Green Chilli Chicken with Tomatillos (or make it with shop bought salsa!)

Green Chilli Chicken recipe. You can make it with fresh tomatillos, with shop bought green salsa (salsa verde) or with tomatillos in adobo!
Green Chilli Chicken with Tomatillo
Green Chilli Chicken with Tomatillo
Green Chilli Chicken with Tomatillo

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Green Chilli Chicken recipe – an easy, delicious, tangy chicken stew, made with green chillies, tomatillos (or shop bought green salsa).

This Green Chilli Chicken is something I cook a few times every summer and early autumn with fresh tomatillos. In the colder months, we make it with homemade frozen or preserved (canned) salsa verde or preserved tomatillos, also homemade. Now you’ll be pleased to know that you can use shop bought salsa, but more of that below.

By late summer/early autumn, I am drowning in tomatillos. And the little birdie gets very busy because I am inundated with requests for a handful here, a handful there. Which I’m perfectly happy to oblige, given the seemingly endless bounty.

I wasn’t even sure I wanted to grow tomatillos this summer. I kind of fancied a “quiet” summer on the gardening front, as I knew it was going to be a busy season, not just with the work I’d signed up for but also with visitors. I think it was a last minute decision, and I didn’t get around to sowing the seeds until late April. And I’m so glad I did!

What are Tomatillos?

Professional picture of tomatillo, husk in the background

A much loved ingredient in Mexican and TexMex cooking, the tomatillo comes in green and green-purple colours, covered by a husk that turns from a soft feeling green to a dry, papery brown. It is the tartness and the colour that the tomatillo is prized for. Click here to read more.

I love growing difficult-to-find fruit and vegetables. My thinking is, why grow stuff you can find easily at the shops, might as well do the ones you can’t get. Right? Take a look at the Edible Garden page for examples of crops I grow every summer, or round the year, like the following:

All that being said, it was an even busier summer than expected. We were into September before I realised time was running out and I hadn’t got around to posting any new recipes with tomatillos, unlike last year:

So consider this Green Chilli Chicken my saving grace! There are many, many recipes on the net for green chillis (or chile/chili in American speak), from the Mexican kind to the Colorado Green Chile; with pork, with chicken, beef or simply vegetarian.

LinsFood’s Green Chilli Chicken Recipe

The idea behind any green chilli recipe is to keep the ingredients green, as much as is possible. I started off with the Chilli con Carne recipe in my head, and subbed red for green, as much as possible. So green tomatoes, green chillies and herbs, in this case fresh coriander (cilantro), also the herb used in chilli con carne.

I didn’t bother with any beans, although I could’ve gone with haricot or even puy lentils. I’m not really into beans, so I passed!

Green Chilli Chicken with Tomatillo
lime juice is always good!

What does this Green Chilli taste like?

It’s a little more subtle than chilli con carne. Our green chilli is quite tangy, given the amount of tomatillos in there. I also finish it with a teaspoon of green tabasco sauce, which is not really hot, but adds to the tartness of the dish.

There is a slight earthiness from the small amount of cumin, and the base of chicken stock adds depth to the chilli, with a strong herbal nose, given the fresh coriander (cilantro).

How spicy? That’s completely up to you. I’m using mild jalapeños and some pusa jwala that I’m growing. Pusa jwalas, an Indian variety, are hot but not too hot. You can use all mild chillies, even green capsicum (bell pepper), or go for the spicy varieties that you enjoy. It’s all a matter of taste and tolerance.

Tomatillo Substitute

Green Salsa/Salsa Verde

If you don’t have access to tomatillos, you can substitute them with green tomatoes, if those are available. However, to me, the best way to make this green chilli chicken without tomatillos is to use green salsa. Whether homemade or shop bought like this one.

The green salsa or salsa verde will have everything you want from the tomatillos and the chillies. Not only will you get that piquant flavour the green chilli calls for, but you’ll also be getting some heat. How much heat will depend on the salsa itself. You can always increase the heat level by adding more chillies.

How much salsa to use?

I reckon a whole jar of about 300-400g (10.5-14oz) for the recipe here would be perfect. But start with half, add more if you think you can handle it, as these things can be quite tart and spicy.

Tomatillos in Adobo

I always pickle some tomatillos to use in following months. If you have access to a latin American shop (or go online), you should be able to find pickled tomatillos, or tomatillos in adobo or even tomatillos in brine. These would also be perfect.

