Kitchn EssentialsKitchn Essentials

The Essential Grocery Items & Packaged Foods for 2021

There has never been a more exciting time to grocery shop. Thanks to innovative frozen foods, small-batch makers, and the ever-expanding opportunities to shop online, groceries are growing. Our team tested, tasted, and debated to bring you a list of the most exciting groceries in America right now: Meet the Kitchn Essentials, Grocery Edition.

See last year's winners here

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

Spreads & Sauces

Meal Starter
The Sauce Bundle

Omsom launched during the pandemic, when we couldn't have been more desperate for a delicious dinner shortcut. Each kit has all the (sometimes hard-to-find) sauces, aromatics, and seasonings you need for specific Asian recipes like Japanese Yuzu Misoyaki and Chinese Mala Salad. "The bulgogi starter was the one thing I constantly cooked with and ordered this year,” says Andrea Kaufman, Social Media Editor. “Super easy and super good — it got me to eat tofu for the first time in years!” Also, just look at that super-fun and colorful packaging!

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Heinz Tomato Ketchup

What’s the old saying about fixing things that aren't broken? Sometimes there’s just no need to reinvent the wheel, and the familiar squeeze bottle from Heinz is a prime example. Keep on dipping your fries in this standby; there’s no need to try any of those fancy new brands!

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Maille Dijon Originale Mustard

Another classic: Maille started on the rue Saint-André des Arts in Paris all the way back in 1747. Sheela Prakash, our resident Taste Maker, swears by this tangy, smooth mustard to bring a punch to your favorite savory recipe. Bonus: The creamy blend doesn’t sneak in any sugar like some Dijons unnecessarily do.

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Duke's Real Mayonnaise

Once you find Duke's, you’ll never go back, as any devotee to this Southeastern brand of mayo will attest. The regional favorite has even won fans all around the country — including our Northern editors, who’ll tell you there’s just no substitute.

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Truffle Mayonnaise
Truff Mayonnaise

This next-level condiment features funky, musky, magical black winter truffles. If we had to use one word to describe it? Decadent. Slather your fries in it, take grilled cheese to a new world with it, or go ahead and lap up a spoonful — it stands on its own.

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Zach & Zoë Goldenrod Honey

How sweet is this family business's honey lineup? It’s raw, it’s packaged oh-so beautifully, and the biz is named for the Johnson family’s two children. We're so excited for you to try their creative flavors like ginger, lavender, matcha, and … beetroot! Grab yours at Chelsea Market in New York City or online.

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Chili Crisp
Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp with Spoon

You know when a dish is just missing that certain something? It probably needs Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp. Our editors put it on practically everything: eggs, vegetables, sandwiches, rice bowls, the list goes on. It's intensely savory, crunchy, and just the right amount of spicy. The chilis bring a nice level of heat that is strong, but not too intense for people who are sensitive to spice.

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Hot Sauce
Cholula Hot Sauce Original

Okay, it wasn't easy picking just one essential hot sauce from a universe-spanning category (have you seen how many choices are out there lately?). But this tangy-smoky-spicy sauce is essential at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so if you've got to pick just one, make it this versatile winner.

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Soom Sesame Premium Tahini

Simply put: We love this silky-smooth tahini. We also love that three sisters spotted the major gap in the U.S. tahini market and brought us this delicious spread made of Ethiopian sesame seeds. Oh happy day — you barely even have to stir it!

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Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves

That iconic checkered lid means you've got the next best thing to homemade preserves. (Honestly, it’s French so let’s not even call it a runner-up.) Big chunks of fruit in the sweetly delicious strawberry preserves don't have to compete with fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, or preservatives so it’s just pure goodness through and through. Bonne, indeed.

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Trade Street Jam Co.

We just can't say enough good things about this (vegan!) jam. Small-batch and with minimal added sugar, it is seriously our jam. (Sorry, couldn't help it.) Flavors like Blueberry Lemon Basil and Smoked Peach belong in cocktails, baked goods, salad dressings, and more.

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Peanut Butter
Smucker's Natural Creamy Peanut Butter

Peanut butter can veer too smooth, too sweet, too salty, or too plain ... at least according to Editor-in-Chief, Faith Durand, the ultimate Goldilocks. After trying gobs of fancy brands she found her jusssssst right PB with Smucker's Natural. “It really is just right,” she says. “What I am always looking for is a peanut butter that tastes roasted and robust, with enough texture to assure me that I am eating freshly ground peanuts, not a slippery paste. And I want some salt to balance the taste, but no sugar (that's for the jam to provide on my sandwich!)."

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Maple Syrup
Runamok Maple Sugarmaker’s Cut

We love all the syrups from Runamok, but this stuff is extra special. It's literally the very best organic maple syrup of the season: Each run is sampled and, when the flavor is at its peak, the sugarmakers set it aside for this bottle. "It might be spendy, but it’s way worth it,” says Contributor Meghan Splawn.

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Ithaca Classic Hummus

Hummus is one of those store-bought things that never tastes as good as homemade … until now. Ithaca Hummus, which got its start in 2013 at the Ithaca Farmers Market, is available nationwide, happily for us all. Start with the Classic (it's pleasantly lemony!) and then try all the other flavors, too.

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Salad Dressing
Hidden Valley Ranch

We sampled as many ranch dressings as we could find in a salad dressing throwdown, and out of a dozen, this classic won the day. Meghan already knew it was the best: “I love it, the kids love it, and the flavor holds up against all the other bottled ranch dressings on the market." If you think ranch is too sweet, give this a chance. “The flavor is buttermilk-forward with an even tang and plenty of herby flavor in a super-creamy dressing that will never, ever let you down," she adds.

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Tomato Sauce
Rao's Homemade Tomato Basil Sauce

Most jarred pasta sauce tastes like, well, jarred pasta sauce. Rao’s, on the other hand? Through some kind of sorcery it’s perfection. Buttery and rich, and packing the perfect ratio of spices to tomatoes (and minus that too-acidic tang of other brands), it’s hands-down worth the extra few bucks it’ll run you.

