33 Things You Absolutely Need To Be Buying At Trader Joe's - Skillful Cook
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33 Things You Absolutely Need To Be Buying At Trader Joe's (and 3 You Can Skip)

From drinks, to snacks, to dinner hacks, sauces, and everything in-between - these are the products I love right now at Trader Joe's!

Trader Joe's products in a grid of images.

Trader Joe's is one of the all-time great grocery fun-run stores!

Sure, you can buy great produce, milk and yogurt, pantry essentials, and normal practical things at Trader Joe's.

But for this post I wanted to convince you to try some of these unique “fun run” items - the things that, if you're making a special trip from out of town or stocking up on your quarterly trip, you should absolutely be buying here.

I split this post into three sections:

For a total of 33 items that deserve a spot on your shopping list!

If you love something that I didn't mention here, let me know in the comments! I'm always eager to try the things that you all love and recommend.


1: Sodas - In Particular, Strawberry Or Watermelon Soda

Sparkling strawberry juice in a package.

Why I love it:

  • Made sweet with real fruit juice and no added sugar.
  • Taste is so nostalgic to me!
  • Perfect little skinny can size with just the right amount in each serving.

2: Nuts - In Particular, Chili Lime Cashews

Thai Lime and Chili Cashews in a bag.

Why I love it:

  • Tons (I mean tons) of seasoning!
  • A little spicy.
  • Great in a Thai-ish chopped salad (see here, and here).

3 - Unexpected Cheddar

Unexpected cheddar cheese.

Why I love it:

  • Tastes hard and salty and aged, like a Parm.
  • Eats really nicely with crackers.
  • A little slice melted over the air fryer chicken is *chef's kiss* amazing.

4 - Frozen Roasted Corn

Roasted corn in a bag.

Why I love it:

  • It's hard to find frozen corn that is *roasted*!
  • Only need a little bit in each recipe so the bag lasts forever.
  • Perfect in the red chile chicken taco corn dip topping (which, conveniently, is also great for eating with chips).

5 - Frozen Vegetable Fried Rice

Vegetable fried rice in a bag.

Why I love it:

  • Great basic meal starter that is, as advertised, ready in 5 minutes!
  • Plays really well with a shot of soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, some scrambled eggs or tofu, and a few more fresh veggies.
  • My kids love it!

6 - Frozen Chicken Wontons

Chicken cilantro mini wontons in a bag.

Why I love them:

  • These ones are mini-size which I absolutely love.
  • They're deliciously chewy / tender and the chicken isn't weird.
  • They are a must for saucy wontons.

7 - Frozen Brown Rice

Microwaveable brown rice in a box.

Several of you also recommended this and guess what? I LOVE IT. It's a new staple for me - thanks for the recommendation! Why I love it:

  • It's extremely convenient.
  • This is truly some of the only brown rice that I actually like - it is very soft and tender and eats more like a white rice!
  • Organic!

8 - Sea Salt and Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds

Sea salt turbinado dark chocolate almonds in a container.

Why I love these (and have loved them for years):

  • THE TEXTURE ON THESE IS AMAZING.
  • I think they also recently may have increased the amount of chocolate around each almond? They are hefty and chunky.
  • They are a perfect grab-a-handful-for-a-hit-of-chocolate moment.

9 - Roasted Tomato & Parmesan Focaccia

Roasted tomato focaccia bread in a bag.

Why I love this:

  • For this specific turkey sandwich.
  • It's heavy and dense but also has a good amount of squish and bounciness to it? Is that possible?
  • The roasted tomato topping is elite.

10 - Everything Crackers

Everything but the bagel seasoned crackers in a box.

Why I love them:

  • They go with everything (get it?)
  • Such great texture.
  • My favorite is loading these bad boys up with the olive tapenade. I buy them specifically for that purpose.

11 - Multigrain Crackers

Multigrain crackers in a box.

Why I love them:

  • These are an actually delicious basic cracker.
  • They have sunflower, flax seeds, and other good stuff in them.
  • My girls love them and they make a perfect kid-friendly snack starter.

12 - Trail Mix Crackers

Trail mix crackers in a bag.

Why I love them:

  • They're just fun.
  • They're loaded with seeds, nuts, and dried fruits and they eat almost more like a buttery cookie but still salty?
  • They don't need any toppings whatsoever (although these with a slice of Unexpected Cheddar is a next-level combo).

