7 Not-to-Be-Missed Trader Joe’s Groceries That Just Hit Stores, According to a Former Employee
There are so many natural indicators to tell that the next season is upon us — the drop in temperature, the leaves changing color. But the signs of fall are never more apparent than when walking into a Trader Joe’s. Red and orange leaves are strung from the ceilings, cinnamon brooms greet you at the door with a cloud of spice, and pumpkin can be found in both the hummus and the body butter.
My most recent grocery run started with me humbly forgoing a cart to “just get a few things,” which quickly turned into needing a basket just one aisle in, and a cart another aisle later. How did I get myself into this situation? Keep reading for the seasonal groceries that I couldn’t resist.
1. Thanksgiving Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips, $2.99 for 7 ounces
Seasoned with the classic stuffing flavors of celery, sage, and thyme, these kettle chips are great on their own, but are also perfect for dipping. My personal favorite dip for these chips is super simple: Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on a plate and top it with cranberry relish. Thanksgiving appetizer done!
2. Maple Espresso Black Tea, $2.99 for 1.2 ounces
When the weather veers into “light layers required” territory, my tea corner explodes with as much variety as there is in my sweater box. Trader Joe’s Maple Espresso Black Tea is a personal favorite of mine that I wait for each year — and I have been known to clear the shelf as soon as it arrives.
This tea provides a delicate sweetness from the maple with a mellow jolt of caffeine from the espresso. I love it hot with steamed milk, and often keep a pitcher of this in the fridge for iced tea lattes that are the perfect pick-me-up when I hit that 4 p.m. slump. Infusing desserts with Maple Black Espresso Tea is on my baking to-do list this year so I can chase bites of tea-infused shortbread, scones, and panna cotta with more tea.
3. Umami Flavored Corn Tortilla Chips, $2.99 for 9 ounces
These Umami Flavored Corn Tortilla Chips are like a full meal in one bite, like the magical gum from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory — maybe without the blueberry ice cream moment.
The chips have a caramelized onion-ish sweetness, plus the savory meatiness that defines umami in things like soy sauce, Parmesan cheese, and mushrooms. They’re reminiscent of Funyuns mixed with a light sprinkle of a Top Ramen chicken seasoning packet. It was impossible not to try these chips before I got home. I highly recommend grabbing a few bags and adding a handful of chips to your next turkey sandwich.
4. Di Bari Black & Orange Pappardelle, $3.49 for 8.8 ounces
I took a homemade pasta-making class earlier this month that thoroughly ruined my usual boxed pasta for me. But as a sucker for anything Halloween-adjacent (even after the tick-or-treating is over), there was no chance I’d make it out of TJ’s without this squid ink and paprika-colored pasta.
Made in Italy by Di Bari, these wide pappardelle noodles are ideal for serving with a Bolognese-style ragu. It only takes 5 to 6 minutes to cook the noodles to al dente perfection, and they were just as tender and flavorful as fresh pasta. I paired the pasta with a quick, autumnal mushroom sauce that I made with cream, Parmesan, lemon zest, fried rosemary, and toasted pecans. Tossed with the black and orange-striped pasta, it looked like fall in a bowl.
5. Everything But The Leftovers Seasoning Blend, $2.99 for 2.6 ounces
Fact: Collecting Trader Joe’s seasonal spice blends is just as exciting as it was to collect limited-edition Beanie Babies. This Thanksgiving-inspired blend is the ultimate example of this phenomenon. The magicians at TJ’s have distilled all the iconic savory flavors of Thanksgiving — like celery seed, dried onion, dried thyme, and rosemary — with scary precision.
There’s very little this seasoning blend won’t improve. I love sprinkling it onto mashed potatoes, freshly buttered popcorn, and Brussels sprouts, and into full-fat yogurt or sour cream for a quick dip. Much like TJ’s 21 Seasoning Salute, this seasoning is perfect for stirring into most savory things, including soup, chicken salad, vinaigrettes, and more.
6. Organic Raw Pumpkin Vinegar, $1.99 for 8.45 ounces
Vinegar is so underrated. If I’ve learned anything working in food, it’s that the addition of a zip of acid is the main thing that makes home cooking taste restaurant-quality. Not all vinegar is one-meal-fits-all, either — so it’s no surprise that my vinegar shelf might be just as stacked as my tea corner. Upon spotting this quiet little jar of pumpkin vinegar (amongst the many, many pumpkin sweets), I knew it was just the thing to really take all my fall recipes to that next level.
Made much like unfiltered apple cider vinegar, this vinegar is made by cold pressing pumpkins before allowing the liquid to ferment into a cider before the vinegar mother is added. The vinegar is a vivid orange, and I immediately mixed it up with sparkling water to taste-test it as a refreshing fall shrub. It has that perfect tang and earthiness that’s great for shaking into vinaigrettes for topping beets and butternut squash, or adding acidity to a marinade or homemade BBQ sauce.
7. Rough & Ready Cab Franc vs. Cab Sauv, $8.99 for 750 ml
I’m no stranger to the Rough & Ready wines exclusively sold at Trader Joe’s. TJ’s Petit Verdot vs. Petit Syrah is a consistent repeat buy for me, so I nearly knocked over some wine bottles when I spotted this new Cabernet Sauvignon vs. Cabernet Franc variety. It’s perfect for those crisp fall days when you want a wine with a bit of richness and spice.
A bit more acidic than Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc is perfect for sipping alongside vinegar or mustard-based BBQ, as well as any pasta dish involving tomatoes. Blended together, this combo of cabernet grapes reminded me of toasty baking spices, plum jam, and a bit of rose tea. I’ll definitely be coming back for a rematch.
Let us know about some of your favorite new Trader Joe’s seasonal find in the comments.