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What Is Zhoug and Why I Love It on Everything


By Sally Sampson

As a rule, I make everything from scratch. For me it’s easier, quicker, cheaper, more interesting, and infinitely more flexible (If a recipe has something I don’t like, I can omit it. Or if it has too much of something I do like, I can reduce it.).
I make an exception for Trader Joe’s Zhoug Sauce: “a very spicy green herbal sauce with Yemeni roots,” which I liken to a spicy cilantro pesto (though it contains no cheese or nuts). Their ingredients, according to the label, include cilantro, canola oil, jalapeno peppers, chili flakes, garlic, cardamom, sea salt, and cumin seed.
I lather it on sandwiches; add it to salad dressings; and swirl it into scrambled eggs, hummus, yogurt, and soups. I dollop it on rice, baked potatoes, roasted vegetables, grilled salmon, beef, and chicken. So far, I love it on everything.
In truth, it’s super easy to make. So if you’re mostly like me, here’s the recipe:

1 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves and small stems, washed
1/4 cup olive oil
2 small or 1 large jalapeños, seeded, if you like, and sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
Put all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Cover and refrigerate up to 1 week.


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