13 - Salt and Pepper Chips

Salt and pepper ridge cut potato chips in a bag.

Why I love them:

  • Salty, peppery, and max amount of textured ridges.
  • They make any sandwichy / grilled hot dog / burger meal feel just a little more special and fun.
  • Amazing with a creamy dip - like, dare I say, the bacon cheddar ranch dip!

14 - Dill Pickle Chips

Chips in a pickle dill pickled chips bag.

Why I love them:

  • Best dill pickle chips of all time.
  • Extra seasoned - like, TONS of dill pickle flavored powder on each chip.
  • Very substantially cronchy.

15 and 16 - Zhoug and Chimichurri

Containers of zhoug and chimichurri sauce.

Why I love them:

  • 99% of the time I don't like pre-made herb sauces, but these are my two exceptions to the rule.
  • The chimichurri is more of a fresh and zingy herb sauce (yum)...
  • Whereas the zhoug has warmish spices and tends to be spicy (also yum).

17 - Olive Tapenade

Container of traditional olive tapenade.

Why I love it:

  • This is hands-down the best olive tapenade I've ever bought.
  • It's not cluttered with any raw onions or anything else we don't want in there. Just lots of olives, herbs, olive oil and little flecks of pimento.
  • It is SO DELICIOUS loaded onto those Everything crackers.

Serving size is 7, but it only takes me 2-3 passes at this to finish it all off myself. Woopsies.

17 - Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Container of roasted tomatillo salsa verde.

Why I love it:

  • Great as a salsa.
  • But also great as a semi-homemade sauce starter!
  • I like to whisk it with their mashed avocados to make an avocado-tomatillo sauce. Add a bit of extra salt, maybe some fresh garlic if you're feeling sassy, and it's an amazingly fast, actually good sauce shortcut.

18 - High Protein Tofu

Package of high protein organic super firm tofu.

Why I love it:

  • It doesn't require much pressing.
  • It's super high protein.
  • It's my go-to tofu for Air Fryer Tofu!

19 - Non Alcoholic Beer

Package of non-alcoholic beer.

Why I love it:

  • It's non-alcoholic!
  • It's mild-tasting, wheaty and golden, and just really good.
  • Perfect end-of-night bev when you want to chill out without the alcohol.

And The Most Loved Products By Our Community On Instagram

Bag of brookie caramel candy clusters.

This is a list of a few products that didn't make my best of list (and/or things I haven't tried) but these were recommended over and over again by our community on Instagram!

  • Brookie clusters
  • Cinnamon Roll JoJos
  • Everything seasoning
  • Buffalo chicken dip
  • Elote chips
  • Frozen veggie birds nests
  • Dark chocolate peanut butter cups
  • Pizza crust
  • Kimbap / Gimbap
  • Scallion pancakes
  • Snacky clusters
  • Chili onion crisp
  • Cannoli dip

Don't Hate Me - 3 Popular Items I Think You Can Skip

Orange Chicken

Why I DON'T love it:

  • The orange sauce is underwhelming. Too sweet, not enough contrast.
  • The fried chicken has dark meat. Not a fan.
  • The house always gets a weird smell when I make it.

Bambas

Bag of bamba hazelnut snacks.

Why I DON'T love them:

  • Flavor is meh.
  • Texture is meh - very dissolve-y on impact.
  • Leaves a weird film in my mouth.

Cauliflower Gnocchi

Package of Trader Joe's cauliflower gnocchi.

Why I DON'T love it:

  • I used to love it... so, the potential is there, but maybe I overdid it and now I've ruined it for myself. (Also it's easy enough to make my own!)
  • Smells and tastes a bit too watery and/or cauliflowery.
  • Never really something I look forward to eating.

Got anything to add? Give me all your best Trader Joe's intel and I will note it for my next trip!

