A jar of homemade bruschetta sauce.

Four years ago I published my most clickbaity-titled blog post to date: Trader Joe’s Mind Blowing 3-Ingredient Lentil Salad.

I had tasted the salad at an end-of-school-year gathering and was immediately smitten. After a little digging, I learned that the woman, Gail, who had brought the salad to the party was married to the manager of the Albany Trader Joe’s.

And when Gail told me the recipe — combine one tub of Trader Joe’s bruschetta sauce, one box of Trader Joe’s cooked lentils, and one tub of Trader Joe’s crumbled feta — I drove straight to Trader Joe’s to stock up on ALL the tubs.

After I made the salad and discovered the joys of throwing together three ready-to-go products and calling dinner’s side dish done, I posted the recipe here, which prompted a number of questions from people without access to a Trader Joe’s. Cooking lentils from scratch and finding feta were relatively easy tasks, but what were they to do about the bruschetta sauce?

Stay tuned, I said.

Well, four years later, here it is: a recipe for homemade bruschetta sauce. Its makeup is nearly identical to Trader Joe’s, a combination of finely diced tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, garlic, sea salt, and basil, and it tastes fresh and bright with a nice acidic bite.

As it sits, the juices seep from the tomatoes and mix with the vinegar, producing what can only be described as tomato vinegar, the taste of summer, of long lazy nights at the dinner table, candles dripping, crickets chirping, the last of the bread, piece by piece, slowly disappearing through saucy dregs and dressings.

As a final quality control test, I mixed the homemade bruschetta sauce with from-scratch cooked lentils and my favorite feta, closed my eyes, and took a bite. The result, my friends, can I say it? Mind blowing. I hope you’ll agree.

Homemade Bruschetta Sauce, Step by Step

A tub of Trader Joe's bruschetta sauce highlighting the ingredient list.

The ingredients in Trader Joe’s sauce include: tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, basil, canola oil, sea salt, garlic, sugar, and black pepper. For the homemade version, you will need all of those with the exception of sugar, pepper, and canola oil.

Ingredients to make homemade bruschetta sauce.

Step 1: Finely dice tomatoes such as Roma or hot house cluster tomatoes, which I am using here.

A cutting board with chopped tomatoes on top.

Transfer the tomatoes and their juices to a large bowl.

A bowl of chopped tomatoes.

Add olive oil, vinegar, salt, garlic, and basil.

A bowl filled with the ingredients to make homemade bruschetta sauce.

Toss to combine, taste, and adjust seasonings as needed.

A bowl of homemade bruschetta sauce.

This recipe will yield 3 cups of bruschetta sauce, enough for 2 batches of Trader Joe’s 3-ingredient lentil salad.

A jar of homemade bruschetta sauce.

Here’s the side-by-side comparison. Trader Joe’s version (on the left), as you can see, is slightly thicker. My sense is that TJ’s might use a bit more olive oil than I am using in this recipe. It’s also possible that over time, the tomatoes break down, thickening the sauce.

Homemade bruschetta sauce in a tub aside Trader Joe's bruschetta sauce.

To make Trader Joe’s lentil salad entirely from scratch, boil 1/2 cup dried black or French green lentils in plenty of water with a teaspoon of kosher salt until cooked.

Black lentils in a tub aside a bag of French green lentils.

Since discovering this recipe for black lentils with labneh (or Greek yogurt) and spinach, I cook black lentils more than French green for their quick cooking time and firm texture. They consistently cook in about 25 minutes. French green lentils typically take a little bit longer. For this recipe, you’ll boil 1/2 cup of dried lentils with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.

A pot of lentils boiling stovetop.

Drain them. You’ll have about 1.5 cups of cooked lentils.

Ingredients to make homemade 3-ingredient lentil salad.

Place them in a large bowl with 1.5 cups of the homemade bruschetta sauce and 1/2 cup of crumbled feta. Stir to combine. Taste and season with more sea salt to taste if necessary.

A bowl of Trader Joe's homemade 3-ingredient lentil salad.
A jar of homemade Trader Joe's 3-ingredient lentil salad.

Store in the fridge. This salad is so nice to have on hand for quick lunches and simple dinner sides.

A jar of homemade Trader Joe's Lentil Salad.
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A bowl of homemade bruschetta sauce.

Homemade Bruschetta Sauce (Trader Joe’s Copycat Recipe)

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If you have longed to make Trader Joe’s 3-ingredient lentil salad but have never been able to due to access to Trader Joe’s or the availability of their product, you’re in luck: here’s a from-scratch bruschetta sauce recipe.


  • 1.5 lbs. tomatoes, such as Roma or hot house cluster or beefsteak
  • 12 teaspoons flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, or a smaller amount of kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced basil


  1. Finely chop the tomatoes and place them along with all of their juices in a large bowl. Season with 1 teaspoon sea salt (or 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt). Add the garlic, olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, and basil. Stir to combine.
  2. Taste. Add more salt by the half teaspoon until it tastes properly seasoned. I consistently use 2 teaspoons of flaky Maldon sea salt for this recipe. Adjust with more olive oil if it tastes too sharp, and add more vinegar if you want more acidity. If you want a stronger basil flavor, add more. Note: Trader Joe’s version, as far as I can tell, is a bit more oily, so do add more olive oil if you like that richer flavor. This version, too, may seem a bit juicy or liquidy, and you may be tempted to strain out some of the juices. You can do so if you wish, but I find those juices to be so nice — so tasty! — especially when the sauce is being used to dress lentils or other grains. 
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stir
  • Cuisine: American, Italian