Why Aren't You Already Buying These Foods From Trader Joe's?

Hats off to Joe Coulombe, who opened the tropically-fun themed store named Trader Joe's in 1967, and changed grocery shopping forever. In the decades since, dedicated consumers have returned week after week to pick up some old favorites, explore new ones in the Fearless Flyer, and be checked out by the forever helpful "crew" members decked out in colorful Hawaiian shirts. A majority of the products on Trader Joe's shelves proudly carry the store's name, as they work directly with manufacturers and growers, which helps to maintain their friendly prices.

Some beloved Trader Joe products are staples, like Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning, Joe-Joe's, granola, and Cheese Bites, but some aren't meant to be, and are discontinued, much to the dismay of fans. However, there are many items at Trader Joe's that aren't as well known. Think of them as diamonds in the rough, ready to not only be discovered, but devoured. Let's break out our red shopping carts and answer the question, why aren't you buying these foods from Trader Joe's?

5 Cheese Greek Spiral

In the intersection of a scrumptious Venn Diagram pairing Greek food and geometrical shapes lies Trader Joe's 5 Cheese Greek Spiral. Gouda, kasseri, kefalotyri, semi-hard cheese, and blue cheese unite under the cover of filo dough to form this crunchy product imported from Greece. Even those of Greek descent agree that it's "the best frozen cheese pie they've had in the US" (via Insider).

Found in the freezer section, but "ready to bake and serve" utilizing its oven-friendly serving box that doubles as a tray, the 5 Cheese Greek Spiral is sure to warm up any meal. Enjoy its golden brown curves as is, or season things up a bit, as one fan does with spicy honey, basil and Za'atar seasoning. This product pairs well with some of Trader Joe's other Greek products, like gyro slices, dolmas, or (if you want to get even more flaky) spanakopita.

Autumn Maple Coffee

When everyone tires of the dog days of summer and starts to dream of the cooler and windy days of fall, which are filled with rustling leaves of red, orange, yellow, and brown, products that conjure up a similar seasonal sentiment start appearing on shelves. In the past decade, pumpkin spice has been sprinkled on everything from cereal to bagels to beer and, naturally (or unnaturally), to coffee. Trader Joe's is no shrinking violet when it comes to everything pumpkin, including coffee, but there's another option they offer that celebrates the season in a differently refreshing set of grounds — Autumn Maple Coffee.

Trader Joe's Autumn Maple Coffee is a light roast of 100% Arabica ground coffee, and comes in a box of a dozen K-cups or 14 oz bag form. On the bag, it spells out the charm it casts on its drinkers, "There's nothing cozier than a cup of coffee on a crisp, fall morning — except, of course, a cup of coffee infused with natural maple flavor. With this aromatic, autumnal blend of marvelously maple-flavored coffee, we've got seasonal coziness completely covered..."

With expiration dates that fall into the following year, one can keep the spirit of autumn alive well through winter and even into spring.

Baked Lemon Ricotta Cheese

Trader Joe's frozen desserts run the goody gamut from ice creams, macarons, bars to bites and all kinds of pies and cakes. One of their most beloved is their New York Deli Cheesecake, but there's another fine selection that is found in an entirely different part of the store — the cheese section. Trader Joe's Baked Lemon Ricotta Cheese is sadly only available during the winter holidays, but we all need another reason to look forward to that season every year, right?

Hailing from southern Italy, lemons in the form of sweet paste, peel, and extract mix with curd and sugar to create "a delightful sweet & tart combination of ricotta & lemon," as the packaging states. However you slice it, it tastes like lemon cheesecake, and can be had during a meal, after, or even for breakfast the next day. In the shape of a slice and the size of about a 1 inch cube, the Baked Lemon Ricotta Cheese is less of an investment than Trader Joe's cheesecake, and perhaps even more of a treat.

Buffalo Style Chicken Dip

Thanks to the fine folks of Buffalo, New York, appetizers were never the same after their spicy spin on chicken wings were introduced in the city by Lake Erie in the 1960s (via USA Today). It's hard to imagine a Super Bowl party without them, where 1.42 billion were estimated to have been consumed during 2022's contest, per the National Chicken Council, dipped in blue cheese dressing, and palette cleansed with a side of carrots and celery. Over the years, Buffalo chicken has even evolved beyond the bones, with one of its grandest iterations being the Buffalo Chicken Dip, and Trader Joe's saves you the trouble of having to follow a recipe.

Trader Joe's Buffalo Style Chicken Dip is described as combining "the lip-smacking tang of chicken wings with oozing, melty cheese in an easy-to-scoop dip," but their version differs a bit from the usual recipe (via Frank's Red Hot). Out are ranch dressing and blue cheese, and in are sour cream, and Monterey Jack cheese, and when heated up, one wouldn't even notice there is a difference when you're scarfing it down with chips or the old reliable combo of carrots and celery.

Cubano Seasoned Wrap

Prepared foods with short shelf lives may prevent some long term Trader Joe shoppers from trying some of their quality grab and go options (bad reviews and health concerns have sunk some of those such items, like it did with sushi). However, their own pret-a-manger (ready to eat) sandwich section offers many fine choices, with the Cubano Seasoned Wrap being the best of the lot.

