I Tested 11 Trader's Joe's Seasoning Blends to Find My All-Time Favorite

See where your favorite TJ's seasoning landed.

February 28, 2023
Photo by Rocky Luten

If there is one thing I enjoy even more than dipping sauces, it’s seasoning blends. So, it’s no surprise that a trip down Trader Joe’s herb and spice aisle had me feeling like a kid on Christmas morning (albeit a very strange kid who’d prefer fried chicken over an Xbox). The affordable grocery chain currently offers 11 jarred varieties and I bought each of them to face off in the ultimate seasoning blend taste test.

To keep things fair and consistent across the board, preliminary judging included the blend and the blend only. While there are bland and basic foods like chicken and potatoes that could serve as tasting vessels, I didn’t want anything to impart an additional flavor and give one contender an advantage over the other.

Check out the results below, ranging from “I kind of wish I accidentally dropped this jar so it would shatter and need to go in the trash” to earning a permanent spot in my already-stuffed-to-the-gills NYC pantry.

Photo by Trader Joe's

11. Mushroom & Company Multipurpose Umami Seasoning Blend,

As the author of Basic Bitchen, it’s no surprise that my palate is easy to please. It’s also no surprise that truffle is one of those flavors that pleases my easy palate. While truffles get a bad rap for being as overused as James Corden (please stop casting him), it is shamelessly one of my favorite ingredients due to the umami depth that enhances practically anything savory. To say I was disappointed with this “multipurpose umami seasoning blend” is an understatement. I couldn’t taste anything but salt and maybe a hint of mushroom, and nothing about it added a layer of complexity to the fish and chicken I sprinkled it on in the days that followed. Frankly, you’ll be better off with a shaker of Morton or MSG.

Photo by Trader Joe's

10. Pizza Sprinkle Seasoning Blend

I so badly wanted this seasoning to taste like pizza-flavored Combos or Pringles in the most artificial way possible. Instead, I got a slightly sweet, not very tomato-y, lackluster take on what could have been the best example of food nostalgia in recent memory. Needless to say, I was bummed—so much so that I had to order a real pizza from my favorite neighborhood joint to compensate.

Photo by Trader Joe's

9. Ajika Georgian Seasoning Blend

This was the seasoning blend I was most excited to sample, since traditional Ajika-style pepper paste is bold, memorable, and provides a welcome kick. Unfortunately, this rendition could not have been more subtle on the tongue. Sure, I appreciated the smokiness and respected the hint of garlic, but I would need to literally coat my tongue with spoonfuls of these flakes to pick up on any sort of spiciness. It’s false advertising, and I want my money back.

8. Cheesy Seasoning Blend

While I enjoyed the hint of rosemary that gave this cheesy seasoning a more aged and peppery taste, it was a bit one-note…much like my failed musical theater audition sophomore year of high school. It will certainly elevate a popcorn or even a scrambled egg, but you’re going to find yourself reaching for other spices in the rack—like garlic powder and cayenne pepper—to work in tandem. I give it an A for effort but a C for execution.

Photo by Trader Joe's

7. Ranch Seasoning Blend

It’s difficult to scoff at ranch-flavored anything because, let’s be honest, it’s the dressing most of us would literally funnel into our mouths for the fun of it. And while this wasn’t terrible by any means, it was extremely dill-forward, making it taste more like a pickle seasoning blend sans the tartness. I would absolutely shake this onto a roasted vegetable or piece of boring grilled chicken, but if we’re making homemade ranch or mixing something into sour cream, it’s gotta be Hidden Valley.

Photo by Trader Joe's

6. Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend

This is the jar that put Trader Joe’s seasonings on the map. I wished the flakes of salt were smaller and that the sesame seeds were slightly less potent, but I loved the garlicky finish that lingered in my mouth until I brushed it (#youknowyoureItalianwhen). You’ll likely want to put this on something at every meal (but should avoid any immediate makeout sessions upon consumption).

Photo by Trader Joe's

5. Cuban Style Citrusy Garlic Seasoning Blend

Key word: “citrusy.” One pinch woke up the tongue with a sour flavor that tasted genuinely fresh—almost as if you'd just squeezed a lemon. So if you’re lacking in citrus, this will be a solid way to take any boring ol’ marinade from drab to fab, especially when used with pork.

Photo by Trader Joe's

4. Sriracha Sprinkle Seasoning Blend

If that bottle of green-capped sriracha is in your bag like Beyoncé (#swag), you’ll be ecstatic to find that this powdered version tastes identical to the beloved condiment. Warning: The spice is very delayed, only coming after the pickled chili pepper start. Keep that in mind as you liberally dust this orange-red powder on noodles, french fries, and any other foods in need of a kick.

Photo by Trader Joe's

3. Chile Lime Seasoning Blend

This was the biggest shocker on the list. The lime was super bold and the blend struck a wonderful balance between tang, heat, and salt. It may even give Tajín a run for its money, especially as a margarita rim. In fact, this seasoning might've just been the inspiration for the Taco Tuesday happy hour I’m hosting next week, which I may or may not regret. (I will, indeed, regret it.)

