Salsa Verde vs Green Enchilada Sauce – Same or Different?

Published Categorized as Journal

If you’ve ever wondered about the difference between salsa verde vs green enchilada sauce, then you’ve come to the right spot. Though these two sauces look similar, they are actually quite different. If you’re interested in knowing the finely tuned differences between these beloved Mexican sauces then stay tuned. I’ve got the information you need right here!

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Salsa Verde Vs Green Enchilada Sauce – Same Or Different?

Table of Contents

What Is Salsa Verde?

To begin, it may help to look at enchilada sauce and salsa individually to note their characteristics.

Salsa verde is a green salsa that is literally translated as “green sauce”. It is made primarily of tomatillos which can be either cooked or roasted, providing a slight difference in flavor. Tomatillo sauce isn’t usually very spicy, although it can be. Oftentimes, the spice level will depend on who’s making it and how much emphasis is placed on spice through the addition of various ingredients. 

Sometimes, you may find that there are regional differences to be observed when it comes to the making of salsa verde. For example, in New Mexico, salsa verde is often made primarily of green chilies rather than tomatillos. This makes the green sauce of this region a bit spicier than normal. 

Salsa verde can be served for topping tacos and enchiladas, but can also be used as a dip for tortilla chips.

It is usually made up of tomatillos, garlic, salt, olive oil, jalapenos, and cilantro. See exactly how to make this delicious salsa later on in this post!

Salsa Verde vs Green Enchilada Sauce

What Is Green Enchilada Sauce?

Green enchilada sauce is a topping in Latin cuisine that is often used to ladle over, you guessed it, enchiladas. Green enchilada sauce, as the name implied, is green in color. In fact, enchilada sauce is often called verde sauce because of this hue.

Green enchilada sauce is often made with green chilies, tomatillos, jalapenos, onions, garlic, and salt. It is often thinned out with a broth or other liquid. This makes it quite watery but still wonderfully delicious.

Is Green Enchilada Sauce The Same As Salsa Verde?

At this point, you may be wondering, “Is Salsa verde the same as green enchilada sauce?” After all, the ingredients seem relatively similar.

So, what really is the difference?

When it comes to salsa and enchilada sauce, you’ll notice differences over several categories. Let’s take a look at each one now:


When it comes to the consistency of salsa verde vs green enchilada sauce, you’ll notice a big difference between the two sauces. Salsa verde tends to be thicker though it isn’t often as homogenous as enchilada sauce.

Because salsa verde is intended to be a salsa (much like red salsa) it is made primarily of cooked and crushed tomatillos giving it a chunky and delicious taste.

Green enchilada sauce, on the other hand, is made primarily of green chilies, tomatillos, broth, and other ingredients that are ground or blended to create a thin yet uniform sauce. This is often used to top green enchiladas, soups, and other Latin dishes. And because it is thin, it may not be best used as a dipping sauce, unlike salsa verde.


In terms of flavor, the differences will really depend on the ingredients used. Neither sauce is generally defined as very spicy, although both can pack the heat depending on the region and ingredients used.

Usually, the defining factor in the amount of heat you’ll notice is how many green chilies are used. And because green chilis abound in enchilada sauce, it is more likely that it is this sauce that would be defined as “hot” than would salsa verde.

Still, both salsa verde and green enchilada sauce are often thought of as relatively mild additions to Mexican dishes. But again, it really depends on who’s making it.

In addition, you may find salsa verde to taste a bit more herbal than enchilada sauce. This is likely because salsa verde can sometimes have the addition of cilantro along with a focus on tomatillos as a primary ingredient. On the flip side, enchiladas sauce is often made with broth which makes the flavor a bit more mild, savory, and less potent in terms of herbs.


Finally, these two sauces used in Mexican cuisine often differ in terms of use.

Salsa verde often compliments Mexican dishes that go well with traditional salsa. Thus, if you’ve thought about adding “red” salsa to any dish you’ve tried, know that adding salsa verde in its place would be equally as good.

This means that green salsa will pair well with Mexican food like tacos, enchiladas, nachos, and fajitas. You can even use it to top burritos or anything else you can think of. It truly is delicious!

On the other hand, green enchilada sauce works much like red enchilada sauce, in that it can be used to top enchiladas and burritos. It doesn’t usually work well with chips, as it is thinner and less like the herbal flavor you might be used to when using traditional salsas.

You can also feel free to pair together both enchilada sauce with salsa verde for a spectacular Mexican-style treat!

Salsa Verde Vs Green Enchilada Sauce – Same Or Different?

Can I Use Green Enchilada Sauce Instead of Salsa Verde?

Whether or not you can use green enchilada sauce instead of salsa verde will depend on your tastes and what you’re eating.

As mentioned before, a thinner enchilada sauce may not pair well with nachos. However, if you wish to substitute salsa verde for green enchilada sauce, it may be more feasible, especially atop tacos or enchilada recipes.