Sandwiched together within a flour tortilla, roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, and mustard team up for a Latin flavor explosion. The Cubano origin is muddled, but the "mixto" sandwich is believed to be born of its namesake island, and "curated" by immigrants who settled in Tampa Bay (via NPR). Regardless of the who and where, everyone agrees it's best devoured when heated up. A microwave is suitable, but an air fryer or some sort of kitchen grill press will make you feel like you're in Cuba by way of Florida.

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Pretzel Nuggets

Pretzel nuggets have been around since the 1980s, and while there are a couple who lay claim to its invention, (via NPR), there is no question that one of the best and most popular bags are the peanut butter ones sold at Trader Joe's. When almond butter became a hot new fad, naturally one of the next nugget products was filled with them. Recently they upped their pretzel nugget game even more so by introducing Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Pretzel Nuggets, which has had fans swooning for them ever since they hit shelves.

With a Tiffany blue front package, and a mustard yellow back, Trader Joe's details them as "a dance of savory and sweet: the marriage of creamy almond butter wrapped in a salty pretzel, with a luxurious dark chocolate coating." Also pictured are a piece of dark chocolate dancing with a pretzel, further illustrating their yummy point of this holy union of varied flavors.

Everything But The Bagel Seasoned Smoked Salmon

Thanks to David Gussin the "everything bagel" joined the lexicon in the 1980s, and went on to be one of the most popular delightful doughy breakfast picks ever since. And thanks to Trader Joe's and their cherished Sesame Seasoning, "Everything but the Bagel" has become a phrase that pays, having graced many of their other products, like kettle-cooked potato chips, bite sized crackers, and a nut duo. Wade on over to their sea-section for a catch of the day, or any day – Everything But The Bagel Seasoned Smoked Salmon.

The farm raised, pre-sliced "brunch-ready treat" is indeed sprinkled with Everything but the Bagel Seasoning, and doesn't even require a bagel itself to be enjoyed. Alas, the folks at Trader Joe's encourage one to push things to the limit, saying, "You can even top a freshly toasted, cream cheese-covered 'everything' bagel with a slice or two — because who doesn't want a little more of everything?"

Kentucky Bourbon Straight Whiskey

Trader Joe's resides in 42 states and the District of Columbia, but not all are welcome homes to their branded fine lines of beer, wines, and spirits. Based on state laws, the options can either be prohibited, limited, or limitless, per The Washington Post. Most restricted of the three are sales of liquor, but for a dozen or so states of the Union, they are lucky to have Trader Joe's play middleman for customers looking for moderately priced libations.

Gin, tequila, vodka, scotch, and rum are bottle-ready to be of service in Trader Joe's liquor section, and since this is America, naturally Kentucky Bourbon Straight Whiskey joins them there. Rumored to be from the Buffalo Trace distillery, Trader Joe's bourbon is aged for a minimum of 5 years and scored an 84 by Whiskey Advocate. In a review by the Seattle Times its described as "everything you look for in a basic bourbon," and at its price point, "a steal." Sip neat, up, or on the rocks, or mix things up a bit by concocting a spiked strawberry lemonade with this super solid whiskey.

La Fondue

Fondue in some form dates back to Homer's "Iliad," and for centuries went on to wine and dine its way to eventually becoming the national dish of Switzerland by 1930 (via BBC). The swirling pot filled with various Swiss cheeses, white wine, and cornstarch among other ingredients became a hit in America during the 1960s and 1970s, when everyone seemed to be throwing a fondue party (via Newspapers).

Trader Joe's loves to help its customers throw a party, even if it's just a party of two, or even one, and their La Fondue gets everyone to the gooey fun so much quicker, without the use of a pot and burner. Under their "Trader Jacques" banner, La Fondue, made with Emmental, Comté and Gruyère cheeses, is ready to eat within 5 minutes, thanks to the only heating instruction method listed on the back — the microwave. While that may sound like a total fon-don't, give into the seasonal deliciousness that surprisingly awaits, and be sure to pick up some Trader Joe's items to dip with, like cornichons, French bread or apples. Fondue forks are optional, but recommended!

Marcona Almonds

Trader Joe's has an excellent nut section, but none within that aisle may be nuttier, nor more delectable than these ones, which will make you never think about almonds the same again — Marcona almonds. These heart shaped pleasures don't hail from where 80% of the world's almonds do (California), but across the pond in Spain. Known as the "queen of almonds," Marcona has been a hit with American culinary scene since the turn of last century, with chef and food historian Maricel Presilla saying that they have "a beautiful clean flavor," and are "the epitome of a milky nutty flavor," per The New York Times.

The chain offers two roasted and salted, bagged options — Marcona Almonds with Rosemary and Truffle Marcona Almonds. Either are solid choices that bring a bit of crunch to spruce up any cheese, butter, or charcuterie board, and perhaps even be the standout star of them.

