Trader Joe’s New Mandarin-Style Orange Chicken Bowl Is Perfect in Every Way

updated Feb 26, 2020
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Credit: Lauren Masur

For as long as the Trader Joe’s Annual Customer Choice Awards have existed, the store’s frozen Mandarin Orange Chicken has practically swept the competition every single year — and it’s not very hard to see why. The dinner shortcut is beloved because it’s simple to prepare (heat it!), immensely flavorful, cheap, and arguably better than similar dishes from your local takeout joint. These frozen bags of perfectly cooked chicken have been on shelves since 2004 and I’d wager to guess that they’re here to stay… They’ve also just taken a starring role in a new product, which I learned about from @TraderJoesList.

Because I know all too well how quickly new products fly off TJ’s shelves, I ran to my nearest location to grab a box and returned to eat it STAT. Introducing: the Mandarin-Style Orange Chicken BOWL, a frozen, microwavable, single-serve meal that features the Mandarin Orange Chicken we’ve come to know and love, atop a bed of veggie fried rice. According to TJ’s Fearless Flyer, this bowl was actually the brainchild of an ingenious crew member who suggested turning the classic chicken dish into a rice bowl option.

Credit: Lauren Masur

I pierced the plastic wrapper and microwaved the bowl for five minutes. Each bowl contains 5 ounces of batter-fried, dark meat chicken bites atop a bed of fried rice, speckled with bites of broccoli, carrots, peas, and water chestnuts. When the microwave beeps, you let it sit for another minute and add however much of the orange ginger sauce as you want (it’s the same sauce as the original chicken). For what it’s worth, I didn’t use the whole packet and still found it to be deliciously saucy. After inhaling this bowl in three minutes flat, it’s safe to say that this is about to become my new favorite lunch time treat.

Here’s what it looked like right before I dug in.

Credit: Lauren Masur

When I tried to think of any possible cons to share, I began to type that “5 minutes feels like a long time to wait at the microwave for this rice bowl to be ready.” And then I reminded myself that I did absolutely zero cooking whatsoever to prepare this meal, nor did I have to patiently wait for food delivery, and thus, I deleted my petty complaint and gleefully ate the contents of my $3.99 rice bowl. It’s perfect in every way.

Are you excited to try Trader Joe’s latest item?