9 Best Tomatillo Substitutes


Tomatillos or also known as the Mexican green tomatoes are a product that is often used to make salsa. They are small tomatoes associated with tomatoes but when compared they actually are quite different.

They come from the same family as the tomatoes. However, they have a different tart flavor and they are used in many Mexican dishes especially in Scopus, tacos, meat, and many other recipes. Tomatillos are the main ingredient in the salsa verde which is another Mexican salsa.

When looking for tomatillos at the market, consider green small pumpkin-like tomatoes. Their tarty, acidic flavor is very unique that’s why it may be a bit harder to find a replacement, but it’s not impossible.

Substitutes for Tomatillos

Even though tomatillos have a very distinctive tart taste and used as a main ingredient in the Tomatillos salsa, you can always find their replacement.

The next section lists 9 products that will help you make an even tastier dish. Use a combination, omit or combine these products to reach the flavors you are looking for. 

1. Canned tomatillos


The best substitute for fresh tomatillos is the canned ones. Usually, the canned tomatillos are precooked. Thus, when using them in your recipe, don’t overcook them.

When shopping for tomatillos in a can there are two options, diced or crushed and both will work very well. Further, the canned tomatillos can be a bit sweeter than the fresh ones but you’ll always get the same results. Use them when you are making sauces or salsa.

2. Green tomatoes

Green Tomatoes

Green tomatoes are also a good idea to serve as a substitute for tomatillos.

They will provide you similar results when you use them in your cooking process. Make sure to use under-ripe green and thick tomatoes.

To get to the flavors you are looking for, add a tablespoon of lime/lemon so you can mimic the flavor of the tomatillo. Usually, green tomatoes are used in sauces, salsa, or soups. 

3. Gooseberries


Tomatillos can be also replaced by gooseberries in recipes. They actually have a tartness that is very similar to the taste of the tomatillos.

You easily find them in your grocery store or you can also order them online. Gooseberries are also considered to be very healthy and nutritious.

Their sourness, when used in recipes, will provide a very fresh taste and if you add roasted green peppers you’ll increase the flavors which will resemble those that the tomatillos would’ve provided. 

4. Green bell peppers

Green bell peppers are another way to replace tomatillos in your recipes. They actually have a very similar taste but a bit they provide less sweetness than tomatillos.

The green peppers will provide the same color to your meals as if you have used tomatillos and you can always add lime juice so you’ll get the flavors you are looking for. 

5. Green chilies

Green Chilies

Green chilies can be used instead of tomatillos in recipes. This is especially for the Mexican salsa verde in which you can remove the tomatillos and the basis can be with green chilies. You can also remove the tomatillos entirely from the recipe and let it be based on chilies. 

6. Salsa verde

homemade salsa

Another way to replace the tomatillos is by using salsa verde. Green salsa is milder than the red ones so it should be more suitable as a replacement for tomatillos.

You can either use them in a jar or in a can and use equal amounts as your recipe requires. The salsa has a tangy and zesty flavor and you can always add roasted green chilies and onions. Use salsa to make tacos, tortillas, or any other meal. 

7. Cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes

These small cherry tomatoes can also be used in a recipe instead of tomatillos.

You can use either the green or the red cherry tomatoes and you can add lime juice to imitate the tartness and the aroma of the tomatillos.

They are similar to the fresh tomatoes but because of their small size, the flavor is a bit more concentrated. You can use them in many of the recipes that require tomatillo. 

8. Red chilies

Red Chili

You can also use red chilies in your recipe or if you are making salsa instead of tomatillos.

Even though they are quite different and are red-colored, add the red chilies to make a red chili salsa. Make sure to use the proper amount so you won’t make it very hot and spicy.

Red chillis have a sweet and smokey taste. Mix them with the other ingredients in your cooking process to make a nice dish or some other sauces and dips. 

9. Roasted green peppers with gooseberries

To make a suitable replacement for tomatillos you can always use roasted green peppers with gooseberries.

With the sour and sharp taste of the gooseberries and the hot taste of the roasted green peppers, you’ll get the perfect flavors you are looking for. They will blend with the other ingredients and you’ll have the perfect meal.

Related Questions

Can green tomatoes be used instead of tomatillos?

You can use green tomatoes to replace tomatillos in soups, salsa sauces, or any other. The green tomatoes look similar and they also have a similar texture as the tomatillos. 

Can I use canned tomatillos instead of fresh ones?

You can use canned tomatillos instead of fresh ones in any recipe. However, make sure to drain them before use.

What are tomatillos related to?

They are part of the family which includes tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. Actually, tomatillos are even closely related to ground cherries. And the Chinese lantern plant.

Where are canned tomatillos in the grocery store?

You can find the canned tomatillos in the section for canned vegetables or canned products. They should be available in most stores. If there are no canned goods you can always search for fresh ones which should be in the vegetable section.

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