Food

What Are Your Favorite Things at Trader Joe’s?

A few years ago, my friend went to her in-laws’ house for dinner. They were a formal couple, and she had always been nervous around them. Her mother-in-law served coq au vin, and her father-in-law opened an expensive bottle of red wine. Everyone raved about the meal, and she graciously thanked them for their praise. Cut to an hour later: My friend was helping clean up in the kitchen, and opened the trash—only to see four packages of Trader Joe’s Coq au Vin! BUSTED!

But it proves that Trader Joe’s food can be seriously delicious. What are your favorite items? Here’s our list…

Fruit/vegetables:
Freeze-dried strawberries
Kumato tomatoes
Shaved brussels sprouts
Marinated artichokes (great on pasta or salads, and the oil in the jar makes a great dressing)

Dairy:
Raw milk cheddar cheese
Boursin (this isn’t a Trader Joe’s product, but it’s expensive everywhere else but inexplicably cheap at Trader Joe’s. The delicious cheese spread disappears immediately at parties. My sister also mixes it with pesto on pasta and it’s AMAZING.)

Frozen:
Parmesan Pastry Pups (frozen pigs-in-blankets—PERFECT for parties with a little bowl of mustard)
Tarte aux Champignons (my mom is obsessed with these French-style flat breads with mushrooms, Emmental and parmesan cheese)

Snacks/breads:
Pita chips with sea salt (great with hummus)
Fig and olive crisps (these crackers are amazing with creamy cheeses)
Thai lime and chili cashews
Joe’s O’s (whole grain oats cereal; $1.99 for a giant box!)
Half-baked French rolls (that you finish off in the oven at home)

Desserts:
Sea-salt dark chocolate-covered almonds (I craved these throughout my entire pregnancies)
Chocolate lava cakes (we have these on Christmas Eve every year)
Speculoos Cookie Butter (melt it over ice cream or just eat it with a spoon)
Gone Bananas! (chocolate-covered frozen banana slices that you can eat one bite at a time. Perfect for kids)

What are your favorite things??? Please share below; I’d love to hear…
Above: An awesome ode to Trader Joe’s:)

P.S. More best recipes, and a cookie swap.

(Photo by Veronica Olson for Cup of Jo)

  1. Marcona almonds with truffle oil and Marcona almonds with rosemary.
    Perfect for party nibbles or whenever you want to treat yourself.

  2. A Doerr says...

    I am looking for a good olive bar. Does Trader Joe’s have Greek Olives other than prepacked in a jar or can? Thank you,
    Al

  3. Christy G. says...

    Hubby loves Cranberry Juice (not from concentrate) and I love:

    Coconut Oil Spray,
    Challah Bread,
    Cookie Butter (on the challah bread is amazing!),
    Chocolate Croissants (frozen),
    Champagne Grapes,
    those teeny tiny chocolate chip cookies with a touch of coconut in them (yummy!),
    Cat Cookies (don’t break and great in kids lunches!),
    Sparkling French Pink Lemonade,
    any of their popped Popcorn varieties (Herbs & Spices and the other one in brown butter),
    Coconut Body Butter,
    Flowers.
    For those you don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby, the same people own Aldi, so maybe you have that option? Often times I will find something they sell at TJ’s, but maybe packaged a bit differently at Aldi (for less). :)

  4. It’s so hard to believe that people haven’t mentioned any of my faves! I love the nothing but flattened bananas, they’re like all natural fruit roll ups! Their Super Spinach salad is one of my fave salads, their pizza sauce is SO good. I also love their strawberry jam, seems so simple but I’ve never found another I love more.

  5. syrrah toscano cheese and their little mint joe-joe ice cream sandwiches! So GOOD (and always candycane joe joe’s at christmas)

  6. I swear, my TJ total goes up every time I am in there, and the comments on this post aren’t helping! :)

    Some favorites that I didn’t see mentioned often or at all yet:
    -Dunkers (the ones with chocolate) are ridiculously good with coffee. I freeze them in a ziplock bag and have one or two at a time, dunking while still cold. Mmmmmm
    -The frozen apple pie-like desserts. You get two in the package–perfect dessert for an at home date or a girls night!
    -To go with: TJ has the best vanilla icecream I’ve ever had. Ever.
    -Plantain Chips. I love these in guacamole especially.
    -Spices! They have a great deal on spices like turmeric and smoked paprika.
    -kettle corn-cheap, delicious, great food for gluten-free guests to snack on at a party
    -the frozen blueberries that are in a white bag and pesticide free. They are really tiny, so my kids, even my baby, love to eat them frozen, and they are perfect for stirring in yogurt or oatmeal b/c they melt quickly.