Green Chilli Chicken with Tomatillo on a tortilla
perfect with tortilla

How to Serve Green Chilli Chicken?

  • with rice
  • with tortilla
  • make sandwiches with it
  • fill tacos
  • make a filling platter of nachos with all the trimmings!

⇒ So many ways to enjoy this delightful chilli verde!

Shall we take a look at the recipe and get our aprons on?

And if you like the recipe, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! Thank you!

Lin xx

Green Chilli Chicken with Tomatillo

Green Chilli Chicken with Tomatillos

Green Chilli Chicken recipe. You can make it with fresh tomatillos, with shop bought green salsa (salsa verde) or with tomatillos in adobo!
5 from 2 votes
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Course: Main Course with Rice or Flatbread
Cuisine: TexMex
Keyword: chicken, chilli, tomatillos
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 133kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor


  • 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp EV olive oil
  • 500 g tomatillos
  • 5 jalapeños
  • 1 large white/brown onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 green capsicum bell pepper
  • 5-10 spicy green chillies heat level, up to you
  • 1 large handful coriander
  • 500 g boneless chicken OR 750g (1 3/5 lb) on the bone
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp green Tabasco or ¼ tsp clear vinegar

Garnish (with any or all)

  • lime wedges
  • some chopped coriander cilantro
  • some chopped green chilli
  • soured cream
  • fresh avocado slices


Roasting the tomatillos and chillies

  • Halve the tomatillos in the middle (not from the top). Place the tomatillos on a baking tray.
  • Halve the jalapeños lengthwise and add to the tray. Drizzle just 1 tsp of EV olive oil all over and mix with your hands.
  • Place under a hot grill for 10 minutes while you get all the other ingredients ready. Flip them halfway through if you like. I just flip the tray, and if not all of them turn over, no big deal. I'm still getting the smoky flavour.

The Rest of the recipe

  • Chop up the onion, garlic, the rest of the green chillies and capsicum fairly finely.
  • Chop up the coriander leaves (cilantro) fairly finely.
  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and brown the chicken legs, about 2 minutes on each side. Season with a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Take them out and set aside on a plate.
  • Add the onions and sauté for 1 minute.
  • Add the garlic, capsicum, chillies, cumin, bay leaf and oregano to the pot. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the chopped coriander (cilantro), roasted tomatillos and jalapeños, along with any juices. Stir to mix well.
  • Add the chicken legs back into the pan. Pour in the stock, stir and bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1 hour, or until the chicken is falling off the bone, stirring occasionally.
  • When done, take chicken legs out of the pan, shred the meat off the bone, and tip it all back into the chilli. Cook for another 10 minutes, uncovered on low heat, to thicken and to reduce the liquid.
  • Turn the heat off after 10 minutes. Season with some freshly ground black pepper, add the lime juice, the green tabasco (or vinegar) and stir. Check seasoning. Add some salt at this stage if you think you need it.
  • Sprinkle coriander and drizzle some soured cream over when serving.


Calories: 133kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 277mg | Potassium: 443mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 364IU | Vitamin C: 48mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Mention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!
Made it? Upload your photosMention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!

25 thoughts on “Green Chilli Chicken with Tomatillos (or make it with shop bought salsa!)”

  1. Oh my…this dish sounds amazing. I am trying to imagine the flavors haha We don’t have tomatillos here though, so I will just keep on imagining. :p

  2. Dropping by to say thank you for sharing this recipe. It is so delicious. My family enjoyed it yesterday. Looking forward to more recipes from you.

  3. This looks like a really lovely recipe for the autumn coming up and for those who enjoy chicken!

  4. Desmond Harrigan

    Thanks, for this post, Azlin. Love chilli con carne so going to give this a shot at the weekend. Can’t wait!

  5. This sounds really good, Lin. So if I don’t want it spicy at all, I can just use all green bell peppers?

    1. Sure, you can absolutely use green bell peppers. that way, you get the fruit capsicum flavour without any heat. Or, if you can find them, banana chilli peppers also have no heat.

  6. Pina Nicoletti

    This is new to me. I take it the salsa has to be green, I know stupid question! Thanks Chef, I can’t wait to try this.

  7. Wow, I like it, I like it! Cool that I can use ready made salsa. Pencilled it for the weekend.
    I made your Cointreau Risotto on Sunday as promised. Damn, woman, it was bloody marvellous!

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