6 Best Tomatillo Substitutes That You Can Try

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Are you a fan of Mexican food just like me? If yes, I am sure you must have heard about Mexican tomatoes, known by the name tomatillos. These tiny fruits or vegetables are a must in salsa verde. So, I have brought you the best tomatillo substitutes. 


If you do love making your salsa verde at home rather than getting it from outside, you definitely need tomatillos for that. But, if you are in a situation where you are all out of them, a substitute will definitely help you. This article has all the best substitutes for tomatillos. 

So you have a plan of making Mexican food and are out of tomatillos. What are the best substitutes for them? The best tomatillo substitutes are canned tomatillos, green tomatoes, green bell peppers, gooseberries, green chiles, and salsa verde. 

Although, I have a feeling that some of the readers might be new to the whole concept of using tomatillos. So, just to make it easier for everyone, let me tell you about tomatillos a bit more in detail. This will make picking your substitute much easier for you!

Quick Peek: Tomatillos

This section has a lot of information on tomatillos. You will get to understand what they actually are, how they taste and feel like, their uses (of course, other than salsa verde), and all about their nutritional information too. 

What Are Tomatillos?

Tomatillo, also known by the names Mexican ground cherry or Mexican husk tomato, is an edible tart fruit. It is a part of the nightshade family, which includes tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes. It is an annual plant. 

The plant bears small green or green-purple fruits which are edible. Tomatillos are originally from Mexico, which is also the country that has the highest production of the same. The most popular type of tomatillo available in the market is the green tomatillo. 

Describing Tomatillos: Flavor And Texture

Tomatillos, most popularly used, are small, golf-sized balls and are bright green in color. Many may think that the texture of tomatillos is similar to that of tomatoes. However, unlike the soft texture of tomatoes, tomatillos are actually dense. 

The main flavor of tomatillos is sweet and tart with citrusy notes. Again, if we compare the flavor of tomatillos to that of tomatoes, tomatillos are much more sour and acidic. They are also less watery and more vegetal in taste. 

Uses Of Tomatillos

As per their Mexican origin, tomatillos are definitely an important part of Mexican cuisine. They are an essential ingredient in salsa verde. Other than that, tomatillos are used in making soups, stews, salads, curries, stir-fries, marmalades, and even in some desserts!

They are an essential ingredient in various Mexican and Central American sauces. Tomatillos that are more purple in color have a sweeter flavor and hence are usually used to make jams. Moreover, they can also be eaten raw and served as a side dish along with meat. 

Tomatillos On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

Tomatillos, just like any other fruit, are extremely nutritious. Single tomatillo, which is around 35 grams in weight, has 11 calories, with minute amounts of fat, sodium, carbohydrates, proteins, fiber, and sugar. 

Tomatillos are also rich in various nutrients. These include vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium, along with other micronutrients in smaller doses. Because of the rich nutrient content, tomatillos have certain health benefits revolving around them. 

As they are rich in potassium and naturally low in sodium, tomatillos are said to help regulate blood pressure. They are also linked with improving arthritis symptoms, preventing vision loss, and helping with weight loss. 

Why Use A Substitute For Tomatillos?

So for certain recipes, tomatillos are definitely a must-have ingredient. So, a lot of people may wonder why there is a need to use a substitute for the same. As valid as that point may be, there still are a few reasons why you can consider using a substitute for tomatillos. 

Tomatillos are not as popular everywhere in the world. So, a lot of you may have trouble finding this fruit. So, if your recipe has tomatillos as an ingredient which is a must, using a substitute will definitely help in such a situation. 

You can use a substitute that has a similar flavor and texture to tomatillos, so it will not really change the overall appeal of your recipe. Moreover, if you do find tomatillos at certain places, they can be slightly expensive, as they are not as popular everywhere. 

So, if you are trying to live on a budget, using a more inexpensive substitute option for tomatillos will for sure work well in your recipes. Lastly, if by any chance you are allergic to tomatoes, there are chances you may be allergic to tomatillos too. 

Again, in this situation, a substitute that has a similar flavor and texture to tomatillos, but belongs to a different family, will work well in your recipe. So, do go through the substitute options and see which one works best for you. 

I do believe that I have given you quite a lot of information on tomatillos. Now that you know so much, I will take you directly to the best substitutes for tomatillos. 

Other Food Substitutes You Can Try

6 Best Tomatillo Substitutes

This section has descriptive information about all the best substitutes you can use in place of tomatillos. Moreover, you will get to understand what recipe each substitute works best in and also the ratio of substitution. 

1. Canned Tomatillos

Canned tomatillos are the canned and pre-cooked versions of fresh tomatillos. Since they are basically the same fruit, just in a different form, canned tomatillos are basically the best substitute for tomatillos. 

Due to their pre-cooked form, canned tomatillos do have a softer texture as compared to fresh tomatillos. So, fresh recipes like salads probably will not work as a substitute for fresh tomatillos. 

However, for any form of a well-cooked dish, canned tomatillos are definitely better than any other substitute option, as they will have the same flavor. So, for recipes such as salsa verde they are a great fit. Use them in a 1:1 ratio of substitution. 