How To Make Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 2 medium jalapeños, stemmed (omit for mild salsa)
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onion
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • Optional: 2 diced avocados– this makes for a creamy avocado salsa verde


  1. To make salsa verde, start by preheating your broiler. Make sure the rack is about 4 inches beneath the broiler.
  2. Put both your tomatillos and jalapenos on a rimmed oven-safe baking sheet over aluminum foil. Broil these until they’ve developed a few black spots. This usually takes about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove your baking sheet from beneath the broiler carefully. Flip the tomatillos and peppers using tongs or a spatula. Please put them back in the oven under the broiler for another 5 minutes. Your tomatillos should look blackened. 
  4. In a food processor or blender, pulverize the chopped onions, cilantro, lime juice, and salt.
  5. Remove the tomatillos and peppers from the oven. Put the tomatillos, peppers, and their juices in the blender and blend until the mixture is completely smooth. 
  6. If using, blend the avocados in once the salsa has cooled down. Blend once again until the mixture is completely smooth.
  7. If desired, add additional lemon juice and salt. Note that the salsa may be thin at first especially if you decide against adding the avocados. However, it will thicken up over time, usually, after a few hours have passed. This is due to the pectin in the tomatillos (pretty cool, right?).

How To Make Green Enchilada Sauce

Green Enchilada Sauce Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 4 (4-ounce) cans of diced green chiles
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper


  1. Grab a pan used for sauteing. Place olive oil (or other oil with a high smoke point in the pan over medium-high heat).
  2. Once the oil is hot, add your jalapeno and onion. Saute these until the onion is soft, fragrant, and turns translucent. 
  3. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute. Be sure not to overcook your garlic as this can turn the garlic bitter.
  4. Once the garlic has cooked and become fragrant, shut off the heat. Carefully, transfer the cooked mixture to a blender or food processor. 
  5. Add your stock, green chiles, salt, pepper, and cumin. Blend the ingredients until totally smooth and lump free. 
  6. Add more salt, pepper, and cumin according to taste. 
  7. Serve right away atop enchiladas, tacos, or whatever else your heart desires. The mixture will refrigerate for up to 4 days and will freeze when properly stored for up to 3 months. 
Salsa Verde Vs Green Enchilada Sauce – Same Or Different?

What Is The Distinction Between Salsa And Enchilada Sauce?

Remember that the main distinction between salsa and enchilada sauce is a shift in main ingredients.

Recall that salsa verde primarily focuses on tomatillos as the base ingredient. Enchilada sauce, on the other hand, tends to focus on green chilies as its foundation.

In addition, green enchilada sauce will contain broth making it thinner and more savory, while salsa verde will not.

Now that you have seen recipes for making both salsa and enchilada sauce, the differences between the two may be becoming even more apparent. Remember that both types of green Mexican sauce may be swapped for one another, although the differences will vary slightly in taste and texture. As previously mentioned, enchilada sauce lacks herbal flavor and chunkiness so you may not enjoy it as much on your tortilla chips.

Still, when comparing green enchilada sauce vs salsa verde the two are similar enough that they could be swapped but different enough that they really provide a unique flavor to whatever Mexican dish you are topping.

Salsa Verde Vs Green Enchilada Sauce - Same Or Different?

How to Make Green Enchilada Sauce From Salsa Verde?

If you ask most people, they will advise you not to try to convert a salsa into an enchilada sauce. This is because the two are simply not the same.

As for me, I would agree that the two aren’t the same. But if you are really in a bind, you could try adding your salsa verde to a blender and adding a few splashes of chicken or vegetable broth to thin it out. Then, turn on the blender and blend the salsa until it is smooth. 

Know that this may not make your newfound “green enchilada sauce” taste exactly as you were expecting. But if you’re in a pinch and want to try making enchilada sauce out of salsa verde, this is likely your best bet.

Green Enchilada Sauce vs Salsa Verde- The Differences Are Clear!

To be honest, it can be hard to tell the difference between green enchilada sauce and salsa verde. They’re both green in color and seem to function almost the same in Mexican cuisine. But in actuality, the two are quite different.

Remember that salsa verde is made primarily with tomatillos, is chunkier, and tends to taste more herbal. Green enchilada sauce, on the other hand, tends to be thinner with a focus on green chilies.

Hope this article has served to clear up any confusion regarding the differences between these two sauces. 

Which one will you try first?


Can I substitute salsa for enchilada sauce?

You can substitute salsa for enchilada sauce because the ingredients are similar. But remember that salsa is chunkier and has an herbal flavor. Thus, it may not be the exact replication you are looking for. 

Can you substitute salsa for enchilada sauce and vice versa?

You can do so, but it may not taste just the way you want it to. If you decide to make the substitution, expect a few changes in flavor.

Is salsa verde the same as green salsa?

Yes, generally speaking, salsa verde is going to be the same as green salsa. Just be sure not to get it confused with green enchilada sauce, as these entities are quite different. 

Is green enchilada sauce the same as red enchilada sauce?

No, it is not. Green enchilada sauce is made primarily of green chilis, while red enchilada sauce is often made from traditional red tomato paste and chilies. 

Is salsa verde spicier than regular salsa? 

It can be! Although the rule of thumb is that a spicy red salsa will be spicier than a green one, the truth is that both can be quite spicy in their own right. It really comes down to the ingredients they are made with. Thus, it isn’t always safe to assume that a green salsa is always mild–depending on what it’s made with, you may find it hotter than traditional red!

Categorized as Journal

By Anna

Anna Brooks, the voice behind, is a seasoned writer and editor with an insatiable love for food. While not a professional chef, her culinary adventures and unique insights have captivated readers for years. Anna believes in the transformative power of food, stating it "feeds the soul." Dive into her writings for a mix of inspiration, entertainment, and culinary wisdom. Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora

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