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Every year, Trader Joe’s surveys shoppers on their favorite purchases across multiple categories. This year, those are “overall,” “entree,” “vegan/vegetarian,” “sweet treat,” “snack,” “beverage,” “produce,” “cheese” and “home, bath and beauty.”
The results for 2020 are in, and we’ve got the scoop on products customers love the most. It’s important to note that some winners are seasonal, and availability on permanent items is subject to change — especially after everyone runs out to get each item on this list.
Butter and sage elevate this twist on classic gnocchi. Instead of regular potato, this version employs sweet potato, a welcome substitute even in the fry universe. Chrissy Teigen actually makes a homemade version with brown butter, but this gem goes from freezer to plate in under 10 minutes and you can’t beat that.
It may not be quite as good as what you’ll find at the best Indian restaurants, but Trader Joe’s butter chicken slays a South Asian craving. This coveted freezer meal features a liberal helping of chicken in a spicy tomato cream sauce and basmati rice. The meat and rice are separated into their own compartments so, while they’re meant to be eaten together, you can add one to the other on your own accord.
Skip the slow cooker, because chicken tikka masala has long been a freezer-aisle favorite at Trader Joe’s. The TV dinner boasts chunks of roasted chicken in a creamy, mildly spicy, tomato-based curry sauce and a side of cumin-flavored basmati rice ready to be eaten as is or sopped up with warm naan.
It takes less than 10 minutes to whip up this no-thaw plant-based meal. Saute on the stovetop for crispy pillows of deliciousness. You can also boil or microwave if you prefer them extra tender. Last but not least, toss with butter, pesto or your favorite pasta sauce. Molto bene.
Mandarin orange chicken is the hottest entree at Trader Joe’s. The frozen meal is best plated with rice and steamed vegetables, but it also works as a stress-free appetizer. Grab some toothpicks and boom, you’ve hacked your way to quick and easy dinner party hors d’oeuvres.
Because mandarin orange chicken is so popular, TJ’s went ahead and made sure that everyone can enjoy it. Chicken-less Mandarin “Orang” Morsels are plant-based and, even though they’re made from fake meat, they taste just as good if not better than your local Chinese takeout.
The cowboy quinoa veggie burger is formed from multi-color quinoa, black beans, corn, red peppers and savory seasonings. Forgo the microwave (unless you want a puck of mush) and bake this bad boy in the oven for optimal crisp. Serve on a brioche bun with the toppings of your choice (maybe a cheeky sandwich-sliced pickle), and you’ve got yourself a next-level burger.
Pesto is divine, but vegans can’t enjoy the classic recipe because it’s made with Parmesan cheese. TJ’s plant-based version is a simple blend of kale, cashew butter and basil mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, water, garlic, salt and pepper. This vibrant, versatile spread pairs perfectly with pasta, but can also be used as a dip for crackers or crudites.
This soy-based faux chorizo is beloved by carnivores and meat-free eaters alike. All it takes is five to eight minutes of sauteing in a stovetop skillet, and the rest is up to you. Dress it up in a bun with peppers and onions for easy eating or chop it up and throw it into taco shells.
There are just five ingredients to this vegan-friendly dish: cauliflower, cassava flour, potato starch, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. Find it in the freezer section of your local Trader Joe’s for $2.69 per bag.
This is the store-bought version of that summertime favorite dessert you bought from the neighborhood ice cream truck when you were just a young buck. The sweet treat combines a good amount of vanilla ice cream smack-dab between two chocolate chip cookies that’s then rolled in more chocolate chips.
Danish kringle is a large, oval-shaped pastry filled with fruits, nuts, sweet cheese and other various ingredients. It’s also coated in icing. Trader Joe’s offers rotating seasonal flavors like raspberry, pumpkin, almond and pecan, all made by O&H Bakery in Racine, Wisconsin.
This mini sweet features a crispy sugar cone lined with chocolate. The creamy vanilla ice cream gets coated in chocolate too, creating a perfect crunch on the first bite. It’s like an itty bitty version of Nestle’s Drumstick, a nostalgic childhood treat.