2. Green Tomatoes

Tomatillos and green tomatoes come from the same family. As green tomatoes have a similar texture and color to that of tomatillos, you can use them in place of tomatillos as a substitute. 

Green tomatoes will replicate the texture and color of tomatillos in different recipes. Although they are unripe tomatoes, they are not as sour as tomatillos are. So, they will not replicate the exact flavor of tomatillos. 

Green tomatoes will go extremely well in recipes such as grilling and roasting. You can use them in sauces and salsa too however, to mimic the tomatillos flavor, you will have to add some lime juice to the mixture to increase the sourness. 

3. Green Bell Peppers

Green bell peppers have green skin and a firm and crunchy texture. They also have a slightly sour flavor and hence they make a good substitute for tomatillos in various recipes. 

Green bell peppers have a slightly sour flavor, but not as much as that of tomatillos. So, once they are cooked, the sour flavor gets toned down even more. So again, in case you want to use them cooked for recipes, you will have to add an extra sour element to it. 

However, in raw recipes such as salads, green bell peppers can be added as they are. This is because they will maintain a similar level of crunch and will also give you the sour flavor that you need in your recipe. 

4. Gooseberries

Gooseberries are small, cherry tomato sized berries with a sour flavor. They do have a different texture as compared to tomatillos, however, they are a great substitute for the same, in terms of flavor. 

Gooseberries come in a variety of colors, like golden, green and red. However, if you want a perfect substitute for tomatillos, you should definitely pick the green ones as they will not only work in terms of flavor, but also color. 

Gooseberries, however, are very pulpy and soft as compared to the thick flesh of tomatillos. So, in recipes, there are chances of them turning mushy. So, gooseberries are best used in raw recipes as tomatillo substitutes. 

5. Green Chiles

Green chiles have a mildly spicy flavor, depending on the type you decide to use. Though they are not sour, they are used in various Mexican recipes in place of tomatillos, which makes the two ingredients interchangeable. 

Green chiles do have a different flavor profile as compared to tomatillos. However, many places actually use green chiles in their salsa verde in place of tomatillos. So, if you are particularly looking for a substitute for salsa verde, green chiles can work. 

When it comes to other recipes, green chiles will not provide the same texture as tomatillos do. However, if you pick a milder variety and pair it with citrus juice, they will give a similar flavor. 

6. Salsa Verde

Salsa verde is made with tomatillos as one of the key ingredients. This salsa has a sour flavor, all thanks to the tomatillos in it. So, in certain recipes, if there is no other option, this sour sauce can be used in place of tomatillos. 

I know this may seem like a strange substitute option, as it is a sauce and not an ingredient, per se. However, if you do have some salsa verde lying around and you are just looking to replicate the flavor in a different recipe, this substitute will work. 

You can add salsa verde to various recipes where you would like to use tomatillos. As an addition, it also works well in marinades and salad dressings too. So, make great use of that leftover salsa verde as a tomatillo substitute!

Short Recap For Best Tomatillo Substitutes

Not too many, but I am sure you must have gone through all the substitutes for tomatillos by now. But, I think some people may still be confused about which one to use in a recipe, as it can get a little confusing. So, for that, I am breaking it down further to make it easier. 

Best Substitute In Terms Of Flavor:

  1. Canned Tomatillos
  2. Green Tomatoes
  3. Gooseberries

Best Substitute In Terms Of Texture:

  1. Green Tomatoes
  2. Green Bell Peppers

Substitutes To Consider Last:

  1. Green Chiles
  2. Salsa Verde

Final Word

I hope this article has helped you find the best substitute for tomatillos in whichever recipe you need them. Though tomatillos are a great ingredient to work with, there can be many instances where they are very difficult to find. 

So, for recipes that particularly do need tomatillos, you can pick the best substitute you like, as per the purpose you need to be fulfilled by them. While some substitutes are great to replace the color and texture of tomatillos, there are many that will work in terms of flavor. 

So, based on the short recap given above, you can pick a substitute that best serves your purpose. You will for sure get very similar results with the substitutes, just like you get with tomatillos. So, go ahead and pick your substitute, and I will see you next time!

How To Substitute Tomatillos


Tomatillo Substitutes

Tomatillos add a lot of flavor and texture to most recipes, especially salsa verde. Though this fruit is a staple in many recipes, there still are great substitutes that you can use in its place.
5 from 1 vote


  • Canned Tomatillos
  • Green Tomato
  • Green Bell Peppers
  • Gooseberries
  • Green Chiles
  • Salsa Verde


  • Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
  • Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
  • Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are tomatillos the same as tomatoes?

Although they both come from the same family, tomatillos and tomatoes are two different types of fruits. 

Can you eat raw tomatillos?

Yes, tomatillos can be eaten raw.

What is the sticky residue on tomatillos?

Tomatillos are sticky under the husk. This sticky residue contains some chemicals called withanolides, which help keep insects off, along with the husk. 

Is tomatillo from the nightshade family?

Yes, tomatillos are an annual plant from the nightshade family. 

Do tomatillos need to be rinsed?

Yes, tomatillos should be rinsed before cooking them. 

Do tomatillos need to be peeled or seeded?

No, only the husk needs to be removed. There is no need to peel or deseed tomatillos. 

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