Filed Under: Lifestyle Snacks

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19 Comments

  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love Trader Joes. Thanks for the great list. Can’t wait to explore some of these delicious options on my next trip. I also recommend their Frozen Naan (just pop in. your toaster oven for a few minutes), Dark Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter Cups, Green Goddess Seasoning (great on avocado toast), and Cauliflower Buffalo Dip.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love this list! Going to try a few of these 🙂 I go to TJ’s every Saturday after Pilates and my go to’s are their fresh flowers and fresh Eucalyptus 🙌🏻 their organic produce 🙌🏻 their broccoli kale crunch salad… I eat the entire bag in one sitting, so good! The crumpets, the frozen pufferjests, the frozen chicken tika samosas, the pork pot stickers, their organic pasta, their spices, the yellow curry sauce, the pink pasta sauce, their organic maple syrup, their candles and lotions, their lemon curd, we spread it on the crumpets 😋 their cage free organic eggs, their pita chips, their garlic hummus, their greeting cards, these are items I pick up weekly… and all the totes 😆

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great list! I agree with many on your list. Curious what you use the zhoug sauce for? Also, I had no idea they had a refrigerated tomatillo salsa! I go there every week and I always seem to find something new.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    100% agree with the Orange Chicken. Used to be one of my favs but the quality has gone down. My favorite product is their shelf stable whipping cream which is so handy to have on hand since it’s not a product I purchase regularly.

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    The frozen croissants! Every flavor is perfection. The almond, the chocolate, and there’s a new double chocolate. So easy to leave out overnight to rise and bake in the morning for breakfast. Highly recommend!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow, what a fantastic list, Lindsay. It’s like you’ve captured all the essentials for a successful TJ’s haul in one place.

    I’m totally with you on the Everything But The Bagel Seasoning – it’s a game-changer for sure. And those Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups? Absolute goodness in a bite.

    But seriously, kudos on including such a diverse range of products – from pantry staples to indulgent treats. It’s clear you’ve got a keen eye for the gems hidden within those aisles.

    Thanks for sharing your expertise with us all. It’s great to feel like part of a community of Trader Joe’s fans who can swap tips and tricks for making the most of our shopping trips. Looking forward to more insightful posts like this in the future!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great TJs ideas. Thank you!

    I didn’t like the cauliflower gnocchi when I followed the directions but when I baked them, so good!!! And much easier!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you for your list, Lindsay!

    Here are some of my favorite Trader Joe buys:

    Best prices for Pure Bourbon Vanilla Extract & Spanish Saffron threads. TJ’s sells vanilla paste especially around the holidays:)
    10 Minute Farro for nice quick change from rice
    Organic Date Syrup for an easy nutritious sweetener
    Fresh Edamame in produce section – new love of ours!
    Indian Style Flatbread – love the flavor and texture
    Husband loves: Trader Joe’s almond butter and their Organic Super Bread – tons of seeds!
    Frozen ginger cubes – each cube equals 1 t – easy peezy
    Frozen Raw Argentinian Red Shrimp
    Dark Chocolate covered espresso beans
    Believe it or not we enjoy their fresh sockeye salmon and cod
    Husband also likes TJ Power Purple Organic Juice Blend
    We still like TJ’s 2 Buck Chuck!
    Trader Joes Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil – love the spout attached – easy to drizzle:)
    TJ’s Avocado Oil

    The one item I won’t buy from TJ is their cottage cheese – it tasted sour to me every time I used it.

    Thank you again, Lindsay, for your wonderful blog!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I forgot to mention TJ’s Bite Size Shredded Wheat – great price and zero sugar!

      Husband also has a daily packet of Happy Trekking Trek Mix – have to buy the individual packets or he’d eat the whole bag 🙂

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love the strawberry rhubarb soda, the Mediterranean hummus, and I loved their falafel but I haven’t been able to find it lately at my TJ’s.

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Everything looked delicious but unfortunately, I’m in western Canada and Trader Joe’s is not in Canada!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    LOVE a good TJ’s roundup! I recently bought the Garlic & Black Pepper Almonds, and I chopped them up to put on your smoky red lentil recipe. 🙂 It was fab. I also always ALWAYS buy that veg fried rice. $2.99?! Come on. Can’t beat it.

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Super excited to try some of these items out now that I live near a Trader Joe’s!!!!

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love the cauliflower rice stir fry as a rice replacement in a meal, the spice rubbed dry mango is delish, dark chocolate covered pretzels yum yum yum. Also, their pastas are well priced and good. I use their face moisturizer and also get my dog treats and minty bones there.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Forgot to add that focaccia bread is INSANE and the ciabatta rolls are very good also. I portion the focaccia, wrap it individually and freeze it. Also freeze the rolls. Just pop in toaster oven and they are good to go. Oh! And their gyoza and the canned beans. I get their black beans.