Trader Joe’s Favorites: new soup dumplings, snacks, treats

anthropologie petites maxi dress trader joes haul

Willow clutch + belt bag strap (review here), Anthro dress xs petite c/o from this post, face mask sz S, similar sandals, similar earrings

I hadn’t been to Trader Joe’s in quite some time, so tapped into my IG community for must-try’s and you guys didn’t disappoint! There was surprising demand for a blog post, so here is Part 1 of your most recommended items that I’ve tried so far! Please feel free to share more favorites in the comments for our next grocery trip : )

Update: sale on the Ivory color has ended unfortunately. This little convertible bag from last spring has been getting more use than ever (comes in lots of colors – see my review)! I love being hands free when running errands, going on strolls, chasing a toddler around, and I like that it can sit higher at my waist, since some of my usual favorite crossbody bags are starting to hang awkwardly with my growing belly. I can fit my iPhone in the outer pocket for easy access, plus a wallet, keys, and some other small items inside. Belt strap is sold separately.

leatherology petite white monogram leather belt bag

PPS – I love TJ’s flower section year-round for great prices and selection, but esp during peony season!

1. Frozen Foods Section

Pork and Ginger Soup Dumplings

Cooking method: microwave 1:45 to 2 minutes or steam inside a pot.

I’ve tried the chicken version of these before and they were just okay to me … but wow, the newer pork & ginger flavor really hit the spot and you simply can’t beat authentic tasting soup dumplings in under 2 minutes!

I usually buy Prime brand frozen “mini juicy dumplings” at the Asian grocery and steam them on stovetop (takes about 30 minutes from start to finish) … so these TJ ones are a serious contender given the ease and flavor. I was skeptical about microwaving them vs. steaming, but it worked just fine! The key is to open just a tiny corner of the package as a venting hole so that the dumplings can steam inside, and avoid over microwaving since I can see that would dry out the soup in the dumplings.

Verdict: would definitely repurchase the pork & ginger flavor. If you don’t eat or don’t like pork, though, the chicken is a fair alternative!

trader joe's best chinese soup dumplings xiao long bao frozen

PS – If you haven’t had “soup dumplings” or “xiao long bao / XLB” before, these are not dumplings IN a bowl of soup, but rather dumplings filled with meat and a little soup that bursts in your mouth when you bite in. I nibble a little hole first in the dumpling to let it cool a bit inside and not burn your mouth.

Shrimp Seafood Burgers

Cooking method: grill, bake, or pan fry.

These are made mostly of shrimp (70%) and pollock fish (23%) and are egg and dairy free. They’re a little pricey for TJ (Boston store has them at $6.99 for 4 patties) but you really get noticeable chunks of shrimp in the patties. We had these with sriracha mayo and homemade Asian pickles, and quite enjoyed it! One of you also suggested cutting the patties up into strips and using in Vietamese spring rolls with nuoc cham sauce – yum!

Verdict: would repurchase!

TJ's shrimp seafood burger review

Kung Pao Chicken

Cooking method: sauté on stovetop (no thawing needed).

Kung Pao Chicken is one of those rare dishes that is actually a traditional dish in China (one of my grandma’s favorites!), and also a Western takeout favorite. To me, it’s not exactly a crave-worthy dish, so I normally wouldn’t have picked this up if I didn’t see my friend Mike’s video listing it as a recommended item!

This was easy enough to prepare by emptying everything into 1 pan and popping some rice into a rice cooker. Note: I only needed to use 1 out of the 2 included sauce packets (can add 1-2 spoonfuls of water or broth to thin it out, if desired), which cuts down on the sodium and sugar of this dish. I actually thought this was pretty good with tender pieces of dark meat chicken and crunchy water chestnuts and peanuts, and was flavorful even with just half the provided sauce amount! It packs a little heat but is even better with TJ chili onion crunch hot sauce.

I like that this made it feel like you cooked an actual meal (with minimal effort), and the ingredients on the back are all straightforward. Next time I would add more veggies like broccoli florets into the stir fry, or as a side. 1 package made enough for Nick & I to have for dinner with rice, plus leftovers for my lunch. 

Verdict: Would repurchase. 

Trader Joe's kung pao chicken review

Vegetable Pad Thai

Cooking method: microwave.

This wasn’t bad and had some spice to it, but it didn’t taste like Pad Thai flavors I’m used to (can’t put my finger on it), and was a little over-sauced for my tastes. It was also a smaller portion with a whole layer of bean sprouts on the bottom and then a layer of noodles only on top of that.

Verdict: would not repurchase. But as I said … not bad, and some would enjoy this!

