20 Best Frozen Foods You Can Buy at Trader Joe’s, According to a Former Employee

updated Jun 23, 2024
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head on shot of an assortment of trader joe's frozen food in a yellow freezer bag, and some scattered on the counter around it.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Tom Hoerup

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As one quickly finds out when shopping at Trader Joe’s, there’s always a sort of bottleneck of customers at the start of the frozen aisle. And for good reason! The freezer section is home to so many of the fan favorites that keep us all braving those perilous parking lots, like mandarin orange chicken and the new popular kid in town, kimbap


But let it be said, there’s plenty of rare seasonal favorites, standbys, and under-the-radar favorites that have yet to get their time in the sun. So I thought it was high time to highlight the end-all-be-all frozen items that are worth waiting (patiently) in line for. Here are the best frozen foods you can get at Trader Joe’s to perk up any holiday spread, midnight snack, or waffle cone.

Breakfast

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

1. Tortilla Española, $5.49 for 21.06 ounces

Loaded with tender-creamy slices of potatoes and savory onions, all wrapped around fluffy eggs, this tortilla española only needs a sprinkle of paprika to make it a meal (okay, maybe a bit of Manchego on the side). So many Trader Joe’s items can be categorized as “Did we really need this?” I am so, so glad this breakfast-for-tapas-dinner exists, so I can now count myself out of cooking and dishwashing duty required when making the homemade version.

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

2. Griddle Cakes, $3.49 for 14.11 ounces

These not-too-sweet, puffed-up silver-dollar-size griddle cakes have made me feel almost too powerful, because now I can, at long last, re-create a McDonald’s McGriddle right at home. Better yet, these fluffy crumpet-adjacent cakes taste like a way more homemade version of the fast-food favorite, with a slightly eggy richness that’s ideal for smearing with peanut butter, topping with whipped cream, or, my favorite, sandwiching two around an egg and sausage patty, with a tiny dollop of maple butter.

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

3. Double Chocolate Croissants, $5.49 for 12 ounces

Once again, Trader Joe’s wins the “All the Best Words in the Best Order” game, because its newest contribution to the croissant world is absolute poetry. This time, it doubled down on the already-very-good Chocolate Croissants with the new Double Chocolate Croissants, which are not only filled with two sticks of semisweet chocolate, but the dough itself is also laminated with cocoa powder, so that no inch has been left up to chance.

Snacks

Credit: Mara Weinraub

4. Perfectly Pickled Pups, $4.99 for 6.3 ounces

Trader Joe’s has a special knack for combining so many of my favorite words in one product, and these snackable, pickle-y corndogs are no exception. The Perfectly Pickled Pups are a mouthful in more ways than one, and have pickle seasoning in the cornbread batter that is subtle enough to not scare away even the very pickle-averse. 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

5. Mini Cheeseburgers, $4.49 for 7.02 ounces

Each of these teensy-weensy beef burger patties are nestled between a sweet Hawaiian roll-adjacent bun, topped with melty cheddar, and then a dollop of Trader Joe’s “burger sauce” (which is super reminiscent of its creamy, tangy Mac sauce-inspired Magnifisauce). All you need is to add some finely diced white onions to really bring in that White Castle feeling to this delightfully nostalgic semi-homemade dinner. 

6. Buffalo-Style Chickenless Wings, $4.99 for 12 ounces

These cartoonishly perfect meatless wings with a signature crispy, crackly sheen initially made me do a double take as to how much they mimicked their meaty counterparts. Fifteen minutes later I tossed them in the vegan-friendly Buffalo sauce for a kick that I didn’t anticipate (arm yourself with ranch, vegan or otherwise, accordingly). With a tender breading that didn’t get soggy, these wings would also be fire on a salad, in a wrap, or folded into a dip, too. 

Lunch/Dinner

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

7. Chiles Rellenos Con Queso, $5.99 for 14.4 ounces

True story: On the day I tested Trader Joe’s frozen chile rellenos, I also went out for Mexican and got, you guessed it, another chile relleno. The Trader Joe’s one was just as good as (if not better than) the restaurant version. The crispy exterior maintained its integrity even when it was added to the spiced red sauce. The cheese was milky-salty and oozy. And the pepper itself was smoky with a vegetal crispness all the while. How did TJ’s do it? I may never know.

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

8. Japanese-Style Fried Rice, $3.49 for 16 ounces

While the other fried rice varieties at Trader Joe’s are well-seasoned and packed with plenty of vegetables, the Japanese-Style Fried Rice contains a whole lot more intrigue and depth in each forkful. Each bite isn’t nearly as “same-y” (my very technical term) as those other bags of rice, with the Japanese-style containing a confetti of hijiki seaweed, shredded carrots, fried bits of tofu, and plump edamame beans, all dressed with rice wine vinegar and soy sauce. I truly could eat it plain and still not be bored, but why stop there? I typically stir in two to three scrambled eggs and call it dinner.

