A while back I shared some Trader Joe’s favorites, including their pork & ginger microwaveable soup dumplings that I can’t resist getting each trip! Since we have so many TJ aficionados around here, I wanted to do another post including some new and seasonal items we’ve been trying. For those with dairy and/or nut allergies like my daughter, don’t miss the sunflower butter chocolate cups and cheese-less cheesecakes mentioned below!
Here’s a peek at what made it into my cart and which items I’ll be repurchasing:
1. Frozen Meals & Savory Foods
Beef Pho Soup (New this week!)
Verdict: worth trying only if you don’t have access to pho restaurants.
While this had all the fragrant aromas of pho spices after being warmed up, the broth was very light in flavor and needed something more. After adding the usual pho condiments hoisin sauce and Sriracha, though, it wasn’t a bad noodle bowl snack out of the microwave – just don’t expect it to be like a traditional bowl of pho! The rice noodles are a little thicker and the beef slices were fairly tender.
Korean BBQ Short Ribs
Verdict: a regular in our cart, especially for when family visits!
If you’re a fan of grilled kalbi / short ribs at Korean BBQ restaurants, then this is definitely worth a try! Otherwise, you might find these to be a little tougher eat, as they’re not a fall-off-the-bone style short rib that some would envision.
For under $10, we were very pleased with this. It costs more at our local Asian grocery to buy short rib un-marinaded, and a plate of kalbi at Korean restaurants can run you $30. Note that these are frozen and you do have to let the package thaw in the fridge before cooking. We grilled ours which came out pretty tasty, but the directions also suggest pan searing (avoid overcrowding the pan in order to let the fat cook off), and many of you said they turned out great in an air fryer!
Cacio e Pepe Spaghetti (New)
Verdict: worth trying – indulgent but delish.
A pretty good take on the classic, simple Italian “cheese and pepper” spaghetti dish. This is easy to heat up in the microwave and is creamy and cheesy with a strong kick from the black pepper. I really liked this but it’s expectedly heavy, so I’d prefer it just as a side to some protein and veggies. The sauce comes in frozen cubes, so you don’t have to use it all and can thin it out with a little water if needed. Also, adding fresh toppings like cherry tomatoes and basil really helped brighten it up and cut the richness.
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese (Seasonal)
Verdict: worth trying, or get the Autumnal jar pasta sauce for similar flavors!
This is similar to regular mac & cheese, just a little heartier with butternut squash puree and hints of savory seasoning (nutmeg, sage & thyme). Easy to microwave for a quick lunch, and the rigatoni has good bite to it. After warming this up, you can also add some chicken sausage, chili crunch hot sauce, and serve with one of their bagged salads.
Verdict: worth trying if you like Indian flavors.
These are tasty little flaky pastry triangles filled with curried pumpkin and paneer cheese – not too spicy and not too strong of a pumpkin flavor, for those like myself who aren’t big gourd fans! Would be even better with a fresh chutney sauce of some sort, or TJ’s green zhoug sauce. Finishing in an oven or air fryer instead of just microwaving is key to crisp these up.
Kung Pao Chicken Mochi Balls (New from summer)
Verdict: interesting but would not get again.
I will say these are creative and different from anything I’ve had in a while! Just not something I’d crave again. The mochi dough is chewy but with a crisp outer shell, and the savory filling is a little sweet, a little spicy. These remind me slightly of a traditional Cantonese dim sum item ham sui gok with a pork and mushroom filling, which I love and prefer. I microwaved these to defrost and then finished in my air fryer for a crisp outer – avoid overcooking or the mochi can get tough.
2. Frozen Desserts / Treats
Cheese-Less “Cheesecakes” (New; Dairy & Nut Free)
Verdict: worth trying, and would repurchase if I didn’t eat dairy.
Pictured below in the shopping cart photo. The cakes are made with lima beans (hats off for creativity) and were fairly creamy with a tasty traditional graham crust. They’re not as tangy and “cheesy” as a regular cheesecake, but that didn’t keep Nick and I from devouring one. 1 package comes with 2 mini cakes, which you do need to pop into the fridge for at least 1-2 hours to defrost before eating.
