7 New, Must-Buy Trader Joe’s Items, According to a Former Employee
I think having a curated snack selection is maybe just as important as having a well-stocked pantry or a wine bottle on ice, ready for guests. And boy, did Trader Joe’s make that way too easy this month. Thanks to these upgraded classics, you’ll feel like a real tastemaker when you set out bowls of these crunchy, spicy, sweet, and puffy treats. And yes, there’s a new salad (and even a hand soap!) in there, for the sake of balance. So what’s new at Trader Joe’s this month? Let’s take a look!
1. Oat Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert Sandwiches, $3.49 for 14.8 ounces
I take ice cream sandwiches pretty seriously. When I spied this dairy-free option in the freezer case I was cautiously optimistic because I’m not the biggest alternative milk fan. I opened up one in the car immediately, and found them to be super spot-on compared to the ice cream truck standard: a creamy, not-at-all-icy filling sandwiched between sweet-yet-vaguely-salty chocolate wafer cookies. I debated eating a second one right then and there, and I feel pretty confident you will too.
2. Peach Mango Foaming Hand Soap, $2.99 for 8 ounces
TJ’s nailed it with this peach and mango hand soap. It smells just like eating a peach — one that’s so juicy you have to eat it outside or over the sink. I don’t think I’ve loved a scent more since my Victoria’s Secret “Amber Romance” body spritz phase when I was 14. Trader Joe, if you’re listening, please turn this scent into a body wash or lotion ASAP.
3. Peanut Butter Caramel-Coated Popcorn, $3.49 for 6 ounces
Admittedly, I have a salt tooth more than a sweet tooth, but I can’t resist a novelty popcorn flavor (especially TJ’s Peppermint Bark Popcorn that comes out around the winter holidays). And in the spirit of admitting things, I must say that this popcorn is so good that I’m eating it as I type this very sentence. The peanut butter flavor is way more pronounced than the caramel, but there’s still a delightful crackle from the kettle corn-like coating. Unexpectedly puffy, light, sweet, and salty — this popcorn is hard to put down.
4. Carolina Gold-Style BBQ Flavored Chips, $2.49 for 7 ounces
I’m pretty sure I gasped when I saw that these royal blue bags were finally back. If you’re unfamiliar with (technically South) Carolina BBQ, it’s known for its tangy mustard base (rather than molasses and brown sugar-heavy Kansas City-style or vinegar-based styles in Eastern Carolina). Each bite of these chips tastes like those coveted, saucy burnt ends you fight over at the family BBQ. Thick and ruffle cut, I think these chips somehow got even better than they were before? They seem more balanced, with the right amount of tang, umami, and sweetness. I can’t wait to put them in my next sandwich, on a rodeo-style burger, or crush them up for coating oven-fried chicken.
5. Dill-icious Chopped Salad Kit, $3.99 for 11.32 ounces
When it comes to salads, I’m in it for the texture. And this one delivers big time in that department. Truthfully, I don’t know how to write about this salad without using too many exclamation points, but I’ll try. With chopped cauliflower, radish chips, and shredded cabbage, this kit doesn’t skimp on any opportunities for crunch. There’s truly so much crunch. No sogginess in sight! And with pickle flavor in the ranch-style dressing and the dill seasoning, it tastes like you just successfully stole the dill pickle spear off your friend’s sandwich plate. It even has pickle potato chips in it! (Just two exclamation points. Not bad!)
6. Crunchy Chili Onion Peanuts, $2.99 for 9 ounces
If you’re familiar with Crunchy Chili Onion, you likely already put it on everything — or will be very soon. The smoky-spicy-sweet sauce is even versatile enough to put on ice cream (Don’t think, just do it!). Coating roasted peanuts with the sauce makes so much sense, and actually mellows out the heat, although the heat does build after a while. Great on their own, these peanuts remind me of the spicy cajun peanuts I like to eat greedily out of bar snack mixes. And combined with the next new item, they’re about to upgrade more than just your snack cabinet.
7. Crunchy Jalapeño Lime & Onion, $4.29 for 5.6 ounces
The Chili Onion Crunch Peanuts and Crunchy Jalapeño Lime & Onion both deserve their own attention, but I do love them together. On a night I wanted little contact with my stove, I grabbed the zucchini I needed to use up and made Ali Slagle’s smashed zucchini with chickpeas and peanuts. In lieu of the standard peanuts and fresh jalapeño, I subbed in the crispy, garlicky peanuts and the newest addition to my Condiment Corner, the Crunchy Jalapeño Lime & Onion. Milder than the Crunchy Chili Onion, this topping is tangy, herbal, and crispy, thanks to lime, cilantro, and all the crunchy-savory onion and garlic sprinkles that infuse the olive oil. I think this bright, citrusy companion is about to spice up my breakfast tacos, potato salads, and, yes, maybe even ice cream.
What new Trader Joe’s groceries are you most excited about? Tell us in the comments below.