The 14 Best And Worst Snacks At Trader Joe's

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If you ever get bored with the foods that are in your refrigerator or food pantry, then it's time for a trip to Trader Joe's. The company is well known for providing the best and most diverse snack selection out there along with affordable prices. They pride themselves on being "a store full of unique and interesting products." You won't find a lot of branded items on their shelves; as a matter of fact, you might not find a lot of Trader Joe's products anywhere else at all. 

For that reason, your first trip to Trader Joe's might be a kid in a candy store experience, with new and classic grocery store foods at every turn just waiting to tantalize your taste buds. Sometimes trying new things can be an exciting adventure, however, sometimes it can just go very, very wrong. That's why we've sampled some classic Trader Joe's items and rounded up some of the best and the worst — because nothing is worse than sinking your teeth into a new snack and then throwing the rest of it away because you just can't take another bite, no matter how hard you try. 

1. Best Chips: Chili & Lime Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips

Trader Joe's employees lovingly refer to the brand's Chili & Lime Flavored Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips as "knockis," since they are clearly a knock-off version of the beloved Takis chips. The Trader Joe's website simply states that these chips could be "compared to similar snacks available elsewhere." We know. Everyone knows. The thing about these chips, though, is that they are made without the many artificial ingredients that come with Takis. 

Some less-then-desirable ingredients in Takis include monosodium glutamate (MSG), red 40 lake, yellow 6 lake, sodium bicarbonate, disodium inosinate, TBHQ, and natural and artificial flavors. The bright red coloring in Trader Joe's version doesn't come from artificial chemicals, but instead are sourced from natural ingredients, like vegetable juice concentrate, and paprika and turmeric extracts. The Trader Joe's chips also come without MSG and other hard-to-pronounce ingredients. They don't give us a stomach ache after snack time — like Takis do — either.

We found that the Trader Joe's Chili & Lme Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips had the perfect crunch to them. Plus, the flavor is a great balance of tangy, salty, and spicy. It's no so spicy that you won't hesitate to immediately grab one handful after another.

2. Worst Chips: Everything But the Bagel

Perhaps one of Trader Joe's most popular products is their Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend. They are obviously trying to capitalize on its success by creating several new products with this seasoning as the star. Trader Joe's carries "Everything But the Bagel" seasoned smoked salmon, nuts, crackers, and now these potato chips. Who knows what's next?

We can safely say that "Everything But the Bagel" seasoning does not need to be on everything, especially potato chips. The onion and garlic flavor is too overpowering and destroys the whole snacking experience. In fact, according to Trader Joe's reviews, one customer said, "It's hard to ruin a potato chip but somehow they did." They warned everyone in their office not to buy them. Another reviewer shared, "I love 'everything' bagels, and I like the Everything But the Bagel Seasoning that Trader Joe's sells, but, to me, those flavors just didn't go well with the chips."

On top of that, one Reddit thread that asks people to share the most disgusting thing they've ever tried at Trader Joe's had multiple commenters stating that it was the "Everything But the Bagel" seasoned potato chips, with one poster even calling them a "disservice." 

3. Best Dip: Mediterranean Style Hummus

Trader Joe's Mediterranean Style hummus is one of the most delicious hummus dips we've ever had, hands down. Some hummus sauces fall short in the texture or flavor categories, but this hummus delivers on all accounts. There's something really disheartening about really dry hummus — and trust us, they're out there.

The Trader Joe's variety is a traditional combination of garbanzo beans, tahini, oil, garlic, lemon, salt, and spices like red bell pepper, paprika, and rosemary. The texture is perfectly creamy and decadent, and even though the flavor is mostly just a classic hummus palate, the extra bits of olive oil, spices, and pine nuts sprinkled on top give it a nice touch. 

According to reviews on Fooducate, one customer bought this hummus for the first time after not one — but two — different Trader Joe's employees recommended it to them. Their thoughts? "Air high five, it's great!" Another reviewer shared that this hummus is their "favorite hummus of all time." It also gets rave reviews on Trader Joe's reviews, with some commenters also sharing that this is their all-time favorite hummus. One happy customer noted that it was the best hummus they've had, even including restaurant hummus. Those are some high praises. 

4. Worst Dip: Herbed Tahini Sauce

We wanted to like this dip, because it has a lot of good things going for it, like being vegan and gluten-free. Plus, it's made with no artificial ingredients and very simple, plant-based foods like tahini, water, parsley, garlic, salt, chile flakes, and citric acid. We tried to use this sauce as a dip with chips and carrots, as a spread in a wrap, on top of a burger, and as a side sauce to a protein bowl, but no matter how hard we tried, it just never really worked out or tasted good with a meal. 

It seems like the balance of ingredients in this dip are just off. It's hard to taste the tahini because there is just too much parsley, lemon, and garlic. One customer said, "While I appreciate the clean ingredients, this dip had such a bad aftertaste to me. It tasted fishy to me. It may have been the overload of herbs." Another buyer stated that it tasted too sour and implored others not to buy it, while adding, "Jeez lighten up on the citric acid and parsley." 

