The Best and Worst Products at Trader Joe's Volume 2

Readers weigh in with their favorite product picks


The team behind What's Good at Trader Joe's? have been reviewing and rating the store's best and worst products since August of 2010. Twice this year, they ranked some of the 130 products they reviewed in different categories from Top 5 Vegetarian to "Worst. Stuff. Ever."

The rankings set off comments from fans and haters alike who weighed in with their own picks. Favorites include nut mixes, dips and chips, chocolate nut candies, soups, smoked fish, olives, pre-cooked grains, and frozen food. Things that didn't fare so well? Asian food, cheese, and fish.

Highlights have been noted below along with tips and readers' ideas for using some of their favorite products. There's also a list of products that readers wish Trader Joe's would bring back. Think some great or terrible products were missed? Join the debate. For more reviews of Trader Joe's check out the following articles.

The Best and Worst Products at Trader Joe's

What's Good At Trader Joe's?

 

Readers' Favorite Trader Joe's Products

Cheese Puffs: Not too much air, and good for making casseroles.

Nacho Cheese Tortilla Chips: Unless you get a rare bag without enough tasty orange powder on the chips, they're waaaay better than Doritos! I don't know how they do it without the MSG. It's good that i don't live a block from a Trader Joe's anymore or I'd eat a bag or two every week!

Lime and Chili Mixed Nuts: Truly great, I am addicted and have addicted many other people.

Dark Chocolate Almonds: To die for! Big Time.

Dark Chocolate Almond Bark: Their Dark Chocolate Almond Bark is a treat I look forward to during the winter season each year.

Gluten-Free Cranberry/Maple Granola: Really delicious. I go to Trader Joe’s just to buy this and the Lime and Chili nuts!

Bohemian Lager: It’s great, try cooking your beef with it.

Spicy Ranchero Egg White Salad: Low enough stats to be "diet food" but addictively delicious!

Broths:They have the best, best, best broths of anyone. Believe me, I used to make my own.

Sweet Potato Fries: The sweet potato fries are great! You almost have to overbake them and they will be light and crispy.

Frozen Teriyaki Chicken and Asian Veggies: A must for a quick freezer meal.

Turkey Bolognese: A handful of mushrooms, some fresh basil, and a half can of tomatoes stretches it to feed four people.

Precooked Wild Rice: Sauté mushrooms in butter, add the rice, and a quarter cup of chicken or veggie stock, stir until the rice is hot and the liquid absorbed, and add a handful of chopped cilantro and a chopped scallion. It makes a nice side dish.

Smoked Fish Products: These are the trout fillets, sardines, herrings in the cans. They are wonderful products. You can’t beat them for high food that’s high in protein and of great quality.

Precooked Brown Rice: Amazing, perfect, and only takes TWO minutes in a microwave to prepare. Can’t beat it with a stick.

Gluten-Free Brownie Mix: Is VERY good, especially for a gluten-free product.

Frozen Fruit: Is very good quality and can almost pass for fresh when thawed.

Frozen Chocolate Croissants: Amazing.

 

 

Readers' Most Reviled Trader Joe's Products

Dried Pistachios: Pieces are hard and are such a poor quality I'm afraid my teeth will chip.

Seaweed Snacks: Thought they were disgusting, even if the price is appealing.

Cheese: Cheese is scary as all Trader Joe’s. They tend to mold after a week, which I've complained about for 10 years because it means that they're NOT cleaning their cutting surfaces. There's nothing like a little Stilton mold in your Cheddar or Swiss. The employees agree, but nothing's ever been done about it.

Seafood: I'm delighted with all the smoked-fish products. The red salmon is great too, but I didn't like the pink boneless salmon -- no flavor and overcooked. Please keep working on no-salt-added foods. Half the world needs more of them.

Japanese Food: Generally sucks, as their vendors overuse rice vinegar (sushi) to keep the rice moist while refrigerated and the fried pieces are well, soggy and over fried (greasy).

Hold The Cones: A mini ice cream cone, is horrible.

 

Readers’ Wish List: Bring Them Back

Honey Wine: I wish Trader Joe's would stock it again. According to my local store, they did so briefly and no one seemed interested. In this case, Trader Joe's was ahead of its time.

Lemon Pound Cake: I miss their lemon pound cake which has been gone for a year or so!

Marsala Sauce: I MISS their Marsala sauce (they discontinued), but I remain hopeful they bring it back!

Tri-Tip: Don't get the tri-tip. It was horrible. Any site that rates food is going to be subjective to the authors taste. Why bother?

Peach and Blueberry Panna Cottas: They have discontinued the Peach and Blueberry Panna Cottas (at least on the East Coast), with "no plans to bring them back." I am very sad, have registered my complaint with the company and hope others will do the same.


