Smoked Pineapple and Tomatillo Salsa – Recipe

Smoked Pineapple Salsa
Smoked Pineapple and Tomatillo Salsa

NOTE: I no longer recommend jury-rigged stovetop smoking. I’ve since learned that creating smoke in a low-oxygen sealed environment like this creates unnecessarily high levels of carcinogens. See my Smoked Tofu Buns recipe for a safer alternative if you don’t have your own method of smoking.

You might notice I’ve been on a bit of a stovetop-smoking kick, what with last week’s frijoles charros. This pineapple and tomatillo salsa uses the exact same method. If you are making both, don’t try to get enough smoke from one batch of wood chips; you won’t get the best flavor if you run them too long.

The smoke adds a haunting flavor to this salsa. My brother’s comment was “you should bottle this stuff.” I ate it all week, on tacos, quesadillas and chilaquilles – my usual regimen of quick eats based on leftovers from a Mexican feast.

Please make sure you have adequate ventilation before generating smoke, and only undertake this if you know how to do it safely.

Fruit salsas always run a risk of being too sweet, but the smoking tempers the sweetness of the pineapple, and the tomatillos are quite tart. I found I actually had to add some agave nectar to reach just the right balance.

p.s. I recently got a review copy of my friend Keren Brown’s Food Lover’s Guide to Seattle. Whether you think you know the Seattle food scene, or are visiting the first time, she’s unearthed treasures you don’t know about. She covers not just restaurants, but farmer’s markets, specialty shops and small producers and calls out places that are great for vegetarians, gluten-free eaters, and small kids. If you eat in Seattle, you should have her book.

Smoked Pineapple and Tomatillo Salsa
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free / Makes about 2 cups

  • 1 cup hickory or mesquite wood chips
  • 1 3/4 cups fresh pineapple chunks
  • 4 small tomatillos, peeled and halved
  • 3 green onions, ends removed and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • Chile de arbol or cayenne powder
  1. Put the wood chips in a medium-sized saucepan that you don’t mind discoloring. Place a folding steamer basket on top of the wood chips, and put the pineapple chunks on it. Put the lid on the pot, and place it on high heat. Cook for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat. See note on safer smoking above. Carefully taste a piece of pineapple and confirm that it has a good level of smoke. If not, cook for another couple of minutes.
  2. Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Put the tomatillos and green onions in (with no oil) and cook, turning occasionally, until they start to darken in spots, about 5 minutes.
  3. Put the smoked pineapple, tomatillos, green onions, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, salt, agave nectar, and a pinch of chile de arbol in a mini-food processor. Process until it forms a coarse puree. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve at room temperature for best flavor. This salsa will keep for at least 3 days in the refrigerator.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, July 18th, 2011 in Gluten-Free or modifiable, Recipes, Sauces and Condiments, Vegan or Modifiable.

19 Responses to “Smoked Pineapple and Tomatillo Salsa – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    July 18, 2011 at 8:38 am #

    Looks great! I love the use of wood chips in your last few recipes. I wonder if using chipotle en adobo would get you the smokiness if you didn’t have the wood chips or didn’t want to wake your neighbors with smoke alarm-ings.

  2. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    July 18, 2011 at 8:45 am #

    Hey Condimentary – yes, chipotle in adobo is a good option for smokiness if you don't want to do it yourself. There are some tradeoffs of course – it adds heat and tomato etc that you might not want, and it also lacks some of the notes that freshly made smoke produces. You can also sometimes find morita chiles, which are the dried smoked jalapenos without any sauce. 

    Michael Natkin

    Find me:

    The latest from my blog, Herbivoracious: Smoked Pineapple and Tomatillo Salsa – Recipe

  3. Reply
    July 18, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    Good point about the tomato. I will check out those morita chiles. Thanks!

  4. Reply
    July 19, 2011 at 5:03 am #

    Oh my, this is SOOOO up my alley!!! I had a jar of tomatillo salsa last week and I put some on my salads everyday. WITH pineapple, YUM! I need to get off my bum and go get some wood chips!

  5. Reply
    July 20, 2011 at 4:07 am #

    This recipe looks fantastic. I want to try them this weekend – something new and exciting! Thank you very much for posting! 🙂

  6. Reply
    July 20, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    Wow. I’m so excited to try this. I recently made a tomatillo salsa with chipotles but I love the addition of pineapple! Thank you!!

  7. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    July 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    Thanks, Natalie! I love that picture of the carrots on your blog, beautiful.

    Michael Natkin

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  8. Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    Looks very interesting for a salsa. I should try this as my dipping. Thank you very much I found this post, I’ve been looking for a salsa like this coz I can’t think of anything to use in my nachos.

  9. Reply
    July 22, 2011 at 1:38 am #

    I read some your recipes,translate them for my friends.
    they asked mt to say “thanks”to you.

  10. Reply
    July 22, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    Lately your posts seems inspired by Texas…or am i just imagining? 🙂 You know you are the one who go me hooked on Tomatillo!!! looks like a beautiful recipe!

  11. Reply
    July 22, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    Wow! What a wonderful site you have here! I discovered your site while google searching a new recipe I was about to post to make sure I was original- apparently my stuffed tortillas were very much like your Pupusas de Queso. I still posted my recipe, but I made sure to mention that they were like a traditional Salvadoran treat and linked to your website.
    I’m glad I found you here though, and will be coming back to read more!

  12. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    July 22, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    I've definitely been on a Mexican / southwest run! One more coming on Monday :).

    Michael Natkin

    Find me:

    The latest from my blog, Herbivoracious: Smoked Pineapple and Tomatillo Salsa – Recipe

  13. Reply
    July 25, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    i made this Friday night and served with rave reviews. Not vegetarian here … so in addition to serving with chips …. put on wild sockeye salmon that i had grilled …. delish!

    also made the cowboy beans …. yum! everyone loved them and amazingly enough there were some left over the next day … even better!

    I did the smoking in the pan with steamer basket but out on the gas grill. seemed to work. both recipes seemed easy to make and tasted amazing.

    I always give credit where credit is due …. you do make me look good though and add so much enjoyment to our meals.


  14. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    July 25, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    Nice! I think doing the smoking out on the bbq is eminently sensible. Much less risk of inadvertent fire alarms 🙂

    Michael Natkin

    Find me:

    The latest from my blog, Herbivoracious: Hongos en Escabeche – Mushrooms Sauteed with Sherry Vinegar – Recipe

  15. Reply
    July 26, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    This smoked pineapple dish looks so delicious! It’s something new and I really want to try it! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  16. Reply
    July 28, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    Delicious! link to

  17. Reply
    July 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    Absolutely thrilled to have discovered this over-the-top with inspiration and yumminess recipe! Pleased to feature in on my new page about how to eat crab cakes too 😉 PS Hubs has smoker chips and pineapple on the grocery list…lol!

  18. Reply
    July 31, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    I just found your blog and can’t wait to try this recipe–looks delicious! Unfortunately I don’t have access to a grill for the smoking stage, so I’ll have to do it on the stove top. Does it make your kitchen/home pretty smokey afterwards? Thanks! ~K

  19. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    July 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    Kristin – if you use a pot with a tight fitting lid and follow the instructions closely, I don't think you'll find the amount of smoke to be overwhelming. I've done it many times in my house with no negative side effects.

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