The 10 Best Things We Bought at Trader Joe’s in 2022
Where would we (or our fridges, pantries, purses, etc.) be without Trader Joe’s in 2022? A bit hungrier, that’s for sure. Our snack stash would definitely be light on unexpectedly delicious snacks. Our cheese boards would be missing some favorite wild-card choices. And we’re certainly relieved we can get our sample cups of coffee this year, too.
Mostly we’d miss the way Trader Joe’s kept our carts overflowing with surprises each and every grocery run, from new ways to start the day, to desserts that quietly became household traditions. What topped our list? You might be a little surprised by our favorite TJ’s finds from this year. Best of all, they’re all under $5!
1. Ranch Seasoning Blend, $2.99 for 2 ounces
For many of us, ranch dressing was a pillar of our childhood eating habits. So it goes without saying how quickly we snatched this seasoning up as soon as we spotted it. It’s perfect when whipped into sour cream for a low-effort dip, obviously, but we can’t wait to add it to pizza dough, use it in olive oil as a dip for bread, or sprinkle it onto chickpeas before roasting. Add this to some grilled corn if you really want to live a little.
2. Mini Chocolate Chip Pancake & Waffle Mix, $3.69 for 16 ounces
As someone who grew up in a Bisquick household and later graduated to the from-scratch stuff, our Groceries Editor, Mara, was a little hesitant to believe this mix could stack up to the thick, fluffy, buttermilk-laden batter she had come to enjoy on Sunday mornings (and weekday evenings). But this pancake mix certainly delivered.
These pancakes were thick, fluffy, really everything we want out of a homemade pancake with minimal effort. The mini chocolate chips are evenly studded throughout and add a nice bit of chocolate decadence to EVERY bite.
3. Apple Blossoms, $2.49 for 8.04 ounces
Roughly the size of a handheld pie, these pastry blossoms are filled with slightly sweet and spiced Northern Spy apples and topped with a crumbly cinnamon-y streusel. They come in packs of two, and each one is individually wrapped, which is a nice feature if you’re planning to save one for later.
4. Unexpected Cheddar Chicken Sausages, $4.49 for 12 ounces
The same is true of the new Unexpected Cheddar Chicken Sausages, which are fully cooked and ready to use. So whether you roast them on the grill or in the oven, or sauté them on the stove, they’re a convenient protein to add to any easy weeknight meal. We roasted these alongside Trader Joe’s Garden Vegetable Hash, and juicy is an understatement here. Each bite of these chicken sausages has melty cheese, roasted caramelized onions, and red peppers.
5. Trader Joe’s Tuscan Pane, $2.69 for 26 ounces
A delightfully crusty-yet-chewy texture is what makes the Tuscan Pane bread a true standout for us in the bread category. It even looks like you just picked it up from your neighborhood baker, with a slight dusting of flour to bring out the subtle nuttiness. If you’re a sourdough fan, the Tuscan Pane has the chew and airiness you’ll be familiar with.
Traditionally made without salt by Tuscans who would use it to accompany spicy and salty dishes, Tuscan Pane is ideal for dredging up any remaining bits of pasta sauce, or eating with cured meats and pungent or hard cheeses. This bread also toasts well, making it part of one of our favorite appetizers: garlic-rubbed bruschetta toasts.
6. Trader Joe’s BBQ & Black Pepper Toscano Chopped Salad, $3.49 for 11 ounces
Made with a mix of green and red cabbage, carrots, broccoli stalks, and kale, the crunchy, slaw-like base of the BBQ & Black Pepper Toscano Salad Mix is a textural delight. It’s paired with, well, a pair of toppings: cornbread croutons (which are more akin to crispy crouton crumbs) and a black pepper Toscano cheese in shredded form.
The former adds a more concentrated crunch to the mix, while the cheese gives a very welcomed creamy, savory flavor with plenty of bite. Topped with a sweet-yet-savory onion dressing we seriously hope TJ’s starts bottling, this salad all works so amazingly well together and is a repeat buy for our Groceries Editor.
7. Trader Joe’s Mini Spicy Pumpkin Samosas, $3.99 for 8.5 ounces
Pumpkin finally gets to be the star in these seasonal samosas. Eat the samosas on their own, or dip them in green chutney, and you just might find yourself on Team Pumpkin, too.
8. Trader Joe’s Cascatelli Organic Italian Artisan Pasta, $2.69 for 16 ounces
Dan Pashman, if you’re unfamiliar, is a modern-day multi-hyphenate — podcast host-slash-pasta inventor — who created Cascatelli, the waterfall-shaped noodle with the weeks-long wait.) So our Groceries Editor leapt at the opportunity to try Trader Joe’s spin on the popular noodle (buying two bags just in case).
Cascatelli was created to have the perfect mix of forkability (how easy it is to get the shape on your fork and keep it there), sauceability (how readily sauce adheres to the shape), and toothsinkability (how satisfying it is to sink your teeth into it). No surprise, TJ’s version truly delivered on all three. Try it in a baked mac and cheese, slicked in marinara sauce, or maybe just straight out of the strainer.
9. Horchata Inspired Ice Cream, $3.49 for 16 ounces
If we were cartoon characters, our cartoon eyes would turn into big, red hearts upon the first bite of this ridiculously good ice cream. It takes the creamy Mexican rice-based drink and reimagines it in frozen form. The ice cream is cinnamon-y and not too sweet and is studded with churro-esque cookie pieces.
10. Blueberry Fields Hard Cheese, $4.99 for 8 ounces
This summery, hard cheese reminded us a lot of classic Syrah Toscano cheese mixed with that crystallized saltiness of TJ’s Thousand Day Gouda. In other words, it has just the right bite of nutty sharpness. But the real delight is in the rind of this cheese, which is soaked in a blueberry juice for a much welcomed bit of tart sweetness.
It made us daydream about how this cheese would fare in a grilled cheese sandwich with apples. Or simply cubed for a cheese board. Or shaved on a salad. In short, Blueberry Fields Forever.
What was the best thing you bought from Trader Joe’s in 2022? Tell us in the comments below!