The $3 Trader Joe's Italian Condiment I Can't Live Without|Recipes Spots

  • on August 7, 2023
The $3 Trader Joe's Italian Condiment I Can't Live Without

Trader Joe's Store Front
Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham

About 10 years ago I came across Italian bomba—a hot sauce made with Calabrian chili peppers—at a local specialty retailer. I was intrigued and splurged on a jar. We’ve been inseparable since. There is almost nothing the tang and heat of bomba sauce can’t improve, so I keep the condiment in my fridge at all times.

Hailing from the south of Italy, the hallmark ingredient of any bomba sauce is Calabrian chilis. These tiny red peppers pack some serious heat, but they also have an interesting depth of flavor beyond just spice—they are smoky and fruity, and enhance my meals, rather than overwhelming them with heat as some spicy condiments do.

For years I had a hard time finding this condiment at grocery stores, and since most were imported from Italy, the price point was a little steep considering how quickly my family was using this stuff.

Trader Joe's Italian Bomba Hot Pepper Sauce
Simply Recipes / Trader Joe’s

Then one fateful day, I spotted it at my local Trader Joe’s: their very own Italian Bomba Hot Pepper Sauce. The best part? It is priced at $2.99 per jar.

While the ingredient list of Trader Joe’s version is fairly simple compared to other brands I’ve used before—it doesn’t include other vegetables commonly found in bomba sauce like chopped artichokes, eggplants, or mushrooms—what makes it stand out is the fermentation.

The Calabrian chilis are fermented and take on a funky, vinegary, umami flavor that keeps you wanting more. It’s spicy, but not in a numbing, eyes-watering kind of way. And it’s flavorful, something most hot sauces and spreads fall flat on. Our family’s kitchen is never without at least one jar of TJ’s Bomba.

Penne alla Vodka in a Plate with a Spoon over a Kitchen Towel
Simply Recipes / Alison Bickel

My Favorite Ways To Use TJ’s Bomba Sauce

Now that I have hopefully convinced you that no fridge is complete without a jar of TJ’s Bomba, here are a few of my favorite ways to use it:

1. In Pasta

When I make vodka sauce, I always add a generous dollop of bomba sauce to the cooked onions. It adds a depth of flavor and a hit of spice that the creamy sauce deserves. The same goes for pesto. A teaspoon of bomba will really wake up any basil pesto. 

2. On Eggs

Whether I am scrambling eggs or frying them, you best believe they will be smothered with bomba sauce. 

3. As a Spread for Sandwiches

If I’m making steak sandwiches, grilled cheese, or even a tomato and mozzarella sandwich, I always add a layer of bomba sauce on the bread before assembling. 

4. As a Dip

A quick guilty-pleasure snack I make for dipping chips: bomba stirred into a little sour cream or full-fat Greek yogurt.

5. To Spice up Soups

Tomato soup and minestrone are instantly upgraded with a tablespoon of bomba sauce.

6. As a Pizza Topping

If I’m making pizza at home I like to add a little bomba in with the marinara. If we do take out, I use bomba as an adornment instead of dried chili flakes. 

Article Categories:
Pizza · Sandwiches · Soups

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