6 Not-to-Be-Missed Trader Joe’s Groceries That Just Hit Stores, According to a Former Employee

published Feb 4, 2024
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A Spring display in Trader Joe's. The sign says "Feeling adventurous? Check out our new items. We search high and low to bring you exciting new products."
Credit: Jaclyn Vernace / Shutterstock

February is what I’d not-so-scientifically describe to be a “blobby” month. By that I mean, it hints at spring, if you’re lucky, and then quickly scorns you with a few cold, wet days just when you think you can flirt with the less wooly corner of your wardrobe. Each year of college, some friends and I used to celebrate making it through the Blobbiest Month with a party on February 28. My bedtime these days is earlier now, so I go ahead and keep up the tradition in my own way by loading up on Trader Joe’s groceries (I swear, I’m really fun!).

Thankfully, TJ’s got the memo this month. The shelves are stocked with new snacks, toiletries, and pantry items that will bring the party to the kitchen again. Even if you’re looking for a reliable weeknight dinner shortcut or a treat to make Tuesday a bit brighter, I think you’ll agree that all of these will make you feel like spring isn’t too far away (and perhaps scare a shadow-sighting out of Punxsutawney Phil). 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

1. Jalapeño & Cream Cheese Crispy Wontons, $4.99 for 7.5 ounces

In this time of year we call Awards Season, it just feels wrong to serve any ol’ humdrum snack while watching works of art and artists earn accolades. If you agree, you’re going to need to get this winner of a frozen app. These crispy, creamy, spicy bites have everything going for them. They’ve got all the crunch of a crab rangoon with the cheeky, spicy innards of your favorite tangy queso dip

In my mind, spicy + cheesy begs for the tiniest bit of sweetness to really make the flavor fireworks go off behind my eyes. I’m excited to try my next box of these with a sly little dollop of pepper jelly or pineapple preserves. Not to toot my own horn, but that combination alone just might Best Snack Eaten While Watching a Motion Picture Award. 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

2. Brazil Nut Body Oil, $6.99 for 4 fluid ounces

We were overdue for a new iteration of the Brazil Nut Body Butter now, weren’t we? It just felt right seeing the familiar magenta hue of the iconic (and super viral) body butter that swept through the Trader Joe’s fandom a few years ago. As the legend goes, the Brazil Nut Body Butter is thought to be the much cheaper dupe of Sol Janeiro’s Brazilian Bum Bum Cream.

Even if you don’t see the similarities between the two, it’s easy to love Trader Joe’s new heady tropical dream of a body oil. Infused with that familiar salted-caramel-pistachio scent, this body oil has a base of Brazil Nut, macadamia, olive, sunflower, and jojoba oils. Add in the one-two punch of hydration superpowers (squalane and guarana extract), and you’ve got a nourishing and hydrating post-shower delight that’ll have you feeling pretty luxurious and hopefully thinking, “Dry, dull winter skin, who?”

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

3. Chocolatey Dipping Kit, $3.99 for 8 ounces

I love to play with my food, so when I spot a food that can also double as an arts-and-crafts project, I’ve got to grab it. This was my exact thinking when I spotted this Chocolatey Dipping Kit at Trader Joe’s this week.

With chocolate as my new crafting medium, I asked myself the following question: What can’t I improve with these meltable chocolate discs (and their adorable Valentine’s-y sprinkles)? Very little, I found out. So far, the list of amazing canvases for chocolate is running pretty long and only getting longer: potato chips, strawberries, gummy bears, dried coconut chips, dried apricots, and hunks of Parmigiano Reggiano (no, really — don’t knock it ‘til you try it). If you find anything I should add to this list, please don’t be shy. Let me know! 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

4. Thai Peanut Satay Sauce, $2.29 for 8.1 ounces

Much like chocolate, peanut butter is welcome basically in anything I eat — especially a Thai-style peanut satay sauce. Sure, a peanut sauce is pretty easy to whip up with a few pantry staples, but I couldn’t resist trying Trader Joe’s spin on the classic sauce for the street-food staple, chicken satay.

Spicy, savory, creamy, and sweet, this satay sauce hits all the complex flavor notes required to have it be worthy of chicken satay, and it shows: Trader Joe’s sourced this sauce from a supplier based in Thailand. With all the herbal hints of tamarind, coconutty richness, and the light spice that’s softened with the peanut, you’re going to want to dip all manners of things into this sauce, like lettuce wraps and summer rolls, along with skewers of chicken (maybe even just the skewer itself).  

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

5. Kanom Krok Thai Coconut Pancakes, $3.29 for 6.35 ounces

Whoever supplies Trader Joe’s aforementioned Thai peanut sauce must be besties with the supplier of these newest sweet-salty Thai Coconut Pancakes (known as kanom krok), because they are also frighteningly good. Another popular Thai street food, kanom krok are bite-sized, chewy rounded coconutty pancakes that are about the size of another far-flung pancake-adjacent food: Dutch poffertje (their pans even look similar, too!).

But what really makes these kanom krok my new favorite type of pancake is their texture. The chew of mochi! The custardy jiggle of their coconut milky middle! The light crisp of their dome-shaped outsides! It is a flawless food — they’re right in that ballpark of “not-too-sweet” dessert perfection, especially with a sprinkle of sea salt for good measure.

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

6. Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste, $4.99 for 4 ounces

Whenever possible, I try to elicit the feeling of “Hmm … what IS that?” when making dinner or drinks for guests. I can’t help it! I must chase that added, uncharted bit of dimension — one that has now been made even easier with this new Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste. As you likely know, so many of Trader Joe’s coziest offerings are often limited to just the cold months of the year. And I get it, I do, but I’m urging you now to take heed and not sleep on this humble little jar.

Like the Organic Pure Bourbon Vanilla Bean Extract, this paste hails from the island of Reunion (once called the Bourbon Island) where Bourbon-originating vanilla beans come from. Contrary to their name, both of these items don’t have bourbon (although vanilla extract contains alcohol, which helps to carry the extract of the vanilla beans). This paste has a few other members that join the vanilla beans, too, like sugar syrup and vanilla extract. To me, this means you get a supercharged vanilla flavor and bean presence — one you’re absolutely going to want to add to mulled wine, yogurt, milkshakes, Irish and/or drip coffee, pancake batter, and an Old-Fashioned (don’t forget the bourbon!)

Which new Trader Joe’s items are you adding to your cart? Tell us in the comments below.