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Aug 16, 2007 10:16 AM

Tomatillos substitution?

My wife is in the mood for chilaquiles this week, and I was going to make the following recipe, but my local store doesn't seem to have one of the main infredients this week. What should I use instead of tomatillos? I've never cooked with them before, so I was looking forward to the opportunity......and I'm not sure how to make a substitution when I don't know what tomatillos taste like. Would tomatos be the same if I add some additional seasoning?

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  1. Do you have access to green tomatoes?

    2 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        This would be the best option. The Kroger here has them sometimes, and the farmer's market here usually has a few. It's kind of a matter of luck, though...

      2. Tomatillos, will cook down like a tomato but the taste is different. Tomatillos are tart, if you can't get fresh use canned. They have a taste all their own, deliciously tart.

        1 Reply
        1. re: chef chicklet

          I agree, canned tomatillos are an excellent product, I use them frequently for out of season enchiladas. If you use tomatoes, you'll likely want to add some lime to try to address the tartness drop off.

        2. You could add some canned diced green chiles.

          1 Reply
          1. re: menuinprogress

            I have heard of using canned diced green chiles mixed with lime juice as a substitute for tomatillos when stretched.

          2. I would use the tomatoes. There may be more liquid though. In that case just cook the sauce a bit longer to reduce it. The flavor of tomatillos is unique. Give the recipe another try when you can get them. A couple chipotles en adobo would make a nice sub for the other spices.

            1. Part 1 of the recipe is making a Mexican style cooked salsa. So you could substitute a premade sauce, or a variation that uses tomatoes. If you think of chilaquiles as an informal dish that uses stale tortillas, then using what ever sauce you have on hand, makes plenty of sense.

              As to taste, tomatillos are a bit like tart tomatoes. If you have had a 'salsa verde', it is likely to have been made with a mix of tomatillos and green chiles.


              6 Replies
              1. re: paulj

                In this same vein, how does one pick out a "good" tomatillo? I used some in a tomatillo-red pepper sauce some weeks back and ended up discarded 3-4 whole tomatillos simply because of thier color. They were very light green and just didn't look as good as the darker ones. Did I waste them all?!

                1. re: DKS1

                  As long as they are not rotten, squishy, I use them. They are normally cooked or pureed. And since they are tart even when ripe, I don't see a problem with using them early (if that is what the light green means).

                  1. re: DKS1

                    The lighter yellow-green ones taste better than the dark green ones. Another variety that has a purple tinge is also good. Pick medium or smaller firm tomatillos. They should fill their husks or be bursting out of them. This indicates that they are fully mature. Store in a paper bag in the vegetable crisper for about two weeks. Or they can roll around loose depending on your crisper.

                    1. re: DKS1

                      I am growing tomtillos for the first time this year and according to the gardening sites, the tomatillo is ripe when it turns a yellow-green color. They are a darker green when the fruit first bursts the husk.

                    2. re: paulj

                      True...chilaquiles was a poor man's dish made from leftovers and what ever was on hand. I shouldn't get too hung up on a recipe and see what I can make of this.

                      1. re: egbluesuede

                        you are right, there are many different variations, its all good!