The 50 Best Groceries to Buy at Trader Joe’s, According to the Store’s Biggest Fans
If you’ve read ~my body of work~ at Kitchn, it’s abundantly clear that I’ve made a few trips to Trader Joe’s in my lifetime. (Okay, okay, way more than a few.) At just a few blocks away with prices that can’t be beat, it’s my grocery store of choice — and anyone with a local Trader Joe’s would probably say the same. I’m such a big fan that whenever a new product launches, I try to be one of the first in line for a taste so that I can report back and tell Kitchn readers what’s worth buying. (Spoiler alert: Pretty much everything in the store is worth buying.)
Believe it or not, though, there are people out there who are even bigger Trader Joe’s fans. And approximately 136,000 of them are members of a niche Facebook group called Trader Joe’s Meal Ideas for Busy People. There’s also a corresponding group called Trader Joe’s Meal Ideas for Busy Moms, with 252,000 members! Most, if not all, posts in both groups start with some form of the age-old question: “What should I buy at TJ’s?”
So I decided to tap the collective hive mind to gather a list of the top 50 most frequent recommendations. Here is your essential Trader Joe’s shopping list (divided by aisle), according to super-fans.
1. Gluten Free Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins
Tons of super-fans recommended these monster-sized Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins. They say they’re worth trying even if you’re not gluten free.
2. Almond Kringle
Trader Joe’s fans love the Kringle, a Danish pastry made by the O&H Danish Bakery in Racine, Wisconsin. It comes in a bunch of flavors, but the most-talked about is definitely the almond.
3. Cauliflower Thins
For grain-free folks, these cauliflower thins made from sheets of shredded cauliflower, egg, Parmesan cheese, and nutritional yeast are an excellent bread alternative.
4. Pancake Bread
This glorious breakfast mash-up might just be the best thing to come out of the bakery aisle — people say it really tastes like pancakes and syrup in bread form.
5. Pretzel Bagels
These sturdy and flavorful pretzel bagels are located in the bakery aisle and are excellent for those who love the art of sandwich making.
6. Jalapeño Limeade
This spicy limeade is a seasonal item that pops on shelves in the summer, so when you find it, grab a few bottles. Pro tip from the group: Add a splash of tequila and you’ve got yourself a spicy margarita!
7. Unexpected Cheddar
The block form of Unexpected Cheddar is a frequent fan-favorite nominee during the annual Trader Joe’s Customer Choice Awards. It’s so beloved that TJ’s launched a shredded version last year!
8. Triple Cream Brie
If you’re shopping for the Unexpected Cheddar, pick up a wedge of Triple Cream Brie, while you’re at it. It’s the creamy counterpart that every cheese board needs.
Dips, Sauces & Dressings
9. Garlic Spread-Dip
This super-creamy garlic spread is a must-buy for those who can never get enough garlic (and I know there are a lot of you out there!).
10. Spinach Artichoke Dip
You’re going to want to choose a sturdy chip to stand up to this thick and creamy spinach artichoke dip. It doesn’t skimp on the good stuff.
11. Green Goddess Dip
If you want your vegetables to taste better, dip them in this highly recommended spread. TJ’s also sells a salad dressing version of this dip, made with avocado, green onion, lemon juice, chives, basil, and garlic.
12. Mediterranean Hummus
The Trader Joe’s hummus selection can be overwhelming due to the sheer selection, but If you need a place to start, the super-fans suggest the Mediterranean Hummus. It’s topped with pine nuts, olive oil, and herbs.
Flowers & Plants
You won’t find higher-quality flowers for a better price than the selection available at Trader Joe’s. Fun fact: Trader Joe’s gets their flowers delivered seven days a week (so you can rest assured that they’re going to be fresh).
Fresh Prepared Foods
14. Pizza Dough
Three cheers for TJ’s refrigerated pizza dough, which makes at-home pizza night as easy as can be. These balls of dough also freeze super well, so fans suggest keeping at least one on hand at all times.
15. Bruschetta Sauce
According to the super-fan who nominated the refrigerated bruschetta, this medley of diced tomatoes with olive oil and garlic tastes the way her homemade bruschetta tastes. She even puts it on eggs!
16. Mandarin Orange Chicken
No surprises here! This frozen dinner takes top honors in the Trader Joe’s Customer Choice Awards year after year as the best entrée in their store. Even our taste tester agreed. If there’s just one thing you buy from the freezer aisle, let it be this.
17. Chicken Cilantro Mini Wontons
But because you probably can’t limit yourself to just one item, why not get a bag of these fan-favorite Chicken Cilantro Mini Wontons too, while you’re at it? TJ’s fans swear by them.
18. Riced Cauliflower Stir-Fry
Fans of this frozen number love how this cauliflower rice is easy to prepare (just heat and eat) and that it’s a great neutral base for other flavors and add-ins. It also helps you get your daily dose of veggies.
19. Spicy Mexican Riced Cauliflower
Riced cauliflower at TJ’s is a thing! According to the nomination committee, this is perfectly seasoned, so it takes all the guesswork out of the side dish game.
20. Tart d’Alsace
This French-style flatbread with ham, caramelized onions, and Gruyère got super-high praise from the group, who suggested trying this as a quick dinner or appetizer when you’re in a pinch.
21. Macaroni and Cheese
According to a few group members, you can’t go wrong with the frozen macaroni and cheese. (The Hatch Green Chile option and the gluten-free mac got high marks as well!)
22. Hold the Cone Mini Ice Cream Cones
This frozen dessert, which consists of teeny-sized ice cream cones dipped in chocolate shell, is another perennial favorite at the TJ’s Customer Choice Awards, so it’s not at all shocking that this one earned a slew of votes.
