Kitchn Love Letters

The New Trader Joe’s Dinner Staple That Got Me Out of My Cooking Rut

published Jul 12, 2022
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Trader Joe's groceries in canvas bag.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

On those days I’m not making eye contact with my stovetop, assembling a simple sheet-pan dinner with Trader Joe’s chicken sausages is one of my go-to moves. I feel impressive, yet still get to be lazy as I pull out the pan with sizzling, crisp-skinned sausages, jammy tomatoes, and sweet, caramelized onions. (“Oh, this old thing? It was nothing.”)

As with every go-to ingredient, though, I’m susceptible to getting into a rut. It’s often hard for me to stray away from my regular: the Sweet Apple Chicken sausages. That is, until I tried the store’s new sausages with an unexpectedly cheesy ingredient. In fact, when I spotted the familiar flavor in a chicken sausage, I slam-dunked them into my cart. Here’s why.

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

Unexpected Cheddar Chicken Sausages, $4.49 for 12 ounces

If you’re unfamiliar with the grocer’s most well-known cheese, the Unexpected Cheddar, get acquainted ASAP. At first, you’ll taste a smooth white cheddar that slowly reveals a salty crystallized nuttiness that’s reminiscent of Parm. It’s a cheese that makes your taste buds go “?!!!” and any cheese board will shine just because Unexpected Cheddar is there. It’s like Shine Theory, but for cheese. 

Just like the grocer’s other sausage flavors, these Unexpected Cheddar Chicken Sausages are fully cooked and ready to use. So whether you roast them on the grill, in the oven, or sauté on the stove, they’re a convenient protein to add to any easy weeknight meal. I roasted these alongside Trader Joe’s Garden Vegetable Hash, and let me get one thing straight: Juicy is an understatement here. Each bite of these chicken sausages has melty cheese, roasted caramelized onions, and red peppers. The sausages have a pork casing, which gives them that satisfying snap.

Upon first bite, visions of cooking opportunities danced in my head. I could simmer these cheesy sausages in beer before crisping them up on the grill or toss them in a grain salad with crisp, tart green apples, arugula, and farro. Or maybe I should fold them into a mac and cheese, use them in a sheet pan supper? And then I started thinking about Thanksgiving. How good would these be in stuffing? With options like these I was having trouble deciding what to do next. The only thing that was clear was that I needed to buy more sausages.

What new Trader Joe’s grocery are you most excited about? Tell us in the comments below.