This delicious homemade cilantro lime enchilada sauce can be used for enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas, etc. Canning instructions are included.This delicious green enchilada sauce features the Southwest flavors of tomatillos, cilantro, and lime, and can be used for enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas, etc.

After a 5 day visit to Southern California to see my family, I’m glad to be back home in the great Pacific Northwest. Today I want to share the recipe for a fantastic tasting Cilantro-Lime Enchilada Sauce that I made (and canned) back in July.

I’ve included instructions for canning this (optional), but you don’t have to do that to enjoy this delicious sauce on some enchiladas, or even to use as a taco sauce. It’s really good, very easy to prepare, and makes 3 pints of delicious enchilada sauce!

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This Recipe Uses Tomatillos – So What Is A Tomatillo?

I had never cooked with tomatillos before making this green sauce, but found them very easy to work with.  A tomatillo is also known as a Mexican Husk Tomato, due to the paper-like husk that surrounds it. This fruit/vegetable originated in Mexico, and is a key ingredient in Mexican and Central American green sauces.

Cilantro Lime Enchilada Sauce Is A Green Sauce!

When I make homemade enchiladas or order them at our favorite Mexican restaurant, I always go with a traditional red sauce, BUT I decided to branch out a bit and make this recipe for a green enchilada sauce.  The original recipe was from Pam at “Over The Big”.

Do I Have To CAN This Cilantro Lime Enchilada Sauce?

No! Absolutely NOT! The recipe does NOT have to be canned, but I canned it (water-bath canning and recipe makes 3 pints), so I could have some in our pantry for “later”. Further down in this post, you can see how to store it, if not canning it!

I used the first batch of this sauce to make some Pork Enchiladas With Cilantro Lime Sauce, and whoa… they were amazingly DELICIOUS!

Chicken enchiladas with cilantro lime enchilada sauceThe sauce was very easy to prepare, and I absolutely will make it again, so I can have more in our pantry!  Here’s how I made it:

How To Make Cilantro Lime Enchilada Sauce

Rinse, peel and de-stem the tomatillos, then cut each tomatillo in quarters (6 cups total).

Tomatillos are used to make cilantro lime enchilada sauce.
Place the tomatillos into a large stockpot,, and add the chopped onion, minced garlic, and chopped jalapeno peppers.

Cooking tomatillos, onions, jalapenos for sauce
Drizzle everything in the pot with olive oil. Cook the tomatillos on medium-high heat for a few minutes. While the tomatillos and other veggies are cooking, chop up the fresh cilantro.

Chopped cilantro for adding to cilantro lime sauce
Cooking The Tomatillo Mixture

After the tomatillo mixture has cooked for a few minutes, add the water, chopped cilantro, cumin, and salt to the pan. Place a lid on the pot and turn the heat to low temperature. Cook on low for about 10-12 minutes.

Cilantro, water, and spices added to sauce in pan
Once the tomatillos are pretty soft, use an immersion blender to completely puree everything into a smooth sauce. NOTE: If you do not have an immersion blender (mine was a gift!), put everything into a blender or a food processor and blend until smooth (might have to do it in batches).

Once the cilantro lime enchilada sauce is smooth, add the lime juice to the mixture and mix well, to fully combine.

Using immersion blender to puree tomatillos in enchilada sauce
What If I Am NOT Going To CAN The Cilantro Lime Enchilada Sauce? At this point if you are NOT going to can it, you can use some right away, to make enchiladas!  Make sure to keep the leftover sauce covered and refrigerated.

Can I FREEZE The Sauce?

Yes, you can freeze the sauce. It will keep in the freezer for 2-3 months. You will need to store the sauce in air-tight containers or freezer bags in the freezer.

Cilantro lime enchilada sauce has been blended

How Do I CAN The Cilantro Lime Enchilada Sauce?

**If you are going to can the enchilada sauce, you will need to add the hot enchilada sauce into your clean, hot canning jars (that have been prepped according to USDA safe canning guidelines)YOU WILL ALSO NEED TO ADD ADDITIONAL LIME JUICE TO EACH JAR BEFORE PROCESSING (SEE RECIPE BELOW).

Fill the jars leaving 1/2 ” headspace, remove air bubbles, adjust headspace, if necessary. Wipe rims, then apply 2 piece canning lids that have been prepped according to safe canning guidelines.  Process in boiling water in water bath canner for 40 minutes, following published canning guidelines**.

Jars of cilantro lime sauce in water bath canner

Cilantro Lime Enchilada Sauce, canned and ready to use or store in pantry!
Hope you will give this recipe a try! The cilantro-lime enchilada sauce is delicious and fresh tasting! Update (2019): This recipe for cilantro lime enchilada sauce continues to be used, over and over. I’ve made this enchilada sauce at least 5 times now, and it is fantastic!

