor. Can't wait to try this out on some grilled chicken on corn tortillas!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous9/24/2010

    Love..love...love this website. Gracias'. Thank you so much! Never been to New Mexico only seen pictures of how beautiful it is. Why did you leave. I've considered moving there. Your description of recipes and of New Mexico take you awaaaaay.... Again, thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous6/26/2014

    Authentic Green Chile Burgers in NM truly are a delight. They are made from NM green chilies, a hot green pepper legendary in the state and mostly grown in Hatch, NM. A tomatillo and poblano salsa verde which might be delicious on burgers is not authentic to the legendary NM green chile cheeseburger.

    ReplyDelete

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna