Smoked Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce

smoked tomatillo enchilada sauce in a small bowl

Smoked Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce is perfect for enchiladas, tacos, burritos, fish, and more

I’m going to share with you what I consider a secret recipe.  This smoked tomatillo enchilada sauce is the secret source of extra flavor for almost all of my mexican and latin american dishes.  I’ve even used my tomatillo sauce as salad dressing.   When pico de gallo and salsa become repetitive and boring, this smoked tomatillo enchilada sauce can really be “the whole enchilada”.

smoked tomatillo enchilada sauce in a food processor

Is Smoked Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce the same thing as Salsa Verde?

You’ve probably had salsa verde before, and know that it’s made from tomatillos.  Both sauces also have peppers in them too.   So in some ways, salsa verde is similar to this green enchilada sauce, but the similarities are superficial.   They are as similar as spaghetti sauce is to pizza sauce.   Foremost, my tomatillo enchilada sauce is smoked, which you don’t typically find with salsa verde.  Moreover, chicken broth is a key component to my sauce that differentiates the ingredients and texture from salsa verde. 

That said, you can probably find many similar use cases for both sauces, as my smoked tomatillo enchilada sauce works great as a dip or as a topping for Mexican food.

Are tomatillos similar to tomatoes?

From the name, you might guess that tomatillos are similar to tomatoes.  In a lot of ways this is true, as tomatillos and tomatoes are both part of the nightshade family.   Both are new world vegetables that can be eaten raw or cooked.   It’s not even a stretch to suggest that tomatillos look a lot like unripened tomatoes. 

There are some pretty big differences between tomatoes and tomatillos however.  Tomatillos have a much more solid and fibrous interior compared to juice red tomatoes.  Tomatillos also come with an outer husk that must be discarded.   This husk also leaves the tomatillo a bit sticky until it can be washed.

raw halved tomatillos in a tray

Why should you smoke your tomatillos?

The recipe is fairly simple in concept: smoked tomatillos are blended with broth, peppers, and spices.   All of the real excitement and flavor of the sauce comes from the smoked tomatillos.   In general, it seems like smoking adds a complex layer of savory sweetness when applied to vegetables, and tomatillos are no exception.   This savory sweet smoke pairs very well with meats (part of why we all smoke so many meats), and contrasts vibrantly with the fresh vegetables in most Mexican dishes.

smoked halved tomatillos in a tray

Can Smoked Tomatillo Enchilada sauce be made vegetarian?

This recipe relies on chicken broth as the primary source of liquid for this recipe.  While I haven’t tried it, I think that vegetable stock or other vegetarian broths would be easily substitutable into this sauce.   The chicken flavor from the broth isn’t a key element to the flavor of the sauce, so substitutions should be possible.   Be aware though that your choice in broth might affect the final color of the sauce.  If you have your hearts set on vibrant green sauce, try to pick a broth that will be complimentary.

How to store tomatillo enchilada sauce

I like to freeze my enchilada sauce.   While I think you could easily water bath or pressure can the sauce, I like to freeze mine in order to preserve its consistency.   I’ve often found that the process of preserving jars of sauce can adversely cause separation and affect the overall texture of the sauce.

When freezing jars of Smoked Tomatillo Enchilada sauce, remember to leave enough headroom for the sauce to expand.   I’ll admit to accidently cracking a jar or two that was filled too high in the freezer.  I’d recommend leaving a little bit of space below the lip where metal bands attach, maybe an inch on a quart sized jar.

smoked tomatillo enchilada sauce in a ball jar

What can you use tomatillo sauce on?

I’ve mentioned how ubiquitous this sauce is in my cooking.  As I write more Mexican and Latin American recipes, you’ll be sure to see my tomatillo enchilada sauce again and again. 

My star recipe for green enchilada sauce is my leftover chicken green enchilada casserole.   Its easy to make, warm, gooey, and the enchilada sauce really shines through. 

If you’re looking for inspiration, try out these recipes with the enchilada sauce:

two leftover pork tacos side by side on a plate

How to make Smoked Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce

smoked tomatillo enchilada sauce in a small bowl

Smoked Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce

Smoked Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce is perfect for enchiladas, tacos, burritos, fish, and more
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 15 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine Latin American
Servings 2 Quarts
Calories 36 kcal


  • 1 Smoker
  • 1 Food processor


  • 1.5 lb Tomatillos
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 jalapeno or other spicy pepper (I also like to use smoked hot peppers)
  • 5-10 sprigs Oregano
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth (4 cups water + 4 tsp bouillon)
  • tsp Kosher Salt
  • ¼ tsp Pepper
  • 2 tsp Cumin


Smoking Instructions

  • Remove the husks from the tomatillos and wash the tomatillos.
  • Preheat the smoker to 230F, smoke the tomatillos for 3 hours or until as smoky as desired.

Sauce Instructions

  • Heat oil in the bottom of a small stock pot. Once hot, fry the onion until it is turning brown, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for up to 1 minute more, or until the garlic has turned golden.
  • Remove onion and garlic from the pot into the bowl of a food processor. Additionally add the jalapeno, tomatillos, and fresh oregano. Process until no large chunks remain.
    smoked tomatillo enchilada sauce in a food processor
  • Transfer the processed vegetables back to the stock pot, and add the rest of the ingredients.
  • Bring the pot to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Store in jars and enjoy 🙂
    smoked tomatillo enchilada sauce in a ball jar


Serving: 4ozCalories: 36kcal
Keyword Smoked, Tomatillo
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Nutrition Facts
Smoked Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce
Serving Size
4 oz
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.