This easy pollo en salsa verde recipe features a classic Mexican dish of chicken cooked in a rich, spicy green sauce. Served with warm tortillas and white rice, it’s the perfect dish to spruce up a weeknight meal.
Pollo en salsa verde is a traditional Mexican dish made with chicken simmered in a flavorful, spicy, bright green sauce. Salsa verde is simply a blend of tomatillos, fresh chiles, garlic, onion, and cilantro.
The chicken is slow-cooked in the green sauce until it is tender and all the flavors are fully absorbed. The result is a mouthwatering mix of spicy heat and bright flavors coming together in one delicious dish.
Why you should make it
- Simple yet impressive: This dish looks and tastes fancy for dinner parties, yet it’s simple enough to make for a weeknight meal.
- Healthy and delish: Pollo en salsa verde is full of flavor and nutrition – it’s loaded with protein, fiber, and vitamins.
- Customizable: You can use whatever type of chiles you prefer for the salsa verde or adjust the level of heat by adding more or less of them.
- Budget-friendly: Chicken is an inexpensive protein, and the ingredients needed to make salsa verde are usually easy to find.
- Chicken: It’s best to use boneless chicken breasts or thighs for this recipe to ensure that it cooks quickly and evenly in the sauce. But feel free to use bone-in chicken. Read the notes below for instructions.
- Zucchini & onion: It adds texture and bulk to this dish, as well as a bit of natural sweetness.
- Onion and garlic: These two are essential to building a flavorful base for the sauce.
- Jalapeño: Jalapeños add just enough spice to make your taste buds tingle without overwhelming the other flavors in the dish. You can use other green spicy chiles like serrano or poblano.
- Tomatillos: Slightly sweet and acidic than red tomatoes, Mexican husk tomatoes give the sauce its signature bright green color and tangy flavor. If you can’t find these, use canned tomatillos instead.
- Cilantro: Brings a bright, fresh, herbal flavor and aroma to the sauce.
- Olive oil: Or use your favorite cooking oil.
- Seasonings: The combination of oregano and cumin give this dish a warm and earthy depth of flavor that’s hard to replicate. Don’t forget to season your chicken with salt and pepper!
How To Make Pollo En Salsa Verde
Place tomatillos, chili peppers, and the zucchini cut into half in a pot, cover with water and boil until tomatillos and zucchini are cooked through. Drain and allow to cool down.
Place in a blender along with cilantro, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
Pour 1 1/2 cups of water and blend for 2-3 minutes or until you will have a smooth sauce. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large cooking pan.
Add zucchini chunks, jalapeño strips, and sliced onions. Cook stirring constantly until onions and chilies are slightly softened.
Make some room in the middle of the pan. Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook chicken for 5 minutes or until no longer pink.
Pour over the salsa verde and mix well to combine all ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, mixing from time to time.
Adjust seasonings to taste then turn off the heat and serve with your favorite sides. *Read below for some options to serve this recipe!*
- Sweeten it up: Add a teaspoon of sugar to balance out the tanginess and spiciness of the sauce.
- Use firm, small tomatillos: Stick to smaller tomatillos as larger ones (the size of a golf ball) are bitter and less flavorful.
- Adjust cooking times: If you want to add bone-in chicken, make sure to adjust the cooking time, in this case, we recommend to cook first the chicken on both sides for 10-15 minutes, remove, cook the veggies, add the sauce and return chicken to finish the cooking.
How To Serve
I love the versatility of this dish when it comes to pairing it. You just have so many options like rice, noodles, bread, etc. Or you can use the mixture and fix some tacos if you want since you even have the salsa included!
Here are my recommendations for serving with this pollo en salsa verde recipe:
How to store & Reheat
Make a big batch of pollo en salsa verde for a delicious meal on a whim. It keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days when stored in a glass container with a tight lid. Anytime longer than that, use freezer bags and place them in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To reheat, pop it in a microwave or a small pot over low heat until warm enough.
Pollo En Salsa Verde
- 2 lb chicken breast (cut into small chunks)
- 1 lb zucchini (cut into chunks)
- 1 small onion (sliced)
- 2 jalapeño peppers (cut into strips, seeds and veins removed)
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper (to taste)
For salsa verde
- ½ lb tomatillos (or 1 small can cooked tomatillos)
- 1 small zucchini (cut in half)
- 3 serrano peppers (see notes)
- 1 small bunch cilantro
- 1 small onion (cut in half)
- 2 garlic cloves (peeled)
- ¼ tsp cumin (seeds or ground)
- 1 tsp oregano
- Place tomatillos, chilies, and the zucchini cut into half in a pot, cover with water and boil until tomatillos and zucchini are cooked through. Drain and allow to cool down.
- Place the cooked ingredients in a blender along with cilantro, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Pour 1 ½ cups of water and blend until you'll have a smooth sauce. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large cooking pan over medium heat.
- Add zucchini chunks, jalapeño strips, and sliced onions. Cook stirring constantly until onions and chilies are slightly softened.
- Make some room in the middle of the pan. Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook the chicken for about 5 minutes or until no longer pink.
- Pour over the salsa verde and mix well to combine all ingredients.
- Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, mixing from time to time.
- Adjust seasonings and turn off the heat. Serve with a side of rice or your favorite side dish.
Hope you enjoyed this easy pollo en salsa verde recipe. Please take a minute to rate the recipe below in the comments and leave your thoughts. And remember to follow this blog on:
Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.