    Joanna–you should do a TJ recipe competition/post series! I know people have lots of clever, super easy recipes using TJ products, and I’d love to know what they are! :)

  7. The cilantro chive yogurt dip is the best. Great with veggies, crackers, chips, whatever. I’m addicted.

  8. Oh my gosh, so many things! Love the frozen fettuccine with mushrooms and the frozen mushroom risotto. I love how cheap their olive oil is also. The light champagne vinaigrette is my favorite store bought salad dressing.

  9. They have the best veggie burgers. Cowboy Quinoa burgers!

  10. Thank you so much for this, Joanna! We go to our TJs in Portland, Oregon, every Sunday and we usually just hurry up and get our go-to’s with our busy toddler in tow. This weekend, we picked up some pita chips, hummus, and brussels sprouts on your recommendation and loved them. Have you tried the microwave chicken piccata? We were surprised at how yummy (and insanely easy) it is. Our 18-month-old loves it, too! It’s kind of random, but it’s nice to have quick dinners on hand.

  11. Definitely not a fan, I guess I don’t buy that much processed food, and especially not from Trader Joes as my son has nut and soy allergies and most products I have come across are risky due to cross contamination. It’s really not worth it for me but I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.

  12. unexpected cheddar is the best! and their dijon mustard is so spicy…the only one i’ll buy.

  13. Cranberry orange mini tea scones w/ thin sliced almonds on top. I have to buy two bags when I make the special trip.

    Tub of mixed dark and milk chocolate covered almonds.

    Dark chocolate peanut butter cups

    Frozen mango chunks

    Orang mango pineapple juice

  14. Hands down their traditional lemonade! So freaking good.

  15. I always get their unsweetened soy milk, quinoa, yogurts, and frozen tikka masala. Their mango black tea and frozen multigrain blend with veggies is really good too! :)

  16. I love trader Joe’s! ! I do most of my weekly shopping there. Their staples are great quality at grest prices. Organic extra virgin olive oil. Rice pasta. Uncured hot dogs, lunch meat, and bacon. Cheap bottled water. Grass fed ground beef. Fritos style corn chips. Organic unpopped popcorn. Organic dried cranberries. And the list goes on. The two things they carry though that I cannot live without are valrhona 72% chocolate and their south African smoked seasoning in a grinder. The seasoning is currently out of stock but expected to be back in may. I hppe. My secret stadh is getting low.

  17. Oh my gosh those almonds! I can’t get enough of them!

  18. P.S. Target sells the Puffins cereal at half the price TJs does ;)

  19. I’ve taken so many notes!

    I cannot believe no one mentioned the following 2 frozen items though: creamy polenta with spinach & carrots or the spearean Risotto (aasparagus)! They are hands down my most loved products! Also a big fan of the fig butter, it pairs so well with manchego! I put their roasted coconut chips on Greek yogurt drizzled with honey or agave and I swear it’s like a guilt – free coconut cream pie!
    Pretzel Croissants
    Lemon curd, heated and put on waffles with berries, amazing.
    Bacon ends n pieces
    Cabernet pot roast, cooked in the crockpot, shredded and tossed with bbq sauce = one heck of a sammy.

    Now, I have 2 cans of coconut cream but have no clue what to do with them…any suggestions?

  20. JW says...

    Love this post and Trader Joe’s. Their frozen naan is very good and warms up in less than 5 minutes. I love the yogurt-covered pretzels. I stock pile their frozen pie crust and puff pastry. So buttery. The Baked Cheese Crunchies are addictive and taste like Cheetos. My husband and I are also addicted to the Super Nutty Toffee Clusters cereal. It’s seriously like dessert. I could go on and on.

  21. I don’t think I saw anyone mention the whole grain (/whole wheat?) pancake mix! Best homemade pancakes ever and my family agreed. Also, HOT PEPPER JELLY. Get on that, people! Yummy on crackers with feta or goat cheese.
    Panda Puffs cereal is also great and a steal! I like that it doesn’t have a ton of sugar. And I don’t have kids–it’s just pretty much the only cereal I eat :)

  22. Definitely add me to the tulip/orchid lover category.

    Lettuce..seriously cant beat the price, organic or not.

    Frozen Croissants..because who doesnt want a warm flaky croissants right after they wake up on a saturday or sunday morning.

    Frozen Brown rice..seriously the only way i cook brown rice.

    Dairy..in Nor Cal..it’s the same dairy as Clover..at a fraction of the big supers price…i’ll take that. Although I’ve started using the Euro butter…cant beat the taste of European butters!

    the Cranberry goat cheese during the holidays..paired with the Cranberry sourdough loaf! yum..perfect easy peasie your friends dropped in unexpectedly to wish you happy holidays app..never mind you all were stuffing your faces with it on your own.