5. Best salsa: Salsa Autentica

Trader Joe's has a lot of delicious salsas to choose from, but this one comes out on top for a variety of reasons. First of all, it has just six simple ingredients: tomato puree, yellow chili peppers, salt, vinegar, dried onion, and garlic powder. No thickeners, no artificial ingredients, and no weird additives. Second, it truly tastes like authentic salsa that you would get at a Mexican restaurant. It works great as a dip, or on top of tacos, burritos, and breakfast. Plus, there's a touch of spice, but it's not so spicy that sensitive folks wouldn't touch this stuff. It's an all-around winner.

According to the Trader Joe's website, if an item doesn't sell well, they discontinue it. Salsa Autentica has been around for nearly three decades, so clearly, people are loving it. On Influenster, this salsa got an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 150 reviews. Many reviewers shared that this tasty and flavorful salsa is a staple in their home. 

6. Worst Salsa: Homestyle Salsa Especial Mild

The Trader Joe's Homestyle Salsa Especial Mild variety also has pretty simple ingredients — just like Salsa Autentica does — with only whole peeled tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro, salt, roasted red bell pepper, and oregano inside. The not-so-secret ingredient is chile de arbol powder, which gives it a hint of smokiness. We like the texture that the chunks of tomatoes and onions provide, but that's about where our enjoyment stops.

The downfall of this salsa is the oregano. Have you ever seen a traditional salsa recipe that contains oregano? No? That's because oregano really shouldn't be in salsa. On Trader Joe's reviews, almost all the reviews blame the addition of oregano for their bad experience. 

In fact, many customers compared this salsa to other tomato-based sauces, with one buyer jokingly saying, "There is still time to fix this mistake though — just slap a marinara label on it and you're golden." Just call it what it is. There's even an entire Reddit thread entitled: "TJ fresh salsa tastes more like Italian pasta sauce than salsa" featuring the notorious Homestyle Salsa Especial Mild. 

7. Best cookie: Chocolate & Peanut Butter Joe-Joe's

Trader Joe's is pretty infamous for being the place to go for all things sweet. It's well-known that the Trader Joe's dessert selection is overwhelmingly packed with so many mouthwatering options that it will make your head spin. That being said, it was nearly impossible to pick a favorite, which is why we narrowed the sweets category down to just cookies. If we have to pick just one, the Trader Joe's Chocolate & Peanut Butter Joe-Joe's are too good not to talk about. Maybe we're a sucker for peanut butter and chocolate, but this classic combination is hard to get wrong. 

This cookie is similar to an Oreo, except instead of a vanilla creme frosting center, peanut butter is nestled in between two chocolate flavored cookies. To top it all off, they then dunk the entire cookie in a creamy peanut butter candy coating and drizzle it with a little more chocolate. Yum. According to a Reddit thread featuring Joe-Joe's, one commenter described them as such: "Basically, you can consider this to be a Nutter Butter or Tagalong on steroids." Many other Reddit users shared that they can't buy these very often because they eat them too fast. Safe to say, they are delicious. 

8. Worst cookie: Ube Tea

Trader Joe's Ube tea cookies feature ube, a purple yam native to the Philippines, which is what gives these cookies their natural purple coloring. However, anyone who has tasted ube before can attest to the fact that these cookies are not it. In fact, according to a Reddit thread discussing the most disgusting products from Trader Joe's, one Reddit user states that the Ube tea cookies flavor is "so far off" from actual ube. 

The Amazon reviews of Trader Joe's Ube tea cookies are not flattering, either. Many reviewers reported that these cookies simply do not have ube flavor to them. A quick glance at the ingredient list shows the first two ingredients as powdered sugar and flour, with ube powder lower down on the list. The cookies even contain sweet potato flour, which is a far cry from ube flavor. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, ingredient lists are written in order of prevalence, meaning that the ingredients used in the greatest amount are listed first, followed by others that are used in smaller amounts. Sure enough, one user that gave a 1-star rating commented: "It's all flour and sugar — there is not ube flavor at all."

9. Best cereal: Barbara's Peanut Butter Puffins

Barbara's peanut butter puffins cereal has almost 1,000 reviews on Amazon, with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. It's safe to say that people dig it. There are a lot of great things about this cereal, including the fact that its ingredient list is minimal. It contains just nine simple ingredients, including corn flour, cane sugar, peanut butter, whole grain oat flour, rice flour, sea salt, baking soda, sunflower oil, and tocopherols. That means it's both vegan and gluten-free. According to one customer, "This cereal tastes like a healthier, less sweet, more crunchy version of Cap'n Crunch." This is a huge compliment in our eyes. Now you can revisit the nostalgia of your youth, while still eating healthy and not compromising flavor.

