6 Trader Joe's Products To Buy And 7 To Skip

There's no denying that Trader Joe's is one of America's great grocery stores. The balance of affordability, quality, and flavor makes the store an absolute standout. Plus, this small-ish chain claims about 18% of all U.S. grocery store customers, so it is definitely doing something right.


Trader Joe's has introduced many different delicious offerings into our lives, unfortunately, not everything available at the store over the years has knocked it out of the park. Some of the items have been underwhelming, while others have been downright bizarre. That's exactly why it's good to know what to buy, and what to skip when perusing the aisles of your local TJ's. 

The items on this list are ones I've actually purchased and tried during my years of shopping at Trader Joe's. If an item you love didn't make the buy list or ended up on the skip list, then rest assured these are only opinions formed by my experience. If you like Chocolate Hummus, more power to you! 

Buy: Mandarin Orange Chicken

Mandarin Orange Chicken at Trader Joe's is a culinary delight for several reasons. First and foremost, it's a crowd-pleaser and one of my absolute favorites. It's a suitable option for both weeknight dinners and special occasions. The succulent chunks of tender chicken are coated in a sweet and tangy Mandarin orange sauce that perfectly balances flavors, making it a no-brainer when you need something quick and easy to cook, but still want to make an impression.


Convenience is another compelling factor. This frozen dish is quick and easy to prepare, saving you precious time in the kitchen. Whether you're a seasoned chef or a kitchen novice, you can effortlessly whip up a restaurant-quality meal within minutes. It's an ideal solution for busy individuals and families.

The affordability of Mandarin Orange Chicken at Trader Joe's is impressive. You get a ton of value for your money (at roughly $4.99 per 22-ounce packet) as it rivals the taste and quality of expensive takeout options at a fraction of the cost. Plus, it often goes on sale, making it even more budget-friendly. 

Buy: Frozen Organic Brown Rice

Frozen food is historically hit or miss, and rice is known to be finicky. But, still, Trader Joe's has perfect rice and all you have to do is put it in a microwave. Because who's got the time to wait for brown rice to cook from scratch? With Trader Joe's frozen brown rice, you can have a healthy side dish ready in a jiffy, and that's a game-changer when life gets busy.


Quality matters and Trader Joe's gets that. Its frozen brown rice is made from top-notch, non-GMO ingredients. It's just as good for you as freshly cooked brown rice, so you can chow down without compromising on taste or nutrition.

You also get versatility in a bag. This rice can be the foundation for all sorts of dishes, like stir-fries, grain bowls, or just as a simple side. So, you can get creative in the kitchen without sacrificing nutrition. Plus, Trader Joe's frozen brown rice won't break the bank at around $4.29 for three 10-ounce pouches. It's a budget-friendly option that beats dining out or ordering takeout. So, you save some cash while still eating well.

Buy: Chile Lime Seasoning Blend

Trader Joe's does a lot of things right, but few of those things can compare to the absolute deliciousness that it's achieved with its Chile Lime Seasoning Blend. I'm not a great cook, but if I make you shrimp tacos using this magical dust, you may be inclined to believe otherwise. 


It's a fantastic combo of spicy chili and zesty lime, and it takes your meals to a whole new level. Tacos, grilled chicken, or even just some popcorn — everything tastes better with this stuff. It's the perfect way to add some kick without going overboard on the spice. 

What's even cooler is that it's not just for one type of food. It's a global flavor tour in one little bottle. Mexican dishes, seafood, veggies — it plays well with everyone. So, it's like having a secret weapon for cooking.

Price-wise, it's a steal at around $1.99 for a 2.9-ounce bottle. You get a lot of flavor for your money, and a little pinch of this stuff goes a long way so that one bottle will stick around for quite some time. Trader Joe's Chile Lime Seasoning Blend is a must-try. 


Buy: Caramel Apple Mochi

The Caramel Apple Mochi is a sweet, chewy, and downright delicious treat that's worth every penny. It's like a cozy, fall day in your mouth. The soft and chewy mochi exterior wraps around a core of creamy caramel apple goodness. The balance of sweet and tart is spot on, and the texture is just addictive.


Convenience is a big plus. No need for fancy prep or utensils. Just pop these little bites in your mouth, and you're good to go, regardless of whether you're looking for a quick snack or a delightful dessert.