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594 Comments

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One product I really miss is their dark chocolate hazelnut peanut butter, it is so much better than Nutella, as it has purer ingredients.

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I stopped going out of my way to get to TJ's when they dropped their Dark chocolate covered cranberries.

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Trader Joe's used to carry giant frozen strawberries dipped in white chocolate. Yum-Yum. Please bring that item back.

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Please bring back the vegetarian brown rice bowl (frozen). It was great for bringing to work for lunch!!

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Bring back Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce.

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Bringa back the papadums (c. 2006)!

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Edit: Papadum Chips

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Their creme brulee was amazing!! Haven't seen it in a long time... Also the fresh (in the refrigerated section by the dips) butternut squash soup and tomato basil soup were so good!

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TJ used to have a boysenberry juice, I think they called it "boysenberry compote". I bought that all the time. After moving to Prescott, I would drive into Phoenix just for it. Alas, it's been gone from the shelves for some time. I wish it could come back. The "Blackberry Crush" is good, but Boysenberry is the King of berries and it was much better. Now I understand how difficult it is to handle boysenberries on a commercial scale, I grow them myself, but oh please TJ, if you could get it again! And then have it in your new Prescott store that is under construction even as I write, I would sweep the floors and wash out the dumpsters!

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I miss the Cranberry Popsicles, and ask for them every time I'm there.

cinjero's picture

I really miss the liquor cakes by Kuchen Meister that TJ use to stock during the Christmas holidays. The rum and amaretto cakes were terriffic!

cinjero's picture

I dearly miss Trader Joes Christmas liquor cakes.
The rum, amaretto were really terriffic!
I think it was made by Kuchen Meister.

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wasabi cashews? what happened to these delicious treats?

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One more item I wish they brought back is the Oriental Chicken Salad Dressing in the refrigerated section.
It was the best, and I am still searching for second best.

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Try Feast From the East Sesame Dressing, you can get it at Costco. I don't normally even like this type of dressing but I LOVE this one.

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Really miss the Kosher half sour pickles.

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Used to have dried mangosteen, dragonfruit, and rhumbatan. They were wonderful!! I miss them so much!!!

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bring back the jarred clam creamy sauce

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Please bring back the 1000 Layer Crackers. The flavor and texture of these little individually wrapped snacks was so delightfully complex, multi-layered. Must be where the name came from!

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Please bring back the fresh Lemon zest/artichoke pesto without PARMESAN! the new, proprietary version has way too much cheese. Why add animal fat to the perfect spread? I prefer my animal fat where it is really needed!!!

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They used to have the most wonderful Mud Pie made by another company...they discontinued it and now make their own, which is awful....it was the only item I've ever returned the TJ's.
Love the raspberry/vanilla frozen bars, the frozen brown rice, frozen orange chicken, apple blossoms.....I love their cheeses and agree their bread molds quickly!

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Please bring back the "Hibiscus Flower Snack" dark red & dried.Great
to chew on & slightly sweet.An easy non-fattening snack or desert.

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I always said, Trader Joe's is the Building 19 of food--you never know what will be in the store. One week you look for honey and find two full shelve racks, top to bottom, with Mesquite Honey and nothing else. Then a couple months later its only one shelf.

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The soy/flax seed chips are such a nice healthy snack with some low fat cheese [not from TJs] or a dip...such as their red pepper eggplant spread. YUM. I dont know what I would eat at work as a snack. Pretty low sodium in a serving, too. Their Atlantic Smoked Salmon at about a buck an oz is a very good deal and very good flavor. I personally think they should just give up the fresh meats and fresh vegetables.....their lemons, for instance, spoil in about 2 days. Tomatos too. yuck

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I have returned spoiled fresh meats to Trader Joes on numerous occasions, and brough home cheese that had mold inside the slices as well. Yuck.

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I miss the Fage whole milk Greek yogurt. They carry only the 2% and non-fat - and not as good

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Go to Costco

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I think this a Great! store even though I don't shop there all the time.
When I do, I think the personnel are Great!, they know everything and they are just sooooo helpful, "all" of em, no matter what department you're in. The prices are not bad either, beats that "other" strore.
Mandy, San Jose, CA

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wish they would bring back the fruit sauces beyond applesauce. don't know why they took them off the shelves.

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It's amazing to some who work for Tj's like myself and we read these negative posts about the company from people who haven't or from some disgruntled sad sack who got fired. All because they were asked to work for their paycheck and they didn't like that option so they decided Tj's was a horrible oppressing company that has the audacity to try and be socially and fiscally responsible. So they tell lies. My question is, if Tj's was such a horrible place to work, why haven't they moved on? Because they know they were in the wrong. Tj's is a great place to work and those that say different are either lying or they have nothing to compare it to and are in the process of removing the silver spoon from their arse.

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