If You’re Going to Trader Joe’s Right Now, These Are the 10 Things You Can’t Miss

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

I have a love/hate relationship with my Trader Joe’s. I love pretty much everything in the store, but hate that it’s an absolute circus in my neck of the woods. (Read more about my highly scientific method to determine the ideal weeknight for a TJ’s haul here.)

Nevertheless, I continue to brave the crowds and stock up on budget-friendly salad kits, inventive snacks, and glorious freezer aisle staples because TJ’s has my heart. Speaking of heart … here are 10 TJ’s products that we collectively heart, here at Kitchn. Word on the street is that a ton of other people heart these products, too!

(Image credit: Lauren Masur)

1. Cauliflower Gnocchi, $2.69 for 12 ounces

These veggie-based gnocchi pouches fly out of the freezer aisle nearly as soon as they’re stocked, so get ’em while they’re hot — errr, frozen. While you’re at it, here are some fun, easy ways to doctor them up. (Fun fact: The one time I managed to get my hands on them, I was joined in the aisle by a man who was so happy to find them that he made up a song about them on the spot — they’re that good.)

(Image credit: Lauren Kodiak)

2. Frozen Organic Brown Rice, $4 for three 10-ounce pouches

We can’t sing the praises of TJ’s frozen organic brown rice enough. It’s the perfect texture and cooks in three minutes in the microwave. After you try this version, you will probably never go back to making your own brown rice again.

(Image credit: Sheela Prakash)

3. Frozen Puff Pastry, $4 for 18.33 ounces

Assistant Food Editor Sheela Fiorenzo always keeps a couple of boxes of this puff pastry on hand for fast and fancy appetizers like baked brie and cheesy pinwheels. It’s a seasonal item, which means it’s not always in stores, but it’s back for fall. Stock up on this all-butter puff pastry while you can.

(Image credit: Trader Joe’s)

4. Mandarin Orange Chicken, $5 for 22 ounces

According to our sources, the number-one most popular item at Trader Joe’s is — drumroll, please — their frozen mandarin orange chicken. We tried it out and determined that it’s just as good as takeout! Plus, the price is even better.

(Image credit: Trader Joe’s)

5. Organic Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce, $2.69 for 18 ounces

We held a blind taste test of 10 different barbecue sauces in the office one fateful day. Guess which one came out on top? That’s right, Trader Joe’s Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce. It even beat out Sweet Baby Ray’s.

(Image credit: Trader Joe’s)

6. Bamba Peanut Snacks, $1 for 3.5 ounces

If you’ve never heard of them, Bamba are basically like peanut butter cheese doodles (but better). They just so happen to be Israel’s most popular snack, with 90 percent of the population considering them a pantry staple. You can thank Trader Joe’s for bringing them Stateside.

7. Unexpected Cheddar, $4 for 7 ounces

According to Trader Joe’s most recent Annual Customer Choice Survey, the favorite cheese out of all of the store’s offerings is Unexpected Cheddar. Funny enough, the cheese won our unofficial ranking of the best cheeses at Trader Joe’s too. Would you look at that?

8. Butternut Squash Zig-Zags, $3 for 12 ounces

One of our contributors swears by these funky-shaped squash fries as the best way to trick your loved ones into eating vegetables. (Her boyfriend thinks they are sweet potato fries.) Hey, it’s worth a shot.

(Image credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani)

9. Hot Smoked Salmon, $15.50 per pound

Pick up this product in the refrigerated aisle and you’ll have a no-cook dinner for the books! It flakes into nice big chunks so you can toss it over salads, add it to veggie bowls, or turn it into a scoop-able dip. Here’s some smoked salmon dinner inspiration!

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

10. Frozen Chocolate Croissants, $4 for four

Treat yourself with one of these these indulgent, hot-out-of-the-oven croissants from the Trader Joe’s frozen aisle for breakfast. The trick is to leave them out the night before to proof, then throw them in the oven for 20 minutes. They’re hot, flaky, and delicious.

Got anything else to add to this list? Leave your classic TJ’s grocery suggestions in the comments below!