The 22 Best Trader Joe’s Products, According to Our Staff

Our highly subjective picks.

April 11, 2023
Photo by Ty Mecham

A purveyor of seasoning blends, the home of a prolific selection of frozen foods, and the sole reason for the everything-bagel-fication of our supermarket shelves: Of course, we’re talking about everyone’s favorite grocer, Trader Joe’s.

The idea of single-handedly narrowing down the chain’s endless, rotating selection into a definitive “best-of” list felt like a daunting task. So, I sent a Slack message soliciting the opinions of our whole staff (including our friends at Schoolhouse!). The responses came in at record speed, piling up in the comment thread by the dozen. I felt like I was watching a sports game, not a debate about which item in the cheese case reigns supreme (spoiler: it’s Unexpected Cheddar). Soon, I had over 100 nominations to choose from. Here’s our highly subjective list of Trader Joe’s very best products.

Dips & Spreads

Photo by Trader Joe's

1. Garlic Spread Dip, $3.29

This garlic spread—Trader Joe’s version of toum, essentially—is intensely garlicky but balanced by the sharp acidity of lemon juice.

2. Zhoug Sauce, $3.69

This zhoug—made with cilantro, garlic, and jalapeños for a spicy, herbaceous bite—was a favorite among several respondents.

3. Mediterranean Style Hummus, $3.99

It’s amazing what a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of pine nuts can do to elevate this otherwise simple hummus.

Frozen Apps & Entrées

Photo by Trader Joe's

4. Steamed Pork & Ginger Soup Dumplings, $3.49

These soup dumplings often make TJ’s “best of” lists, and with good reason: They’re savory, aromatic with ginger, and easy to make in the microwave.

5. Chicken tikka masala, $4.49

Multiple respondents raved about this frozen entrée, calling it “the best” store-bought chicken tikka masala on the market. Another crowd-pleaser, especially among vegetarians, is the paneer version.

6. Hatch Chile Mac & Cheese, $2.99

The smoky, spicy chiles are just what this creamy mac and cheese needs. Shout out to our honorable mention, TJ’s fall-friendly butternut squash mac.

Pantry & Snacks

Photo by Trader Joe's

7. Chili & Lime Flavored Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips, $2.99

These chips will leave an unnaturally bright red residue on your fingers, but the addictively spicy, tangy flavor is so worth it.

8. Fig & Olive Crisps, $3.99

These sweet and savory crackers are “a must” for charcuterie boards, according to at least three of our respondents.

9. Quinoa Stuffed Dolmas, $2.99

These dolmas are great to have on hand for a quick weekday lunch, last-minute picnic, or regular ol’ snack.

10. Ground Fermented Black Garlic, $2.99

Executive Director of Video Becky Horvath puts this savory, subtly sweet seasoning on “anything and everything.” The same goes for their Chili Lime Salt.

11. Hot & Sweet Jalapeños, $2.99

Elizabeth Spiridakis Olson, Food52’s Vice President of Creative, buys these jalapeños “three jars at a time” because they’re just that popular in her household. Don’t forget about the brine, which she recommends adding to tuna salad.

12. Organic Pitted Medjool Dates, $6.49

These jammy, sweet dates are well priced and make a great snack any time of day. Add them to smoothies, use them in baked goods, or eat them plain for a midday energy boost.


Photo by Trader Joe's

13. Unexpected Cheddar Cheese, $3.99

Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar is a favorite, and not just in its original block form—our respondents also love the shredded and spread versions.

14. Chevre With Honey, $2.99

It’s not the flashiest TJ’s product, but goat cheese and honey are a classic pairing that’s ideal for spreading on crackers or throwing in a salad.

15. English Cheddar With Caramelized Onions, $9.99/lb

Though Unexpected Cheddar gets the most hype, we also love this white cheddar infused with caramelized onions on everything from cheese plates to grilled cheese sandwiches.

Meat & Fish

Photo by Trader Joe's

16. Fresh Atlantic Salmon Boneless Fillet, $9.99

Trader Joe’s salmon is reliable and affordable, making it one of our favorite proteins for a quick weeknight dinner.

17. Shawarma Chicken Thighs, $6.99

Food52’s Associate Brand Strategy Manager Lindsey Green calls these marinated chicken thighs “soo easy and flavorful.”

18. Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage, $4.29

Trader Joe’s has offered these sausages since 2004—a major testament to their quality, especially considering how frequently the chain rotates its product selection.

Desserts & Sweets

Photo by Trader Joe's

19. Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, $4.49

Arguably the “best thing in the entire store,” at least according to CID Technician Lou Lanning, these peanut butter cups are easy to snack on by the handful.

20. Hold the Cone, $3.79

I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t like these bite-sized, chocolate-covered ice cream cones.

21. Scandinavian Swimmers, $3.49

TJ’s take on Swedish Fish, with flavors like peach-mango and huckleberry—need we say more?

22. Chocolately Coated Chocolate Chip Cookie Dunkers, $5.99

Paired with a coffee, we can’t imagine a better afternoon pick-me-up than a couple of these nostalgic dippers.

Disagree with our picks? Share your favorite TJ's products in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Anabelle Doliner

Written by: Anabelle Doliner

Staff Editor


BellesAZ April 13, 2023
Just bought the TJ's Organic Jumbo Cinnamon Rolls and baked them up this morning. 5 to a tube and honestly, I was pleasantly surprised. My husband loved them as he ate two! I expected not to like them because I love to bake breads and cinnamon rolls, but these were really delicious for a quick and easy breakfast treat. I only used 2/3 of the glaze for the top as we really don't like anything overly sweet at breakfast.. it was just the right amount.
sarakays93 April 13, 2023
A unique and informative article on this topic Moroccan sports