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What Should You Buy at Trader Joe’s? Here Are All of Our Must-Have Favorites

Trader Joe’s is a terrific place to shop for many different reasons. For starters, Trader Joe’s provides a huge selection of distinctive, high-quality goods at reasonable prices. No matter the diet, you can find meat, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options, and many of their products are organic. 

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Unfortunately, a lot of people are not taking advantage of Trader Joe’s fantastic selection of food. 

We’re here to help you discover everything you’re missing with a mega list of our favorite food selections from Trader Joe’s so the next time you’re on the go, you can pick up some snacks, meals and everything in between.

If you’re looking for additional food tips, check out these tips including, Get Months of Cheap Meal Kits With This Easy Trick, Your Health Is Wealth. Try Meatless Mondays to Save Money and 10 Tips for Budget-Friendly Meal Prepping (That’s Still Healthy).

Snacks

Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers

These are pretty straightforward corn chips with a respectable amount of heat and a touch of lime, but that combination is a genuine weakness of mine. Couple these chips with the Trader Joe’s Curry Chicken Salad and you’ve got a lunch with a ridiculous amount of flavor for not a ton of cash. — Russell Holly

Crunchy Salted Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a great healthy staple — I eat it for breakfast every morning. But commercial brands are loaded with unnecessary sugars and oils. (Even the so-called healthy versions). Usually you have to pay an arm and a leg for a jar of just ground peanuts — but TJ’s usually has it for under $2.30 a jar

I suppose you could get creamy, too, but I love the texture of the crunchy variety. — Dan Avery

Maple Leaf Cookies

When you grow up on the Canadian border, it’s easy to fall in love with all things maple. These leaf-shaped cookies, which are a product of our neighbor to the north, are reminiscent of treats I used to pick up in Ontario. Both the cookies and the cream sandwiched between taste like real maple syrup without being too sweet. Even better, my New York City-born kids don’t see the appeal so more for me. — Bree Fowler

Dark Chocolate-Covered Espresso Beans

I used to keep a jumbo container of these in my office for visitors. For coffee lovers who need a quick pick-me-up, there’s nothing better. The bitterness of the crunchy bean contrasts perfectly with the creamy dark chocolate coating. They’ll give you the zing you need to get through a long afternoon without having to perk a pot of your favorite brew. — Bree Fowler

Giant Peruvian Inca Corn

These are one of my favorite snacks to eat when everyone else has gone to sleep and I’m up late watching TV. The giant kernels, which put standard Corn Nuts to shame, have a corny, salty and greasy flavor kind of like Fritos, but offer a big, satisfying crunch. As a result, eating them can be a very loud activity even for the most demure snacker. So, unless you’re going to share a bag with a like-minded partner, they’re best consumed alone. — Bree Fowler

Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips Chili and Lime Flavored

My kids are obsessed with Takis — those brightly colored spicy corn treats that are, unfortunately, filled with artificial colors, preservatives and other nastiness. Trader Joe’s makes a similar snack that eliminates most of that garbage, but is still weirdly red thanks to vegetable-based food coloring and packs a punch that’s spicy and tart at the same time. My kids love them and so do I. — Bree Fowler

Mediterranean Style Hummus

My family goes through tubs of this stuff. It’s great on baguette slices, and a bit on bread spruces up an otherwise boring turkey sandwich. In my store, it’s just a few steps from the packaged cut-and-peeled carrots, so I grab both and have what I tell myself is a healthy snack when I get hungry between meals. — Clifford Colby

Fig & Olive Crisps

These square little crackers — made with flax, sesame and sunflower seeds — have a satisfying snap when you bite into them, and the pieces of dried figs and brined olives are a tasty sweet-and-savory complement to cheeses. Great with Trader Joe’s Mediterranean Style Hummus too (see above). If you are looking to mix it up, the Raisin Rosemary Crisps are just as good. — Clifford Colby

Trader Joe’s Corn and Chile Tomato-less Salsa and Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers 

In need of a tasty snack? This Trader Joe’s pair does not disappoint. One day when I was having an adventurous food moment, I stumbled upon these two in the isles. My life has been forever changed. The corn salsa is a balance between sweet and spicy. Each bite is like a burst of flavor goodness. Then to pair it with the corn chip dippers, it’s literally game over. The chips give you the savoriness you’ll want when eating the salsa. 

