I Tried the New Trader Joe’s Dinner Find Everyone Is Talking About

published Jan 16, 2024
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Trader Joe's Grocery Store, Cary, North Carolina, USA, May 16, 2022
Credit: refrina/Shutterstock

For many of us, the best part about shopping for groceries at Trader Joe’s is the abundance of new items that seem to roll out on a weekly basis. It’s best when meals are composed of dishes you look forward to eating, which may stem from adding new products to your rotation. Fortunately, a grocer like Trader Joe’s makes that easy.

I’m a big fan of Brussels sprouts, a concept my 10-year-old self likely would’ve laughed at. Typically, I chop them in half, season to my liking, and roast in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the outer leaves brown and become crisp. So, when Trader Joe’s released their Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts, I was eager to give them a try.

Credit: Emma Taubenfeld

Kung pao sauce comes from the Sichuan province of China, but the origin story is debated. What we do know for certain is that the sauce has been westernized over the years, and you can usually find it on a menu served with chicken. 

I found the 14-ounce package of Brussels sprouts in the refrigerated section near the pre-made salads, soups, and bowls. Upon a quick glance at the ingredients of hoisin, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and chili peppers, I could tell they would be a mix of sweet and spicy. However, my personal tolerance for spice is on the lower side, so I did wonder if they would be too hot for me.

Credit: Emma Taubenfeld

I immediately cracked open the package when I arrived home from my grocery trip and the preparation couldn’t have been easier. I removed the outer sleeve, lifted one corner of the plastic film, and microwaved for about three minutes. The package also states that you can cook in a conventional oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You may need to give it a good mix after heating as the sauce seemed to all move to one side.

The Brussels sprouts are whole and tender, not quite crispy like you might find if you roast them in the oven. They are coated in the sauce, but not overwhelmingly so, and you can see the red chili pepper dotting the vegetables, yet, they weren’t as spicy as I thought. Don’t get me wrong, I still needed a drink of water, but that’s to be expected knowing my small tolerance. 

Each package is $5.99 for 3.5 servings. I would recommend serving it with tofu or chicken over rice, or crafting your own stir-fry with Trader Joe’s Thai Wheat Noodles. (Maybe with some other vegetables like red peppers, onions, and broccoli.) All in all, the dish is totally worth it if you’re looking to add a little extra spice to mealtime.