And, like nearly every item on this list, it's fairly priced at around $4.99 per box containing 6 pieces. Mochi has long been considered a somewhat niche dessert in the United States. Naturally, this made mochi more expensive, but Trader Joe's has been a major factor in these delectable Japanese treats hitting the mainstream and into our freezers without freezing our bank accounts. 

Buy: Pizza Parlanno

Alright, so you're cruising through the aisles at Trader Joe's, and you're thinking, "Should I pick up that Pizza Parlanno?" Well, let me break it down for you in plain, everyday language — this pizza's a winner.


First off, taste-wise, it's like a flavor fiesta. The sauce is spot-on, the cheese is just melty perfection, and the toppings? Well, this pizza's got pepperoni, olives, peppers, and onions — TJ's know exactly what you want on your pizza. It's like ordering from your favorite local pizzeria, but you're in control.

Now, convenience is king, right? You've got those days when you're too tired or busy to cook from scratch. Pop this pizza in the oven for about 15 minutes, and bam, you've got a hot, fresh, and amazing pizza ready to devour. It's your go-to, "I don't feel like cooking" option.

And, the price? It's easy on your wallet at around $ 5.49 per 18-ounce pizza. This hearty, big pizza could feed a couple of hungry folks, so it's definitely a budget-friendly (and delicious) solution when you need to feed more than one mouth.


But, this pizza isn't just for dinner. It's your game day snack, your Netflix binge companion, and your impromptu pizza party go-to. Everyone's gonna dig it.

Buy: Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

I have a confession to make. I used to hate Brussels Sprouts. It's true. I couldn't stand the taste or texture of them. Something about them just disagreed with me on a spiritual level. But, Trader Joe's Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts are an unexpected flavor explosion you didn't know you needed in your life.


You might be thinking, "Brussels sprouts? Really?" Yes, really. These sprouts are anything but boring. They've been transformed into crispy, caramelized bites of pure joy. And, the Kung Pao sauce they're coated in is sweet, tangy, and packing a little spicy kick — it's like a party for your taste buds. 

These exciting bold-flavored Brussels sprouts offer convenience at a wallet-friendly price of around $5.99 per 14-ounce pack. Give 'em a shot, and you might just fall in love with sprouts all over again. Or in my case, for the first time ever.

Skip: Sweet & Spicy Pecans

You know when you have an idea that you think is good, but upon execution isn't? I think that's what happened with Trader Joe's Sweet And Spicy Pecans. To start, the flavor is a letdown. The sweet and spicy combo is more like a battle of extremes than a harmonious blend. The sweetness can be overwhelming, making it difficult to detect any subtlety in the spiciness. That perfect sweet-spicy ratio just isn't there.


Trader Joe's has an emphasis on experimentation, and this is most evident with its snacks, but this one feels like the strange concoction of a mad scientist rather than a culinary genius. Snacks are often at their best when they can be integrated into various dishes, but these pecans are a bit of a loner. The intense sweetness can overpower any other flavors in a salad or snack mix, making them less adaptable compared to plain pecans or more subtly seasoned options.

All in all, if you're seeking a balanced, budget-friendly ($4.49 per 5-ounce pack), versatile snack, the Sweet and Spicy Pecans might not be the best choice. There are more suitable and better-priced options on the market that offer a more satisfying flavor experience.


Skip: Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips

These chips can be surprisingly bland. Despite their vibrant blue color, they often lack the robust corn flavor that many tortilla chip aficionados crave. They can come off as tasteless, and if you're looking for that satisfying, slightly salty crunch, these chips might leave you disappointed.


Texture matters and these chips suffer in that department. They can be quite brittle, which means they might break when you're dipping them in your favorite salsa or guacamole. The last thing you want is to lose your chip in your dip! And I assure you, these chips desperately need dip.

Lastly, while the organic label might be a selling point for some, it doesn't necessarily mean better taste or quality. Many non-organic tortilla chips offer a more satisfying crunch and flavor profile without the higher price tag (around $3.99 for a 16-ounce bag). While I admire Trader Joe's ambition with these chips, the unique color seems to be overcompensating for the lack of quality. 

Skip: Chocolate Hummus

More often than not, Trader Joe's experiments are usually good, if not decent at the very least. But, if any Trader Joe's experiment were to be considered an abomination, it's the chocolate hummus. Trader Joe's is known for its unique and often delightful products, but the chocolate hummus is not one of them. You know Nutella, right? You know how Nutella is a delicious combination or nuttiness and chocolate? Well, imagine Nutella, and make it bad. That's essentially what Trader Joe's did with its chocolate hummus. 