The texture of this cereal is perfect and it has a delectable crunch to it, even after it's been sitting in milk for a while. The flavor of peanut butter is there without being too overpowering. One reviewer reported that they have eaten this cereal both with and without milk, and they're delicious either way. Now that's a good cereal. 

10. Worst Cereal: Crunchy Almond Butter Puffs

As big fans of almond butter, we were disappointed in Trader Joe's Crunchy Almond Butter Puffs cereal. It seems like this cereal was an attempt by Trader Joe's to make a healthier version of General Mills' Cocoa Puffs — but we're not cuckoo over this variety. This cereal has a lot of good things going for it. For example, the ingredients are simple and clean, with just almond butter, rice flour, quinoa, brown sugar, powdered sugar, sunflower oil, cocoa, salt, cassava starch, and mixed tocopherols, which means it's gluten-free and vegan. As a matter of fact, almost half of the cereal is almond butter — a total of 40% of the recipe, according to the Trader Joe's website.

We really wanted to like this cereal because of how healthy — and nostalgic — it is. However, maybe it's just a little too healthy-tasting. The cereal goes beyond crunchy — like it's so hard that taking a bite poses quite the chewing challenge. According to a Reddit thread where users listed their least favorite Trader Joe's items, one person commented that the almond butter puff cereal is the worst thing they've ever had, saying it had "no flavor and they were so rock hard I'm sure they're a dentist favorite. Even let them sit in the milk for a while and they were still hard." That sentiment checks out to us.

11. Best Frozen Food: Dill Pickle Mini Falafel

If you love pickles as much as we do, then you're going to be floored by this Trader Joe's spin on the classic falafel. These bite-sized falafel balls are sprinkled with the same tasty seasonings you would find on a dill pickle: cucumbers, garlic, onion, dill, mustard, parsley, vinegar, salt, and black pepper. The falafels are already pre-made and frozen, and are ready to be popped in your oven or air frier. There's no need to try your hand at mixing powdered falafel with water and ending up with a mushy mess. Plus, they're gluten-free and vegan, so those with food allergies can enjoy them, too. 

They are perfectly crispy and crunchy on the outside, and satisfying soft and flavor-packed on the inside. They taste great on their own, set in a mezze platter, dipped in hummus, as a salad topper, or wrapped inside a pita. These tasty falafel balls are pretty close to what you would get at a classic Mediterranean restaurant, with a little extra flair.   

12. Worst Frozen Food: Kale Gnocchi

As expected, there are some hit-or-miss items when it comes to the Trader Joe's frozen foods section, but the one that tops our list as the worst is the Kale Gnocchi. While we appreciate the sentiment of adding vegetables to foods to increase your veggie intake, we just found this version of gnocchi to be bland and lackluster. 

Kale can be quite bitter and, as it turns out, it's a challenging addition to something like gnocchi. As a matter of fact, there is a whole Reddit thread entitled, "Kale gnocchi a miss," where one Reddit user opined that kale everything is a miss. Many other Reddit commenters said that they had to dress it up with sauces, oil, and spices to make it taste good. After some reflection, one Reddit user said, "Now that I say it, these are pretty high maintenance." If you're a gnocchi fan, do yourself a favor and skip trying this version.

13. Best Granola Bar: PB&J Bar

Granola bars are the ultimate snack. They fit in your pocket, purse, or backpack and are great for many occasions, from backpacking and camping to a pre-workout snack or simply something to hold you over until dinnertime. Trader Joe's PB&J bars are the store's tasty take on Kellogg's Nutri-Grain bars. However, unlike Nutri-Grain bars, the PB&J bars are gluten-free and dairy-free, which gives this bar major points in our book. The flavor is surprisingly delightful, and while it doesn't taste exactly like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it gets pretty close. 

Trader Joe's PB&J bars get 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon, with many customers commenting about how delicious they are. The only noteworthy complaint is that the outer layer of oats can get a little crumbly, so we don't recommend carrying this in your pocket too long before consumption. Luckily, that won't be a challenge — you'll probably want to eat it immediately, anyway.

14. Worst Granola Bar: Chocolate Chip Chewy Coated

Unfortunately, when we tried Trader Joe's Chocolate Chip Chewy Coated granola bars, we were utterly disappointed. The flavor isn't too terrible and the addition of chocolate chips really helps make this granola bar not taste like cardboard. We also like that they are made with somewhat healthy ingredients, like rolled oats and rice crisps. 

However, we found that the bars were super dry and to call them chewy is simply not true. We're not surprised that some Reddit users also agree. Posted on a Reddit thread that poses the question — "Any [Trader Joe's] products that you would not recommend?" — one user said that "The chocolate chip chewy granola bars are not just chewy, they're rock hard." They go on to note that the "texture is awful." A different Reddit thread claimed that they had a "horrible old funky feet type aftertaste." Umm, no thanks.