Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

You’d never know it, but just off of Highway 1, in the sleepy Sonoma Coast town of Gualala, there lives an authentic gem of a taquería the likes of which are seldom found in the heart of a big city.  Tucked into the corner of the ever-depressing Sundstrom Mall and flanked by a glowing bakery case packed with a plethora of sub-par pastries you’ll find, Gualala Pizza & Bakery.  Try not to let the name fool you — or the locals for that matter (they’ll be the ones inexplicably munching away on pizza and burgers), it’s the Mexican food you’re here for, and man is it ever good!  We’re talking handmade corn tortillas, carnitas-packed gorditas, delectable barbacoa burritos and my personal favorite: Baja-style, beer-battered salmon tacos.  Everything is fresh, delicious and affordable, but for me, it’s their “complimentary” avocado-tomatillo salsa that has me coming back to this place.

Slathered on tacos or used as a dip for their fried-to-order tortilla chips, this sauce is good on anything.  I was beginning to think that I was the only one who had an unhealthy relationship with this spicy green salsa, that is, until a family member stepped forward to shed light on their own addiction.  My sister confessed to regularly smuggling out a few extra containers to use at home for her own culinary concoctions.  It may be paranoia, but I think they might have caught-on to our little scheme because they no longer set out those little plastic cups.  So, suffering from severe withdrawal, I finally set out to whip up a batch myself.

It took patience and careful planning, but by asking the ladies behind the counter a few well-positioned questions scattered over the course of a couple of visits, I was able to deduce that it consisted of canned (not fresh) tomatillos as its base with ripe avocado accounting for its creamy texture.  With only a handful of obvious ingredients (lime, chiles, garlic) making up the remainder of the mix, I played around with several brands of tomatillos and searched for the perfect ratio of avocado.  In the end, I think I got something that’s pretty close.  My cravings have been dealt with for now, but it’s only a matter of time before I get a hankering for one of those unbeatable fish tacos.


This is one of those salsas that is extremely easy to adjust to personal taste, so don’t be afraid to add more or less of any of the suggested ingredients.  I personally love a biting, fiery sauce so I choose to use a minimum of 2 serrano chiles when making my batches.  If you prefer a salsa more akin to traditional guacamole, feel free to use an entire avocado instead of the half for an even creamier texture.  I only like to use a little garlic when making this condiment as adding too much can quickly overwhelm the other flavors.  This is also one of the rare instances where I choose to forgo the use of cilantro, as it’s addition tends to detract from the brightness of the canned tomatillos.


  • 1 12-ounce can, drained, whole tomatillos
  • 1/2 large ripe avocado, roughly chopped
  • 1 small clove of garlic, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 a large lime
  • 1-2 medium serrano chiles, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt


  1. Place all of the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and process until the components are well-incorporated into a smooth sauce, about 30-40 seconds.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

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    • mjf
    • November 20th, 2009

    Thanks for this recipe. I have printed it and will make it for the holidays. Sounds and looks perfect for Christmas. And refreshingly different from all the heavier cream and mayo-based dips.

  1. Sounds fabulous! I’ve never tried avocado in a salsa like this before, but it’s a great idea.

  2. That place sounds like heaven. Little hole in the wall, you would never know how good it is by looking at it, kind of place!

    • Kendra
    • June 26th, 2010

    I’ve been meaning to make this for quite awhile, and keep forgetting when I’m at Whole Foods to get canned tomatillos (not sold at my regular grocery store). Finally got it all together today and whipped this up! I used the whole avocado, still found it to have a salsa consistency rather than a guacamole consistency, I just wanted a bit more avocado flavor, because…well…it’s my favorite flavor in the world. Thanks for this, it’s wonderfully bright and balanced and I may have eaten it straight out of the food processor bowl…

    • Jennifer
    • December 16th, 2010

    I just made this tonight to go with chicken fajitas, we really liked it, even my 10 year old ate it (after I told him it didn’t have avocadoes). thanks for the recipe.

  1. February 4th, 2010
  2. March 1st, 2010