    The jalapeno cranberry relish…this is pretty much a sweet/spicy condiment marriage made in heaven for my honey (oh i love it too!).

    The dark chocolate peanut butter cups!

    Damn..so hungry now!

  23. Love the firecracker chocolate bars – dark chocolate with cayenne pepper and pop rock candy
    – passionfruit and mango gummies
    – edamame crackers
    – European style whole milk organic yogurt – no gelatin so super creamy
    – pink Hawaiian crystal salt with grinder
    – low sodium roasted red pepper and tomato soup
    – strawberry kefir

  24. Oh my, where to begin?! Cookie Butter, frozen mango, dark chocolate covered almonds, dried apricots, and above everything else the Channa Masala and Naan. It’s the cheapest meal that you can easily turn into a nice dinner in.

  25. I would love to share my favorites, but I don’t have a local TJ’s :(. There was a campaign to get one (because our only health food store is insanely expensive), but the TJ’s people said our market will never get one. I guess I’ll just have to move!

  26. I’m a vegetarian for health reasons but I do like meat. Trader Joes has the best-tasting options to re-create some of those meals I miss the most:

    Chickenless Crispy Tenders in place of hot wings, covered with a mix of Frank’s Hot Sauce and butter, served with a side of Sweet Potato Tots
    Grilled Tofu Veggie Burgers on the grill – aren’t bland and mushy like so many veggie burgers;
    Beefless Ground Beef for chili or taco salad will fool anyone,
    Italian Sausageless Sausage on a hot dog bun,
    and Tempeh to make reuben sandwiches.

    They all are tasty enough to get me past my craving.

    Sweets-wise, the frozen Blueberry Scones were a high-calorie favorite, but sadly they have disappeared.

  27. The black bean and cheese burrito is my favorite thing. If I feel like nothing sounds good, I can always eat that. Especially with their hot sauce. Also the Dolmas in a can.

  28. A few of our favorites from Trader Joe’s include:
    Orange Chicken
    Cat Cookies (Animal Cracker Cookies in Cats)
    Kettle Corn Popcorn
    Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup

  29. definitely getting those almond croissants!!

  30. @raupenblau, no, not at all—i am just curious about people’s favorite items. sponsored posts are always marked as such.

  31. I love their Brie En Crute, unfortunately seasonal. Their Almond Cossiants are amazing. I love making these for overnight guests.

  32. I love Trader Joe’s! I go there so frequently it’s embarrassing, and love these new suggestions to pick up on my next trip. I can’t believe that no one mentioned the scallion pancakes. They are my favorite thing that they sell- the perfect meatless lunch. Their scallion cheddar is delicious, too- goes great with their everything crackers.

  33. I actually hate trader jo’s. the lines are so insane that it’s almost impossible to shop. everything is packaged, overally processed and disguised as good for you… ugh. bad produce too. i tried to shop here maybe three times and gave up. best decision of my life!

  34. Oh I just LOVE the shaved Brussel sprouts!

  35. I love their Trader Joe’s Vanilla Bean Greek yogurt (tastes like vanilla cream cheese icing but not sickeningly sweet), fresh pizza dough, Green Juice (has a kick of ginger to it), and Trader Joe’s Jacques Fleur De Sel Caramels.

  36. I am a big fan of their cereal, but I have to say that if I picked one favorite product it would have to be the frozen berries. They are delicious and organic and come in various combinations. I have used them for pretty much anything from smoothies to healthy pastries and they have yet to fail me in deliciousness.

  37. They have the best gingersnaps I’ve ever had – super ginger-y and really delicious. Unexpected Cheddar (cheddar cheese with a hint of parmesan) is my other Trader Joe’s go-to. Love it all!

  38. Jo says...

    Hi, Joanna! I love this!

    I didn’t want to add to the sea of (great) replies here but I’m actually surprised that no one mentioned the brioche rolls! They are sooo unbelievably yummy, they’re literally (and I don’t like to use that word :^) plain bread that melts in your mouth.

    I can already SEE Toby and Anton — especially Anton — munching them away. The boys will absolutely love them. The drawback is that they might not like any other bread after… Heehee.

  39. The Kalamata goat cheese on the Rosemary raisin crackers. The best!! And I love the roasted pecan blue cheese dip….it’s great on those pretzel thins or as a pasta sauce. So rich and so good! I miss their hummus too. And they have the cheapest flowers!

  40. i can’t believe no one is saying power berries- they are THE best!!