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Fish Sauce
Red Boat Fish Sauce

Essential to Southeast Asian cuisine, fermented fish sauce packs a huge umami punch. And Red Boat is the best of the best, maybe because of how quickly they salt their freshly caught wild anchovies. Savory, pungent, a bit sweet, and deeply complex, just a touch of this sauce will boost steaks, cocktails, and your Thai or Vietnamese favorites.

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Simmer Sauce
Maya Kaimal Coconut Korma Indian Simmer Sauce

It doesn't seem like a decadent dinner should be this easy, but the warm spices and rich coconut in this vegan sauce transform the simplest protein and veg into an aromatic dining experience. And nobody says you have to stick with Indian dishes — it’s a winner with pizza, pasta, and tacos, too!

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All-Purpose Sauce
Not Just Lemon Miso Salad Dressing

Not Just Salad Dressing is, well, not just salad dressing. This Miso Lemon Vinaigrette goes so far beyond the salad (although if you're looking for a way to add more greens to your day, start here!). Marinate chicken, whip up a noodle bowl, or roast some veggies in this zippy, umami dressing from a women-owned company.

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Giovanni Rana Basil Pesto

Sure, you could grab a mortar and pestle, some basil and pine nuts, and make your own basil pesto. But why bother when Rana brings you pure Italian Mediterranean sunshine in a tub? Genovese basil is essential for a pesto that hits the sweet spot of bite and freshness. Spoon this green sunshine over pasta, pizza, and literally anything you’re sheetpan-ing for dinner.

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Desert Pepper Trading Company Tequila Salsa

Tequila salsa! This multi-generational family-run business — launched by a mother-and-son duo — funnels the blazing sun and bright flavors of the Southwest desert straight into their jars. Please do not stop at chips (although it’s a match made in heaven). Spoon this vibrant salsa over huevos rancheros and grilled pizza ... and stir some into your next bloody Mary!

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Counter Culture Coffee

Coffee enthusiasts, you have found your people. This North Carolina organic roaster was focused on coffee quality and sustainability before those buzzwords became buzzy. (We're talking a bird-friendly coffee in 1997!) And not only are they dedicated to social, environmental, and fiscal sustainability, their coffee is also straight-up delicious. Rebecca Longshore, Director of Audience Growth, loves their sweet and nutty Fast Forward, but there’s something for every taste in their carefully considered lineup.

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Cold Brew
La Colombe Cold Brew

We live in a beautiful world, where a silky and bold cold-brewed coffee can come from a can. Truly. All you do is chill it and pop it open; the fresh roasting, overnight brewing, cold pressing, and double filtering is all done for you, leaving a lovely, smooth sip with an inherent sweetness.

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Harney & Sons Viennese Earl Grey

We all deserve a little luxury, and this small tin of loose-leaf tea is where it’s at. We adore the lighter, lemony, Darjeeling-based version of Earl Grey. Thanks to a hint of sweetness (even though there’s no sugar), the non-Earl Grey fans will love it too, Sheela promises.

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Health-Ade Pink Lady Apple

The booch of choice for many Kitchn editors is Pink Lady Apple, one of the delicious, juicy flavors of bubbly fermented tea from Health-Ade (a woman-owned organic kombucha brand!). While the PLA will always be our favorite, we also recommend the other flavors — especially Passion Fruit-Tangerine, Watermelon, and Tropical Punch.

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Infused Sparkling Water
Spindrift Raspberry Lime

As some of us trade pandemic cocktails for bubbles sans booze (at least some of the time), the crowded fizzy water aisle offers overwhelming variety. Our pick: the crisp, dry, clean flavors of fruit-infused Spindrift. Allow us to suggest the tart-yet-sweet combo of Raspberry Lime.

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Polar Seltzer Ruby Red Grapefruit

Polar is an enduring favorite for sipping and mixing, beloved by bartenders and anyone who was drinking fizzy water before fizzy water was cool. Not much is more refreshing than the creamy bubbles — unless it’s bubbles with the bright kiss of grapefruit.

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Adaptogen Drink

These beautiful cans (art in and of themselves) deliver organic adaptogens, aromatherapeutic superfoods, and whole fruit juices in a delicious sparkling drink in flavors like Pretty Happy, with passion fruit, cacao, vanilla bean, and rhodiola. The all-female team of designers and food scientists is on a mission to help us fight stress and feel balanced. From our unscientific testing, we'd say mission accomplished.

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Newman's Own Virgin Lemonade

Ahh, sweet, old fashioned lemonade, the OG drink of summer. The next best thing to freshly squeezed by some enterprising kid at a stand is this carton of goodness from Newman’s Own. Lemon oil dials up the zing, making this about as good as it gets on a searing summer day.

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Sparkling Tea

Even if these tea-based sparkling drinks didn't come in the most tantalizing flavors (Green Tea with Grapefruit & Mint!) we’d be swooning at the most adorable bottles ever. The teas are also organic, non-GMO, and naturally sweet with no sweetener added.

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Hard Seltzer
Press Premium Hard Seltzer

In our comprehensive taste test of the flooded spiked seltzer market, PRESS brought the most enticing flavors, says Contributor Dana McMahan. No surprise there, as the woman-owned company is out to find sophisticated flavor combinations inspired by the founder’s culinary explorations around the globe. Flavors like Lime Lemongrass deliver exactly what they promise, in a clean, fresh, bright way.

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Bread & Breakfast

Sandwich Bread
Dave's Killer Bread 21 Whole Grains and Seeds + Dave's Killer Bread White Bread Done Right

There’s a clear consensus among the Kitchn staff that Dave’s Killer Bread is the absolute best for sandwiches. The 21 Whole Grains is nutty, seedy, and toasts perfectly to stand up to any condiment, cold cut, or sandwich topper you can think of. And the White Bread Done Right is essential for a classic PB&J or Fluffernutter. We are also big supporters of the company’s Second Chance Employment policy, a hiring process that grants job opportunities to people with past criminal records.

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Martin's Potato Rolls

We have two words for you: Shake Shack. When the ultimate in burger shops entrusts their precious patties to Martin’s Potato Rolls, you know we're talking about the real deal. But it’s not just the unrivaled burger experts of the world: Our editors called Martin’s lightly sweet and springy-to-the-touch potato buns the best freaking hot dog and hamburger buns you can buy.