Organic Dark Chocolate Half-Coated Rice Cake Thins

Rice cakes aren't usually an item many reach for as a snack or even an after dinner dessert, but that thought doesn't apply to a certain one they sell at Trader Joe's. Leave it to the Belgians to assist in making rice crackers irresistible with the Organic Dark Chocolate Half-Coated Rice Cake Thins. Those eight words tell you all you need to know about them, and don't leave much to the imagination.

No cutting corners here, as these rice cakes are square in shape, hip in taste, and won't bring a blow to your pocketbook. Eight come in a pack, and these sneaky good organic thin puff rice cakes are also gluten free and kosher, making them perfect for any guest or friend who may walk through your door. And at 60 calories a cake, feel free to remove the word "guilty" from the front of this "pleasure."


Grapefruits can be an acquired taste, with some finding them too tart to the tongue, but there's a lesser known, sweeter family member alternative that originally hails from the tropical climates of southeastern Asia and can be found (in season) in Trader Joe's economical fruit stands — Pomelos. This yellow-skinned fruit is one of the biggest from the citrus family (hence the scientific name Citrus maxima, via Missouri Botanical Garden), and is also known as the Chinese grapefruit, shaddock, jabong, pulemo, or pompelmous, per the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Trader Joe's doesn't even need to bother importing Pomelos from Asia, as they carry ones grown right here in America, from the likes of Florida Starburst Pummelos and Sunkist. The oblong fruit has much appeal past its peel, as it is high in antioxidants, Vitamin C, and Folic Acid, yet is less acidic than the grapefruit. Available only from September or October until early January, one has a limited window to indulge with the sweet Pomelo, and the many things you can do with one.

Soft-Baked Sunflower Butter Cookies

The word cookie is Dutch in origin, per Merriam-Webster, and has made a lot of dough for United States bakeries and retailers. Trader Joe's doesn't always follow the cookie cutter mold of others, and has so many other crumbly offerings, with standards like Joe-Joe's or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dunkers. One underrated box that is bright in color, and also unassuming in greatness, is Trader Joe's Soft-Baked Sunflower Butter Cookies.

"Sun" is the name of fun here, as these soft beauties are made with sunflower butter and topped with sunflower seeds, combined with cane sugar, dates, and pear juice concentrate to create a sun-sational cookie similar to a pecan sandie. While the product has shoppers divided, this is another Trader Joe's gem that suits any palate and keeps in mind various dietary restrictions, being gluten free, vegan, and kosher, as well as being free of tree nuts, soy or sesame.

Soft Licorice Twists (Strawberry or Black)

For decades, America's options for licorice, both black and red, have mostly been limited to Twizzlers and Red Vines. For those that were seeking something with less of a factory feel, specialty candy shops offered imported kinds from places like Denmark, the Netherlands, and Australia, but prices by weight made it more of a rare treat than a weekly one. Thanks to Trader Joe's, delicious imported licorice is now more accessible and affordable than ever.

Trader Joe's Soft Licorice Twists is one of the store's own self-proclaimed "sleeper hits," and they are happy to promote that these candies are made by a family-owner confectionery in New Zealand that are "made with real licorice root, not artificial flavors." The black ones are made with molasses along with natural flavors from aniseed oil. The strawberry ones include licorice extract, which they note is "a rare ingredient to find in strawberry or other red fruit-flavored licorice candies."

The brown bags are usually right there to pick up as one waits in line to check out. Why not even rip open the bag and down a few before the cashier's number is called. With its large pocket-friendly size, it can easily be your date for a trip to the movies, too!

Soup Dumplings (Pork or Chicken)

Inspired by the Xiaolongbao of the Jiangsu province of China, Trader Joe's lets you stow away your passport and travel just by simply opening your freezer door and grabbing a box of their Steamed Pork & Ginger or Chicken Soup Dumplings. The chicken edition was the very first they brought to market, and its slurpy fun nature warranted the release of a second — the pork dumplings, which is what traditional Xiaolongbao are filled with.

Six come to a box, and are easily microwaved in the handy tray that it comes with. However, you can make it a little more authentic by steaming them over the stove, or even in a bamboo basket from which they got their original name. Be warned, though, these little dumplings pack a punch, as well as hot liquidy soup, so things can get a bit messy when transferring them with a pair of chopsticks from plate to mouth.

Super Seedy Cheese Snack Bites

Imagine if two of Trader Joe's most popular items — Cheese Bites (in those ubiquitous, yet beautiful yellow bags) and Everything But The Bagel (EBTB, to those in the know) Sesame Seasoning — merged to form an even more voracious snack food. Imagine no more as they pretty much did just that with their Super Seedy Cheese Snack Bites. These new items actually don't share much of the "everything" seasonings besides black sesame seeds, but sprinkling in sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, puffed quinoa, and whole black peppercorns on top of the crunchy parmesan bites will give off the illusion of such a titanic mighty merger.

Like their forerunners, the Super Seedy Cheese Snack Bites come in a handy dandy resealable bag, but they are so addictive that you may not even need to reseal the bag. The bites are perfect for a quick snack, a salad or soup topper, or even to add a little crunch to a sandwich.