  41. Is this a sponsored post?

  42. I absolutely LOVE Trader Joe’s mac ‘n cheese. It’s the only store-bought variety I’ll eat!! Majorly delicious.

    bombshell-to-be.blogspot.com

    xx

  43. Their dried organic turkish apricots are insanely delicious. I also recently became hooked on their frozen garlic naan!

  44. Love this!

    So many favorites but we especially love:
    Honey whole wheat pretzel sticks
    Salted PB pretzels
    Dark chocolate covered pretzel thins
    Both the almond and chocolate croissants (they are frozen and you set them out overnight to rise, then throw them in the oven when you wake up and your whole house will smell amazing…not to mention warm/fresh croissants!)
    The regular boxed Mac n cheese is so cheap and tastes way better than Annie’s!
    Sweet potato fries!
    Chicken Apple sausage
    Turkey meatballs
    Cornbread mix!
    Greek yogurt( it’s so thick we use it in place of sour cream…no one is the wiser)
    Cocoa almond spread ( better than Nutella)
    And we love the honey & oatmeal bar soap too!

  45. Their new cookies and cream cookie butter! I have held out on cookie butter so far but was a sucker for that one and the jar was cleaned out way too quickly.

    Also this list above tells me how amazing TJs is because there is so many different recommendations here!

  46. Great post!

    My list keeps getting longer, but these are my staples:
    Frozen Indian food, esp. the paneer
    Unsweetened green tea by the gallon
    Frozen gnocchi with cheese (Mac & cheese x 100)
    Frozen chocolate covered banana slices
    Orange blossom honey hand soap
    Tea tree shampoo/conditioner
    Frozen mini fruit pies
    Lamb and rice dog kibble (great for parties – jk)
    The mushroom flatbread others have mentioned – amazing.

    Thanks for the great suggestions everybody!

  47. Whenever I go, I always get three things. The fresh shelled English peas, creamy Toscano soaked in Syrah, and unsweetened dried just mango.

  48. Just this week I picked up Dark Chocolate Speculoos Cookie Butter Cups….INSANE.

  49. Um, maybe your best post yet! ;) Thank you!

  50. What a great post, especially since I am leaving in 30 min to TJ’s to buy snacks for a weekend trip.
    I will try only to mention what has not already been mentioned. Their farm fresh eggs are the cheapest of any store where I live, yummy kettle corn, love the almond windmill cookies, and we always stock up on their affordable but very tasty pasta.

  51. i buy the salads to go. for $3.99 I can get some for the week and grab a healthy lunch. my daughter loves the orange chicken and we all love trail mixes.. the hot fudge sauce is also outstanding!!

  52. I recently went to Trader Joe’s for the first time, and this is what I bought: a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of wine, and GF ginger snaps. All were delightful.

    Not sure I’d go there often, though. It’s neither mainstream enough for the main grocery trip, nor special enough for its own trip.
    If I was looking for something fancy or a hostess gift, I’d definitely hit it up though.

  53. I just wrote a post about my TJ’s faves a couple weeks ago!

    LOVE their hummus (i buy it 3 tubs at a time), their cheddar popcorn, chocolate covered almonds!

  54. Some of our favorites:
    Dried mango
    Mochi
    Horseradish humus with sugar snap peas
    Triple ginger snaps
    Unexpected cheddar
    Nan
    Seasonal pumpin pecan oatmeal
    Frozen spinach and kale bites
    Frozen brown rice
    Coconut oil
    Frozen Almond croissants
    Chocolate hazelnut cookies
    So many good things!

  55. I don’t even go to a reg. grocery store anymore. In fact, when I dream of leaving L.A. and moving to a smaller city somewhere, first thing I do is check to see if they have a Trader Joe’s, cuz if not, no go.
    Organic Green Tea Lemonade mixed w/ their unsweetened brewed Green Tea
    Veggie Masala burgers and frozen naan bread
    Any of their frozen Indian food
    Frozen Bibimbap Bowl
    Frozen Cheese Blintzes
    Organic Chix Broth
    Power of Seven Organic Juice
    Fresh Limeade
    Organic Arugula and also the Power Greens … go thru bags of this
    Organic Coconut oil … cheap
    Frozen Kale, Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Pizza
    Frozen Cheese Tortellini in Red Pesto Sauce and Fusilli in Pesto with Veggies … perfect lunch
    BBQ Chicken Salad
    Carnitas
    Their Sugarplum Tomatoes, tossed with some of their organic Olive Oil with their Pink Himalayan Sea Salt and Everyday Seasoning roasted in the oven … a snack, on a sandwich or on their organic whole wheat pasta
    The new cookie butter cheese cake bites
    Chicago style Popcorn .. Oh MY!
    Crème Brulee in a chocolate shell
    Lemon Kitchen Hand Soap
    Lavender Sachet bags for everywhere
    Oatmeal Bar Soap … on, & on, & on … haha