Pumpkin Ginger Hold the Cone (Seasonal)
No personal verdict since I panicked and swapped these out for my usual fave flavor (chocolate chip). Based on your messages, the pumpkin & ginger flavor can be polarizing – some of you are not a fan while others love. Whatever flavor you decide on, though, Hold the Cones are worth picking up for a crunchy, satisfying bit sized cold treat!
Matcha Ice Cream + Coconut Crispy Rolls (both new from summer)
Verdict: have repurchased both!
The ice cream is a re-introduction, after TJ’s previous matcha ice cream was discontinued 3 years ago. This is a pretty solid matcha ice cream with a very creamy texture, and is not too strong on the tea flavor. At $2.99, it’s both tastier and cheaper than many options at Asian grocery stores. For a textural delight, we love to crumble TJ Coconut Crispy Rolls (thin layers of wafer cookies rolled into tubes) on top + some diced mango!
3. Non-Frozen Snacks
Mini Dark Chocolate Sunflower Butter Cups (dairy & nut free)
Verdict: a regular in our cart!
These are the perfect little dark chocolatey treat, and also gluten free, dairy free, soy free, peanut & tree nut free to boot. I’m not usually a fan of sunflower butter (which my toddler eats in lieu of nut butters), but with these, I do not miss peanut butter at all! They also come in a 2 pack of full size cups which were released in 2019, but I prefer the newer mini cups.
Pumpkin Spice Pretzel Slims (Seasonal)
Verdict: loved & hope these come back next year!
Addictively good – sweet, salty, creamy & crunchy in one. Sadly these are already gone for the season at my local TJ, so most of us will just have to wait for the winter / holiday version (amazing with the peppermint pieces!).
Spicy Chakri Snack Mix (New; contains peanuts & dairy)
Verdict: Interesting but I probably would not repurchase.
I loved the bold Indian flavors and crunch from the little chickpea and rice based snacks, however the pieces were smaller than I expected (esp. compared to the blown up photo on the packaging) and hard for me to eat out of the bag. I ended up using a spoon, or I can also see this being a good crunchy salad topping!
Bite Size Sharp Cheddar Cheesy Crackers (New)
Verdict: Not for me.
As a loyal Cheez-it and Goldfish cracker fan, I’d rather stick to those. These are more dense but do have good cheddar flavor in each bite, and would work as a crunchy soup topping.
Murasaki Sweet Potato Chips (New)
Verdict: Not for me.
I thought these were a little plain (very lightly salted) and harder / crisp in texture due to being very thinly sliced. However, friends who like sweet potato chips have been going through bags of these, so worth trying for sweet potato fans!
PB&J Wafer Stick Snack (New)
Each pack has peanut butter filled crispy wafer sticks and a side of raspberry jam for dipping. I didn’t buy due to a peanut allergy, but these were recommended by employees as a “nostalgic but elevated PB&J snack.” Several of you picked it up with good things to report back!
Watermelon Jerky (New from summer)
Verdict: A definite don’t buy.
I’m usually a fan of watermelon anything, but some things just shouldn’t be made into jerky! These were tough and full of seeds.
Cacio e Pepe Ravioli (New; Refrigerated section)
Bottom right photo: No verdict since I didn’t try these myself (only tried the frozen spaghetti reviewed above), but I wanted to include as my friend has been loving these! She enjoys them with Trader Joe’s jar romesco sauce and arugula lemon bagged salad.
Bottom left photo: another newer arrival pasta from the freezer section, Fiochetti with Pink Sauce, which I would not repurchase. Basically mini cheese raviolis with cubes of creamy tomato sauce. It’s fine but not very flavorful – better after adding some hot sauce and freshly ground black pepper.
Autumnal Harvest Creamy Pasta Sauce (Seasonal)
Verdict: worth trying.
I’m more of a classic tomato marinara sauce kinda gal, but this was pretty good. It’s a slightly heartier, creamier alternative with pumpkin and butternut squash puree, plus some butter and cream.
Let me know your thoughts on some of these items if you’ve tried them!