21 Fall Groceries the Trader Joe’s Staff Is Most Excited About

published Sep 12, 2023
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Design: The Kitchn

Pumpkin pandemonium may already be in full swing, but — shockingly — that’s not what’s on the tips of this Trader Joe’s duo’s tongues. In the latest episode of the Inside Trader Joe’s podcast, which dropped earlier today, co-hosts Tara Miller and Matt Sloan share details about dozens of new and returning seasonal groceries. (That, BTW, is just a small percentage of the 146 products coming to stores this fall.)

Their focus: fall’s slightly less-prominent flavors, including maple, apple, cinnamon, clove, Halloween candy (yes, this is its own flavor), and more. Pumpkin, of course, does make an appearance in not one, but two new products that are just too gourd-geous to pass over. Here’s the full list of their 21 favorites.

1. Mini Maple Flavored Marshmallows

Matt describes these as “what you’d have on pancakes in marshmallow form.” The vegan mini mallows are “perfect for floating in cocoa,” or maybe even in a cup of TJ’s Autumn Harvest Tea, and, of course, folded into Rice Krispies Treats, adds Tara.

2. Organic Maple Vinaigrette Dressing 

This classic vinaigrette with maple syrup is making its sophomore return to shelves. New last year, the dressing is “actually a great marinade,” says Matt for chicken and vegetables, or even added to a stir-fry.

3. Organic Vermont Maple Syrup, Bourbon Barrel Aged

“There’s no alcohol in here,” says Matt; the flavor actually comes from barrels that the bourbon itself is aged in. The “absolutely tasty” syrup is great on the usual breakfast suspects (French toast, pancakes, etc.) or vanilla ice cream (Tara’s pick), and “would be fantastic as a counterpoint to ham.”

4. Fall Harvest Salsa

Another returning favorite, this salsa is so good Matt eats it “right out of the jar with the spoon.” Made with pumpkin, butternut squash, apples, tomatillos, lime, and a little bit of jalapeño, the duo also recommend pairing it with chips and cottage cheese, or pouring it over fish, pork tenderloin, and enchiladas.

5. Organic Clove Powder

This limited-edition spice is about to be a mainstay in our cool-weather baking and cooking. Mix it into butter and spread on toast and biscuits, or use as a glaze for meats and vegetables. It’s key to this year’s spiced-up sugar cookies and also a non-negotiable for your next pumpkin pie.

6. Double Fold Bourbon Vanilla Extract with Vanilla Bean Seeds

Speaking of fall baking, this 3.55-ounce bottle with the very long name has twice the amount of extractives (a.k.a. vanilla-ness) than your standard vanilla extract. Plus, the bean seeds add that classic fleck of color to your cookies, cakes, pies, and whipped creams.  

7. Halloween Gummies

After a three-year hiatus (due to some production issues with a supplier), the beloved Halloween gummies are back. “They’re so soft. They’re so juicy. They have so much flavor and there’s 20 [mini] bags in this bag,” says Tara. 

8. Wicked Good Mini Chocolate Bars

Years of requests for chocolate Halloween candy has resulted in this variety bag of some of the most iconic flavor combos. Sold in packs of 24, trick-or-treaters (or just fortunate snackers) can choose between four chocolate-covered bars: nougat and caramel, peanut and caramel, caramel and wafer, and nougat.

9. Maple Flavored Fudge

Unlike classic American chocolatey fudge, this English variety has an “icy” texture, explains Matt (a.k.a. it’s less creamy, more sugary) with “lots of butter flavor and a little bit of saltiness.” It’s made in traditional copper pans, according to Alison, a category manager for candy at TJ’s, and is cooled two days before it’s cut. Take a cue from Alison and crumble it over popcorn for your next movie night.

10. Cinnamon Sugar Toffee Trio

From the makers of that nutty English Toffee (you know the one sold in the canisters), comes this sweet variety pack: buttery crunchy toffee pieces dipped in either milk, dark, or white chocolate, and then covered in cinnamon and sugar. It’s one of Alison’s favorite items, and just hearing about it we totally get why.

11. Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

It’s baaaaaack. The unexpected hit has been earning rave reviews from shoppers since 2017. The three-cheese blend (gouda, cheddar, and Parm) is so creamy people can’t get enough. That’s not hyperbole: “This year we are working to have so much more than we’ve ever had,” says Matt. “I’m not sure it’s enough still, but we’ll see.”

12. Mini Pumpkin Ginger Scones

What’s great about this new freezer find (aside from the obvious: mini, pumpkin, ginger, scones (!)), is that they don’t need to be thawed or proofed before you bake them, according to Tara. Just 14 minutes stands between you and a just-out-the-oven crumbly scone topped with crystalized ginger.

13. Chocolate Hazelnut Ground Coffee

Naturally, you’ll want a freshly brewed cup of coffee to go with your warm scone. Arriving in stores now for a limited time, this popular duo — chocolate and hazelnut — is a fan favorite. 

14. Avocado Ranch Salad Kit

Chopped veggies, plus “crunchy bits, corn chips, a little bit of cheddar cheese, and a delicious creamy avocado ranch dressing,” says Matt, this kit is equally as great for potlucks as it is parties of one. If you’re feeling adventurous, add sliced steak or tofu to really round out the baking sheet.

15. Honeycrisp Apple Granola

Made with rolled oats, dried Honeycrisp apple slices, cane sugar, honey, molasses, and fall spices like cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and clove, Matt would like us all to know this granola “has a lot of nice apple flavor.” (It may sound silly, he explains, but it’s important to mention, especially if you’ve fallen victim to artificial-tasting granolas). It’s a seasonal item “right now,” but that could change should it become enough of a new favorite.

16. All-Butter Sugar Cookie Dough

Found in the refrigerated section, this is TJ’s “first foray into a slice and bake cookie dough,” says Tara. Made with nine ingredients (flour, sugar, butter, water, eggs, vanilla extract, vanilla bean, leavening, and sea salt), the ready-to-bake sugar cookie dough “should be in stores … now.”

17. Gluten-Free Pumpkin Ravioli

Another newcomer this season, this gluten-free pumpkin ravioli is made with kabocha squash, pumpkin, ricotta, and Parm. Also found in the refrigerated section, it’s “a more savory take on pumpkin ravioli,” says Tara with a “really nice” texture, according to Matt. He thinks “you’d be hard pressed … to even realize that it’s gluten-free.”

18. Garlic and Asiago Cheese Dip

Rounding out the list of edible items is a duo of dips. First up: this cheesy garlicky dip that’s coming to stores around the end of September. The refrigerated dip is meant to be served hot — two minutes in the microwave is all it needs, according to Tara, and you get “all the goodness of garlic bread as a dip,” says Matt. 

19. Roasted Hatch Chile and Jalapeño Cheese Dip

Despite having sliced jalapeños on top and diced throughout (plus some hatch green chiles), this dip is “not super spicy,” according to Tara. It’s also less spicy than Matt was expecting, but is “absolutely full of … jalapeño pepper flavor.” The heat is balanced out by the richness of the sour cream, sharp cheddar, and cream cheese. And will be available, a few weeks after its garlicky cousin, in mid-October.

20. Honey Hydration Day and Night Cream Duo

Inspired by the honeycomb’s shape, this cream duo comes in two hexagonal glass jars with wooden tops (and, to stay on theme, a hexagonal box). Both creams, day and night, are made with Manuka honey and “feel really light on your skin,” says Tara. They also have serious stocking-stuffer potential. 

21. Mini Succulent Skulls

These “vibrantly-decorated, beautifully-designed ceramic” sugar skulls, inspired by Día de los Muertos celebrations, have a fresh look. Also new this year, colorful dog- and cat-shaped planters. Just note: Tara’s neighbors had to replant their succulents in front of their homes because “they are ginormous now.” 

Which of these fall items are you most excited about? Tell us in the comments below!