The Absolute Best Freezer Finds, According to Trader Joe’s Employees

updated May 20, 2021
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Credit: Lauren Masur

Every Trader Joe’s shopper has a mental list of “must buys,” and apparently many of those things come from the freezer aisle. In episode 34 of the Inside Trader Joe’s podcast, the hosts point out that over the last year the freezer section of the store has seen wild growth — likely from people eating at home far more, they theorize, and also possibly from people all getting air fryers. While the products can all be baked, people love using their air fryer. So much so, in fact, that the hosts even spill the beans that this month they are introducing a new product, Breaded Fried Ravioli, that will be the store’s first product with air fryer instructions right on the box. How exciting!

As with most things at Trader Joe’s, there are always a treasure trove of items to discover, so the folks at the Inside Trader Joe’s podcast decided to help customers figure out what they might be missing out on from the freezer section. Here are their top picks!

Penne Arrabbiata

The President of Stores, Jon Bassalone, kicks off the discussion with this vegan bagged pasta that he admits to often gussying up with a little Italian sausage or grilled chicken.

Fruit Frenzy Bar

When it comes to non-meal items, Jon also admits to eating one of these popsicles every single night. He describes it as “three different flavors on one easy-to-handle stick.”

Cacio e Pepe & Fiocchetti with Pink Cream Sauce

Bags of pasta, instead of single-serving trays, have been popular this past year. The hosts say this is likely due to kids being home and people needing to feed their families. Matt Sloan, the vice president of marketing, also suggests that people like items that replicate restaurant experiences. 

French Onion Mac and Cheese

Tara Miller, marketing director, describes this as “basically French Onion Soup mixed with mac and cheese, flavor-wise.” It’s topped with croutons, too.

Breaded Chicken Tenderloins

Nikki from customer relations pops in to talk about her go-to freezer item: breaded chicken tenderloins. She likes to serve these inside the Hawaiian rolls with a little marinara sauce and a layer of Parmesan cheese — sort of like a chicken Parm slider. 

Mandarin Orange Chicken

Nikki also likes to cook the Mandarin Orange Chicken — winner of the 12th annual Customer Choice Awards — in the air fryer before tossing it with chopped walnuts and sauce. She says her family picks it up weekly and serves it over rice and steamed broccoli. Crew member Alex also likes this fan favorite, adding that his family sometimes gets takeout and then wonders why it’s not as good as the Trader Joe’s version at home. Rollyn, another crew member, also adds that she tosses some of the sauce with tofu for her kid who isn’t as into meat.

Read more: The 5 Most Popular Products from Trader Joe’s in 2020

Frozen Gyozas & Cha Siu Bao Pork Buns

Rollyn uses the gyoza as a go-to side for her kids when they have the Mandarin Orange Chicken, while Tara mentions that they do it with the pork buns. 

Cauliflower Gnocchi

Alex says he uses the air fryer to make this freezer favorite, and sometimes adds a protein and a sauce, although he admits that once they come out cooked from the air fryer, they’re great just popped into your mouth as a snack. “Who doesn’t love a big bite of crispy cauliflower goodness?”

Argentinian Red Shrimp

Alex also talks about pulling these out of the freezer for quick meals. The shrimp come peeled and deveined, but raw, so it requires a little cooking. Alex talks about tossing it with the Cuban Garlic Citrusy seasoning, saying, “I was thinking I was going to toss it on rice and make a meal out of it, but I ended up just eating a whole bowl of shrimp and it was delicious.”

Grass Fed Angus Beef

Alex says this freezer find is an excellent value — especially since the beef comes in frozen blocks that stack in the freezer (which means it’s easy to stock up on). “With the current climate in the world, I’m kind of reducing the amount of times I go to the store. So instead of going every other day, like I used to, I’m going once every two weeks — or once every week.”

Burrito Bowls & Rice Bowls

Another thing Alex keeps in the freezer at all times are these easy meal staples that require little thinking ahead and no prep time. “Cause you got to have something that’s all in one ready to go.”

Vegetable Foursome & Organic Rice Cauliflower

Crew member Mary Ann says she takes these two products and tosses them together for a stir-fry with some garlic and soy sauce. Frozen vegetables have seen a lot of growth this year, she says. This is in part due to the long shelf-life, but also because you can just toss them into another dish — like she does with the cacio e pepe.

Roasted Potatoes

Mary Ann also likes the roasted potatoes and peppers that the store brings in from Italy. “It’s interesting cause I get a lot of good feedback and it could be the variety of potatoes that they’re using, but people really loved that.”

Fish Fillets

Rollyn says the Branzino is another favorite. Her husband apparently sears it with coconut oil, and gets the skin crispy and dark. Then he flips it over and sticks it in the oven for a bit.


Many of the crew members mention that they love the pizzas at Trader Joe’s. Ben said he was a fan of the 3-cheese organic pizza, as well as the cauliflower crust gluten-free pizza, and the new fried-crust version. Tara says the Margherita is in regular rotation at her house. 

Ice Cream

Ben also talks about that forever freezer favorite, ice cream, with the coconut chocolate flavor as his number-one pick, although he admits to loving the vanilla half-gallon, too. Matt seconds the vote for the vanilla, comparing it to famous ice cream in Paris, while Tara votes for the mint chocolate chip. By sales, though, Ben notes that Hold the Cone small ice creams sell extremely well. And he mentions the upcoming frozen cheesecake with strawberry swirl as a product that might soon make the favorite list.

Garlic Naan, Butter Chicken, Palak Paneer, Channa Masala, Vegetable Samosas, Vegan Tikka Masala, Fiery Chicken Curry, & Paratha

Mary Ann also mentions that she loves to set up a mini-Indian restaurant in her house, starting with the samosas, then serving an entrée with the garlic naan. Tara adds that she also really likes the paratha, which her kids called “naan to a different level.” But in this segment Mary Ann also spills that even category managers at Trader Joe’s have products that they miss that the store no longer carries, as she mentions pining for the Baingan Bharta. 

What’s your favorite thing to buy from the Trader Joe’s freezer section? Let us know in the comments!