  56. I LOVE Trader Joes!! Some of my favorites are: frozen vegetable nests, cranberry oatmeal dunkers, Mediterranean hummus, the entire cheese case, dried mangos and cherries, & coconut milk creamer

  57. I love Trader Joe’s so much! My two absolute favorites: they have this white bean hummus(I think with basil and pine nuts?) that is so so good, and butternut squash ravioli! And there is this individual frozen meal I really love, pasta with Brie and asparagus – so good! Could just list on forever…:-)

  58. THIS IS AN AMAZING POST.

  59. Oh my gosh, YES to the mushroom flatbread! Thanks for the tips on the cheeses – will be on the look out for Boursin on my next TJ’s visit.

  60. Bananas, organic strawberries,dark chocolate, and tea are my long-time staples at TJ’s.

    I sometimes also get tomatoes and flowers (if they look good), as well as rice, nuts, seeds, raisins, carrots, goat cheese, almond butter, and frozen macarons (which are sadly seasonal and seem to run out quickly!)

    Question is: will there be even longer lines at TJ’s in NYC because of this post? * fingers crossed* ;)

  61. We love their fettuccine alfredo, fried rice, letter crackers, haddock, jasmine rice, mango peach salsa, and their pink lemonade is delicious! I love just walking around there and taking home new things to try! :) Great post!

  62. Their Handmade Tortillas (white) are so good, I stopped making my own! And we LOVE their European Style Yogurt, whole milk, organic, super sour, delicious!

    I will never love a hand soap as I do their Orange Blossom Honey French Liquid Soap. No sulfates, smells nice, doesn’t dry hands. Nuff said.

    Many, many more favorites, but these are rock solid.

  63. No Trader Joes here in New Zealand and let me tell you I am deeply, deeply jealous of all you people with access to what sounds like an amazing range of delicious food!

  64. I love their shrimp gyoza, bananna bread mix, and corn bread mix! I am also obsessed with their liquid laundry detergent.

  65. Trader Joe’s is so addicting! Each time I try something new there, and often times I wish I hadn’t, because ignorance is sometimes bliss when it comes to food, especially desserts! I love their flavored macarons that are in the freezer aisle, as well as their oatmeal lacey cookies. Those are so good! I also like to buy their bagged frozen brown rice. It comes in handy when I’m too impatient to wait for rice to cook.

  66. They have frozen lobster tails! Best deal ever.

  67. Yes, THOSE almonds. And the carmelized onion/feta pastry puffs, the frozen chocolate croissants, ‘cruciferous crunch’ in the salad area, the frozen meatless meatballs and turkey meatballs and the tea tree body wash! And any cheese or wine.

  68. I love their honeyed almonds, frozen tamales, and cold brew coffee concentrate.

  69. Their Mandarin Orange Chicken! It is one of my all time favorite foods! I also always pick up wine, cheese, flowers, produce and I am a big fan of their frozen mini pies and their coconut body butter!

  70. So many good things there! I always grab their salsa, Parmesan (because somehow it’s always the cheapest), quinoa pasta, frozen edamame, crackers and the Australian red liquorice because it’s so damn good. :)

  71. TJ is the best!

    We love:
    -frozen mangos for smoothies
    -Ciabatta rolls for egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches (great when you’re hosting guests)
    -dark chocolate covered caramels (amazing)
    -roasted almonds
    -frozen sweet potato fries
    -fig and olive crisps

  72. Honestly, everything.

    Our pantry staples include the sardines in harissa (healthy and tasty), lucques olives (so buttery), all the mustards, canned coconut milk and coconut cream and gluten free oats.

    I like to keep some freeze dried fruit, green bean chips, seaweed snack and dark chocolate in my desk at work for when i get a salty, crunchy or sweet craving.

    For date night, we like the cheese soaked in syrah (its like a cheddar and parmesan mixture) and their spanish deli meats.

    Their ice cream is so creamy and delicious. I love to top the mint ‘n chip with crumbled Joe Joe O’s cookies.

    Also, the greek yogurt spinach and artichoke dip is amazing.

    The bacon ends and pieces is a cheaper alternative to the regular bacon.

    Don’t forget the home and personal care aisle! Mango shave cream, refresh body wash and the pop up sponges are amazing.

  73. Its seasonal, but the apple cider is delicious and a steal!