I can't get access to tomatillos, but I would like to know what they taste like.

This helped me a bit, but it's not entirely clear to me what would be different between tomatillos and under-ripe tomatoes.

Or are tomatillos closer to something else?

  • 2
    Botanically they are closer to Other things. But I still think that the best sub would be a green tomato. One problem I have found is that smaller green tomatoes can for me be a little bitter. That being said if you access to green tomatoes you should be able to get pretty close by using them and adding a little lemon juice. It wont be exact but subs rarely are.
    – jeffwllms
    May 2, 2012 at 22:34

2 Answers 2


Under-ripe tomatoes definitely seem to me like they weren't exactly meant to be eaten like that. There are certainly still things one can do with them, but the flavor isn't always what you'd like (see tastefive's comment); they were selected for their characteristics when ripe. Tomatillos, on the other hand, have always been used like this. They're supposed to be tart and bright green (unless they're a differently-colored variety). I think tastefive was pretty on-target with the mention of lemon juice; they have a nice bright tartness to them but definitely no bitterness. They're quite pleasant to eat fresh, if you're the kind of person who likes tomatoes and fruit. (I just ate one to make sure I wasn't lying to you.)

A much bigger difference, though, isn't taste: tomatillos aren't really juicy. You can slice and dice all you want and your cutting board will still be dry. This is pretty clear from pictures - here's one I found with Google image search:

cut tomatillos

This makes them very well-suited for the kinds of Mexican sauces they're traditionally used in, more so than a green tomato would be.


I always see tomatillos in the larger grocery stores (Safeway, Whole Foods) and decided to try them for the first time today (5/18). I found them to be delicious. They were sweet, not tart as one answer stated; nor were they juiicy. I just sliced and ate them with no salt, pepper or dressing and enjoyed them very much. I did not find them to be like an under-ripe tomato, just a sweeter, less juicy version. Will definitely buy again.

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