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Rolled Oats
Bob's Red Mill Organic Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

Bob’s Red Mill Old Fashioned Rolled Oats are the wholesome household staple we all need. We love everything about this brand — including their origin story and their 100% employee-owned approach. Oh, and their oats are all you could ever ask for, whether they’re in a warm bowl or a homemade granola.

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Some things just don't need improving on. “The nostalgic but hearty taste of Cheerios in all their oaten splendor is still my gold standard cereal," Faith says. In fact the only thing she craved when she was pregnant with her children was the simple perfection of Cheerios, in plenty of cold whole milk. "They satisfy me and fill me up, and that perfect clutch-able shape is still the best pick-up practice for tiny baby hands. They're the standard all other cereals are judged by."

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English Muffins
Thomas' Original English Muffins

We all know the real purpose of English muffins, and that’s to serve as a vehicle to transport important food groups like butter, jam, smashed avocado, or peanut butter to our mouths. It doesn't get any better than the signature nooks and crannies of Thomas' Original English Muffins. Start your day off right and build an egg sandwich or just sop up some runny eggs with an English muffin's toasted magnificence.

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Breakfast Bars
Nature's Bakery Raspberry Fig Bars

In need of a snack for back-to-school (whatever that means these days)? Look no further. “Nature’s Bakery fruit bars are kind of like an old-school Nutrigrain or Fig Newton,” says Meghan. “My kids love them.” That sentiment was seconded by Food Editor Kelli Foster, and thirded by Studio Food Editor Amelia Rampe. The rest of the staff had their mouths full and couldn't speak.

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Breakfast Sandwiches
Mason Dixie Frozen Breakfast Sandwiches

Mason Dixie started as a brick-and-mortar biscuit shop that got so popular, the owner had to go nationwide with a frozen lineup of carby goodness. And yay for that! These new frozen breakfast sandwiches are off the charts, thanks to the simple ingredients adding up to so much more than the sum of their, egg, sausage, and biscuit parts.

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Purely Elizabeth Blueberry Hemp Ancient Grain Granola

Striking that irresistible balance between sweet and salty, and loaded with goodness like ancient grains and seeds, this granola is craveable straight out of the bag, and a dream on top of a smoothie. "It’s spendy, but I can almost always find it on sale, and then I have to buy it,” says Contributor Ariel Knutson.

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Olive Oil
California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pretty much every single Kitchn editor uses California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil as their “everyday olive oil.” And Ina Garten keeps it in her pantry, too. For those times when olive oil is the star (as a salad dressing or when finishing a toast, for example), we reach for Brightland.

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Balsamic Vinegar
Colavita Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

Sure, you can drop a small fortune on aged balsamic vinegars that trickle out in slo-mo. But Colavita Balsamic Vinegar is the authentic stuff (with the seal to prove it), made according to the traditions in Modena, Italy ... at weeknight dinner prices. Sweet, tangy, and fruity, it’s versatile enough for anything from dressing to drizzling.

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Canned Tomatoes
Cento San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes

Our blind taste test crowned these naturally sweet, rich, and earthy peeled tomatoes the best of the best. They're simply a must-have in your pantry for soups, stews, or the easiest-ever quick and no-fuss pizza sauce.

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Tomato Paste
Cento Double Concentrated Tomato Paste

Whoever was in the meeting that decided that Cento tomato paste belonged in a squeeze tube instead of an ill-sized can deserves an award. For those of us who gravitate towards recipes that call for just a tablespoon of tomato paste at a time, this handy-dandy squeeze tube, which lasts up to 45 days after opening, is about to become your best friend. Also, it won in our tomato paste taste test. Say that five times fast!

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Curry Paste
Maesri Red Curry Paste

Making curry at home? This couple-buck tin will be your new best friend. “I learned about Maesri Thai Curry Paste from a Thai restaurant owner who I trust entirely,” Dana says. In an unofficial poll, this is the brand that came up again and again.

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Dried Beans
Rancho Gordo Cranberry Beans

Wow, did dried beans ever have a moment last year. Rancho Gordo, already big in the bean world, became a veritable celebrity — and for good reason. Their heirloom varieties require less soaking time, and cook up much creamier and more flavorful than a standard batch of dried beans might. Fill up your cart and be sure to try the Cranberry Beans.

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Quick-Cook Beans
A Dozen Cousins

A quick-cook bean from a company with a social mission and a heart? Say no more. Okay, one more thing: A Dozen Cousins' deliciously convenient and already-seasoned pouches of beans are inspired by traditional Black and Latino recipes from throughout the Americas. Grab a variety pack for maximum fun, and try them piled on rice, stuffed into tortillas, or sautéed with greens.

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Canned Tuna
Wild Planet Albacore Wild Tuna

Do you know what’s in your tuna? Spring for Wild Planet, and you can be sure you know what you're getting. They do cost a little more, but this is so totally a case where it’s worth it. Greenpeace consistently ranks Wild Planet the #1 canned tuna brand for sustainability, traceability, and ethical practice. Each can is just pure tuna and sea salt — nothing fishy there!

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Broth Concentrate
Better Than Bouillon Roasted Chicken Base

Our pantries aren't working quite as hard as they were a year ago, but we all still know the importance of keeping certain things stocked. Enter: this little jar of highly concentrated flavor. It’s teeny and stands in for 38 (8-ounce) cans of broth. That’s 9.5 cartons! Make this stuff a staple and you'll save time, money, and space on your shelves to make room for highly critical things (like cases of fizzy water).

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Campbell's Well Yes! Harvest Carrot & Ginger Sipping Soup

Faith sang the praises of Campbell's Well Yes! Harvest Carrot & Ginger Sipping Soup after downing a cup while on the go. “I felt a sudden, unexpected sense of nourishment wash through me, even though the soup wasn't heated. It was pungent and just spicy enough — a drink that felt punchy and filling. If you've sworn off canned soup for any reason, may I recommend these sippable soups?"

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Baking & Seasoning

King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Flour is flour, yeah? Actually not so much. Try the super-versatile AP flour from this employee-owned company, all bakers at heart, and you'll see why they've been in business for more than 200 years. This non-GMO flour is just as perfect for light and fluffy scones as it is your favorite brownies, making it the flour bakers swear by.