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

9. Kimbap, $3.99 for 8.1 ounces

I must say it: This fan-favorite kimbap is worth the hype. A quick zap in the microwave is all it takes to reheat this party in a roll and have it ready for dipping into spicy-sweet gochujang sauce. Each seaweed-wrapped roll is packed with seasoned rice, crunchy root vegetables, pickles, and braised tofu, which makes for a delightfully budget-friendly dinner on a night when you really, really want to order takeout. 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

10. Grilled Chimichurri Chicken Thigh Skewers, $7.49 for 10.5 ounces

If you’ve yet to convert to Team Chicken Thighs, now is the time. These precooked, pre-skewered chicken thighs are totally foolproof (they just need 6 to 8 minutes in the air fryer). Incredibly juicy, with an herby-spicy chimichurri glaze, these skewers have many fates ahead of them (namely, tacos). 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

11. Shrimp Boom Bah, $8.99 for 16 ounces

After 12 minutes in the air-fryer, these bite-size, tail-off shrimp are ready for a dive in the dipping sauce (reminiscent of a Bang-Bang style mix of mayo + sweet chili sauce) and then tossed into a salad or an upgraded po’ boy sandwich. Bonus: The shrimp has a crispy, golden brown coating that’s not too overlyspiced (meaning you can mix and match sauces if you like). 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

12. Gluten-Free Battered Plant-Based Fish Fillets, $4.49 for 9.5 ounces

These faux fillets are scary good, with a flaky, briny interior — made from king oyster mushrooms and jackfruit — and a crisp and crunchy batter that would be perfect when chopped into a fish taco bowl or a plant-based po’boy. These filets really brought me back to a day at the beach, with a bit of salty air and a warm basket of fish and chips in my lap. 

Dessert

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

13. Rustic Apple Tarte, $4.99 for 17.6 ounces

This rustic apple tart is like if a classic apple pie and a custard-laced tart had a lovechild that was so very beautiful. The crust alone is worthy of a Paul Hollywood handshake, with a sturdy, not-at-all-soggy bottom that is the ideal vehicle for the cinnamon-spiked cream cheese filling, crisp Northern Spy apples, and a crumbly almond topping. On top of all of that, it looks just as cute and, yes, rustic, with a crimped, golden-brown crust that really adds to the whole, “No, this is tooootally homemade” look it so clearly nails. 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson


14. Hold The Cone (All Flavors), $3.79 for 7.9 ounces

Trader Joe’s eminently snackable Hold The Cone flavors (available in vanilla, chocolate, and chocolate chip, a dairy-free version, as well as fun seasonal flavors like coffee and peppermint) are the definition of a frozen must-buy in the story. These mini ice cream cones just go that extra mile; each waffle cone is lined with a chocolaty coating both inside and out, which not only makes it super easy to eat more than one (or even two), but also keeps any precious ice cream from dripping out. Decadent and economical? It really doesn’t get better.

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

15. A Dozen Sweet Bites, $5.99 for 9.16 ounces

Dessert is just not the time to feel either indecisive or, worse, FOMO. Trader Joe’s A Dozen Sweet Bites basically safeguards you from either fate. Each box contains four individual pieces of three distinct mini desserts: a light and crackly raspberry cake (macarons aux framboises), a chocolate & coffee “Opera”-style cake, and a chocolate & caramel layer cake reminiscent of a chocoflan. No matter the flavor, you’ll find that each slice is just the right amount of richness for a bite and an affordable treat to set out over those often-overpriced premade desserts in the grocery bakery. 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

16. Italian Tiramisu, $4.49 for 13.05 ounces

An 8-hour thaw in the fridge is all that keeps you from digging into one of these mini Italian Tiramisus, and I promise it does not disappoint. This tiramisu really has all the depth of a restaurant-grade tiramisu, with hints of marsala wine transforming the ladyfinger cookies into a cakey dream, and plenty of chocolate-y coffee mascarpone cream to keep you spooning in for more. Is it possible I have eaten one of these for breakfast? Absolutely. 

Credit: Choya Johnson

17. Classic Naples-Style Sfogliatella Pastry, $4.49 for 14.1 ounces

Filled with a rich ricotta punctuated with candied orange peel, these crackly sfogliatella pastries are just begging to be dipped in your next cappuccino. I’m pretty much always trying to pretend I’m in Naples, so for $4.49 I’m a big fan of the flavor trip these pastries provide.

Credit: Lauren Masur

18. Ube Ice Cream, $3.49 for 16 ounces

My spidey senses start to tingle when I know it’s getting close to ube season (roughly April or May in Trader Joe’s land). This purple yam pops up all over store shelves (in the form of cookies, tea cakes, and pancake mix) each year, and the best expression of all is Trader Joe’s ube ice cream. This ube ice cream is the ideal vehicle for the pistachio-vanilla-y flavor that makes ube so memorable (and that’s on top of the vivid lavender shade). If you need to find me, I’ll be pacing the ice cream aisle until this ice cream makes its yearly return. 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

19. S’mores Ice Cream, $3.79 for 16 ounces

Members of Team Graham Cracker, assemble! The seasonal S’mores Ice Cream at Trader Joe’s will finally give you s’more of what you want (I’m so sorry). A rich and toasty graham cracker (!) ice cream base is swirled with a light marshmallow fluff, chocolate chunks, and a chocolate ice cream that really lets the graham cracker have its own, well-deserved moment. Go the next step and crumble more graham crackers on top — you deserve it.

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

20. Celebration Cake Gelato, $3.79 for 16 ounces

This pint is the stuff of dreams: a cake batter-flavored gelato, with plenty of sprinkles and rainbow-speckled cake pieces folded in? It instantly makes you feel like it’s your birthday party and, yes, someone got you a pony. It earns its name — it’s a pint-size celebration, and that’s very much reason enough to celebrate really anything you’ve got going on. 

Did your favorite Trader Joe’s frozen food make the list? Tell us about it in the comments below.