The 12 Trader Joe’s Holiday Groceries the Employees Are Most Excited About (of 469 Items Hitting Stores!)

published Nov 27, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Raleigh, North Carolina USA-11 16 2022: Trader Joe's is a Specialty Grocery Store Chain Based in California.
Credit: Wileydoc/Shutterstock

With Thanksgiving in the rearview and leftovers running low, the winter holidays are (finally) taking center stage. Move over, turkeys — Santa’s coming to town! (Did anyone else watch Elf this past weekend?) The latest episode of the Inside Trader Joe’s podcast dropped earlier this week, and co-hosts Tara Miller and Matt Sloan are also going all in on the festivities. 

“There are 469 seasonal products at Trader Joe’s this time of year,” says Tara, and about 86 of them are completely new to stores. Can you imagine the giant stocking you’d need to stuff with all those items? The duo is doing us all a solid by giving us a starting point. 

Out of the hundreds of returning items and dozens of new launches, these are the 12 they’re most excited about.

1. Cinnamon Bun-Inspired Pancake & Waffle Mix

These [pancakes] don’t look like cinnamon buns,” says Matt. “But they do taste like cinnamon bun.” Created by a secret supplier in New York, this new mix has “all the spices in a cinnamon bun,” says Trang, a product developer at Trader Joe’s, and “little crispy bits of cinnamon candies that melt as you cook them” (or crisp up in waffle form). Plus, she adds, “They’re very fluffy.” 

2. Trader Joe’s Astounding Multi-Flavor Mini Pretzels

Inside this box you’ll find four exclusive pretzel flavors in “beautifully designed” and incredibly giftable bags, says Trang, which means you won’t find them anywhere else in the store — at any time of the year. “We have a jingle jangle-inspired pretzel that has a peanut butter coating and candy gems on it,” a coffee candy covered pretzel drizzled in dark chocolate, a dark chocolate covered pretzel topped with peppermint candy pieces, and a milk chocolate covered pretzel topped with rainbow nonpareils. 

3. Pretzel Bread Pudding

A delicious dessert in less than two minutes? Sign us up for “this absolutely extraordinary gooey, delicious, salty, sweet, soft bread pudding made with pretzel bread,” says Tara. The frozen newcomer needs just 45 to 50 seconds in the microwave (or 15 minutes in the oven) and a 60-second cool-off period. They come in little cups — two per package — and once “you flip it and remove that cup, it looks like an expertly plated thing at a high-end restaurant,” says Matt.

4. Danish Cookies

Imported from Denmark, you’ll find not one, but three styles of cookies — all dipped in chocolate — in this box: marzipan filled Napoleon hats, coconut macaroons, and almond triangles. “They’re really beautiful, says Matt,” and “lovingly handmade.”

5. Petit Fours Mousse Cakes

Speaking of trios, these adorable miniature cakes also come in three flavors: chocolate (chocolate cake with chocolate filling and a dark chocolate coating), vanilla (vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream and a white chocolatey coating), and coffee (coffee-coated chocolate cake with a coffee filling). There are nine to a pack, so invite someone over and have yourself a tea party for two.

6. Shrimp Pouches of Many Colors

As the name suggests, these new shrimp dumplings are VIBRANT. The color comes from vegetables, like spinach (for green), beet (red), and pumpkin and tumeric (yellow). You can heat these in a steamer basket, as shown on the package, microwave them (they get a little chewier, according to Tara), or if you like them “nice and crispy,” she adds, you can pan-fry them.

7. Figgy Cheddar

“Understanding which cheddar might work well with additional ingredients,” says Matt, is one of the things the cheesemakers in Leicestershire do best. (They’ve got more than 100 years of experience making cheese.) Take this mild cheddar, which is blended with Spanish figs that have been marinated in white wine and rum. Um, yum! “I will have this on every cheese plate, cheese board, cheese presentation that I make this holiday season,” says Tara. “I’m looking forward to making a grilled cheese sandwich with this cheese,” she adds.

8. Non-Dairy Cinnamon Bun Oat Creamer

If you prefer to drink your cinnamon bun, then this oat creamer is likely your cup of tea — or coffee. “It’s modeled after [the] Brown Sugar Oat Creamer,” says Matt, which is another customer favorite. “It really does make a cup of coffee taste like a cinnamon bun,” adds Tara. “It has that cinnamon, sugary deliciousness.” Another colleague recommends using it to make French toast.

9. Hark and Holly Glühwein Mulled Wine

While you’re at it, keep those mugs handy for this Glühwein, a sweet mulled wine from Germany. Spiced with cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, nutmeg, and orange and lemon zest, “it’s not overly flavored with any of those things,” says Tara, “but I think heated on a chilly winter night, that’s kind of a fun thing to drink.” 

10. 12 Days of Beauty

What’s old is new with this beauty advent calendar, which first launched in 2019. This year, the package got a whole new “stellar design.” (“Yes, it’s covered with stars,” says Tara.) Beneath the perforated boxes, you’ll find 12 sample-sized products, including the wildly popular facial sunscreen and lip scrub, hair mask, body butter, and more.

11. Shimmering Candy Cane Body Butter

You might recognize this body butter from last year’s 12 Days of Beauty advent calendar. Well, its back and bigger than ever — a full eight ounces, instead of one. The moisturizer’s candy-cane smell is subtle (not “mediciney” as other pepperminty-scented things can be, explains Tara), as is its shimmer. “If you’re not looking for it, you might not really notice it, which, to me, is the best possible scenario,” she adds.

12. Chocolate Croissant Scented Candle

Even when you don’t have chocolate croissants in the oven, you can have scents of buttery laminated dough and melted chocolate wafting throughout your home. It’s a “subtle” yet “wonderful” aroma, according to Tara and Matt, and one worth clearing some space in your candle collection for.

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