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Flaky Salt
Jacobsen Salt Co. Pure Flake Sea Salt

The right finishing salt is truly the finishing touch that takes a dish from good to whoa! The briny, bright salt from Jacobsen, harvested in the Pacific Northwest, will make your dishes sing. And with crunchy flakes that are smaller than other brands, it’s easier to distribute, says Meghan.

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Kosher Salt
Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt

When it comes to seasoning and brining, you need the perfect coarse salt. Which is exactly what Diamond Crystal provides in their kosher salt. Coarse enough that you can grab it with your fingers, but easily crushed for seasoning, this stuff is a staple in culinary schools. Go ahead and stock up on it — it’s worth its salt (hehe).

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Table Salt
Morton Salt

Bakers, unite: The table salt you want for quick and even dissolving is the classic blue container. Why is the girl in the yellow dress carrying an umbrella and spilling salt? Does it matter? This is the salt we know and love.

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Fleischmann's Instant Dry Yeast

File yeast under things we'll never take for granted again! Those of us who didn't have any of this precious leavening agent back when lockdowns and shortages hit really wished we had stocked up. Even if you didn't pick up pandemic sourdough baking, Fleischmann's Yeast is essential for homemade pizza and cinnamon rolls.

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Vanilla Extract
Nielsen-Massey Mexican Pure Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is one of those things you don't want to go cheap on. Nielsen-Massey might be on the pricier side, but our expert baker and Studio Food Editor Jesse Szewczyk says it’s worth it for its “dark color and super-strong, high-quality vanilla flavor.” Also, it’s nice that you can find it pretty readily: no having to scour the internet or hunt down specialty baking stores.

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Brownie Mix
Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix

Can you make a good brownie from scratch pretty easily? Sure! But you know what? Sometimes we all just want a reliable boxed mix, and Ghirardelli Double Chocolate does it right with this super-dark, double-chocolatey mix. It’s so good, it even won our blind taste tests. Who knows, you may even like it better than your homemade version!

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Vanilla Cake Mix
Betty Crocker Super Moist Vanilla Cake Mix

This classic will take you straight back to Easy-Bake Ovens. But don't let its simplicity fool you. Betty Crocker’s Super Moist Vanilla Cake Mix is exactly as promised — incredibly moist, and deliciously (and naturally) vanilla-y. Use this to make a classic cake or get fancy with it as your foolproof base.

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Guittard Chocolate Baking Wafers

"Perfect pools of chocolate." That’s what Amelia says about these organic, fair-trade chocolate baking wafers from Guittard. She swears by them for all things baking and chocolate. No matter what you’re making — banana bread, cookies, and beyond! — these are your new go-to.

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Cocoa Powder
Guittard Cocoa Rouge Cocoa Powder

Guittard is where it’s at for baking with chocolate. When it’s a bittersweet, intense chocolate flavor you're after, look for the red canister pro pastry chefs go for. It’s intense, fudgy, and robust — in other words, perfection for your cakes and pastries. Guittard, from our research, also has a good track record of combating the child and slave labor that still plagues the chocolate industry.

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Burlap & Barrel Royal Cinnamon

Intensely sweet and spicy, thanks to a harvesting technique that concentrates the tree’s essential oils, the heirloom cinnamon that Burlap & Barrel imports from the mountains around Hue in Vietnam will transform your cooking. Try it in tea or on granola — you won't be disappointed.

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Frozen Cookies
Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

The cookie with the loyal following in New York can be yours without a trip to their bakery. "Levain sells a frozen version of their famed chocolate chip cookie, and it’s as good as it gets without waiting in line," says Hollis Miller, Email Manager. Just pop ‘em in the oven for the signature gooeyness!

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Puff Pastry
Dufour Classic Puff Pastry

All butter, all the time — that’s what we're talking about. Skip the frozen puff pastry options made with shortening, Jesse says, and reach for Dufour and its delicious buttery goodness. All the bakers on our staff are behind him on that.

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Potato Chips
Utz Kettle Classics Original

Utz are simply the best kettle chips you can buy, says Tools Editor and expert snacker, Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm. Extra thick and extra crunchy, they're everything you want a kettle chip to be. The exact right amount of sea salt will you keep you reaching for more, so maybe buy two bags.

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Rold Gold Honey Wheat Braided Twists

Ah, is there anything more sublime than a snack that’s salty and sweet? That would be no, and that’s why these Honey Wheat Braided Twist pretzels from Rold Gold are the perfect snack. Well, that and the fun game you get to play when you unravel the twist in your mouth, munch by munch.

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Tortilla Chips
Siete Grain Free Sea Salt Tortilla Chips

These tortilla chips (made with cassava flour and avocado oil) are a Kitchn team favorite because they're sturdy enough to stand up to any dip. The company is run by a Mexican-American family of seven (siete!) from South Texas who’ve undoubtedly mastered the formula for perfect grain-free tortilla chips. These chips are also Whole30-approved, gluten-free, and vegan.

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LesserEvil Organic Popcorn

Popcorn still counts as dinner. To do it right, go for a bag of popcorn from LesserEvil in any of their flavors. Light, airy, salty, and buttery, with nothing but real ingredients, this is as good as it gets. Of course, it's also a great snack.

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Cheese Crackers
Extra Toasty Cheez-It Crackers

In case you didn't know, slightly burnt (or extra toasty, as they're technically called) Cheez-Its are not only a thing — they're the only way to have a Cheez-It, according to cheese cracker aficionados on staff. Can there be too much of a good thing? Nope. “A bowl full of all-burnt Cheez-It crackers is way better than the occasional burnt Cheez-It cracker,” says Lifestyle Director, Lisa Freedman.

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Keto-Friendly Snack

Cheese, but make it more like a cracker! “I'll never be without these,” Dana says. Perfect at apéro time or literally anytime, the gluten-free snack hits the spot when you crave cheese and a crunch. These are also great for anyone following the keto diet.

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Moonshot Crackers

How about a yummy cracker you can feel good about? These crackers are non-GMO and made with certified organic ingredients sourced from climate-friendly farmers. The Rosemary Garlic is spot-on.

