Meet Your Ingredients: Tomatillos

Meet Your Ingredients: Tomatillos

A distant relative to tomatoes, tomatillos add a lovely brightness and acidity to salsas, sauces, and soups. Find out more about the nutritional benefits of tomatillos and tips for buying, storing and cooking. 

The Basics: What are Tomatillos?

Shaped like a green tomato, tomatillos technically aren’t tomatoes, but rather a distant relative. 

Also called the Mexican husk tomato, tomatillos are round, green fruits covered in light brown husks.

Unhusking a fresh tomatillo

While they will turn yellow, red, or purple once ripened, they’re one of the few fruits and vegetables that taste best when they’re still unripe. 

Flavor-wise, tomatillos have a bright, acidic flavor that’s similar to a lemon. While delicious roasted or fried, they’re most often used in sauces and stews. 

However, once ripened, tomatillos become sweeter and can be used to make jams and jellies. 

Nutrition Overview of Tomatillos

One medium tomatillo provides: 

  • 11 calories
  • <0.5 grams of fat
  • <0.5 grams of protein 
  • 2 grams of carb
  • 0.7 grams of fiber
  • 1.3 grams of sugar

They’re also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, niacin, potassium, manganese, and magnesium. 

As with many fruits and vegetables, they’re also an excellent source of antioxidants. 

Specifically, tomatillos contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which play an important role in protecting our retinas from blue light, which we’re exposed to from LED lights and electronics, especially TV screens, computers and smartphones. 

By protecting our eyes from blue light, these antioxidants help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration. 

Pile of tomatillos in husks

How to select Tomatillos

Tomatillos should be firm, but not rock-hard and have fresh-looking husks. The more brown and drier the husks, the longer it’s been since they’ve been harvested. 

How to store Tomatillos

Tomatillos can be kept at room temperature for 1-2 days; or wrapped in plastic and kept in the fridge for up to 1 week. 

Just be sure to keep the husks on until you’re ready to start cooking with them. 

How to use in cooking/baking

To use tomatillos, remove the husks and rinse well under running water. You’ll notice the skins of tomatillos will be sticky or waxy-feeling before rinsing – don’t worry, that’s completely normal! 

Most tomatillo recipes involve dicing them and adding to soups, stews, and salsas. To make them a little sweeter and easier to pulse into a sauce, they can be roasted or broiled until lightly blistered. 

They can also be used as a bright, slightly sour spin on traditional fried green tomatoes

Tomatillo ingredient guide pin image

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About Kelli McGrane Headshot

I’m Kelli MS, RD, and my mission is to prove that eating healthier doesn’t have to be complicated or restrictive. Follow along to learn more about food and cooking, with an emphasis on breakfast and sweet treats!

About Kelli McGrane Headshot

Welcome to The Healthy Toast!

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