Shopping at Trader Joe’s can be quite the overwhelming grocery store experience. The beloved chain boasts thousands of affordable products, many of which come earmarked with a “best ever” accolade from the dozens of rankings, lists, and articles you can find on the good ol’ internet. But there is, perhaps, no more intimidating section of the store than the Trader Joe’s cheese "wall"—a library (nay, a veritable archive!) of dairy concoctions in different shapes and colors, both familiar and obscure.
To help you navigate this plethora of milky goodness, we’ve rounded up 11 must-have cheeses for anyone who needs assistance in narrowing down the best of the best. But before we delve into our top picks, it’s important to keep a few key things in mind:
- Not all cheeses are created equal. Some serve very specific purposes (like being melted into sauces or dips) and may not shine in sliced or grated form. This diverse list takes that into consideration and is not based solely on overall taste.
- We’ve only included Trader Joe’s-branded items. While Saint André and Old Amsterdam Premium Aged Gouda would absolutely make the slice—er—cut, they’re also available beyond the shelves of Trader Joe’s.
- The taste of cheese is rightfully subjective. It’d be ridiculous to compare a dill-infused havarti with a fresh mozzarella, so we highly encourage you to pick up whatever your taste buds are craving and create an epic charcuterie board. It’s really hard to go wrong here.
- Not all cheeses will be readily available at all Trader Joe’s locations. Some have even been stamped as “seasonal” (looking at you, Baked Lemon Ricotta), which breaks our cheese-loving hearts. Always be sure to ask a Trader Joe’s employee when certain items will be back in stock. They are famously friendly and accommodating!
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s dive into our all-time favorites.
Unexpected Cheddar is the least unexpected pick on this list. The TJ’s staple has consistently garnered the “Favorite Cheese” award from their annual Customer Choice list. What makes the cheese unexpected is that it pivots from a cheddar flavor profile to parmesan as you’re noshing on it, making it a wonderfully complex snacking experience that really excites the palate. It’s also quite versatile in its use—top it on pasta, add it to pizza, or melt it on a sandwich for salty, somewhat fruity goodness.
There are plenty of cheddar cheese iterations that line Trader Joe’s shelves, but top honors go to their caramelized onion variety that strikes a harmonious balance between sweet and salty. Thanks to the subtle astringency of the onion, this block also pairs perfectly with most white wines. A true win-win (or wine-win, if you will).
3. 1,000-Day Gouda (or the brand-new Green Goddess Gouda)
A good gouda isn’t hard to find and Trader Joe’s 1,000-Day offering is no exception. This crumbly indulgence is aged and jam-packed with that irresistibly nutty flavor. And while we can always use more crystallization, the cheese more-than-delivers in sharpness, saltiness, and versatility. Serve it with any of your favorite fruits, both dried and fresh, or any fruit-based spread.
We can’t get enough of this hard cow’s milk cheese with lingering berry notes (from the wine) and an unrivaled creaminess. In fact, it’s on par (if not better) than mainstream competitors like Sartori’s Merlot offering. The icing on the cake? Price, of course. You can snag a wedge for less than $5, making it your new go-to cheese to buy in bulk for the next cocktail party.
Goat cheese contrarians: Hear us out. This sweet and creamy log is a perfect foray into the world of tart and earthy soft cheeses. Though cheese and fruit go together like...well, cheese and fruit...we had our reservations about the added vanilla aroma. We're glad to report we were completely unjustified in our worry; this is certifiably the cheese of summer.
Not to sound entirely basic, but if something has truffles in it, chances are highly likely that it’s going to taste amazing. Trader Joe’s Italian Truffle Cheese delivers on this promise with a semi-soft variety that doesn’t overpower. Instead, it celebrates the mainstream mushroom with tiny flecks of it, making it an ideal option for upgraded grilled cheese sandwiches. Pro tip: If it’s out of stock, look for their truffle pecorino that is just as mouth-watering.
As if brie needed to be even more craveable, Trader Joe’s had to go and make a triple creme version with an intensely smooth, creamy composition. Count your blessings with this tried-and-true, ooey-gooey staple that always makes it into our shopping carts and onto our cheese boards.
8. French Fromage Slices
The mouthfeel is creamy and the taste is similar to Brie, but this fabulous fromage is conveniently cut into slices for easy snacking and even easier baking. Trader Joe’s recommends piling these into a baguette and baking with herbs and olive oil to satisfy any sudden carb craving.
9. Israeli Feta
This Mediterranean must-have is simple in its presentation, but authentically delectable. In fact, Trader Joe’s actually reached out to a fourth generation cheesemaker in Israel (whose family has been making cheese for over a century) to supply this mildly tangy, crumbled gem. For those who are brine-averse, try roasting it with tomatoes for a truly phenomenal (and TikTok-approved) culinary experience.
10. Asiago Cheese with Rosemary & Olive Oil
Rosemary has the tendency to usurp the flavors of any dish it’s added to, but it shines beautifully in this asiago-based cheese that will taste similar to your favorite sharp parmesan. Our favorite way to serve this is with cured meats like prosciutto and mortadella.
It’s delicious, it’s practically dessert, and, of course, it’s been relegated to “seasonal.” If absence makes the heart grow fonder, we can’t wait to marry this velvety dream when it returns to shelves in the (crossing our fingers) summer. Until then, we’ll just wait impatiently and settle for Trader Joe’s cheesecake instead.