Its taste is underwhelming, lacking the rich and decadent chocolatey flavor you'd hope for in a sweet treat. It's not as satisfying as dedicated chocolate spreads or dips, and the texture is not as creamy as it really should be. You might find more satisfying, cost-effective (around $1.99 for an 8-ounce tub), and versatile sweet spreads or dips elsewhere. If you're feeling adventurous, go for it, but manage your expectations, folks!

Skip: Trader Joe's Sriracha Sauce

You can't improve on perfection, and the hard-to-find Sriracha by Huy Fong Foods is unmatched. The Trader Joe's equivalent isn't bad by any means, but it doesn't have the magic of the one that captured my heart. Sriracha is famous for that garlicky, tangy, and spicy combo. But here, it's like they left the party early, and the flavor doesn't fully develop. It's one-dimensional — missing the complexity that makes sriracha so awesome. 


If you're a spicy-food aficionado and want something that'll make your eyes water and nose run, Trader Joe's version is like that friend who talks tough but can't handle a jalapeño. Needless to say, this is too far on the mild side  — even if it is still mildly priced at around $3.99 for an 18.5-ounce bottle.

So, while Trader Joe's Sriracha Sauce is a friendly addition to your condiment collection, if you're craving the full, fiery flavor experience, you might want to explore spicier horizons. And, to be fair to Trader Joe's, it's competing against lightning in a bottle, and lightning doesn't strike twice.

Skip: Cauliflower Pizza Crusts

Cauliflower pizza crusts have become a trendy alternative for those seeking a low-carb, gluten-free option, and Trader Joe's offers its version. However, there are a few reasons why you might want to think twice before buying Trader Joe's Cauliflower Pizza Crusts. Traditional pizza crust is all about that crispy, doughy satisfaction. But cauliflower crusts? Well, they can be more fragile than your favorite delicate china. It's like trying to hold a stack of toppings without a proper base — it can get messy.


Cauliflower can be tasty, no doubt about it. But, Trader Joe's version is too, well, cauliflower (and the price is high at $5.99 for a 5-ounce packet). That might sound obvious, but the flavor is overpowering, and you'll miss that savory, comforting goodness of classic pizza dough. 

If you're after that classic pizza experience, stick with tried-and-true regular pizza dough. But hey, if you're up for a cauliflower adventure, give it a shot — it might just tickle your taste buds the right way. 

Skip: Non-Dairy Chocolate Oat Beverage

Almost everyone loves chocolate milk and oat milk has proven to be a worthy alternative to the real thing, but Trader Joe's Chocolate Oat Milk, or as the brand calls it — Non-Dairy Chocolate Oat Beverage — misses the mark in about every way imaginable. You'd expect a chocolate drink to be a decadent delight, right? Well, this one's more like chocolate's shy, distant cousin. The flavor plays a game of hide-and-seek with your taste buds. If you're on the hunt for a rich, satisfying chocolate experience, you'll feel like you're searching in all the wrong places. And, why pay around $2.99 for 32 fluid ounces if it's not exactly what you're looking for?


Texture is another player in this story. It's thicker than you'd imagine, like it secretly wants to be a milkshake. Sipping it feels like you're trying to slurp up a smoothie through a tiny straw. It's not the easygoing, sippable beverage you were likely hoping for. Some people might like it, but it's certainly not Trader Joe's strongest milk alternative. 

Skip: Unsweetened Almond, Cashew & Macadamia Nut Beverage

Trader Joe's Unsweetened Almond, Cashew & Macadamia Nut Beverage may seem like a healthy and versatile dairy milk alternative, but there are some compelling reasons you might want to reconsider. The primary concern is taste. Despite being advertised as a blend of three delicious nuts, the flavor can often fall flat. It lacks the richness and depth that you'd expect from almond, cashew, and macadamia nuts. At around $2.29 for 32 fluid ounces, the result is an underwhelming, sometimes bland experience, especially if you're hoping for a satisfying milk replacement.


Another issue is texture. This beverage can be a bit thin and watery compared to other nut-based milk alternatives. It might not provide the creamy consistency you desire for your coffee, cereal, or cooking needs. Lastly, its versatility is limited. The thin consistency of this beverage can make it less suitable for certain culinary applications, such as baking or frothing in coffee.