Honestly, whatever your chip and salsa experience was before, this will elevate it times ten. It’s so delicious and doesn’t cost a fortune. Each item is sold separately. The corn salsa goes for $3 and the corn chip dippers run for $2.69. So whether you host a gathering or go to one and need something quick to bring, I totally recommend these items. Trust me, it will be all the rave and where you got it from can be our little secret. — Arielle Burton

Mixed Nut Butter

I could go on and on about how much I love Trader Joe’s for removing decision fatigue from my grocery shopping experience; but for now, I’ll simply rave about the newest addition to their line of nut butters. The mixed nut butter is a blend of almonds, cashews, walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and pecans, with just a bit of sea salt. I usually have nut butter as a snack with sliced apples, drizzled over chia seed pudding, or spread over toast with bananas. I saw this product on the shelf a few months ago and decided to give it a try. Trader Joe’s niche products are usually a home run. But this particular nut butter is special. 

Each nut brings its own flavor profile to the table without overwhelming the palette. It’s seriously addictive. Since tasting it, I’ve sworn off all other nut butters. My fiancé and I currently have three jars in our pantry and are still worried about running out because last time we went to our neighborhood Trader Joe’s, it was out of stock. — Sophia Fox-Sowell

Pita Bite Crackers 

I grab a box of the sea salt version on every trip, but I still don’t know how they get these vegan-friendly crackers to have a buttery taste. They’re great to eat by themselves or when paired with something else like hummus or tapenade. — Kourtnee Jackson

Trader Jose’s Salsa Autentica

We go through one of these jars of red goodness every week or two in my house. Mild, saucy (not chunky) and delicious, it goes on scrambled eggs, quesadillas, hamburgers, TJ’s Mac and Cheese Balls and is, of course, a staple during taco Tuesdays. My first-grader son uses it more often than ketchup, and that’s saying something. Shout-out to the green tomatillo version too, which is also yummy but can get a little runny. Both together = Christmas glory. — David Katzmaier

See itCrunchy Curls 

Honestly, I feel like I need to add a disclaimer about how addictive Trader Joe’s Crunchy Curls are before I recommend them to someone. These ringed snacks are kind of like a pseudo-healthy chip, made of lentils and potatoes. They’re thick enough to carry flavor in every bite, but light enough so you can eat 40 of them in one sitting. At my T-Joe’s in New York, they’re also always sold out! So, I usually grab two or three bags when I am lucky enough to catch them in stock. — Monisha Ravisetti

Meals

Michael Jubinsky of Lyman, Oregon looks over a frozen food selection at the Trader Joe's in Portland

Trader Joe’s has snacks, meals and so much more inside.


Portland Press Herald / Contributor / Getty

Cascatelli pasta

Sure, there are cheaper noodles out there, but Cascatelli has two things going for it besides being tasty. First, it’s got a dramatic backstory, with Sporkful podcaster Dan Pashman creating a new shape, figuring out tooling and manufacturing, and finally securing a solid sales channel. More culinarily important, Pashman succeeded in his goal of designing a pasta shape that works well scooping up and glomming onto pasta sauce. Food engineering FTW. Stephen Shankland

Trader Joe’s Steamed Chicken Soup Dumplings

When you want something full of flavor and hot on a cold day, this is my go-to. For a frozen product that you have to warm up, it gives you the experience of a real soup dumpling. This product comes with six soup dumplings, is easy to prepare and is only $3.49 per box. A friend of mine recommended this to me and it has honestly been one of my favorite items to shop for when going to Trader Joe’s. 