Photo by Trader Joe's

2. Everything But the Elote Seasoning Blend

I can’t say enough good things about this clever jarred take on elote (Mexican street corn). The only reason it didn’t take gold is its lack of versatility. While amazing, the blend will not taste great on everything due to its sweetness and a polarizing hint of cumin. But it is going to make vegetables beyond corn, like asparagus and broccoli, more buttery, smoky, and surprisingly similar in flavor to the iconic Mexican dish.

Photo by Trader Joe's

1. Green Goddess Seasoning Blend

Trader Joe’s has a certifiable hit with its Green Goddess seasoning blend. Bright, herbaceous, and with a delightful hint of lemon, it’s a powder that will enhance almost anything in your cooking repertoire. In fact, I almost finished an entire jar in a week after liberally dusting it over salads, roasted salmon, and even veggie dip. This means I am either a certifiable seasoning freak or that this really is that addictive (a combo of both, to be honest).

Let us know your favorite Trader Joe's seasoning blend in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Virval
  • Rick Cooley
    Rick Cooley
  • Deborah Klipp
    Deborah Klipp
  • ShelbyWatters
  • lalf
Joey Skladany

Written by: Joey Skladany

Writer/Editor, Personality, Author of 'Basic Bitchen'


Virval March 21, 2023
My favorite is the Cuban style Citrusy Garlic spice mix. It's great on grilled chicken.
Rick C. March 13, 2023
Chile Lime is the winner for me. I use it all the time. Also, I saw something new on my last visit. Ketchup seasoning. It really is good.
Deborah K. March 11, 2023
Two not metioned that are my favorites are 21 Seasoning Salute and the seasonal BBQ 101. 21 salute is my favorite and my go to for everyday. Especially when it needs something but not sure what. It has a very slight kick and as a bonus has no salt. 101 BBQ satisfies a BBQ craving especially when sprinkled on a TJ Mac n cheese.
ShelbyWatters March 10, 2023
I was looking forward to this article, Trader Joe's is approximately 4 hours' drive from me (why they won't put one in a different city closer to 1 hour from me, much less in the city 30 minutes from me, both of which have the population and demographic base to support it, is an eternal mystery to me, but anyway...) so I always appreciate advice as to what to grab on my infrequent trips since I have to maximize each trip. We used to make a monthly trip just to hit Trader Joe's and Costco, but my health has declined and there is now a Costco in the previously-mentioned city (Roseburg) an hour from me, so now I'm lucky to get to Trader Joe's once a year. Sad, since I grew up in northern San Diego County and it was my main source of groceries. I love it enough that the 4 hour drive is worth it to me, however I just am not physically able to do so anymore and can only shop there if I happen to be in Eugene for another reason. I know many other people in my area who would also shop primarily at Trader Joe's were it nearby (are you listening, Trader Joe's?). We all settle for Grocery Outlet instead, which is the most similar that we can easily access, but it is a very pale substitute.


But. This one lost me with the description of the Mushroom seasoning, and some of the others were similarly just completely different from my tastes. I grabbed a jar of the Mushroom blend on my last trip just to give it a try, without having high hopes for it, and have been raving about it to everyone who will listen since. At least four of my friends have tried it based on my recommendation, and all have been almost as enamored with it as have I. It is subtle, sure, umami itself is subtle. But it is deep, complex, and adds so much to practically anything. I now consider it as indispensable in my pantry as the spice blend which I have been using as my standard since at least 1985 (which is called Spike, for the curious). It is true that it does not have a strong identifiable flavor in dishes where it is used (which is practically everything in my kitchen), but the profile and depth which it adds is unmistakable. Similar to the difference between pasta cooked in salted water vs unsalted water.

Similarly, I completely disagree with the ranch assessment. While I haven't tried this one because I make my own ranch dressing, I plan to try it now. In my opinion a good ranch is supposed to be very dill-forward, followed by buttermilk, then freshly-ground-from-flakes onion powder for that elusive yet complex sweetness, and granulated garlic. I generally add a few other ingredients, depending on its intended usage (mayo as a thickener for a salad dressing; buttermilk powder rather than liquid buttermilk for roasted potatoes and the like; sometimes a little basil or cumin or even a hint of Mexican Oregano) but this is my basic fallback which I have honed over the years and is as close to Hidden Valley as I have gotten, minus the off flavors in the name brand version which I don't appreciate.

In fact, based on these reviews, I have added the Ajika and the Cheesy blends to my list for my next trip. And now I am considering giving the Everything But The... a try, despite having been avoiding it for as long as I've been aware of it. I have been blending my own Everything Bagel mixture that I created myself (before it was the rage), for many years. Part of the reason that I have been avoiding this shortcut is that I assumed that the flakes of salt would be too small.