These dark chocolate peanut butter cups are more sophisticated than your average Reese’s. With plenty of real peanut butter coated in quality dark chocolate, a whole bucket of these bites costs less than $5. No wonder they’re this year’s award winner for most popular sweet treat, and one of the best Trader Joe’s desserts of all time.
These crispy, thick-cut tortilla chips are made from rolled, baked and fried stone-ground corn masa. Much like the delicious dust on Cheetos and Doritos, they’re generously covered in hot chili and lime seasoning for a near-perfect combination of spice and zest.
If Tostitos Scoops and Fritos had a baby, this would be it. Elote is an iconic street food in Mexico and cities around the U.S. It’s corn on the cob slathered with crema, grated cheese (usually cotija) and chili powder with a spritz of lime juice. This chip from Trader Joe’s takes all those flavors and packs them into a vessel for salsa, queso and other irresistible dips.
With a name like that, how could you not add this to your shopping cart? Trader Joe’s light and airy white cheddar corn puffs are made from cornmeal and real white cheddar cheese. Two and a half cups is just 130 calories, which sounds way better for you than the unhealthiest junk foods at the grocery store.
Peanut butter filled pretzels are often regarded as the one Trader Joe’s snack people love the most, but this year they claim second place. The crave-able, crunchy munchie features a crisp pretzel shell stuffed with creamy peanut butter. It’s sweet and salty, and an entire pound costs just $1.99.
If you’re not on board with these chips, well, you should be. Plantains are a close relative of bananas, but they’re starchier and, while technically a fruit, taste more like a root vegetable. TJ’s sources its slightly sweet plantain chips from Peru, and cooks them in sunflower oil. The original variety gets a dusting of salt, but there’s also a really good Jamaican jerk variety. At just $1.79 per 6-ounce bag, they’re a low-cost, healthier alternative to most of the top potato chip brands.
Charles Shaw is a true Trader Joe’s staple. The wine — widely known as “Two Buck Chuck” — is famously inexpensive at $1.99 per bottle (though the price increased by a dollar at all locations outside of California). Varieties include cabernet sauvignon, white zinfandel, merlot, cabernet, chardonnay and others. A low price from a brand you can trust is just one reason to have a glass of wine every day. Here are 20 more.
Every fall, Trader Joe’s resurfaces its spiced cider. The seasonal juice is made with flavorful apples, cinnamon, allspice and cloves with citrus in the aftertaste. Enjoy it hot or cold, or add it to oatmeal for a festive take on an iconic breakfast food.
During the holiday season, shoppers can expect to find green and red bottles of TJ’s triple ginger brew on store shelves. The carbonated, non-alcoholic drink isn’t your average soda. The vintage-inspired bottle with a swing-top closure contains just enough ginger to leave your tongue tingling in the best way.
The Honeycrisp apple is a cross-breed between crisp Macoun and sweet Honeygold. Since its debut in the 1960s, it’s become one of America’s favorite apple varieties. Trader Joe’s Honeycrisp apple cider is a seasonal beverage that typically comes back in the fall.
As plant-based options grow in grocery stores across the nation, oat milk continues to shine. Trader Joe’s has not one, but two non-dairy oat beverages — a 1-quart shelf-stable container and a 2-court refrigerated carton. Both are slightly sweet, smooth and totally vegan. Add it to a bowl of cereal or use it in place of creamer for your coffee.
Whole Brussels sprouts deserve the same respect as their shaved counterparts. Throw them on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil before baking them in the oven to desired crispiness. Eat as is or toss with something fun, like feta, because the more cheese you have in your life, the merrier.
Priced at just 19 cents each, no matter how big or small, Trader Joe’s bananas are an incredible bargain — and the reason behind it is a good story. It all started when an elderly woman browsed the then-packaged banana bunches, but walked away empty-handed. An onlooking manager asked why she didn’t put one in her cart, and she answered, “Sonny, I may not live to that fourth banana,” so they’ve been sold separately for 19 cents each ever since.
Unsurprisingly, the most popular item in the Trader Joe’s produce department is the avocado. This lovely green fruit is tasty on its own or with a sprinkle of sea salt, but versatile enough to add depth to many meals. From guacamole and tacos to deviled eggs and margaritas, there are so many things you didn’t know you could do with avocado.
