This Is the Best New Winter Item at Trader Joe’s. Period.

published Jan 23, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Design: Kitchn

Grocery shopping in January can feel like an uphill battle … in the snow … both ways. Still, it has to be done! And so I traveled to my local Trader Joe’s to not only scope out the new groceries hitting shelves this month, but also to find some inspiration. TJ’s did not disappoint. I found both: I counted 21 new items, including a grain-free cheeseburger-flavored treat for our four-legged friends. There was one standout … and you won’t believe how simple and satisfying it is!

Trader Joe’s Mini Chocolate Chip Pancake & Waffle Mix, $3.69

The best and most surprising part about this mix can be summed up in five words, which appear on the front of the packaging in bold, yet small type: Just add water for pancakes. While just-add-water pancakes and other boxed mixes are nothing new, recently I’ve seen a resurgence in the two-steps-to-stacks process. Last May, Simple Mills came out with an almond flour variation and just last week Partake launched two delicious flavors: Confetti and Classic (spoiler: I tried them and they are delicious). 

As someone who grew up in a Bisquick household and later graduated to the from-scratch stuff, I was a little hesitant to believe the mix could stack up to the thick, fluffy, buttermilk-laden batter I’ve come to enjoy on Sunday mornings and weekday evenings, if it’s that kind of mood. But like the sign says, “Chocolate chips make any breakfast better!” Also, the lavender packaging is equally soothing and inviting. It was just the right mix of ease and inspiration I was looking for. 

Find it in stores: Trader Joe’s Mini Chocolate Chip Pancake & Waffle Mix, $3.69 for 16 ounces

That Saturday (technically my Sunday because I’d taken Friday off), I woke up ready to dig into a short stack of golden cakes. But first, I had to make them! According to the cooking instructions, 1/2 cup of mix makes two to three (four-inch) pancakes, while one cup makes six to seven — that math did not add up to me. I was cooking for two, so I measured out one cup of mix, then added the water (2/3 cup), and stirred. The batter was thicker than I expected and slightly lumpy, which the packaging warned me about. 

I heated the skillet and greased it with butter before cooking the pancakes, which puffed up nicely; both baking powder and baking soda are included in the ingredients list. Once cooked, I transferred the three four-ish-inch pancakes to two plates, spread them with butter, and drizzled them with maple syrup. But would they taste like the from-scratch stuff? Or at least a really good mix? 

Yes! They are delicious — thick, fluffy, everything I want out of a homemade pancake with minimal effort. TJ’s pancakes for breakfast? Yes. TJ’s pancakes for dinner? Duh. The mini chocolate chips are studded throughout and add a nice bit of chocolate decadence to EVERY bite. Those batter lumps I mentioned? They disappear into pancake perfection.

My only issue with this mix remains the math. One cup of mix turned out to be three cooked pancakes, not the six to seven stated on the packaging. Three pancakes was enough for two people in this case. If I needed to feed four people or more, I’d likely need more than one mix. In the end, I’m OK with that. I’m already wishing I’d bought two at the time.

What’s your favorite winter find at Trader Joe’s? Tell us in the comments below.