Trader Joes' microwave vegetable pad thai

2. Refrigerated Foods Section

Sweet Corn, Burrata and Basil Ravioli

This was a highly recommended item that’s supposedly seasonal each year. All of TJ raviolis are pretty decent, and this was no exception. It made for a tasty summer meal however neither the corn, burrata, nor basil really stand out flavor-wise so don’t expect a burst of any of those. Some of you suggested serving these over a salad, with pesto sauce, butter & parmesan, or your favorite cream sauce. I just did some simple olive oil plus freshly diced tomatoes and basil and chili onion crunch.

Verdict: would maybe repurchase, but they have so many ravioli flavors to choose from! 

Trader Joe's sweet corn burrata meal review

Easy to clean placemats, West Elm gold flatware (old)

Arugula Lemon Basil Salad Mix

Another reader favorite – this salad-in-a-bag that comes with everything you need from dressing to crunchy textural elements. Good summery flavors if you need something light and quick to whip together.

Verdict: would not repurchase. But only as we usually keep greens, parmesan, nuts and lemon at home so can easily recreate a version of this! 

Trader Joe's lemony arugula salad meal idea

Shawarma Chicken Thighs

Found in the refrigerated meats section, this can be cooked either in the oven or on the grill. I’m a big fan of Middle Eastern flavors and didn’t think this was bad, but it was too salty / heavily marinaded for us. I looked at the spices / ingredients and will try my hand at making something similar at home!

Pictured below grilled & served with rice pilaf and cucumber yogurt salad. We also had this in a wrap with romaine lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and greek yogurt to balance out the saltiness and it was pretty good!

Verdict: would not repurchase, but worth a try. 

Trader Joe's shawarma chicken thighs meal

3. Snacks, Drinks, Desserts

Pickle Popcorn

Introduced last year, this is one of their summer seasonal items and very popular amongst you guys and my friends alike! As promised on the bag, the flavor is bold indeed and was a little too pickle-y for me, but Nick gobbled up the whole bag …

Verdict: would not repurchase, but Nick disagrees (tho he says: you have to really love dill pickle flavor)

Pickle Popcorn and Patio Chips snack review

Patio Potato Chips

New & another popular seasonal item! This is a mix of 4 differently flavored chips in one bag – 1) sea salt and vinegar; 2) delicious dill; 3) homestyle ketchup; 4) smokin’ sweet BBQ. I think my favorite out of the 4 is ketchup, but I personally find their white truffle chips more addictive. If you like stronger sweet, tangy and pickley flavors though … this mix is for you.

Verdict: this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I wouldn’t repurchase because I’d rather have a bag of 1 flavor that I really love. But definitely worth a try while it’s still available!

Sparkling Fruit Juices

Our store had these individually for $1 each or $3.99 for a 4 pack box (note: it’s a smaller sized 8.45oz can which I personally liked). These were quite refreshing over ice, which also helps dilute it a bit if you prefer less sweet beverages, and I liked that these are mostly or 100% fruit juice with no added sugars!

  • Watermelon – refreshing and fruit-forward, perfect for summer.
  • Strawberry (new addition this spring) – ditto!
  • Coconut water w yuzu – tastes like a slightly sweetened sparkling coconut water with a little citrus

Verdict: Would definitely repurchase watermelon & strawberry, but not coconut with yuzu. 

Trader Joe's sparkling water flavors

These Sprinkles Walk into a Sandwich Cookies

A new summer seasonal item that also was a TJ employee favorite when I asked around. Pretty indulgent for a small treat and only 6 in a package, BUT if you like sweet, crisp, buttery shortbread-style cookies (even better with the addition of sprinkles), I will admit these were quite good.

Verdict: Would not repurchase, only as I would rather indulge in other treats. 

what to get at trader joes best dessert strawberry yogurt bars

Strawberry greek yogurt parfait popsicles

Another seasonal item – these have been my favorite treat lately! They’re tasty and textural with a hint of tartness, have a prolonged enjoyment period due to melting slowly (lasts a good 10 minutes while I loaf and watch a show), and are lower guilt at 100 calories and 2 grams of fat per pop. I’m especially a fan of the pieces of granola bits and strawberry within the popsicles.

Verdict: Would definitely repurchase.

Dairy free Thai Tea Mini Mochi (also in mango)

A lot of times Thai iced tea at restaurants is too sweet but this one you can still taste a good amount of tea flavor. These didn’t need to thaw like some larger mochis do, and they happen to be dairy free (coconut-based) for those with dairy intolerance / allergies! I thought these were good, but Nick thought they were really great … I keep catching him sneaking into the freezer for another mini.