Thank you for stopping by today. I hope you will come back soon for more delicious recipes.

Looking For More CANNING Recipes?

You can find all my canning recipes in the Recipe Index, located at the top of the page. These include:

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Cilantro-Lime Enchilada Sauce
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Canning Time
40 mins
Total Time
30 mins
This delicious green enchilada sauce features the Southwest flavors of tomatillos, cilantro, and lime, and can be used for enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas, etc.
Category: Condiment
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: cilantro lime enchilada sauce
Servings: 3 pints
Calories Per Serving: 163 kcal
Author: JB @ The Grateful Girl Cooks!
  • 6 cups tomatillos , husks removed and quartered
  • 1/2 cup brown onion , chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic (sliced thinly, or use equivalent of minced garlic)
  • 2 medium jalapeno peppers , finely chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons cilantro , chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 additional fresh limes (to use only if you are canning this recipe)
  1. Remove husks from tomatillos; rinse tomatillos, then cut into quarters. Place into large saute pan or stockpot, along with the garlic and chopped jalapenos, then drizzle all with a bit of olive oil.
  2. Cook the veggies on medium high heat for 4-5 minutes. Add the water, cilantro, cumin and salt to the pan. Put a lid on the pan; continue to simmer the veggies on low for about 10 minutes or so, until the tomatillos have softened.

  3. Once tomatillos have softened, use an immersion blender to blend ingredients until you have a smooth sauce. May also put the hot ingredients into a blender or a food processor (in batches), and process until smooth.
  4. Once sauce is smooth, stir in 1/4 cup of fresh lime juice to combine. If you are NOT canning the sauce, it is now ready to use.
  5. IF YOU ARE GOING TO CAN THE SAUCE: Pour the hot enchilada sauce into clean, hot canning jars. Squeeze the juice from 1/2 a lime into each jar - DO NOT FORGET TO ADD THE EXTRA LIME JUICE TO JAR, SINCE THIS ADDS THE EXTRA ACIDITY NECESSARY FOR LONG TERM STORAGE. Leave 1/2" headspace in each jar. Remove air bubbles, wipe rim of jar with clean cloth, then attach prepared heated jar lid (again, per guidelines) and jar ring. Please follow USDA canning guidelines if you are not familiar with the canning process. Process in a water bath canner for 40 minutes. When done, remove jars to a kitchen towel (do not sit right on counter), and let jars completely cool. Once you have ensured they have sealed correctly, they may be stored in pantry.
Recipe Notes

**The cooking time listed is for making the sauce. If you will be canning the sauce, and additional 40 minutes of processing time will be necessary.

Nutrition Facts
Cilantro-Lime Enchilada Sauce
Amount Per Serving (1 Pint Jar)
Calories 163 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 1169mg51%
Potassium 850mg24%
Carbohydrates 26g9%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 13g14%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 450IU9%
Vitamin C 63.9mg77%
Calcium 45mg5%
Iron 2.1mg12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Here’s one more to pin on your Pinterest boards!This delicious homemade cilantro lime enchilada sauce can be used for enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas, etc. Canning instructions are included.



Cilantro-Lime Enchilada Sauce

10 Comments on Cilantro-Lime Enchilada Sauce

    • Don’t use Meyer Lemons or Key Limes when canning because their acidity is much lower than regular Lemons or limes.

  1. JB I made this today. I over estimated my 6 cups of tomatilltos. I ended up with 10 and adjusted the recipe accordingly.
    The sauce looks beautiful. But I wished I had used less lime. I am going to let it set in the fridge over night and see if it mellows. I am excited to use it on my chicken enchiladas. Thanks for the recipe.😉

  2. I would like to try this. 40 minutes seems long, most canning I’ve done isn’t longer than 15 minutes in a water bath canner. Why is this so much longer?

    • Good morning, Brenda! Thanks for taking the time to write! I agree with you that the processing time seems longer than usual for water bath canning. I have seen other recipes using tomatillos that only require a 15 minute processing time. For this particular recipe I was using a recipe I found online, so I followed it exactly (so I wouldn’t mess it up the first time). The original recipe I used for making the sauce called for 40 minute processing time, so that is what I did, with fantastic results! Once it worked perfectly, I just keep on processing it the same way.

    • Good morning, Gwen! First… thank you for writing! I have never made this recipe using green tomatoes, so I am sorry I cannot tell you the correct answer to your question. I do know that green tomatoes and tomatillos have subtly different flavors, so I’m not sure how that would work with the other flavors here. I can tell you I have seen several salsa verde recipes (green sauce) that can use either green tomatoes OR tomatillos, so it might be worth a try. If you do make this recipe with green tomatoes and have success with it, I would love to know that… I could use some of the green tomatoes from our garden each year! Have a great day!

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