Kitchn Love Letters

The $5 Trader Joe’s Dessert I’m Bringing to Thanksgiving This Year

published Nov 14, 2023
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trader joe's freezer section
Credit: Lauren Masur

During the holidays, much like when I would play The Sims when I was a kid, I like to use any of the “cheat codes” I can find. While I’d love to have all the time in the world to make my yearly Guinness chocolate cake that impresses basically everyone, I’m no stranger to how good a store-bought cake can be. The “store-bought is fine” queen herself (Ina Garten) even says she can’t live without a certain grocer’s French apple tart, so can we all just finally admit that store-bought is actually pretty great? Great.

Taking a page out of Ina’s book, I have my own favorite apple dessert I’ll be bringing to the holiday get-togethers this year: Trader Joe’s Rustic Apple Tarte. While not the same as Ina’s favorite French apple tart (which also comes from Trader Joe’s), the Rustic Apple Tarte is a bit more holiday-ready for a few reasons — plus it’s also almost half the price. 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

What’s So Great About Trader Joe’s Rustic Apple Tarte?

I know I can’t be alone in seeing all the aspirationally beautiful galettes filling up Instagram feeds. They’re so pretty! So perfectly imperfect! But realistically, I will not be attempting to make one during the holiday season. Thankfully, the Rustic Apple Tarte saves you from that same fate, because it’s just as good (maybe better!) than what you might have attempted at home.

Let’s get to it: This dessert is like if a classic apple pie and a custard-laced tart had a lovechild that was so very beautiful. The crust alone is worthy of a Paul Hollywood handshake, with a sturdy, not-at-all-soggy bottom that is the ideal vehicle for the cinnamon-spiked cream cheese filling, crisp Northern Spy apples, and a crumbly almond topping.

On top of all of that, it looks just as cute and, yes, rustic, with a crimped, golden-brown crust that really adds to the whole, “No, this is tooootally homemade” look it so clearly nails. 

What’s the Best Way to Serve Trader Joe’s Rustic Apple Tarte?

Fresh out of the oven, this tarte will serve four solid slices that are, obviously, begging for some ice cream to bring it all together. This would be a beautiful one to serve family-style with a classic scoop of vanilla on top before digging in, but I highly suggest you go a slightly different route: by topping it with Trader Joe’s Salted Maple Ice Cream

Even if you just opt for a little dusting of powdered sugar before serving (or a drizzle of salted caramel), I think the Rustic Apple Tarte is the ultimate Thanksgiving cheat code, if there ever was one. 

Find it in stores: Trader Joe’s Rustic Apple Tarte, $4.99 for 17.6 ounces