We Tried Every Trader Joe’s Marinated Meat We Could Find — These Are the 5 We’ll Buy Again

published Jan 23, 2023
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Trader Joe's Retail Strip Mall Location. Trader Joe's is a chain of specialty grocery stores in the U.S. II
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If you’ve ever stood in the meat (or seafood!) department at your local grocery store and felt overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Whether it’s choosing between the cut, the seasoning (calibrating the correct mix of spices takes practice), the cooking method, or some combination of all three, for many home cooks, preparing these proteins can be intimidating. Which is where the Trader Joe’s meat case comes in.

Although the eclectic snacks and vast frozen section garners a lot of praise, the store’s meat section is just as full of hidden gems. The fan-favorite grocer has a wide selection of marinated meats that can serve as the base for a low-effort, quick dinner anytime you need one. We sampled as many of these prepared meats as we could get our hands on, including beef, poultry, and seafood options. These are the five that delivered big on ease and flavor.

Credit: Kurt Suchman

1. Balsamic Rosemary Beef Steak Tips, $11.99 per pound

Steak doesn’t need to come from an expensive steak house to be delicious, and these Balsamic Rosemary Beef Steak Tips make the case for steak any night of the week. Often the odds and ends of different cuts of meat, TJ’s marinates these tips in sweet balsamic vinegar with woodsy rosemary and loads of garlic to make them tender and full of flavor. Sauté these up in a hot pan so the sauce can caramelize; they make a great quick dinner alongside pasta (steak and spaghetti Alfredo anyone?), rice, or on top a green salad.

Credit: Kurt Suchman

2. Spatchcocked Lemon Rosemary Chicken, $5.49 per pound

Does roasting a whole chicken sound daunting or time-consuming? Spatchcocking (removing the backbone of a chicken, or any other bird you’re cooking, so it lies flat) makes it faster and easier — even more so when nearly all of the prep is done for you. Enter: Trader Joe’s.

The grocer has butchered and coated the chicken with a bright and herbaceous paste of lemon, rosemary, and olive oil. Roast it in a preheated oven or press into a searing-hot skillet for one of the fastest roast chickens you’ve probably ever made. Serve it alongside roast vegetables for a dinner that comes together all in your oven; sliced thin, it also makes a great filling for sandwiches the next day.

Credit: Kurt Suchman

3. Pesto Genovese Chicken Breasts, $8.99 per pound

The classic Italian concoction of basil, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil is a popular topping for pasta, but pesto makes an equally great marinade for chicken (and lamb, and pork, and salmon!). These Pesto Genovese Chicken Breasts are marinated in the grocer’s jarred sauce, which is extra tart with plenty of lemon to offset the verdant basil. The chicken is fantastic when charred up on the grill and served alongside veggies, like sautéed asparagus and cherry tomatoes, or, yes, added to a bowl of pasta tossed with (even more) pesto.

Credit: Kurt Suchman

4. Santa Maria Inspired Boneless Beef Tri-Tip Roast, $11.99 per pound

Tri-tip is a versatile cut of beef: It cooks up like a tender steak but can also be treated like a roast in the oven or slow cooker. This roast is marinated in a smoky and spicy mix of garlic, paprika, and chili powder for a slightly spicy cut that can be seared for tacos (be sure to pick up some pinto beans and guacamole to serve alongside), burritos, salads, grain bowls, nachos, and more. 

Credit: Kurt Suchman

5. Salmon Pinwheels, $10.99 per pound

These Salmon Pinwheels feel like a special occasion for next to no effort. The flaky fillets are rolled up with a Mediterranean-inspired herbed feta cheese and sliced into stunning spiral rounds. The salty cheese inside helps cut the rich oiliness of the salmon along with fresh parsley and dill for spring-inspired flavors any time of year, even in the middle of winter. Ready to sear in a pan or bake in the oven, they’re great with rice pilaf and roasted vegetables for an easy-breezy meal that tastes like it came from a fresh seafood restaurant. 

Let us know some of your favorite marinated meats from Trader Joe’s in the comments.