This tomatillo and avocado salsa is guacamole's spicier, smokier cousin

Quick, fresh salsas are typically a godsend, but this version is worth turning your oven on for

By Ashlie D. Stevens

Food Editor

Published October 17, 2021 5:30PM (EDT)

Saucy: Avocado Tomatillo Sauce (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Saucy: Avocado Tomatillo Sauce (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

One thing that cooking during a pandemic taught me is that time is truly a secret ingredient. I should confess that patience is not one of the fruits of the spirit that has flourished within me. However, when I had nothing but time on my hands during quarantine, it seemed like a virtue worth exploring. 

Quick weeknight pasta was replaced with risotto as I stood by my stove gently stirring the grains of arborio rice until they absorbed fresh stock — then repeated the process again and again until the entire pot became sumptuous and creamy. I methodically braided challah strands and let them rise without rushing the process — a mistake that resulted in rock-hard bread

The extra time made a difference, exactly like it makes a difference when making salsa. While I really love fresh, quick salsas like pico de gallo — a mix of tomato, onion, jalapeño and cilantro — others made with oven-roasted vegetables take on an additional depth of flavor. 

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That said, you still want a little brightness, especially when pairing salsa with braised or grilled meats. That's where this roasted tomatillo and avocado salsa comes in — it's verdant, smooth, a little spicy and packs a tremendous amount of flavor despite so few ingredients. 

The key? Oven roasting the tomatillos, jalapeño, garlic and onion until they get a little black before tossing them with fresh avocado and a handful of cilantro — sprigs and all — into a blender. 


Recipe: Roasted Tomatillo and Avocado Salsa 


  • 4 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds optional 
  • 2 cloves of garlic 
  • 1/4 onion, roughly chopped 
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 avocado
  • Optional: Lime juice to taste 


1. On a large, prepared baking sheet, add the 4 tomatillos, jalapeno, garlic cloves and onion. Drizzle with the tablespoon of olive oil, and season with the 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Place in a 400-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, turning halfway through. The vegetables should be very tender and slightly blackened. Allow them to cool. 

2. In a large blender or food processor, combine the avocado, the cooled and roasted vegetables, the cilantro and (if desired) lime juice to taste. Blend until very smooth and completely combined. Season with additional salt to taste. 

3. If refrigerated in a covered container or squeeze bottle, this salsa will last for up to two weeks. 

Read more Saucy:

By Ashlie D. Stevens

Ashlie D. Stevens is Salon's food editor. She is also an award-winning radio producer, editor and features writer — with a special emphasis on food, culture and subculture. Her writing has appeared in and on The Atlantic, National Geographic’s “The Plate,” Eater, VICE, Slate, Salon, The Bitter Southerner and Chicago Magazine, while her audio work has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and Here & Now, as well as APM’s Marketplace. She is based in Chicago.

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Avocados Condiment Food Guacamole Mexican Food Recipe Salsa Saucy Tomatillos