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Kids' Snack
GoGo SqueeZ YogurtZ

Yay for a kid-friendly yogurt made without preservatives or high fructose corn syrup. Faith loves these pouches for her own family, and all parents can get behind how easy the pouches are to grab and go. Bonus: Kids love them and one pouch is an easy way to get in some calcium and protein.

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Partake Chocolate Chip Cookies

Partake’s vegan chocolate chip cookies are also so allergy-friendly that they're safe for cookie-lovers who can't have nuts, soy, or gluten. And yes, they're delicious! On the site, you can browse between crunchy or soft-baked cookies.

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Good & Gather Everything Cashews

You can be sure that basically anything from Target’s Good & Gather line will be good, but some of their offerings are extra good. Case in point: these buttery roasted cashews with everything seasoning. Throw them in a party mix or straight into your mouth.

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Santa Barbara Pistachio Company

Santa Barbara Pistachio Company does a couple of things differently: Their pistachios are brined, and they're hot air-dried at a low temp. This means they keep a buttery, incredible flavor. Nothing short of amazing, Faith says. Turns out, good pistachios are a world apart from regular ones.

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Blue Diamond Gourmet Almonds

Look, a crunchy almond is a delight on its own. Add some elevated flavors like Blue Diamond is doing with salt, spices, and olive oil and you've got a snack fancy enough to star in your next charcuterie board. Or just pour some in a bowl while you have happy hour at home and it'll feel like you're at a bar.

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Organic Girl Little Gems

Faith first saw these tiny, perfectly cupped lettuce leaves at restaurants in New York City and the Bay area. Soon after, they came out for the rest of us to buy and enjoy at home! Now they're her favorite lettuce — and we think they'll be yours, too.

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Salad Kit
Little Salad Bar Southwest Chopped Salad Kit

What’s for dinner? Salad kits to the rescue. But what kind? The major consensus among Kitchn editors is that Southwestern-style is best. That’s any kit with a creamy/spicy dressing, tortilla chip crunchies, and cheese. Honestly just about any will do, but Aldi's Little Salad Bar brings it with loads of veggies and a zesty chipotle ranch dressing.

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Mandarin Oranges
Sumo Citrus

Off-the-charts sweet. Big. Easy-to-peel and seed-free. Sumo Citrus is all of these things. Honestly, it's the only mandarin you’ll ever want.

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Envy Apples

A brilliant cross of Braeburn and Royal Gala, Envy apples make all the other apples jealous. You know ... if apples had feelings. Each one is crisp and refreshingly sweet.

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NatureFresh TomZ Tomberry Tomatoes

If you love cherry and grape tomatoes, these Tomberrys (the world’s smallest tomato!) will definitely be your new favorite. Yes, they're small. No, smaller! Like, smaller than blueberries. They're highly seasonal, though, which means there's a tiny window when they're available. Translation: Buy them when you see them!

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Grillo's Pickles

When pickles matter, pickles matter. Kitchn editors agree this big plastic tub of Italian dill spears is the way to go (and not just for the pickle-in-a-lawn-chair on the label!). They're crunchy, garlicky, and just so pickly. Fun fact: Our former Groceries Editor has been known to eat these — and only these — for dinner.

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Cleveland Kitchen Kraut

Yes, yes, fermented foods are good for your gut. Also? They taste really, really good. Faith loves the Roasted Garlic Kraut from Cleveland Kitchen, but all their flavors are worth exploring, and trying in and on just about everything. Here again, we also suggest eating this stuff right out of the bag.

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Chi Kitchen Napa Kimchi

They had us at first-press fish sauce, but just thinking about the radish, garlic, ginger, and red pepper in this robust kimchi has our mouths watering. Chi Kitchen’s amazing lineup is clearly made with love, and we love that it’s a woman-owned family business founded by a chef.

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Wyman's Wild Blueberries

If you aren't keeping a giant bag of frozen wild blueberries in your freezer, what are you even using your freezer for? Nina Elder, Executive Food Director, eats them daily and says Wyman’s is superior to any other brand — worth the freezer space for a giant bag!

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Mail-Order Produce
Misfits Market Box

Picking produce doesn't need to be a mini beauty contest. Misfits ships delicious, organic produce direct to your door at a serious savings; it just might not be the prettiest. If you knew them for their mystery boxes, here’s an update! Now you can choose your own adventure, building a box of whatever your heart desires. You just have to meet a minimum order requirement of $30.

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Land O'Lakes Unsalted Butter

For an unsalted butter that's ideal for baking, it’s this grocery-store staple for the win. Not only is it Good Butter, but it’s also from a farmer-owned cooperative! Also, did you know that you can store butter in the freezer? Grab an extra box and never run out again when baking inspiration strikes.

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Spreadable Butter
Kerrygold Naturally Softer Pure Irish Butter

We can all use an easy-to-spread butter in our lives, and the creamy, delicious pure Irish butter from Kerrygold is where it’s at. Slather some on a hunk of good bread and prepare to feel downright decadent.

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Sour Cream
Daisy Sour Cream

Had one sour cream, had them all? No way. Daisy brings the best texture and makes for the dreamiest of dips, perfectly tangy cheesecake, and even the best banana bread.

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Cottage Cheese
Hood Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese deserves more recognition — especially Hood Cottage Cheese. These salty, creamy curds make a wonderful blank canvas for a protein-packed breakfast or filling afternoon snack. Use this cottage cheese like it's yogurt or try one of our go-tos: under some sliced avocado and a soft-boiled egg.

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Snacking Cheese
Cabot Extra Sharp Vermont Cheddar Cheese

Cheese snacks are not just for kids. This grown-up, slow-aged, extra-sharp cheddar is a dream with a beer or a perfect pairing with an apple. And you have to love that this is a family-owned cooperative that cares for their animals, their employees, and their land.

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Fancy Cheese
Fromager d'Affinois Double-Cream Brie

Fancy cheese is one of the great joys of life. Happily, you don't have to live near a fromagerie to enjoy this ultra-luscious, ooey-gooey French double cream cheese. (We seriously spot it at most mainstream grocery stores!) Let it sit out and soften for a bit before you eat it so that you get the maximum liquid center. And oui! You eat the rind.

