Kitchn Love Letters

The $3 Trader Joe’s Snack You’ll Want to Buy in Bulk (No, It’s Not the Famous Chili & Lime Chips)

published Mar 8, 2024
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angled shot of an assortment of trader joe's groceries in a khaki and blue trader joe's tote bag - and some of the groceries are scattered around the bag on the counter.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Tom Hoerup

As a kid, I always loved the free stuff before the meal at a restaurant — chips and salsa, baskets of warm bread with salted butter, and crispy papadums served with cool mint chutney. To 10-year-old me, these snacks could easily constitute an entire meal. 

While some of my preferences have changed over the past 30 years, I still love a plate of papadums to kick off a meal at an Indian restaurant. Now I’ve got a personal supply of the crunchy, nutty lentil crisps I adore, thanks to Trader Joe’s.

Credit: Stephanie Ganz

What’s So Great About Papadums Lentil and Chickpea Crisps?

Trader Joe’s papadums come in a pretty purple and pink bag that drew me in as I perused the store’s substantial snack food aisle. What I liked even more, though, was what I found on the back of the bag — a six-item ingredient list that consists of lentils, chickpeas, rice bran oil, baking soda, cumin, and salt. 

I love that I understand the role of every ingredient listed — no funny business, just crispy chips and a little more protein than potato chips or popcorn (these papadums have five grams compared to potato chips’ or popcorn’s three), which I always appreciate in a snack food because it keeps me feeling satisfied longer.

Credit: Stephanie Ganz

What’s the Best Way to Eat Papadums Lentil and Chickpea Crisps?

What I love most about Trader Joe’s papadums is their unique flavor. The nuttiness of the lentils and chickpeas is complemented perfectly by the cumin seed and a little salt. I find them to be so deliciously seasoned that I can happily enjoy these chips all on their own, but their firm texture and uniform circular shape make them excellent for dipping — especially into some kind of spicy chutney like mango, tamarind, or cilantro. They’re also perfect for heftier dips like hummus or bean dip.

When I feel like turning TJ’s papadums into a meal, I whip up a batch of Indian-inspired nachos topped with butter chicken or paneer tikka masala, plenty of fresh cilantro and red onion, and a drizzle of homemade raita (or just yogurt if I’m really in a hurry). The combination of flavors and textures is enough to make a workaday lunch seem luxurious. 

When I’m too busy to throw together nachos, the papadums are also excellent on the side with one of TJ’s frozen Indian-inspired entrées, like paneer tikka masala or baingan bharta. 

Find it in stores: Trader Joe’s Papadums Lentil and Chickpea Crisps, $2.69 for 5 ounces

What Trader Joe’s bagged snack is always in your cart? Tell us about it in the comments below.