23. Gorgonzola Gnocchi
This bag of potato gnocchi smothered in creamy gorgonzola sauce gets tons of praise in the Meal Ideas for Busy People Facebook group because it’s extremely flavorful and super easy to make. “You can eat it how it is or you jazz it up add things to it: ham, pea, asparagus, pancetta. So many options. We eat it almost weekly,” says one fan.
24. Hash Browns
Trader Joe’s sells two different kinds of frozen hash browns (shreds and patties), and both come highly recommended as breakfasts of champions.
There is a special place in the TJ’s Hall of Fame reserved for the frozen croissants, which come in almond and chocolate flavors. Some fans have even gone as far as to say that these taste just as good as a trip to France.
26. Frozen Acaî
Among the excellent frozen fruit and veggie selection lies packets of frozen acaî. People swear by these for at-home smoothies and smoothie bowls, for an easy start to the day.
27. Garlic Naan
Reheat these flavorful, flaky pieces of naan and you’ll never know they were frozen in the first place. It’s probably the reason this section of the freezer aisle is usually empty, so get them when you see them.
28. Shrimp Burgers
Mercedes Davis, the creator of @BlackGirlsinTraderJoes, swears by these frozen shrimp burgers for easy dinners — and a ton of members of Busy People agree that they don’t disappoint!
29. Frozen Rice
Trader Joe’s has a variety of frozen rice options, all of which are ready after three minutes in the microwave. This stuff is an absolute TJ’s grocery list staple.
30. Vegetable Fried Rice
If you want an even easier frozen rice option, this bag comes pre-seasoned and with tons of delicious veggies scattered throughout, making it a great dinner building block.
31. Frozen Fruit
Remember the frozen acaî suggestion? While you’re grabbing those packets, here’s a friendly reminder to stock up on their fancy berry medley, mango chunks, frozen bananas, and more.
Fresh Fruits & Veggies
32. Southwestern Salad Kit
One of the highlights of the produce section? The salad kits. Out of all of the options, though, the Southwestern Salad Kit gets the most praise for its delicious add-ins and creamy, spicy dressing.
33. Persian Cucumbers
If you buy all of those aforementioned dips, you’re going to need something for dipping, right? Trader Joe’s Persian Cucumbers are your perfect match.
34. Teeny Tiny Avocados
These little avocados just might be the cutest things in the produce section. Buy a bag of these and you have the makings of avocado toast all week long.
35. Broccoli and Kale Slaw Kit
After the Southwestern Salat Kit, this hearty slaw kit is a close second. Fans love that it seems to last forever in the fridge, and pairs great with added protein.
Meat, Seafood, & Plant-Based
36. Chicken Shawarma
This intensely flavorful, pre-marinated chicken is the key to easy weeknight dinners — and Trader Joe’s super-fans agree. Pro tip: Try this recipe.
Out of all of the plant-based options, the Soyrizo is a great chorizo alternative, according to members of Busy People. Our Deputy Food Director and resident vegetarian, Grace Elkus, agrees!
For the Pantry
38. Everything But the Bagel Seasoning
What would a list of Trader Joe’s essentials be without Everything But the Bagel Seasoning? It’s not just for breakfast — just ask the members of Busy People, who seem to put this stuff on, well, everything.
39. Organic Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup
This boxed soup is a pantry staple. Not only is it great on its own, but it’s also an excellent base for more complete meals. “Aside from the obvious comfort of a warm mug accompanying a grilled cheese, it serves as a base for heartier meals by adding TJ’s tortellini with some fresh or frozen veggies, rice, chicken or sausage, Unexpected Cheddar shreds, avocado slices, and sour cream!,” says one fan.
40. Sweet Chili Sauce
This Sweet Chili Sauce tastes like those duck sauce packets you’d get with your Chinese takeout. It has a hint of sweet heat that’ll upgrade whatever you choose to dip into it.
41. Panko Breadcrumbs
Trader Joe’s doesn’t get enough credit for its pantry staples, and their pouch of Panko Breadcrumbs is one such item that frequently flies under the radar. No more!
42. Everything But the Elote Seasoning
This Mexican street corn-inspired seasoning blend will make everything you sprinkle it on taste like summer.
43. Hot and Sweet Jalapeños
Think of this jar of Hot and Sweet Jalapeños as the relish you never knew you needed. According to the Busy People, this is an absolute must-buy.
44. Quick-Cook Farro
As the name suggests, this farro cooks super quickly and makes meal prep a breeze, so be sure to look out for the little blue bag every time you’re in the grains and pasta aisle.
45. Chili Onion Crunch
According to the Fearless Flyer, this mix of crunchy garlic, onion, peppers, and olive oil “truly does taste great on everything.” Super fans say they can’t live without it. (So don’t even think about discontinuing this, Joe!)
Snacks & Sweets
You wont find nuts anywhere else for a better price. The most-oft recommended nut by Busy People? The Thai Lime and Chili Almonds or Cashews.
47. Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
The super-thick chocolate and the delectably nutty interior make these cups the best bite-sized treat. Try one and you’ll vow to buy more right away.
48. 12 Grain Mini Snack Crackers
The cracker selection at Trader Joe’s needs more hype, starting with these 12 Grain Mini Snack Crackers that super-fans can’t stop talking about. (Ahem, another pairing for those dips!)
49. Restaurant-Style Tortilla Chips
What’s “restaurant-style” about these tortilla chips? Well, for one, they have a sprinkling of lime salt which makes them taste eerily similar to the chips at Chipotle!
50. Spicy Crispy Crunchy Mochi Rice Nuggets
Ever since Trader Joe’s launched this new product this year, they can’t seem to keep them on shelves. According to one member of Busy people, “people buy them by dozens.”
What would you add to this list?