Best-Ever Green Enchilada Sauce

Reader Contribution by Renee Pottle

It’s that time of the year – garden clean up time. For those of us who love to garden, it’s a sad time of year. I always wait until the last possible minute, hoping against hope that the plethora of green tomatoes will turn sweet and red, as if it was August. It’s not August. But I can’t just throw away buckets of green tomatoes either, can you? A few years ago I started chopping and freezing the tomatoes, hoping to come up with some creative recipes. This recipe for green enchilada sauce did the trick. It has consistently been one of the most popular posts on my Seed to Pantry blog.

Green Enchilada Sauce

Green enchilada sauce is most commonly made from green chillies or tomatillos, but green tomatoes can be turned into a killer sauce also. Since so many of these ingredients are to your particular taste, feel free to either increase or decrease to your liking. When you first start cooking, the sauce will be bright green and reminiscent of a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake! Don’t worry, once it simmers for a while it will become a more familiar olive-green color.

I use my trusty Vita-Mix for this recipe, but you could also add all ingredients to the saucepan, start cooking, and then combine with an immersion blender or use a food processor.

You will find that this sauce has much more flavor than the purchased kind, along with no fat and low sodium. It is the perfect combination of citrus, spicy hot, and herbs. Plus, the whole house smells great while the sauce simmers. Yield 9-12 cups of sauce.


  • 1 gallon bag frozen, chopped green tomatoes (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 large jalapeno peppers, washed and seeded
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 bunches fresh cilantro, washed
  • 2 bunches fresh parsley, washed
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 large shallot, peeled
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano


1. Thaw tomatoes.  Working in batches, add tomatoes, water, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, parsley, garlic and shallot to a blender and puree until liquid.

2. Pour into a large saucepan. Add lime juice, vinegar, sugar, salt, cumin, and oregano. Simmer for about 40 minutes or until sauce reaches desired consistency.

3. Sauce may be portioned into 3-to-4-cup containers and frozen for future use.

What To Do With Green Enchilada Sauce

Green enchilada sauce can be used to make enchilada casserole, your favorite enchiladas, spooned over grilled chicken, added to a green chili recipe, tucked into a Mexican-inspired lasagna, or served with scrambled eggs.

Preserving Enchilada Sauce For Future Use

You notice that the directions suggest freezing the leftover sauce. I get lots of requests for canning directions. My answer is always the same – there are no directions. Since this recipe includes lots of low-acid foods (cilantro, parsley, peppers, garlic, shallot), and allows you to tweak the amounts of those ingredients to fit your personal tastes, and since the recipe has not been tested by a lab, I am not comfortable saying it is safe to can. It might be, but it might not be also. I have had readers argue with me that it is perfectly safe because of the tomatoes and vinegar, but I don’t necessarily agree. I am a Master Food Preserver and a Home Economist with a background in Food Science and I am not comfortable canning the sauce. It goes into the freezer for me and my family.

But, who knows, if you all keep requesting the canning directions, I may just have the recipe tested for canning safety!

What do you do with your green tomatoes? Check out some other MOTHER EARTH NEWS green tomato recipes:

Green Tomato Tart
Green Tomato Cake with Apple Cider Glaze
Green Tomato Mincemeat

They all sound great. Soon we’ll be wishing for even more green tomatoes from the garden.

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