How to Use Green Tomatoes as Tomatillos | Slow Cooker Chicken Tinga

Tips and tricks for using green tomatoes in recipes calling for tomatillos or even red tomatoes. Plus a kid-friendly, saucy chicken dish that’s perfect for tailgating or even Taco Tuesday.

How to Use Green Tomatoes | @TspCurry

It’s the end of the summer and we have green tomatoes galore. And that’s a good thing. If you see green tomatoes at the farmers market, do NOT pass them up! (Bonus: They’re usually cheaper than the ripe red variety.)

In most recipes, I use tomatillos and green tomatoes interchangeably. Here’s what I’ve tried:

  • Green Tomato Salsa Verde – Just swap green tomatoes in for the tomatillos in this Tomatillo Salsa Verde recipe. It’s delish on the below Slow Cooker Chicken Tinga.
  • Roasted Green Tomato Salsa – Just like roasting any veggie, roasting green tomatoes makes them sweet. I use this recipe for Fiery Tomatillo Salsa from Janice @Meal Makeover Moms. For more info on roasting green tomatoes, check out this #HealthyKitchenHacks post.
  • Slow Cooker Chicken Tinga – I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure if this would work. But oh, man! My whole family thought it yummy. The key was to briefly caramelize the green tomatoes before slow cooking them. This helped turn any bitter flavors to the characteristic bright and tart tomatillo flavors.


Now, here’s how to add green tomatoes to any recipe calling for tomatillos or even red tomatoes:

Salt is key. I didn’t use a lot. Crushed tomatoes have quite a bit of salt, so I didn’t need to add any to this recipe (for my family’s tastes.) But if you make a fresh salsas, add salt, let the flavors meld for an hour or two and taste again.

Bright acid is the second key. Green tomatoes tend to have a tannin-y (like tea,) almost-bitter tartness. To ‘soften the edges’ of this bitterness, add bright citrus. Of course lime is the perfect classic-Mexican choice. But sweet orange or grapefruit would also be lovely in a fresh salsa or any cooked dish too.  Got green tomatoes? Make super-flavorful Slow Cooker Chicken Tinga w/ Tortilla Chips via @TspCurry Click To Tweet

A bit more about this dish: I’ve always wanted to recreate a dish we loved from the Tamale Hut restaurant near our former home in Chicago. They served their slow-cooked, super flavorful chicken tinga on homemade tortilla chips. My recipe is really, really close to the richly flavored, chocked-full-of chicken, heartily sauced tinga from our Tamale Hut friends. The green tomatoes just melted the yummy robust sauce.


Slow Cooker Chicken Tinga with Chips

Tips and tricks for using green tomatoes in recipes calling for tomatillos or even red tomatoes. Plus a kid-friendly, saucy chicken dish that’s perfect for tailgating or even Taco Tuesday.

  • Author: by Serena Ball, RD
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) green cherry tomatoes, quartered (or 1 large green/red tomato)
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 chili from a can of adobo chilies, chopped
  • 3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
  • Serve with: Tortilla chips, avocado, cheese, lime wedges, chopped cilantro


  1. In a large non-stick saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook (about 5 minutes) until a few dark golden pieces appear, stirring frequently. Add garlic, cumin, oregano, black pepper and cook stirring for 1 minute.
  2. Move onion mixture to the edges of the pan and add green tomatoes and cook 3-4 minutes – without stirring – until one side of green tomato pieces begins to brown. Add 1 tablespoon water, (or wine or apple cider vinegar) and stir for 1 minute scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in crushed tomatoes and chili; cook 2 minutes to warm.
  3. Spray inside of slow cooker with cooking spray and pour in warm sauce. Place chicken in sauce, turning to coat on all sides with sauce; make sure the meaty side of the chicken ends up facing down, closest to the heat source. Cook on LOW for 4-6 hours.
  4. Remove chicken to cutting board; let cool slightly. Remove meat from bones and shred meat using two forks; return meat to sauce. Serve with chips and toppings.

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us — we can't wait to see what you've made!

Do you ever cook with green tomatoes? Have you ever made Chicken Tinga?




We’re Serena & Deanna, two dietitians who love food as much as you do!  

We're also moms and business owners who share our family recipes, healthy kitchen hacks and nutrition adventures while keeping it real in the kitchen with you.

We’re so glad you’ve stopped by!

Hungry for More?

Don’t miss a single delicious, nutritious, food-lovers recipe! For exclusive Healthy Kitchen Hacks and incentives provided only to our subscribers, sign up here to receive our weekly e-newsletter.


Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates.
Type your custom success message here...