The 10 Must-Have Trader Joe’s Buys for Fall

updated Oct 1, 2019
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Design: The Kitchn

One of the best things about shopping at Trader Joe’s, aside from the free samples, is the element of surprise. There’s always something new hitting the shelves (think: seasonal favorites you haven’t seen for a year and new concoctions created by mad culinary geniuses!). Walking the aisles to scout the new stuff is the adult equivalent of an Easter egg hunt. 

I recently hit the store to see what’s new for fall and found my cart overwhelmed with fun finds. Considering the time of year, it was no surprise to find dozens of items packed with pumpkin and butternut squash, or seasoned with pumpkin spice, maple, or toffee. A lot of items had made their debut in years past and were brought back for the season, but there were quite a few items hitting shelves for the very first time. 

Here’s the best of what I found. Keep in mind, this is JUST THE BEGINNING. There are so many great fall finds at Trader Joe’s. But tasked to pick just the 10 best, here’s what I came up with.

Credit: Danielle Centoni

1. Cinnamon Bun Spread, $3.49 for 10 ounces

Last year, TJ’s unleashed jars of spreadable maple butter that sold out in no time. Well, joining the maple butter this year is a honey-based spread flavored like a cinnamon bun (a dream come true!). It’s cinnamon-y and buttery with a hint of vanilla, and it transforms toast into dessert. It’s great spooned on ice cream (or mixed into ice cream and tucked between cookies), spread on pancakes and waffles, or stirred into tea or yogurt. Get it while you can. 

2. Fall Leaf Tortilla Chips, $2.99 for 14 ounces

Why settle for plain triangles and circles when you can have tortilla chips in the colors and shapes of fall leaves? With pumpkin, carrots, and beets adding earthy color as well as a bit more flavor and nutrition, these corn-based chips are super fun and perfect for kids’ lunch boxes or game-day parties. 

Credit: Danielle Centoni

3. Maple Sea Salt Kettle Corn, $2.49 for 7 ounces

If you love kettle corn (who doesn’t?) you should try this version. It adds a touch of warm maple flavor to the sweet-salty mix. Just plan on polishing off a whole bag in one sitting. 

Credit: Danielle Centoni

4. Apple Cider Cookies, $3.99

A big tub of crispy cookies flavored like sweet-tart apples sprinkled with cinnamon? Yes, please. These little treats are just the thing with a cup of herbal tea, or for a sweet treat after school. 

Credit: Danielle Centoni

5. Maple Streusel Bread, $3.99

Pop a couple of slices in your toaster and your whole house will smell like a bakery in autumn. It’s like the icing-topped cinnamon bread you know and love, but made even better with maple. 

Credit: Danielle Centoni

6. Vanilla Bean Paste, $4.99 for 2 ounces

I love stirring vanilla bean paste into puddings and custards instead of the usual vanilla extract, because you get the visual appeal of all the little specks. And TJ’s Madagascar vanilla bean paste is a fraction of the price I’ve paid at other stores. Try adding it to an apple tart made with Trader Joe’s frozen puff pastry, which is finally back again for the baking season! And don’t be afraid to stock up on both.

Credit: Danielle Centoni

7. Maple Ginger Cookie Swirl Ice Cream, $2.99 for 16 ounces

Made with TJ’s own crushed Triple Ginger Cookies with a swirl of real Vermont maple syrup, this luscious ice cream packs a truly autumnal punch of warm baking spices. It tastes like it should cost three times the price. 

Credit: Danielle Centoni

8. Leafy Greens and Butternut Squash Salad, $4.99 for 14 ounces

Although most of its new products have a sweet slant, TJ’s knows we can’t live on dessert alone — even if we want to. This healthy salad kit combines shredded butternut squash, feta, dried cranberries, and candied almonds with five different greens: arugula, baby spinach, lolla rosa, radicchio, and frisee. The packet of white balsamic vinaigrette ties it all together. 

Credit: Danielle Centoni

9. Butternut Squash Cauliflower Risotto, $3.69 for 16 ounces

This super-easy side dish combines riced cauliflower with chunks of butternut squash and carrots, and an herbed butter sauce for a carb-conscious riff on regular risotto. It just takes a few minutes in a sauté pan to go from frozen to creamy. Add chopped fresh sage, a handful of spinach, and a shower of Parmesan to make it extra special. 

Credit: Danielle Centoni

10. Savory Corn Pie, $6.49

I didn’t try this one because my freezer is currently filled with Maple Ginger Cookie Swirl ice cream and puff pastry, but a quick search on Reddit’s super-popular Trader Joe’s thread says it’s a winner (think: soft, eggy corn custard mixed with cheddar cheese and flecked with corn kernels and Anaheim chilies). Just add hot sauce. 

What are your Trader Joe’s must-haves for fall? Tell us in the comments below.