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Shredded Cheese
Trader Joe's Shredded Unexpected Cheddar Cheese

Trader Joe's took their tangy, crumbly cheddar that’s reminiscent of a hard, aged Italian cheese, and put it in shredded form. Why? For quesadillas, mac and cheese, and well, all our cheese-sprinkling needs. Thanks for looking out for us, Trader Joe’s! If you buy just one cheese at TJ's, it should be this one.

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Galbani Double Cream Ricotta

How do you make ricotta even better? Double the cream, of course! Galbani Double Cream Ricotta went all in on their decadence game with just four perfect ingredients — and a double helping of cream. Sheela goes out of her way to shop at stores where she can find the stuff. If you do too, your lasagna, manicotti, stuffed shells, and ravioli will never be the same. Just don’t forget that ricotta plays oh-so well with desserts, too!

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Cream Cheese
Tillamook Original Cream Cheese Spread

It's all about the cheese in the creamy, smooth, rich goodness of Tillamook’s Cream Cheese Spread. This farmer-owned cooperative puts love into everything they touch and you can taste it in every tangy bite of this satisfying spread.

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Plain Yogurt
Stonyfield Organic Plain Whole Milk Yogurt

Sure, there’s a place for flavored yogurts. But for a seriously versatile ingredient, plain yogurt is a must-have. And Stonyfield’s Organic Plain Whole Milk Yogurt is the one you'll find in Nina’s fridge. She has it on the daily with Wyman’s frozen blueberries as breakfast, but it’s also a (delicious) workhorse for all types of cooking.

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Flavored Yogurt
Noosa Yogurt

The yogurt aisle has gotten a little crowded lately, yeah? You can try to sort through the offerings, or go straight to the best. We love velvety Noosa and its bright packages and fun flavors. You can't go wrong with any of them, but the Lemon is an editor favorite.

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Grains & Pasta

Massa Organics Medium-Grain Brown Rice

When Faith says she buys rice by the 20-pound bag, we take notice. Massa Organics’ Medium-Grain Brown Rice is so soft, tender, and flavorful, it’s the only rice she'll use — morning, noon, or night. (If you're not making breakfast fried rice, you might want to start.)

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Quick-Cook Rice
Maya Kaimal Organic Surekha Rice

This nutrient-dense rice is grown on small organic family farms in Kerala, South India. It’s firm and sweet, takes just 90 seconds to zap in the microwave, and comes plain (as in, ready for your own flair) or in Turmeric + Cumin. Add whatever veggies you have on hand to it and you've got an instant grain bowl.

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TruRoots Quinoa

Speaking of grain bowls, mix things up with this consistently light, fluffy, and nutty quinoa. Compared to other grains, quinoa is relatively low in calories and higher in fiber and protein. We also love to use this stuff to make salads, stuffed peppers, chili, and even oatmeal!

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Soba Noodles
Hakubaku Organic Soba Noodles

Nothing but (organic) wheat and buckwheat flour and water go into these tasty noodles. And they cook in only four minutes, so they're also your friend when dinner needs to happen in a hurry. Did you know? These noodles are made in Australia and there's a whole story on the Japanese soba noodles/Australian wheat connection! Read it, we'll wait!

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Boxed Mac & Cheese
Annie's Shells & White Cheddar

Truth: We never outgrow boxed mac and cheese. Kids and grown-ups alike are happy campers with this white cheddar cheese take on the classic. And it may be in a box, but we're dealing with organic pasta and real cheese here — and no artificial flavors, synthetic colors, or preservatives.

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Gluten-Free Pasta
Jovial Foods Brown Rice Penne

Gluten-free pasta can taste more like pasta and less like gluten-free these days — especially when you're talking about the goods from Jovial Foods. Their pasta, made in Tuscany, uses 100 percent organic whole-grain rice grown in Italy. Our Copy Chief, Lauren Kodiak, is one of their biggest fans, and promises you’ll never know it’s gluten-free.

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De Cecco Potato Gnocchi

Many Kitchn editors got on board the sheet pan gnocchi train this last year, and we strongly believe you should join us. To ride, you'll need a stash of shelf-stable gnocchi on hand. We suggest De Cecco for its lovely, light version that shines, while other brands can be tough and chewy. (Choo-choo chewy!) Also, Lisa wanted to recommend this skillet gnocchi recipe from The New York Times.

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Trader Joe's 10-Minute Farro

Stock up on Trader Joe’s 10-Minute Farro. Not only are the bags cute, but the nutty, yummy whole grain also cooks in — you guessed it! — 10 minutes flat. (The secret? It’s already parboiled.) Farro lends itself to salads and risottos as well as soups and grain bowls, and even breakfast!

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Ramen Noodles
Sun Noodle Ramen

Whenever Amelia runs out of Sun Noodle Ramen, she knows it's time to go shopping. Why? These slurp-perfect chewy, fresh noodles are the ticket to everything from soup to omelets, not to mention, you know, ramen. Each bag comes with the supplies to make two servings of broth and noodles — and you can bulk them up with veggies, eggs, and more.

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Masienda Heirloom Corn Tortillas

Corn tortillas are not interchangeable. It’s worth seeking out the real deal that uses fresh nixtamal (that’s dried corn that’s been cooked in slaked lime). These tortillas taste better and hold up better in any of your tortilla applications. Friend of the site, Lesley Téllez, gives her thumbs up to the heirloom corn tortillas from Masienda and Faith is so excited about them she buys them by the box. Good news: They freeze perfectly!

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Sfoglini Cascatelli by Sporkful

A three-year quest to develop a new pasta shape, really? Really. “The more people talk about it the more I get it,” Faith says about Sfoglini Cascatelli by Sporkful, a waterfall-shaped pasta. Ridged to capture sauce in its nooks and crannies and shaped to deliver a satisfying bite from any direction, it’s no wonder there’s a 12-week waiting list to have this shipped right now.

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Meat & Seafood

Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs

We dedicate countless recipes to the almighty thigh. Why? They are cheaper, far juicier, and harder to overcook than breast meat. As long as there’s a pack of chicken thighs in your freezer, dinner is never far off. On a related note: Please bookmark this life-changing recipe.