Verdict: Would definitely repurchase.

TJ's Thai mini mochi review

Gosh I didn’t get to several items today including their sauces and condiments (one of my favorite categories!) and our usual must-haves like frozen Indian food, but this post has gotten long, so there will definitely be a part 2!

Let me know your thoughts if you’ve tried some of the above items! : )

Leave a Comment

17 Comments

  1. Julie wrote:

    My husband just added the shrimp seafood burgers to our grocery list for tomorrow. We love the frozen scallops with mushrooms. Trader Joe’s has some really great meals in the frozen foods aisle, and my husband and I are so busy these days that it’s nice to be able to make something fast that still tastes good. I also love how your mask goes with your outfit. It may sound silly, but I’ve bought different style masks in different colors so I have options to match my outfit.

    Posted 7.10.20 Reply
  2. Sharon wrote:

    Ube Pancakes!

    Posted 7.10.20 Reply
  3. Jill F wrote:

    Many thanks for the recommendations – I went to Trader Joe’s this morning right after reading your post and got the pork and ginger soup dumplings and the watermelon sparkling beverage – yum!!!

    Posted 7.10.20 Reply
  4. Lisa wrote:

    WOW, never have I seen someone hate on TJ’s as much as you did

    Posted 7.9.20 Reply
  5. Sarah wrote:

    Shwarma Chicken is my specialty. Super easy too. Take about 2 lbs of chicken breast and cut it into kebab sized pieces. Take 10 (yes 10) cloves of garlic and a pinch of salt and mash in a mortar and pestle. Add a healthy dollop of shwarma seasoning (you can find in the spice aisle, I like Pereg brand, which sometimes is found in the Kosher section).mix with a tinge of olive oil and a healthy bit of lemon juice and massage into the chicken and marinate overnight. Kebab and grill and viola. Super yummy dinner. I HATE chicken and adore this,

    Posted 7.8.20 Reply
  6. Ginger wrote:

    TJs cauliflower gnocchi in the frozen section is seriously the miost tasty and melt in your mouth of all that I’ve tasted. Steam them in a pan then brown in butter. Wow! I had them with a little pesto sauce. For so.eone vegetarian and gluten free the are so worth it. It why does TJs sell some things that are 2.5 servings?

    Posted 7.8.20 Reply
  7. Lisa wrote:

    I didn’t like the patio chips either! I felt the dill flavor was overpowering. I also did a TJ run recently and my favorite items were the new Chocolate Chip Hold My Cone ice cream cones, elote flavored corn dippers (goes well with guac), oven baked cheese bites with black summer truffle, and the kung pao chicken mochi balls — this one is a mixed bag, i felt it reminded me of the ham sui gok at dim sum!

    Posted 7.8.20 Reply
  8. remi wrote:

    I’m excited to try the version of chicken shawarma you create! I love Mediterranean food too & it’s hard to find good options where I live…

    Posted 7.8.20 Reply
    • Viv wrote:

      Try the pereg brand shawarma seasoning – it’s so good!. With dark chicken cut up small and cook in a pan with whatever other detail you like (lemon, diced onion, garlic etc.). Don’t even need to marinate. Serve with hummus, tahini and pickled veg in a pita.

      Posted 7.25.20 Reply
  9. J wrote:

    Can’t wait to try some of these goodies…and those placemats! Also, while this isn’t quite shawarma chicken, I love this recipe- https://smittenkitchen.com/2016/05/chicken-gyro-salad/

    Posted 7.8.20 Reply
  10. Annaliese wrote:

    I also didn’t love the chicken soup dumplings so I’m excited to hear about the pork ones! And I’ve been loving those yogurt pops this summer too! 🙂 Loved this post- would love to see more like it!

    xoxo A

    Posted 7.8.20 Reply
  11. Anonymous wrote:

    Almond croissants!

    Posted 7.8.20 Reply
    • Anonymous wrote:

      I second the almond croissants!

      Posted 7.10.20 Reply
  12. Anonymous wrote:

    Ah you should try the spicy thai eggplant frozen meal! It’s a super simple meal to cook with some ground turkey!

    Posted 7.8.20 Reply
  13. Cecilia wrote:

    I love this post. I am always googling this exact topic! Can’t wait to try your picks =)

    Posted 7.8.20 Reply
  14. SC wrote:

    I just discovered Senreve’s convertible bag and fell in love with it. Highly recommend you checking them out!

    Posted 7.7.20 Reply
  15. Erin wrote:

    Ube ice cream!

    Posted 7.7.20 Reply

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