There Are 473 Holiday Items Hitting Trader Joe’s Stores This Season — These Are the 20 Staffers Are Most Excited About

published Nov 29, 2022
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Credit: Roman Tiraspolsky

“It is time for the most wonderful episode of the year,” says Tara Miller. Of course, she and fellow co-host, Matt Sloan, are talking about the latest Inside Trader Joe’s podcast episode, which dropped earlier this week. It’s packed with holiday items: candies, cookies, cheeses, and other gems that do and do not start with the letter “c.”

In total, we learned 473 products are hitting stores this season — 407 are returning, which means there are 66 new ones to sample this year! The hosts kick things off in the snack aisle before making their way through several other areas of the store, including the beer and wine, freezer, produce, cheese, beauty, and bakery sections. These are the 20 new and returning items they’re most excited about.

1. Step Up To The Snack Bar Mix

This is “the granddaddy of Trader Joe’s holiday snacks,” according to Tara. The distinctive black canister comes packed with honey roasted peanuts, sesame sticks, pretzel pieces, cheddar rocket crackers (which you can also buy a box of in the store), corn chips with flax seeds, plus chili lemon corn sticks for a little bit of spice. When this mix is back in stock, Tara stocks up: “It doesn’t have a super-long shelf life, so it’s not like you can save it for a year, but,” she adds, “it’s good through the spring.”

2. Stepping It Up Spicy Snack Bar Mix

Looking for a little more heat? Opt for the red canister, which, as its name suggests, steps up the spiciness with a mix of sweet jalapeño pretzel pieces, pasilla chile and sesame chips, spicy cheese corn sticks, spicy chile almonds, and chili lemon corn nuggets. “[It’s] mostly savory [with] a little bit of sweetness, and unifying spice” says Matt.

3. Sweet & Salty Snack Mix

This 12-ounce bag is filled with mini peanut butter-filled pretzel nuggets, half-dipped chocolate-covered potato chips, roasted and salted Virginia peanuts, and chocolate-drizzled caramel popcorn. “This is a family movie night kind of thing,” says Matt. And while the bag contains 12 servings, Tara admits that number goes down when she’s watching a Marvel movie or rewatching It’s a Wonderful Life for the 74th time.

4. Minty Flavored Cocoa Truffles

Matt is a self-proclaimed sucker for nostalgia and these minty truffles make him think of the individually foil-wrapped mint chocolates he’d get at fancy restaurants after special-occasion dinners with his family. “They’re minty, cool, creamy, and delicious,” he says. They’re also lightly dusted with cocoa powder and have a little crunch, adds Tara as she bites into one mid-podcast.

5. Dark Chocolate Covered Gingerbread Cookie Folk

Another nostalgic holiday treat: gingerbread. The new chocolate-covered gingerbread people are not ginger snaps, explains Matt. “These cookies are similar to European, lebkuchen-style gingerbread, so [they have a] softer chew [and] all the warm spices.” Tara likes that they have a subtle ginger flavor — and also their general adorableness. 

6. Trader Joe’s Platinum Reserve Sonoma County Brut & Brut Rosé 

Great for host gifts, serving at family dinners, or, in the case of Matt, with a bowl of salted buttery popcorn, these sparkling wines are “classic, dry, [and] and little toasty.” They’re made in the Méthode Champenoise,” he adds, (more commonly called Méthode Traditionnelle when the wine is made outside of Champagne, France) “so the bubbles come naturally” from the fermentation process (not carbonation). The Brut Rosé is a bit more fruit-forward than the Brut; neither are sweet, though, explains Matt.

7. Winter Ride Double Bock Lager

This TJ’s mainstay has a fresh new look for 2022. While the beer itself “has been around for 15 years or more,” says Tara, this year the grocer is ditching the bottles and moving to cans. “The darker, heavier-flavored bock lager is really tasty,” adds Matt, and it’s a little higher in alcohol (7.5% ABV). He thinks it would be a great addition to stews or roasted root veggies. 

8. Ratatouille Bites

These new frozen appetizers are what Tara calls a holiday party “conversation starter.” The two-bite snacks are packed with tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, onions, and zucchini that “are slow cooked — almost caramelized, almost jammy in texture,” says Matt. They’re coated in panko breadcrumbs and fried for a nice crispy contrast.

9. Brie en Croûte

Another freezer find, this longtime favorite is ready-to-bake, although it does take some time in the oven (35 to 45 minutes, to be exact). On the box you’ll find several ideas for toppings, including apricot jam or sun-dried tomato pesto (just set the frozen pastry on the counter first to thaw for 30 minutes before adding). Matt and Tara also recommend you go spicy with harissa or try TJ’s crunchy chile onion

Credit: Arlyn Osborne

10. Almond Kringle 

“Everyone is excited about the almond kringle,” says Sophie, who works in the TJ’s in Portland, Maine. Sophie’s store gets four or five different flavors of the delicious pastry throughout the year, but the almond flavor is “definitely the most popular.” We hear it’s in pretty high demand in other parts of the country too.