Did you find this at an artisan cheese shop or your local Trader Joe’s? This pretty, seasonal cheese is made fresh from pasteurized goat’s milk and dried cranberries. The base is creamy and tangy, while the fruit provides contrasting texture and sweetness. A log of cranberry chèvre and baguette sounds like the ultimate party crowd-pleaser.
Vanilla isn’t the first flavor we’d think to pair with goat cheese, but it works because this product is Trader Joe’s fourth most popular fromage. Like its cranberry counterpart, it also gets fruit (blueberry) and goes great with crackers, toast or salads for all seasons.
Wine and cheese go together like peanut butter and jelly, so naturally, this works because it’s wine-soaked cheese. This creamy aged Toscano starts nutty and finishes with notes of melted butter. In between, you’ll find notes of bold syrah, like blackberry and plum jam, which are more prominent as you move toward the deep-purple, edible rind.
Onions and cheese are key elements to the perfect cheesesteak, and we imagine this cheese as being the foundation of a perfect roast beef sandwich. Trader Joe’s English cheddar with caramelized onions is creamy with sweet and savory notes from the onion. We also bet that this pairs well with a bubbly glass of Champagne.
Since Unexpected Cheddar took fifth place in the overall category, we were definitely expecting it in the cheese slice (no pun intended). Try this Trader Joe’s customer-favorite with a glass of rosè, pinot noir or any of the 101 best beers in America.
What you might not know about Trader Joe’s is that along with grocery items, it also sells home, bath and beauty products. This water-based, fragrance-free, paraben-free gel moisturizer is made with aloe leaf juice, green tea, birch leaf and milk thistle extracts, plus sodium hyaluronate (a form of hyaluronic acid). A 2.5-ounce tub is $8.99.
Trader Joe’s shea butter and coconut hair oil mask features blackberry, mulberry, currant and acai extracts, plus argan oil and vitamin E. To revive damaged locks, apply the extra thick formula after shampooing and leave on for three to five minutes, then rinse. Your hair should feel nice and silky, and smell like coconut and vanilla.
TJ’s first introduced its coconut body butter back in 2012, and it was thought that people would use it primarily to nurture dry skin during winter months. Turns out, people are crazy for this soothing cream year-round and, nearly a decade later, it’s the third most popular vanity item in the whole store.
Rose water is made by steeping rose petals in water, and in this product, it’s combined with witch hazel, which is often used to remove excess oil from the skin. Trader Joe’s version comes in a spray bottle, so you can mist yourself throughout the day or at the end of your cleansing routine. Conveniently, it also works as a makeup setting spray.
Trader Joe’s sells candles year-round, but much of the lineup is ever-changing. Depending on the time of year, shoppers might find scents such as peony blossom, grapefruit, Honeycrisp apple, vanilla pumpkin, mango tangerine, lemon cookie, cranberry pine and more. The best part of all? They’re cheap, but that shouldn’t come as much of a shock.
We bet you weren’t expecting this to be on the list. Unexpected Cheddar has been a best-seller since it debuted in 2011, so what’s so “unexpected” about it? At first, this cheese is smooth and creamy like cheddar, but then it tastes tangy and becomes crumbly and crystally like aged Parmesan.
Ask any loyal fans of this orange chicken, and they’ll tell you that it’s just as good as what’s served at the best Chinese restaurants. The grocery chain’s mandarin orange chicken combines chunks of chicken in crispy breading tossed in a sauce made from fresh California orange peels, ginger, garlic, green onions and soy sauce.
Cauliflower is having its time in the sun as an all-star alternative to carby pizza, rice, latkes and other starchy foods. Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi is the holy grail, and it’s so popular that it often sells out. Made in Italy, the recipe excludes wheat, sugar, dairy and eggs, resulting in fewer carbs, fat and calories than the traditional potato-based dish.
Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend is the most popular item at Trader Joe’s. It’s the same mix you find on the beloved bagel (sesame and poppy seeds, dried garlic and onion and sea salt), and it tastes good on everything. Scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, perfectly grilled steak and potatoes — you name it. While some of TJ’s products could be considered a worthwhile splurge, there are tons of great finds you can score there for under $5.
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