Is Salsa Verde The Same As Green Enchilada Sauce? (What’s The Difference)

If you’re looking to make some new Mexican inspired recipes, then you may have come across the terms ‘salsa verde’ and ‘green enchilada sauce’. These sauces are essential in many latin dishes, and are definitely ones that you’ll want in your repertoire. 

Many countries have their own version of green sauces such as salsa verde, such as Italian green pesto, or French sauce verte, with most of them being made from vegetables, herbs, vinegars and oils to add flavor to a variety of dishes. So, what exactly is salsa verde? 

What Is Salsa Verde?

Salsa verde is a Mexican ‘green sauce’ that is slightly spicy, and made with a base of tomatillo and green chili peppers. Salsa verde literally means green sauce, and is a staple of Mexican cuisine. It can go well with enchiladas and tacos or can be used as a topping. 

Salsa verde is made up of lots of tomatillos, garlic, onion, salt, olive oil, jalapenos and cilantro. It’s a simple recipe, but packs a lot of flavor. 

Is Salsa Verde The Same As Green Enchilada Sauce

The beauty of a green sauce or salsa verde is that it can be so versatile. You can use this sauce as a marinade, or to top your meats and veggies, or even as a spread or dip. It goes on top of chicken, with chips or nachos, and can even be drizzled over your morning eggs.

As this sauce is often served with enchiladas, let’s take a look at what green enchilada sauce is and what the differences are.  

What Is Green Enchilada Sauce?

Green enchilada sauce is sometimes also referred to as verde sauce because of its green color. This type of Mexican sauce also primarily consists of green chilies, onions, garlic and tomatillos, along with a few other spices and some jalapeno peppers. 

However, green enchilada sauce is not really spicy, as the tomatillos can make it rather sweet. That being said, the addition of green chilis can spice things up and add some heat to the sauce. 

As you can imagine, green enchilada sauce is used primarily to make enchiladas, and is used as a topping for this traditional Mexican dish.

What Is The Difference Between Salsa Verde & Green Enchilada Sauce? 

One of the questions that we get asked the most often is if salsa verde is the same as green enchilada sauce. The two are very similar in nature, but they are not actually the same thing.

The main difference that sets these two sauces apart is that salsa verde is raw, whereas enchilada sauce is cooked and often contains stock or water to make it more of a liquid.

In relation to this, salsa verde tends to have a much thicker, fuller texture in comparison to green enchilada sauce, as it does not have as much liquid in it. Salsa verde is also more commonly used as a condiment or as an addition to a meal, served with tacos and tortilla chips, rather than the main sauce of a dish. 

Whilst both salsa verde and green enchilada sauce are both made with tomatillos, chilis and similar spices, the two are different as they are prepared in different ways, and served with various different dishes. 

How To Make Salsa Verde

If you want to try out salsa verde for yourself, then we have got this handy recipe for you to use. For a simple, traditional salsa verde, you will only need a few ingredients. You will need:

  • 1 ½ pounds of tomatillos
  • 2 jalapenos or serrano peppers (chopped)
  • ½ cup of chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon lime
  • ½ cup of chopped cilantro
  • 2 cloves of garlic (optional)
  • Sprinkle of salt

With your ingredients gathered, it’s time to make our salsa verde! The first step is to remove the husks of the tomatillos and rinse them clean. Then, you’ll need to sear the tomatillos. To do this, you’re going to need to coat a skillet with some vegetable oil and heat on high.

Then, put the tomatillos in the pan and sear, before flipping so all sides are slightly browned. Remove from the heat and set aside. 

Next, place the cooked tomatillos, onions, garlic and lime juice in a blender, topped with the cilantro and chili peppers. Pulse until the mixture is fully combined and chopped up. Finally, add a little salt for extra flavor and serve as an accompaniment to tacos and tortilla chips. 

Green Enchilada Sauce

How To Make Green Enchilada Sauce

If you want to avoid the usual red enchilada sauce, and give green enchilada sauce a try, then give this recipe a go. For this one, you’ll need a few more ingredients:

  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 ½ pounds of tomatillos, husked and halved
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 4 Anaheim peppers, chopped
  • ½ a bunch of chopped cilantro
  • 4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of cumin
  • Sprinkle of salt and pepper

Once you have gathered all of your ingredients, you will need to add them all to a blender, and pulse and blend until the mixture is smooth. Next, remove the blended mixture of ingredients and add to a large pot on the stove.

Bring this up to a simmer over a medium heat, and reduce down to a lower heat and leave to simmer for 30 minutes. 

The sauce should thicken a little, but if it gets too thick, then you can add a little more stock and stir until smooth again. Once cooked, serve the enchilada sauce inside of burritos, or use as a topping to smother over your enchiladas for a delicious and slightly spicy flavor. 


To summarize, salsa verde and green enchilada sauce are very similar in nature, which is why so many people think that they are the same thing. Despite being made of many of the same ingredients, the two sauces are actually different.

The main difference is that salsa verde is served raw, and is thick and best used as a condiment, whereas green enchilada sauce is thinner, often made with stock or some sort of liquid, cooked, and is used to top burritos or enchiladas. 

Jess Smith
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