Oh, the love that the KCL team has for Trader Joe’s food borders on intense. I honestly haven’t found one item that I don’t love from TJ’s. To help make your shopping easier, we’ve compiled a list of the best things to buy at Trader Joe’s — all for $5.50 or less. We dug into their list of the 2023 Customer Choice Awards Winners and put together all the best Trader Joe’s foods that you’ve gotta try, including frozen foods, bakery items, snacks, spices, condiments, dips, and more. Some of these items are seasonal, so I hope you find them before they’re all snatched up!
We saw many of these goodies for the first time in Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer. They publish the flyer in intervals throughout the year, and it will introduce you both to new items and familiar Trader Joe’s must-haves.
And a little KCL super shopper tip for you: don’t get fooled into buying Trader Joe’s products on Amazon. They’re sold by third-party sellers who will often inflate the price. I promise it isn’t TJ’s trying to sell you that $10 bottle of Everything But The Bagel seasoning (normally $1.99 at Trader Joe’s).
So get out your shopping list and add these Trader Joe’s favorites ASAP!
Best Overall Trader Joe’s Winner From the 2023 Customer Choice Awards
1. Chili & Lime Flavored Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips, 9 oz – $2.99
At the top of this year’s list of the best things to buy at Trader Joe’s is their Chili & Lime Flavored Rolled Tortilla Chips. Made from ground corn masa that’s been cut, rolled, fried, and then seasoned with a mix of chili and lime flavors, this snack was crowned No. 1 for “Favorite Overall” in 2023. They also placed No. 1 in “Favorite Snacks” for Trader Joe’s 2023 Annual Customer Choice Awards.
Related: See the list of Aldi fan-favorites in our best Aldi products roundup.
Best Trader Joe’s Frozen Food
2. Trader Joe’s Hashbrowns, 22.5 oz – $2.49
In case you haven’t noticed, hashbrowns aren’t just a buck at fast-food drive-thrus anymore. You can get a whole box from Trader Joe’s that should last you a week for under $3. And they make them from potatoes grown in Idaho. They took second place in “Favorite Overall” in Trader Joe’s 2023 Annual Customer Choice Awards.
3. Trader Joe’s Butter Chicken, 12.5 oz – $4.49
If you’re looking for a quick and tasty meal, you might want to try Trader Joe’s Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice. This dish features tender chunks of chicken in a mild curry made from crushed tomatoes, cream, onions, garlic, ginger, and butter, along with fragrant Basmati rice. Just heat it up and it’s ready to enjoy! This entree took first place in “Favorite Entree” in Trader Joe’s 2023 Annual Customer Choice Awards.
4. Trader Ming’s Mandarin Orange Chicken, 22 oz – $4.99
If you only buy one frozen food item from Trader Joe’s, please let it be this one. Said to be the best Trader Joe’s product in the whole TJ’s universe (aka the most popular one), this bake-and-serve chicken will have you forgetting all about Chinese takeout. Serve it over some rice or veggies, and boom — easy dinner. The Mandarin Orange Chicken even won “Favorite Overall” in Trader Joe’s 2022 Annual Customer Choice Awards.
5. Trader Joe’s Cacio E Pepe Gnocchi, 14 oz – $2.99
This new item is soooo delicious. A 14-ounce bag full of creamy cheese sauce, black peppercorns, and gnocchi … yum. I could eat only this for dinner and be satisfied.
6. Trader Joe’s Creamy Spinach & Artichoke Dip, 8.82 oz – $3.49
There’s something about a good, warm dip that makes everything alright. But this TJ’s spinach and artichoke dip makes everything spectacular. It has the ideal amount of cheese and flavor. If you’re hosting, grab a few to put out. Your guests will love it, and you’ll love the value and price.
Best Trader Joe’s Frozen Dessert
7. Trader Joe’s Mini Hold the Cone Ice Cream Cones, 7.9 oz – $3.79
Trader Joe’s is kind of known for these Hold the Cone ice cream minis, which won the title of “Favorite Sweets/Dessert” in TJ’s 2022 and 2023 Annual Customer Choice Awards. They come in three different flavors: chocolate chip with a chocolate cone, vanilla with a sugar cone, and chocolate with a chocolate cone. All three have a chocolate outer shell. Seasonally, TJ’s brings out additional flavors to tempt us, like pumpkin ginger and coffee bean.
Best Trader Joe’s Snacks
8. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, 16 oz – $4.49
A pound of dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Need I say more? Try stashing them in your freezer, too. These won the title of best “Sweet Treat” in the 2021 Annual Customer Choice Awards, and they were a runner-up in the 2022 awards.
9. Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Filled Pretzel Nuggets, 16 oz – $2.49
TJ’s is pretty smart with giving us anything that has peanut butter in it in a full pound. If you’ve never had peanut butter and pretzels, now is the time to try this stellar combo. So good. These nuggets won the title of “Favorite Snack” in the 2022 Annual Customer Choice Awards.
10. Trader Joe’s Organic Olive Oil Popcorn, 5 oz – $2.49
Popcorn seasoned with olive oil? A whole new level of flavor. You won’t be missing the greasy butter at all. Warning: you might eat the whole bag in one sitting, so grab two bags.
Best Bakery Items at Trader Joe’s
11. Trader Joe’s Brownie + Cookie = Brookie, 11 oz – $4.49
What could be better than when a brownie and cookie become one?! This one consists of a rich fudge brownie topped with a chocolate chip cookie, all baked together. If you’re a sweets fan like me, then this is a must-try. Top it with a bit of vanilla ice cream and you have yourself a sundae. The Brookie took fifth place in “Favorite Sweets/Desserts” in Trader Joe’s 2023 Annual Customer Choice Awards.
12. Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Double Chocolate Muffins, 14 oz – $4.99
I don’t follow a gluten-free diet, but I love these muffins. They’re made with a gluten-free flour blend, sweet cream buttermilk, and sour cream. The double chocolate ones are made with cocoa and chocolate chips.
13. Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins, 14 oz – $4.99
Like the chocolate muffins we already talked about, these coffee cake muffins have a gluten-free flour blend, sweet cream buttermilk, and sour cream. Cinnamon bits and brown sugar take it up a notch higher.
14. Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Coffee Cake, 16 oz – $5.49
A delicious sour cream cake with brown sugar swirl and a cinnamon crumb topping. It pairs perfectly with my morning (and afternoon) coffee.
Best Trader Joe’s Spices, Condiments & Other Goodies
15. Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend, 2.3 oz – $1.99
If you shop at TJ’s on the regular, you sure know about this seasoning. One of the best things to buy at Trader Joe’s in the spice aisle, it’s a perfect blend of sea salt, garlic, and onion. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, Aldi also sells a version of it (and you can check our Aldi’s deals page before you go). They took fourth place in “Favorite Overall” in Trader Joe’s 2023 Annual Customer Choice Awards.
16. Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter, 14.1 oz – $3.69
If you’ve never had cookie butter before, you’re in for a treat. A delicious blend of crushed Belgian biscuits and the warm flavors of holiday spices — I won’t lie to you, I eat this by the spoon. But if you’re trying to behave, pair it with a freshly cut apple or banana. We call that balance.
17. Trader Joe’s Eggplant Garlic Spread with Sweet Red Peppers, 12 oz – $2.69
A delicious blend of fresh eggplant, dried garlic, sweet red peppers, tomato paste, sunflower oil, sea salt, and a pinch of sugar. This is one versatile sauce … er, spread. Whatever you choose to use it on is up to you. It goes great with pasta, crackers, toast, or a crostini.
Best Trader Joe’s Refrigerated Food
18. Trader Joe’s Cheddar Cheese with Caramelized Onions – $9.99 per pound
Trader Joe’s Cheddar Cheese with Caramelized Onions is versatile and can be enjoyed on its own with crackers or bread, as a topping for burgers, grilled cheeses, or pizzas, and even added to cream sauces for added sweetness. This cheese took No. 1 in the “Favorite Cheese” category in Trader Joe’s 2023 Annual Customer Choice Awards.
19. Trader Joe’s Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage, 12 oz – $4.29
This is a long-time fan favorite and said to be at the top of the list of the best things to buy at Trader Joe’s in the refrigerated section. They originally introduced the sweet apple chicken sausage back in 2004, and it’s still hanging strong. If you like a little bit of sweetness, this chicken sausage will check all the boxes. It’s all natural with no artificial ingredients or preservatives, and it’s made with pure Vermont maple syrup. Plus, it’s fully cooked, so all you have to do is heat it up. It’s lower in fat than traditional pork sausage, too.
20. Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar Cheese, 7 oz – $3.99
This isn’t your average cheddar cheese. Trader Joe’s variety is aged premium cheddar with hints of parmesan. It has a smooth creaminess but with a little tangy, crumbly texture. You’ll see why it won “Favorite Cheese” in the 2022 Annual Customer Choice Awards.
21. Trader Joe’s Black Bean and Cheese Burrito, 10 oz – $3.99
Skip the Taco Bell drive-thru and pick up this vegetarian black bean and Monterey jack cheese burrito instead. It heats up quickly, and you can take it to the next level by smothering it with jalapeno sauce.