If chicken is not your thing, no worries. Trader Joe’s has chicken and pork soup dumplings. Whether you go for the chicken or pork, each dumpling is power-packed with flavor. Each one inspired by the traditional preparation according to their website and they do live up to the hype. This is one of their bestsellers, so when you get a chance, snag what you can before they clear out of the freezer section. — Arielle Burton

Vegan Tikka Masala 

Many of the frozen Indian dinners at Trader Joe’s are what I eat at the office for lunch, and it’s because they are both delicious and frankly strategic for what I need in a quick meal. They contain a spicy yet tasty protein component, some rice and a sauce that provides a lot of flavor. If I have a tiny bit more time to mix in broccoli or cauliflower, I can also double the portion size without having to add too many additional calories. While the Vegan Tikka Masala is my personal favorite, I’m also big on the Lamb Vindaloo option when I want something more meaty. — Mike Sorrentino

Broccoli Slaw

Some prepared veggies aren’t worth the time saved, but Trader Joe’s broccoli slaw is. I love the extra crunch (not to mention the nutrients) it adds to a salad. And, let’s be honest, I’m not making my own slaw. — Karisa Langlo

Bagged Arugula

I don’t always find arugula at my usual grocery story, and when farmer’s market season ends, it’s nice to know I can pop into Trader Joe’s and grab a bag of it for a couple of bucks. I use arugula to add flavor to salads, but it also makes a great pizza topping.

Les Petites Carrots of Many Colors

Anything that makes eating vegetables a little more fun is a win for me. These “petites” are the size of a baby carrot with the look of a full-sized one, but without the need to get out your peeler. A bag includes orange, red, yellow, white and purple carrots, which is not only more fun but feels weirdly fancy. — Karisa Langlo

Soy Chorizo 

This spicy vegan and gluten-free meat alternative is always at the top of my Trader Joe’s shopping list. It’s packed with flavor and makes a great addition to rice bowls, salads, chilies and, honestly, pretty much anything you may be cooking. I occasionally use it to make vegan nachos for potluck parties, and even my meat-loving relatives rave about this tasty soy-based product. — Alexandra Garrett

Desserts

Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s (and all-things peppermint for the holidays)

Candy cane season is truly the most wonderful time of year at Trader Joe’s. And there’s nothing better than these knock-off Oreos that offer a sparkly pink, crunchy mint filling without the artificial colors and other chemicals. Even better if you can score a box of the dark chocolate-covered version. Looking for more decadence? Head to the freezer section for Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s ice cream. But you’d better act fast. Stores often run out of the limited-time treats long before Santa’s sleigh takes off on its annual voyage. — Bree Fowler

Mint chocolate chip ice cream

Trader Joe’s in-house ice cream is a winner. No hokey green food coloring or fake chocolate here. This is our family’s go-to option for a quick dessert. — Stephen Shankland

All Butter Puff Pastry Sheets

Sure, you can spend hours making your own puff pastry. Maybe you think you can take a shortcut and make rough puff pastry instead. Better, just grab Trader Joe’s All Butter Puff Pastry Sheets in the frozen food case and get on with your life. Unlike a lot of the puff pastries you find in big grocery stores, Trader Joe’s flaky and light pastry is made with butter, not oil — and you can absolutely taste the difference. But what about the expensive puff pastry dough made with butter you come across in high-end shops? Trader Joe’s flaky dough is way more affordable. Heads up: It’s usually available just around the holidays, so stock up. — Clifford Colby

Chocolate Croissants (Frozen Dough)

I’m a pretty good baker, but even I know croissants require commitment. This four-pack of large, frozen chocolate croissants takes about 25 minutes to bake after you’ve preheated the oven. You get a puffy, flaky, crispy layer of delicious dough encasing a tasty chocolate filling for the price of just one of the rubbery versions often found at your local coffee shop or supermarket. Note:. If you’re calorie conscious, proceed at your own risk. — Connie Guglielmo

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Like Reese’s but infinitely better, the TJ’s dark chocolate cups are the perfect combination of sweet and salty. These little cups are a good size for an after-dinner treat, and they come in a 16-ounce carton that’ll last you weeks (if you exercise some self-control). — Karisa Langlo

Hold the Cone Mini: Peppermint

Who doesn’t love a mini ice cream cone in delicious seasonal flavors? The peppermint flavor is super tasty and not overpowering like peppermint can sometimes be. You can also look like an absolute hero to your kid when they beg you for ice cream and you hand them this. Just enough to make them happy and not have them bouncing off the walls. — Danielle Ramirez

More

Florida, Miami Beach, Trader Joe's, grocery store, precut brussels sprouts, zucchini, green beans, carrots

Trader Joe’s has everything you’ll find in a regular grocery store, and more.