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Chicken Tenders
Applegate Naturals Homestyle Breaded Chicken Breast Tenders

That said, we all need a solid fallback. And that's where this box of chicken breast tenders comes in. They're a bit more grown-up compared to nuggets, but these all-white meat tenders deliver the same crowd-pleasing versatility as the perennial kid food. You can also feel good about Applegate’s dedication to humane practices.

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Atlantic Cod

Sustainability is key when shopping for fish and the Seafood Watch consistently gives a "Best Choice" ranking to Atlantic cod. Thanks to its mild flavor and flaky texture, cod works in everything including tacos, sandwiches, and skillet dinners. If you usually reach for tilapia, give cod a try the next time you're at the fish counter or in the freezer aisle.

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365 by Whole Foods Market Farm-Raised Shrimp

Shrimp can come with some murky backgrounds, depending on the practices that bring it to market. Thankfully Whole Foods makes it an easy call; their commitment to seafood that's responsibly farmed or wild-caught by certified sustainable fisheries means we don't have to question where these shrimp came from or their impact on the environment.

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Applegate Organics Uncured Sunday Bacon

If you're bringing home the bacon, the only one worth bringing, in our book, is Applegate's Sunday Bacon. It cooks up super crisp, like bacon was intended, and has a richer, deeper flavor compared to other brands. We also feel good about their antibiotic- and GMO-free, humanely-raised meats. (P.S.: Wanna skip the mess? Bake it in the oven.)

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Kirkland Signature Italian Style Beef Meatballs

Costco is the home of miracles, and their signature meatballs are a case in point. Somehow these frozen Italian Style Beef Meatballs are as juicy as any from-scratch ones that ever came out of a grandma’s kitchen. Pile them on top of spaghetti, and cover them in … you know the rest.

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Smoked Fish
Trader Joe's Sesame Crusted Hardwood Smoked Ahi Tuna

Leave it to Trader Joe’s to find, what we're calling, the Ingredient of the Summer. The Sesame Crusted Hardwood Smoked Ahi Tuna (sustainably sourced and wild-caught off the coasts of Indonesia) is the answer to all your hot-weather dreams. Start with this no-cook ahi tuna bowl!

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Deli Meat
Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh Oven-Roasted Turkey

Lisa went through a lot of trial and error finding this oven-roasted turkey. "I tried everything at the deli counter and all the other pre-packaged stuff, and this is the only sliced turkey that holds up well in the fridge and consistently gets compliments when I use it in sandwiches." Grab the family size for good measure.

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Mail-Order Turkey
Zingerman's Heritage Thanksgiving Turkey

We have a feeling Thanksgiving gatherings will be a bit more celebratory this fall (assuming that we all get vaccinated!). So go all out with a heritage turkey from Zingerman’s. This extra-super-special turkey is a superior old breed, but they are also hung to age like steak, which makes a world of difference in flavor. For that (and so many other things!), we are thankful.

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Spiral-Sliced Ham
Carando Hickory Smoked Spiral Sliced Bone-In Ham

If you need one good ham for a gathering, this one is it. There are no artificial ingredients. It's sweet, it's smoky, it's oh-so hammy. And we've found that it really holds its moisture.

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Frozen Pizza
Mama Cozzi's Pepperoni Pizza

We all have nights that call for a frozen pizza. Do your future self a favor and have some of Aldi’s beloved Mama Cozzi pizzas in the freezer. Between the frozen options and the refrigerated take-and-bake options, the stores still often manage to sell out on Fridays. If you can't find the classic pepperoni, get any of the fun special toppings. (Did somebody say mac and cheese pizza?)

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Tater Tots
Alexia Sweet Potato Puffs

Look, there’s really no such thing as a bad tater tot. That’s the official finding from our frozen tot taste test. But there’s one that edges out the others. Alexia Sweet Potato Puffs have that slightly sweet, nostalgic flavor you crave. Cook them in an air fryer if you have one!

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Frozen Fruit
Dole Cherry Berry Blend

It would be nice to always have a heaping bowl of cherries around, but they don't come cheap. Luckily for us all, the bountiful frozen blend from Dole is a downright steal. Plus, it’s got all the good berries: blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. It's smoothie time somewhere!

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Cheese Bread
Brazi Bites Cheddar & Parmesan

You could either make pão de queijo yourself — or you could grab a bag of Brazi Bites, Brazilian cheese bread. It's a crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside wonder that's great any time of day.

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Soup Dumplings
Trader Joe's Steamed Pork & Ginger Soup Dumplings

These happy little dumplings full of steamed pork and ginger soup (careful, it’s hot!!!) got at least three Kitchn editors through 2020, and we see no reason to stop enjoying them in 2021 and beyond. They pack a punch with a healthy dose of the ginger, and can go from freezer to belly in two minutes via the microwave.

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Frozen Ravioli
Cappello's Five Cheese Ravioli

If one cheese is good, five is better. And this five-cheese almond flour ravioli is ridiculously amazing. Handmade and frozen fresh, fluffy raviolis (grain- and gluten-free, thank you very much!) pack ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, fontina, and asiago into every tasty bite. (For some tunes with dinner, check out Cappello's playlists!)

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Frozen Veggie Shortcut
Whole Foods Market California-Style Vegetable Protein Blends

A lot of us could stand to eat more veggies, and Whole Foods is making it easy with our new hero: their frozen California-Style Vegetable Protein Blends. The bag is packed with protein, thanks to lentils and soybeans (it's also got broccoli, peas, and bell peppers). Steam the bag in the microwave in a matter of minutes and check out these dinner ideas while you wait.

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Frozen Aromatics
Dorot Gardens Crushed Garlic Cubes

If you're not yet buying frozen garlic, Food Editor at Large, Christine Gallary, would like you to start. It's great if you hate the lingering smell of garlic on your fingers or if you've ever gone to break up a bulb and found that it's gone brown and mushy. Toss Dorot Gardens Crushed Garlic Cubes in your freezer and you'll never have to "make do" without.

