What Is Green Tomato Salsa?

J. Beam

Green tomato salsa is just one of dozens of recipes that specifically call for green tomatoes. Tomatoes are a summer standard in many backyard gardens. Though there is at least one variety of tomato that is green-when-ripe, green tomatoes are simply red tomatoes that haven’t completely ripened. People often look for ways to make their tomatoes ripen off the vine, but instead they can be used to create new recipes, such as green tomato salsa.

Green tomato salsa, or salsa verde, is used in many Latin dishes.
Green tomato salsa, or salsa verde, is used in many Latin dishes.

Most people think of salsa as red; and it typically is when made from ripe, red tomatoes. Salsa isn’t always red though. Other relish type foods, like green tomato relish, piccalilli, and chow chow are similar in appearance if not taste, and all use a green tomato base. The primary difference between green tomato salsa or salsa verde and green tomato relish is simply the ingredients.

Green tomato salsa is made with unripe tomatoes.
Green tomato salsa is made with unripe tomatoes.

The common components of a salsa are tomatoes, peppers, onions and cilantro. Other ingredients vary by recipe, ranging from the use or elimination of specific spices like garlic, cumin, etc. to the type of pepper used — mild, sweet, hot, red, green, and so on. For green tomato salsa, simply use any salsa recipe and add the corresponding amount of green tomatoes as called for.

Similarly, tomatillo salsa, which is greenish salsa made with tomatillos, can also be made by substituting green tomatoes for the tomatillos. Tomatillos come from a plant that produces small, greenish fruit. In Mexico, where these plants are indigenous, tomatillos are known as the green tomato or husk tomato. They have an outer husk, which may or may not be used in cooking. Though they are related to the tomato family, tomatillos are not the same genus as the tomato.

A green tomato has numerous uses as an ingredient. Before allowing your tomatoes to vine ripen, or forcing them to ripen in a paper bag, consider trying new recipes with your garden’s yield of unripe tomatoes. From fried green tomatoes to green tomato cake, there are a plethora of things you can make. When trying to decide what to do with an unripe tomato crop, consider exploring new recipes specifically listing green tomatoes as an ingredient.

Green zebra tomatoes can be used to make an especially tart and spicy green tomato salsa.
Green zebra tomatoes can be used to make an especially tart and spicy green tomato salsa.

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Discussion Comments


@heavanet- Yes, I have made green tomato salsa with yellow banana peppers, and I think that they go very nicely in this recipe. The mild variety adds tangy flavor without heat, and even tastes great with other types of peppers added to the salsa.

You might want to try using some bell pepper and mild banana pepper the next time you make green tomato salsa. I think that using more than one kind of pepper really perks up this type of salsa, and also adds another dimension of crispiness to the tomatoes.


@talentryto- I love the flavor that peppers add to green tomato salsa, but I don't like a lot of heat in my recipe. I usually use a green bell pepper, but I have heard that mild, yellow banana peppers go nicely in this type of salsa. Have you ever tried to add them to your green tomato salsa recipe?


I love green tomato salsa because the unripe tomatoes stay firm and crispy compared to regular red salsa that is made of tomatoes that are very soft. Though it is usually hard to find in most grocery stores, green tomato salsa is easy to make, especially if you grow your own tomatoes.

When I make this summertime favorite, I like to add a little heat to it. One or two sliced jalapeno pepper is all it takes to give green tomato salsa just the right amount of heat. I also like to double-up on the cilantro for an extra flavor boost.

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