Jeff Greenberg / Contributor / Getty

Spicy Chai Tea Latte Mix

Setting aside the issue with calling it “chai tea” (it’s just chai, chai means tea) I find this mix one of the fastest ways to get some flavorful iced chai at home without sacrificing a ton of flavor. It’s also great when made hot, but served cold is my favorite by far. Way better than Starbucks, and saves you some cash in the process. — Russell Holly

Balsamic vinaigrette dressing

I make a salad nearly every day and have spent years trying to find a go-to dressing. I don’t like creamy ones drenched in fat and calories, but “lite” dressings taste like chemicals to me.

It was a blessed day when I found TJ’s balsamic vinaigrette — made with a few simple ingredients, it’s zesty enough to wake up the limpest lettuce but can also be enlivened with custom ingredients. (Sometimes I add Trader Joe’s orange champagne vinegar, or the Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend.)

They don’t even look at me funny anymore when I bring five or six bottles to the register. — Dan Avery

Everything but the Bagel Sesame seasoning blend

I went keto a while back, and finding a way to flavor meals without heavy sauces was tough. EBTB doesn’t just provide seasoning, it’s got great texture — a hearty crunch from black sesame seeds, sea salt and dried garlic and onion. And satisfies my bagel yen without all the carbs. It’s versatile enough that I add it to Italian, Chinese and Tex-Mex dishes. — Dan Avery

Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup

While I feel a little silly calling out ketchup as a must-buy, Trader Joe’s version is truly a step above the rest. Darker, richer and thicker than other grocery store varieties, it’s good enough to give me a strong opinion on ketchup. Whether it’s for topping burgers or dipping fries, Trader Joe’s moves ketchup from an afterthought to a feature. — Andrew Blok

Chimichurri Sauce

Not to be confused with Trader Joe’s yummy — and nearly identical — spicy Zhoug sauce, this green condiment is mild. It has a tangy flavor that comes through from cilantro, parsley, cumin and garlic, and works perfectly as a topper for veggies, sandwiches or anything else. — Kourtnee Jackson

Dukkah nut and spice blend 

This elusive and delicious blend can be a bit of a unicorn to find but when we do, we buy lots of it and squirrel it away. As it says on the label, grab some crunchy bread, dip in some olive oil and dig in. — Danielle Ramirez

Lavender Hand Sanitizer Spray 

I’m one of those people who’s never gotten COVID (at least I don’t think I have) and rightly or wrongly, I attribute this in part to this convenient, easy-to-use sanitizer spray. It’s quick dry and has an ethyl alcohol content of 74%, which more than meets the threshold for effective sanitizers. I carry several bottles , spraying my seat and trays on planes — and sometimes people who invade my personal space. I mist desks and tables when away from home. I use it frequently when I’m out and about (and certainly after someone shakes my hand.) I also gift it to family, friends, co-workers and on one memorable occasion, to a family with young kids sitting down to eat at the In-N-Out Burger near San Francisco airport. A perfect stocking stuffer for the times we live in. — Connie Guglielmo

Ultra Moisturizing Hand Cream

Trader Joe’s says this cream deserves the “ultra moisturizing” label because it’s made with “coconut oil, hemp seed oil, and 20% pure shea butter, along with essential fatty acids and skin-friendly antioxidants like vitamins C & E.” I didn’t test it in a lab, but my picky friends say this thick, paraben-and-fragrance-free cream is as good as some of the more expensive hand creams available at specialty shops. Which is why I now pair it with TJ’s sanitizer spray, moisturizer and their face mask in a spa gift bag for said picky friends. — Connie Guglielmo

Habanero Hot Sauce

This is my favorite hot sauce — not just at Trader Joe’s, but of every hot sauce I’ve ever bought. I’ve never been a huge fan of Tabasco or Cholula because they’re not exactly piquante and spicy, but thinner and more vinegar-ey. This Habanero condiment, however, doesn’t have an extreme vinegar base, nor is it borderline watery like Tabasco. But what really seals the deal for me is the fact that it also doesn’t just taste like pure spice without any flavor. You get Habanero vibes, and it truly matches any cuisine. I usually keep one or two bottles in my fridge. — Monisha Ravisetti

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