I have lately come across good recipes, which happen to require tomatillos. Sadly, I don't have a source for tomatillos.

Is there some way to substitute them in recipes? Physalis berries? Underripe tomatoes? If tomatoes, then which kind?

Will it be a result similar to the original recipe, something definitely different, but usable, or so different that it only works by accident?

  • 2
    I don't know a good substitution but tomatillos are often cooked when they are used. Therefore, canned tomatillos work reasonably well and can be purchased online like everything else. amazon.com/Embasa-Whole-Tomatillos-12-oz/dp/B0000GG242/… May 26, 2011 at 20:35
  • @sobachatina Thank you, I hadn't thought of looking on Amazon for food, ours only got the department a year ago or so. They actually had it, I am expecting my package now.
    – rumtscho
    May 30, 2011 at 11:20

4 Answers 4


Under-ripe, green tomatoes that have a thick wall and medium pulp will work in many substitutions.

It will remain tart however the crispness of actual tomatillos will not be present. There is an almost citrusy effect to the taste of tomatillos that green tomatoes don't quite match. If this is a recipe requiring lime juice and cilantro, I might also add a bit of lemon juice or zest to account for the bitter, citrusy profile. If you are not using a recipe with lime you can probably get away without adding the lemon since I'm guessing the citrusy flavor isn't focal.

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    Thank you for the info on "citrusy". I found out that meanwhile I can order canned ones on the Internet, but I'll probably need the knowledge when I am visiting my family.
    – rumtscho
    May 30, 2011 at 11:19

i would think the flavor would be different, but they really are similar to small, underripe (green) tomatoes. i might be worth a shot to try those in a pinch, but canned is also a good option.

  • +1 - I was going to recommend the most unripe, fleshy tomatoes you can find. The have the tartness you're looking for and because they haven't had time to develop much seeds, they'll hold up to cooking. May 26, 2011 at 23:46

If you can't find fresh, I suspect you probably can't find canned locally, but the canned ones are a great convenience. In a green salsa mixed with fresh ingredients (cilantro, lime, jalapeno, etc.) I can't tell the difference between fresh and canned. You can order them online and have them shipped.


Tomatillos are super easy to grow, if you can grow tomatoes, you can grow these. I don't even have to plant them, they reseed every year and I pull out the ones I don't want.

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