Trader Joe’s Green Dragon hot sauce is a classic verde sauce, with a sweet front and a mildish back-end kick. It comes in a big plastic squeeze bottle which I enjoy because you can cover your entire plate in this with ease. But how well does its heat, flavor, and usability set it apart from other hot sauces? The short of it: Trader Joe’s Green Dragon Hot Sauce has all the stuff you’d want from a milder daily-driver hot sauce, plus some surprising ingredients that give it some real flavor depth.
Let’s look at the ingredients first to get a sense of what to expect from Trader Joe’s Green Dragon Hot Sauce: organic jalapeño pepper puree, tomatillo puree, white distilled vinegar, cane sugar, cilantro puree, salt, garlic puree, garlic, spinach powder, lime juice concentrate, and habanero pepper powder.
There’s a lot unexpected there – cilantro puree and spinach powder (especially) aren’t all that common in hot sauces. And as a whole – for a hot sauce from a major store chain – the flavor is surprisingly deep and balanced.
The tangy and sweet from the tomatillo and sugar hit you first, though it’s the cilantro, garlic, and lime juice that balance the sweetness you taste up top and honestly make this hot sauce quite complex. And let’s not forget that spinach. It gives it a subtle earthy undertone. Yeah, this hot sauce is deep. Since it’s not that spicy (more on that below) and the little heat that’s here is on the back-end, you can really take your time and taste all the flavors this sauce has to offer.
Trader Joe’s Green Dragon Hot Sauce has just the right amount of mild simmer that leaves you coming back for more. This isn’t a hot sauce, even with both jalapeño and habanero pepper on the ingredient list. It’s WAY less of a kick than El Yucateco Salsa Picante Verde, but spicier than your classic mild sauce. I’d call it family-friendly, but be warned because the spice is on the back-end (though it doesn’t linger).
The balance between all the flavor and the heat is what makes this addictive and very usable as an everyday hot sauce. In fact, I used about 1/4 of a bottle on a steak and it was a delight. This is why it comes in a squeeze bottle. You don’t need to be careful with it – this is a sauce for pouring. Go nuts! Try it on tacos, steak, chicken, salads, and also as a chip dip (because it’s not too hot to scoop.)
Their bottle has the perfect size opening, as big as a pencil eraser, to either drop sauce onto your meal or give the plastic bottle a simple squeeze and get the amount you’ll really want (which is a lot.) The consistency is just perfect and not watery at all. Trader Joe’s Green Dragon Hot Sauce definitely stays where you put it.
Trader Joe’s Green Dragon Hot Sauce has 70mg of sodium. So as a salt addict, I did not need to add salt after using this sauce.
I love the green dragon logo, but there’s not a whole lot to it. It’s a simple font on a clear plastic squeeze bottle. It’s not meant to be sipped, savored, and admired – it’s meant to be used and at a rapid pace.
Again, the sweet with the spice really make this a crowd-pleaser which is likely why this comes in a larger 18 oz. bottle. Trader Joes did us all a favor and packaged it as though to say, “No need to be delicate, unleash your inner dragon and let’s get hot saucin’!”