Mother In Law Salsa Recipe – Not my momma’s salsa

Have you ever started searching for one thing on the internet and ended up in a totally different place?  That’s how I ended up making Mother In Law Salsa.

I started by looking for mother-in-law cake recipes.  I was being snarky about it because, at the time, my in-laws were due for a visit.

I Googled “mother in law recipes” and quickly stumbled onto a great recipe for Salsa De Suegra (mother in law salsa).  It’s so named because it is sharp on the tongue (sour) with a strong bite (hot).  (Draw your own conclusions.  My mother in law inspired the entire egg thing.)

Every version I read called for green tomatoes, tomatillos, cilantro, serrano chiles, green onions, salt, and water.  Well, my mother in law can’t eat green onions.  So, I reimagined the salsa based on ingredients she can eat.  I also left out the green tomato since I couldn’t find one.

Yes.  I made mother in law sauce for my mother in law.  She thought it was funny.

I made red salsa for her too.  It was onion free because of her allergies.  I work hard to cook food that she can eat when she visits us.

mother in law salsa recipe

We eat this stuff all the time now.  It’s a far cry from the stuff I grew up eating.  It really is NOTHING like my momma’s salsa.

(Sorry, I couldn’t resist. It’s funnier when you say it out loud.)

You need tomatillos, peppers, garlic, salt, and cilantro.

salsa ingredients

To start with, these are tomatillos. They are NOT the same as green tomatoes.  Ideally, the papery skin should be green, soft, and flexible.  If they have been sitting in the produce department too long, the skin will start getting brown and rather parchment like.  If you can’t find fresh ones, try looking for canned tomatillos.


You don’t eat the papery skin.  It comes off.  Like this…

peel a tomatillo 1

And like this….

peel a tomatillo 2


I like to remove the skins with running water nearby.  Sometimes I find a bug.  The skins are also strangly “tacky” feeling, and I always want to wash my hands.  Not sticky, just tacky like warm wax.  Make sense?  Remove the outer skins completely.

These are serranos.  They are hotter than jalepenos.  If you can’t find serranos, go ahead and use jalepenos.  My produce guy went and got these from the back when I asked him to.  The ones on display were shrivled and sad looking.

I think he was thrilled that I was asking for tomatillos (and pronouncing them correctly) and serranos.  If you are scared of it being too hot, start with one chili.  You can always add more.


I’m not crazy.  I remove the seeds from two of the three chiles.  The seeds and white membrane are where most of the heat is.   Since I don’t keep gloves on hand, I use a grapefruit spoon for this task.  The serated edge of the grapefruit spoon works perfectly for getting into the peppers without actually touching the inside.

Do NOT touch your hands to your face or private parts after cleaning peppers.  Trust me on this.

serano peppers are hot

After I cleaned the peppers, I generally leave the kitchen for a moment.  I run back in, shove the seeds down the garbage disposal (and turn it on).  Then I run back out.  Then I run back to open a window.   Then I run back out again.  Then I come back.  Pepper fumes make my eyes hurt.

I toss the chiles into my food processor (OK, I throw them violently) along with some raw garlic, fresh cilantro, and kosher salt.

food processors are fun

How much garlic? About this much? I take the skins off first.

this much garlic

Then I cut the tomatillos in half and throw them (violently) into the food processor too.  And I… wait for it… turn on the food processor.  Don’t you love a good action shot?

  food processor in action

Then, I put it in a jar and stick it in the fridge.  It will last a week or so in the refrigerator.   (Old photo – before the remodel.)

salsa in the jar

 So what on earth do I do with this stuff beyond chips and salsa?  I cook with it!

I serve it with scrambled eggs in breakfast tacos.  I make enchiladas with it.  I cook it with some brisket.   I add some to smashed avocados for some super easy guacamole (the green salsa with avocados totally works in your favor).

This week, I’m using it to make some smothered steak.  It’s out of this world good stuff.

If it turns out too hot for you, don’t throw it away.  It gets milder when cooked.  You can also mix it with plain yogurt (or sour cream) and avocado to make a creamy green sauce that isn’t as hot.  You can always put it in a pretty jar and give it to your mother in law as a gift.  I’m sure she’d love it.

Mother in Law Salsa Recipe

4.5 from 2 reviews
Mother In Law Salsa Recipe - Not my momma's salsa
Recipe type: condiment
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
Spicy Green Tomatillo Sauce
  • 4 cups tomatillos, prepared
  • ¾ cup fresh cilantro
  • 5-6 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 serrano peppers, cleaned
  1. To prep tomatillos: remove papery outer husks and wash well.
  2. To prep serranos: remove seeds from at least some of the peppers to reduce heat level.
  3. Toss all ingredients in food processor and process until desired texture is reached

not my mommas salsa recipe

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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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  1. Hi Susan,
    your salsa make appetite up, especially for tacos and enchiladas like your favorites 🙂 maybe, some french fries would be so delicious with this salsa. Any recommended foods that match for this?
    meisha recently posted..Why Protein is so needed to be Included into Your Diet?My Profile

    • As I said in my post: “I serve it with scrambled eggs in breakfast tacos. I make enchiladas with it. I cook it with some brisket. I add some to smashed avocados for some super easy guacamole (the green salsa with avocados totally works in your favor).” Beyond beef, eggs, tacos, and enchiladas, I’d have to say… quesadillas and nachos. 🙂 It’s also great with pork dishes. Personally, I think it’s too strongly flavored to work with most fish or chicken.

      I don’t think of french fries and salsa together, but now that you’ve mentioned it I’m curious. I’ll have to try it. It may take awhile because I don’t EAT french fries very often.
      Susan Baker recently posted..Mother In Law Salsa Recipe – Not my momma’s salsaMy Profile

  2. My hubby would honestly drink this from the jar if I would let him…I am definitely going to make it for him! Pinning this right now! :)-Ashley
    thedoseofreality recently posted..Is That A Turkey Disguised As Elton John?My Profile

  3. This looks delicious! I love that you suggested a variety of uses for the salsa. My husband makes a great verde sauce that goes over flank steak but I’m going to suggest he try your recipe the next time he makes it. Yumm!!!
    Mo recently posted..Thanksgiving Dinner Wine – Tips and TypesMy Profile

  4. Hello Susan, Very interesting recipe & informative share. I was not familiar with this type of recipe and I never made like but now I know some advance technique to make this. Thanks to your Mother-in-Law for making this great recipe.

  5. Perfect recipe to try out in my new food processor. Thanks!

  6. This is very similar to a recipe I use for a tomatillo-based recipe. One extra thing I like to do is roast the tomatillos in the oven with the broiler on so they get a little of that fire roasted flavor. Adds a nice depth to the salsa. I usually mix in jalapenos for flavor and treat them the same way.

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