Best Ever Green Enchilada Sauce

green tomatoes, cilantro, recipeIf you grow tomatoes, you have probably faced the short days of autumn with a bounty of green tomatoes. Beautiful, plump tomatoes that are just not going to turn red. One way to quickly deal with all those tomatoes before the frost gets them is to chop  and freeze them for a mid-winter batch of 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.

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.

green enchilada sauce

green enchildada sauce, green enchiladas

Recipe – Makes 9 – 12 cups of sauce

  • 1 gallon bag frozen, chopped green tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 large jalapeno peppers
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 bunches fresh cilantro
  • 2 bunches fresh parsely
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano


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

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.

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

by Renee Pottle

Renee Pottle, a freelance writer and Home Economist, is fanatic about all things food. She blogs about canning and food preservation at Find her professional food writing info at

February 11, 2013

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  1. Dianna

    With all that vinegar, I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t be safe to can! And that’s not even counting the acidity of green tomatoes and lime juice. I think the question would be how long to water bath the jars. It sounds delicious not matter what! I’ve never done anything with green tomatoes and hate to see them waste away on the vine year after year when it gets late in the season and not much sun around. This is a great idea, especially since I love Mexican food! Thanks for the recipe!

    • admin

      Your welcome Dianna, it is a good way to use up all those green tomatoes! As for the acidity, it may be fine, but since it hasn’t been tested I certainly can’t advocate for canning. I prefer to err on the side of caution and just freeze it. Actually, I usually just freeze the tomatoes and make one batch at a time. It’s kind of the lazy way but saves time when I am rushing to get the fall harvest in before a freeze. Enjoy the recipe.

  2. Dawn

    This enchilada sauce is excellent! Thanks for sharing it – now I have something I actually like to eat made from the green tomatoes I never know what to do with.

    It was way too vinegary because I didn’t have enough green tomatoes to stuff the bag full. It was about 2/3 full and weighed three pounds. It didn’t stop my husband and I from finishing the entire batch of enchiladas – it was still very good! It smelled like a Mexican restaurant while I was cooking it.

    I canned it in pint sized jars for 35 minutes in a water bath canner. I will try and report back in about a month when I will try it and let you know if I’m still alive.

    Thanks again!

  3. Mandy

    Hi, approximately how many cups of tomatoes is this? I am up to my eyeballs in fresh green tomatoes right now.. Not sure how full you pack your gallon bag!

    • admin

      Mandy, I fill the bag as full as I can! Don’t worry too much about exact amounts with this recipe. It comes out great as long as the amounts are in the correct vicinity. Good luck with the tomatoes. I don’t have hardly any green ones this year, but still have a few bags of frozen ones from last year.

  4. Angela

    If you go to the National Center for Home Food Preservation website, it will tell you that green tomatoes are more acidic than ripe tomatoes. Plus the recipe calls for 2 cups of vinegar and 1/4 cup of lime juice. The acidity level of this recipe is high. There is also a similar recipe on that website that is safe to can in a hot water bath. But if you still feel unsure about it, just put this recipe through a pressure canner. The amount of vegetables, other than the tomatoes, is not going to make this unsafe to can. The acidity level is what makes it safe.

    • admin

      Angela, you are correct that green tomatoes are more acidic than ripe tomatoes. And the recipe could very well be perfectly safe to can, by either method. But as a Master Food Preserver I cannot in good conscience recommend a preserving method other than freezing. The recipe allows for individual “tweaking” of low-acid veggies, which would change the acid level, and has not been tested.

      I try to only include info that I know is safe on this site. What individuals choose to do is of course, up to the individuals!

      However, I have received so many requests for canning directions that I may just have to have this recipe tested. :)

  5. Beth

    Can you can this recipe?

    • admin

      Beth, since it hasn’t been tested for safety, and I haven’t found a tested recipe that compares, I wouldn’t can it. Sorry, I know it would be more convenient.


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