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Ice Cream
Ben & Jerry's

Ice cream is a fiercely competitive field, and everyone has a singular favorite. But collectively if we could just have one pint it would be Chunky Monkey, a platonic ideal of ice cream, as the ultimate treat. We also appreciate and respect Ben & Jerry's longstanding willingness to take a public company stand on social justice. If Chunky Monkey isn't for you, we still feel good recommending any other flavor from this great company.

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Frozen Yogurt
Yasso Mint Chocolate Chip Greek Yogurt Bars

Dana went through a phase where she had a Yasso Mint Chip Bar every night. (She's currently wondering why that stopped.) Deliciously minty, sweet, and refreshing (with very little sugar compared to other frozen treats), and made of creamy Greek yogurt for a fairly virtuous snack, they're the perfect punctuation to dinner.

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Oat Milk
Chobani Oat Plain Extra Creamy

Chobani Oat Plain Extra Creamy checks all the boxes. It's extra creamy (as its name implies!) and is the superior companion to coffee, cereal, and smoothies — it’s even great by the glass. Tip: Swirl it into a strong iced coffee with a dash of maple syrup.

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Nut Milk
Elmhurst Nut Milks

One of our editors wondered why everyone isn't drinking Elmhurst Nut Milks. A whole lineup includes almond, hazelnut, walnut, and oat, but we especially love the cashew one. These beverages are organic, relatively inexpensive, and shelf stable with one ingredient: the nut (okay, and water). Umm, why isn't everyone drinking this stuff?

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Pistachio Milk
Táche Pistachio Milk

Let’s get this out of the way: Táche Pistachio Milk is pricey. Beautiful, but pricey. But! “It’s like pistachio ice cream without the sweetness,” says Amelia. This “barista-friendly” drink also froths like a champ and was actually designed to complement warm drinks, so say hello to your delicious new plant-based latte!

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Plant-Based Yogurt
Siggi's Plant-Based Coconut Blend

Siggi’s has done it again — this time with their non-dairy yogurt. They nail the texture and flavor in the Icelandic-style yogurt, and manage to do it with only 7 grams of sugar per serving (why do so many yogurts think they're actually candy bars?). Made with a creamy coconut milk base, and containing plant-based pea protein, it’ll keep you full whether it’s your breakfast or afternoon snack. They have SO many yummy flavors, but we especially love the strawberry.

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Plant-Based Kefir
Culina Coconut Kefir

Culina makes a dairy-, sugar-, and gluten-free kefir that's packed with probiotics. It comes in dreamy flavors like Salted Caramel Espresso, Passion Fruit, and Pina Colada. Reach for these when you want a wholesome treat, and don't sleep on their plant-based yogurt options either!

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Vegan Cheese
Violife Vegan Cheese

Melty, stretchy, creamy, tangy … this vegan-dedicated community from Greece is all-in on claims that their ‘Just Like’ product line, including Colby, cheddar, mozzarella, and feta (we did say they're Greek, after all!), really is just like cheese. And their adoring fans, whether vegan, flexitarian, or just looking for alternatives to conventional dairy, are quick to back them up.

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Vegan Butter
Miyoko's Creamery Cultured Vegan Butter

This vegan butter does everything you ever wanted from a butter. It will melt, brown, bake, and spread — and it’s entirely plant-based. The hint of sea salt takes it entirely to another level.

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Vegan Mayo

Are you ready to hear this? One of our writers wants you to know that HLTHPUNK Vegan Mayo is just as good as Duke’s. And not just because of the super-cool squeeze tube. The sunflower oil and oat-milk based recipe really is just that good. It especially shines on sandwiches.

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Vegan Pesto
Trader Joe's Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto

Pesto can be so much more than the (delicious!) basil and pine nut version we know and love. Venture beyond the usual with Trader Joe's Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto. This creation tastes so homemade, one of our writers called it her favorite TJ’s find in months. That’s some high praise, indeed.

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Hodo Firm Tofu

This freshly made, artisanal tofu handcrafted in Oakland is a revelation for anyone who thinks of tofu as just a blank canvas. Voluptuously creamy, complex, and deeply flavorful, it can and should get the spotlight in any meal. Don’t believe us? Try it straight out of the package. We won't even say we told you so.

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Soy Chorizo
Frieda's Soyrizo

Frieda's Soyrizo packs all the flavor of traditional chorizo, but is vegetarian (and gluten-free!) and has about 60 percent less fat. Remove the casing, and try it anywhere you’d use chorizo. This is a good place to start!

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Veggie Burgers
Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burgers

We've come a long way from the tired one or two options in the veggie burger offerings. And from all these new options, we vote for Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burgers. Inexpensive, easy, delicious ... what’s not to love? Oh, and they're actually loaded with, you know, vegetables!

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Plant-Based Meat
Impossible Burger

People eating meat-free burgers are looking for different things. If you're looking for the closest thing you can get to “real” beef burgers — complete with a bloody look — it’s Impossible Burger you're after. In a taste test we found the texture and flavor to be almost identical, calling it the most realistic alternative to ground beef.

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Dairy-Free Ice Cream
Jeni's Dairy-Free Lemon Bar

Turns out, the best lemon bar isn't a lemon bar at all. Rather, it's a pint of Jeni's! This dairy-free, coconut cream treat features vegan lemon curd, shortbread crumbles, and coconut flakes. And guess what? It rivals traditional ice cream.

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Dairy-Free Ice Cream Bars
Daiya Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert Bars

How about a non-dairy “ice cream” bar with all the classic ice cream appeal? That’s what we found with Daiya Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert Bars — specifically the Classic Vanilla Bean version. Chocolate Fudge Crunch and Salted Caramel Swirl flavors also came in hot in our taste test.

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    Lisa Freedman, Lifestyle Director


    Dana McMahan, Writer

    Lauren Masur, Lifestyle Editor

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    Laura Hoerner, Graphic Designer & Illustrator


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    Jesse Szewczyk, Food Stylist

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    Andrea Kaufman, Social Media Editor

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    Mark Marino, Director of Commerce

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    Emily Lew, Commerce Coordinator

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    Vijay Nathan, Director of Product Management

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    Faith Durand, Editor-in-Chief

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    Lauren Kodiak, Copy Chief