11. Jingle Jangle

The Kringle might be the most sought-after pastry, but Jingle Jangle “is the item we all look forward to the most,” says Sophie. The holiday-light-rimmed black tin is a chocolate-lover’s bonanza: milk and dark-chocolate covered mini pretzels drizzled with white chocolate, dark chocolate-covered caramel popcorn, chocolate-covered Joe-Joe’s cookie pieces, milk chocolate gems with a red candy coating, plus milk and dark chocolate mini peanut butter cups. Plus, Matt says you’ll see 25% more of the tins this year (versus last year). 

12. Jingle Jangle Pretzel Twists

Breaking free from the tin, this box of chocolatey peanut butter-y pretzel twists is new this year. The large, salted pretzels are covered in peanut butter candy coating, then topped with dark chocolate candy gems and Joe-Joe’s cookie bits. “These could be messy … in the best way,” says Matt.

13. Creamy Toscano Cheese soaked in Chardonnay Wine

First introduced in 2020, this Toscano was an “immediate success,” says Tara. “It just flew out of the cheese case.” It’s nutty and creamy with a subtle Chardonnay flavor and slightly crumbly texture. In stores for most of the holiday season, you can plop it on a cheese or charcuterie board, or slice it and serve it with apples (a Tara tip). It also melts really well and “will last in the cheese drawer in your fridge for months,” says Matt.

14. Tête de Moine Rosettes Semisoft Cheese

French for monk’s head, this cheese is from a French-speaking area in Switzerland that borders France. Matt mentioned that the cheese “has probably been around for maybe 1,000 years” (it’s more like 800 years, but who’s counting), and it’s back for a second year at TJ’s. The cow’s milk cheese is aged on spruce planks, and is traditionally shaved with a special tool into rosettes for serving, which is how it’s packaged at TJ’s. The semi-hard cheese has a pungent aroma and an intense, fruity flavor. “It’s almost like it’s melting in your mouth,” and, adds Tara, “it looks stunning.”

15. La Fondue

The final member of this cheesy installment is a microwavable fondue, aptly named, La Fondue. It’s only available this time of year, and it couldn’t be simpler to prepare: “Take the lid off, put it into the microwave, and in five minutes you have fondue,” says Tara. Serve it with bread cubes, sliced apples, or “whatever you might want to enjoy with fondue,” she adds. No fondue pot or open flame needed!

16. Organic Peeled & Cooked Chestnuts

Matt dubbed these “one of the most convenient forms of chestnuts on earth.” The peeled and cooked chestnuts from France are located in the refrigerator section with the other produce. Beyond stuffing, he and Tara suggest adding them to soups, stews, and casseroles, or chopping them and roasting in the oven with Brussels sprouts and olive oil, salt, and pepper.

17. Ultra Moisturizing Hand Cream Trio

These silver tubes have been around “for years and years and years,” says Tara. For 2022, however, TJ’s changed the formulations a bit (although it’s still 20% shea butter), added new scents (orchid and olive oil, cherry blossom and almond oil, and lavender and bergamot), and updated the packaging (no more plastic). It also comes with a hanging ribbon, should you want it to double as a tree ornament.

18. Gummy Bear Flavored Lip Duo

Another beauty aisle find, this new lip duo includes lip balm butter and an overnight lip mask. “Is there a general gummy bear flavor?” asks Matt. If so, this must be it — in lip balm form. “It’s adorable,” adds Tara, who thinks this is going to be a big gift for tweens (or any gummy bear fans who want to keep their lips from getting chapped this winter). 

19. Peppermint Flavored Mini Hold the Cone! Ice Cream Cones

Before signing off, the hosts doubled back to the freezer case for a duo of frosty desserts. First up, making a triumphant return, are the Peppermint Hold the Cones. The mini minty, chocolate-coated ice cream cones come eight to a box and are perfectly bite-sized. “One of my favorite things about this particular cone,” adds Matt, “is that cocoa cone.” We can’t argue with that.

20. Gingerbread Ice Cream

“Obviously it’s cold, but it tastes almost warm,” says Tara about this frozen pint. She credits that distinctiveness to “all of the gingerbread spices.” The gingerbread ice cream is studded with TJ’s triple-ginger snap cookie pieces and a gingerbread swirl. “It’s very thick, very dense; it’s a heavy ice cream — on purpose,” says Matt. We bet it would taste even better sandwiched between two of the new Dark Chocolate Covered Gingerbread Cookie Folk.

Which of these are you most excited about? Tell us in the comments below.