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.
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.