We all know how subjective tastes are. And I am in no way saying that this article, or its author, is 'wrong'. However, the phrasing could better reflect that fact. IMO, it would be a far better article were it presented as this author's preferences, and hit a little less hard on the authoritative note.
Gammy March 10, 2023
Swerving off topic here.... Shelby, when you do make it back to Trader Joe's be sure to pick up a bag of their (dried fruit) "Soft & Tangy Mandarins". OMG... these little dried and lightly sweetened tangerine segments are sooooo very good. I was searching for dried apricots when another customer suggested I try them. I could eat an entire bag at one sitting!!!
lalf March 9, 2023
And what about TJ's Furikake (Japanese multi-purpose seasoning)? I go through jars of this at lightning speed. Brilliant on Japanese cold soba-noodle salads with cucumber, avocado and a good soy-sauce dressing! The Sofrito is a close second for me: excellent in soups, and adds a nice dimension to homemade tomato sauces. Agree strongly with others on the in-your-face salt level in many of the other TJ spices.
McGeeK March 11, 2023
I always keep this one on hand.
Cy March 9, 2023
I love the everything blend and the Green Goddess too! Also was underwhelmed by the umami blend. I wish they would bring back the Vegan chicken-less seasoning blend, that one was great! Sounds the the Sriracha one is worth a taste.
Linda March 9, 2023
The green goddess is amazing, my new favorite addition to yogurt for a dip for chips, veggies or crackers.
Espressomom March 9, 2023
I think TJ must have reformulated the Georgian Ajika seasoning- it is very spicy. Its definitely not something to sprinkle on the tongue. Even in cooking, it needs a light hand. I wasn’t taken by this mixture.

Kimlog March 9, 2023
I love the Georgian Ajika seasoning. I used it today on my grilled asparagus and tomato. It's amazing on a baked sweet potato. It has enough heat in my opinion. If I only want hot, I have plenty of things to choose from. If I want heat and flavor, the Georgian Ajika seasoning does the job
McGeeK March 11, 2023
Thank you - I was trying to figure out where to use this.
Danielle March 9, 2023
Umami isn’t truffle flavored. Not everything mushroom is supposed to taste like truffles
tradess2013 March 9, 2023
Dianne B. March 9, 2023
The umami blend is fantastic on rice, veggies, many things. It tastes like mushrooms with a mild kick of chili. My favorite thing at Trader Joe's.
ShelbyWatters March 10, 2023
I completely agree. Also, in gravies, egg dishes including a basic sunny side up or scrambled egg, cheese sauces, just so many applications where it adds so much.
The T. March 9, 2023
If I'm understanding correctly, Joey just placed these blends on his tongue and then rated them?!?!?
Because he didn't want anything to impart flavor that could bias the results?!?!? Folks am I the only one here that realizes you use spice blends in cooking? Their purpose is to provide the casual cook who may not have a deep pantry the benefit of blending ingredients that may otherwise not be available, or wasteful to buy for single use. Blends that include salt are meant to either replace additional salt or reduce the need for it etc. I'm must admit, I'm perplexed by the whole point of this article.
I can think of nothing more useless
Gammy March 9, 2023
Hey..... why doesn't the Salmon Rub qualify as a TJ's Seasoning Blend? And fyi, I LOVE the Mushroom Umami blend.... I have a husband who prefers not to eat mushrooms and this magic powder certainly adds a little boost of umami taste to anything I add it to.
ShelbyWatters March 10, 2023
Many people find the texture of mushrooms to be problematic yet enjoy their flavor. I've been grinding dried mushrooms for years for certain family members. This blend adds deeper, more complex notes than I can achieve by simply grinding mushrooms and adding parm and/or rosemary.
Caestrom March 9, 2023
I can’t believe you didn’t test the TJoe’s Soffrito spice blend! Sundried tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic! It’s my go-to for absolutely everything! I even eat the little tomato pieces right out of the jar! I always have 2 on reserve in the pantry! Must not run out ever!!!
McGeeK March 11, 2023
Oooh, I'll have to try that one.
Nancy H. March 9, 2023
Who needs to hear about Joey's dislike of James Corden while he's writing about spice blends?
Susanna March 9, 2023
Where is Everything But The Leftovers? It’s seasonal, but it’s one of my favorites.
Cy March 9, 2023
That’s a good one
rox L. March 4, 2023
Where is 21 Salute'?
McGeeK March 5, 2023
It's a Trader Joe's product.
rox L. March 7, 2023
Exactly. this is an article about TJ's seasons and 21salute' is not there!
dinaofdoom March 9, 2023
21 Salute is amazing, and incredibly versatile. I've used it in all sorts of things, but it made my homemade pimiento cheese over the top good.
McGeeK March 2, 2023
The 21 Seasoning Salute is salt free
FrugalCat March 2, 2023
This made me laugh as I have at least 8 of these in my kitchen right now- and I am dying to try the ones I don't have. One caution with seasoning blends- you fall in love with one, then start putting it on everything, then all your food starts tasting alike.
drbabs March 2, 2023
I really like their onion salt— I agree that all their seasoning blends are very salty, though.
rolwin1 February 28, 2023
Does the Italian style Sofrito Seasoning Blend not count as a seasoning? It is terrific on eggs, salads, meats, fish, veggies, in soups, and on and on.
Caestrom March 9, 2023
That’s my absolute favorite!! I always keep at least 2 jars in the pantry. Cannot run out!!
McGeeK February 28, 2023
I highly recommend 21 Seasoning Salute. My favorite non-salt seasoning