Joe may be one of the most average male names in the English language (no bias here), but when you put “Trader’s” before it, you get the beloved national grocery chain that boasts not-so-average products. High in quality and low in price, Trader Joe’s has become so embedded in American food culture and vernacular that we wait with bated breath for the weekly arrival of new items like they’re the latest new game console or Beyoncé album.
2021 has already proven to be no exception, with products that are already making waves and, for lack of a better term, flying off shelves. We’ve rounded up 15 of our favorites—check them out below and be sure to scoop them up before your fellow TJ’s shoppers catch wind and beat you to the register.
1. Black Truffle Cashew Pesto
America’s truffle obsession knows no bounds, and this spread is as versatile as it is luxurious. The mushroom, nut, and Grana Padano cheese mixture pairs perfectly with a slice of warm, crusty bread or toast, but also serves as an excellent finishing note for pastas, proteins, and roasted vegetables. If you see it, stock up. We have a feeling that this jar, much like its truffle dip sister, will be deemed “limited edition” and only available when—frankly—you’re craving it and it’s completely unavailable.
2. Chocolate-Covered Wafer Cookie with Peanut Butter Filling
There is perhaps no better snack-time duo than peanut butter and chocolate. The harmonious balance of America’s two most beloved ingredients wins again with these ridiculously tasty wafers that are essentially upgraded Kit-Kats. Frankly, we’re shocked that Trader Joe’s didn’t put something like this out sooner, but we're by no means complaining.
3. Thai Style-Green Chili Sauce
Inspired by the northern Thai dish nam prik noom, this spicy, zesty, and bold condiment is a magnificent blend of chilis, garlic, shallots, lime juice, and lemongrass. Traditionally, it is best served over vegetables or alongside a main course, but TJ’s recommends it with dumplings, rice, noodles, and even chips as a refreshing dip with just enough heat. Needless to say, we already can’t get enough, especially in these warmer temperatures where picnics are already in full force.
4. Portuguese Custard Tarts
There aren’t many egg yolk-based dishes that disappoint and these Portuguese custard tarts are no exception. The rich and creamy inside, cushioned by a flaky pastry crust, is downright drool-worthy and all-too-easy to make. Simply pop them in the oven, air fryer, or microwave for a quick (and not too sweet!) treat. The bite-sized desserts are also imported directly from Portugal where they’ve been celebrated for generations, making them certifiably delicious.
5. Vegan Bolognese-Style Pasta Sauce
Pea protein to the rescue! Vegans can now have their bolognese sauce and eat it too with a meat-free option that boasts the plant-based crumbles. This peppery concoction pairs perfectly with any noodle of any shape. Mangia!
6. Hatch Chile Chicken Wraps
Frozen burritos have withstood the test of time, but these hexagonal bundles offer a more elevated meal experience with ingredients like grilled chicken, black beans, mozzarella and Monterey jack cheeses, and—you guessed it—New Mexico's famed Hatch chiles. You can microwave them, toss them in the oven, or toast them on a skillet for a quick, flavorful, stress-free lunch that will put that sad peanut butter and jelly sandwich to shame.
7. Chewy Chocolate & Peanut Butter Protein Bars
There is, perhaps, no better culinary duo than peanut butter and chocolate. And while these bars are certainly not Reese’s peanut butter cups, they more than suffice in satisfying that occasional (or daily) craving. They also contain 10 grams of protein each, making them a certified health food (said no dietician ever, but ignorance is bliss when it comes to mid-afternoon snacking).
8. Everything But the Bagel Seasoned Potato Chips
Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel Seasoning continues to be one of the store’s best-selling items (as well as a spice rack essential), but its role as a kettle-cooked potato chip coating makes it a snacktime gamechanger. It also presents a much harder crunch than the norm, allowing the chip to stand up to your favorite thick dips. Might we suggest a cream cheese-based option to go with the bagel motif? We’ll take any excuse to polish off a bag of these before 10 a.m.
9. Roasted Garlic & Pesto Pizza With Deep-Fried Crust
Frankly, they had us at “deep-fried crust.” The roasted garlic and pesto are just welcome bonuses, especially as they cushion a superiorly cheesy mix of mozzarella, provolone, Parmigiano Reggiano, and—prepare yourself for this—burrata. Needless to say, we’ve found a new appetizer to nosh on before dinner, though it rarely lasts longer than 3 minutes. And that’s no exaggeration.
10. French Onion Macaroni & Cheese
It’s winter, it’s chilly, and Trader Joe’s has concocted a creamy hybrid of two renowned comfort foods to give your soul and appetite a huge warm hug. This dish features a duo of Swiss and cheddar cheeses mixed with elbow macaroni and caramelized onions. It’s then topped with croutons because you apparently need even more excuses to not leave the couch on a Friday night as you slip into a heavenly carb coma.
11. Almond Butter-Covered Almonds
Chocolate takes a backseat to almond butter with this hard-to-put-down sweet treat that strikes a harmonious balance between creamy and crunchy. These coated almonds are also delectably salty, which satisfies both types of cravings. So if you don’t like them, then the problem absolutely lies with you and your palate (kidding, kind of).
We’re never one to turn down a meatball, and the beefy Middle Eastern-inspired delicacies known as kibbeh are no exception. The spiced, oblong bites are wrapped in breading with even more ground beef, then fried to crisp, golden perfection (but we're not opposed to deconstructing the kibbeh formula to save time when cooking at home). They pair best with dips and hummus, but we highly recommend Trader Joe’s refrigerated zhoug sauce: a blend of cilantro, jalapeño, chile flakes, garlic, cardamom, and cumin with subtle heat and not-so-subtle flavor.
13. Cuban-Style Citrusy Garlic Seasoning Blend
Inspired by the flavors of Cuban cuisine, this zingy lime and garlic-forward seasoning deserves a shake (or seven) on all of your favorite foods, from popcorn and veggies to steak and seafood. But pork is where it really shines, reminding you almost of the succulent roasted shoulders and loins that fill the medianoches found in Miami. Buen provecho!
14. Mexican-Style Riced Cauliflower
New year, new you? Trader Joe’s hears you loud and clear by keeping the cauliflower rice trend alive. A drool-worthy blend of cumin, cayenne, lime, and tomato concentrate adds Mexican flair while chopped tomatoes, peppers, and pickled jalapeños lend crunch and texture. Consider your Taco Tuesdays upgraded with this vegan side dish that can truly stand alone.
15. Plantain Croutons
When doused in your favorite salad dressing, these garlicky plantain croutons maintain their crispness while offering a not-so-sweet depth of banana flavor. They’re also gluten-free, making them ideal alternatives to bread-based textural soup or salad additions.
Which one of these Trader Joe's treats will make it into your cart first? Let us know in the comments?