30 Underrated Trader Joe's Items You Need To Try

If you don't live within a short radius of a Trader Joe's location ... We feel for you. This grocery retailer has been long heralded as one of the best in its class because of its varied offerings of fresh produce, pre-made sandwiches and salads, extensive cheese and wine selection, and its frozen foods section (which takes up the lion's share of its square footage if we're being honest). The sheer variety of goods in its store can be pretty overwhelming. Its hidden gems are often overshadowed by popular products with cult followings, like the frozen chicken masala and Speculoos cookie butter. 

Although the fan-favorite options at Trader Joe's are beloved, you'll see a newfound appreciation for all of the items that get pushed to the back of the shelves and coolers. After all, you won't know how good some of these choices are until you take a chance and add them to your cart.

Zhoug sauce

Zhoug sauce is a herby, cilantro-based condiment from Yemen and the Middle East. This "Middle Eastern pesto" is a refreshing spread made with bright, Mediterranean ingredients and spices, including cumin seeds, jalapeño peppers, chile flakes, cardamom, and olive oil. 

Zhoug sauce is the perfect blend of spicy and complex — and perfect for dipping with bread, serving with chicken breasts, or even using it as a garnish on top of a pizza. In other words, it's the Swiss army knife of Trader Joe's sauces. 

Peanut butter protein granola

If you're a peanut butter lover, you must try this one. Trader Joe's peanut butter protein granola is filled with heavenly hunks of peanuts, peanut butter flavor, and pea protein crisps for an extra boost. 

The best part of this granola is its sweet flavor and soft crunch. One 60-gram serving contains 12 grams of protein, making it the perfect addition to your morning bowl of cereal, yogurt, or just for snacking from the bag.

Mango jicama slaw

Trader Joe's fresh foods section is perfect for meals in a pinch but also for easy ways to upgrade your meals into something extraordinary. TJ's mango jicama slaw is made with crunchy pieces of jicama, sweet mango, and textured green cabbage.

The slaw is tossed in an aromatic, spicy lime-mango vinaigrette with additional herb flavors from cilantro. You can enjoy this slaw straight from the container or as a topping on tacos or sandwiches.

Sweet potato gnocchi with butter and sage

If you think of one Trader Joe's gnocchi product, it's likely the cult-favorite cauliflower gnocchi. While it's appreciated that the product acts as a blank canvas, the cauliflower-everything craze has undoubtedly outlived its glory days. 

Instead of the cauliflower gnocchi, try picking up a bag of sweet potato gnocchi with butter and sage. This gnocchi can be cooked the same way as the cauliflower gnocchi. For the best results, microwave them from frozen, dry off any excess water, and pan-fry with a bit of oil. This side dish is a delicious accompaniment to chicken sausage or a roast. 

Everything but the Leftovers Seasoning Blend

The Everything but the Bagel seasoning has had its time to shine — now it's time for the Everything But the Leftovers to take the stage. This vegan Trader Joe's seasoning tastes similar to meat, so it can be used as a flavorful, umami-rich addition to meats, veggies, eggs, and vegan protein alike. 

Everything but the Leftovers contains all of the familiar flavors of a Thanksgiving — dehydrated onion, salt, pepper, sage, thyme, parsley, rosemary, and two types of yeast. Unfortunately, this seasoning blend is only available around the fall and Thanksgiving product season, so we recommend stocking up so you can have some of this practical pantry item year-round. 

Thai lime and chili cashews

The fruit and nuts section is one of the most under-appreciated aisles in Trader Joe's. Not only will you get a better selection at better prices than most other grocery stores, but you'll also find a myriad of unexpected flavors — like the Thai lime and chili cashews. 

These crunchy nuts contain a coating of spicy chili powder with dried Thai lime leaves and sea salt. They're the perfect staple snack to stock up on for a road trip or hike, but they can also be used to amp up the flavor of a salad or a wrap. 

Soy chorizo

Depending on who you ask, soy chorizo sometimes earns the title of being overrated or, as one can argue, deeply underrated. While this spicy meat alternative has won several accolades in Trader Joe's annual customer choice competition, it isn't often most people's go-to item. Why? We haven't figured that out yet. 

Each package of soy chorizo contains crumbled textured vegetable protein seasoned with dried red pepper, paprika, vinegar, and garlic powder. It's 100% vegan and contains 8 grams of protein for each 2-ounce serving. Consider using soy chorizo instead of taco meat or adding it to a salad for a Tex-Mex protein boost. 

Yuzu hot sauce

Trader Joe's has an extensive hot sauce collection. So put down the siracha and pick up a bottle of yuzu hot sauce instead. The hot sauce is made with yuzu kosho, a salt-cured blend of yuzu citrus peel, chilis, and vinegar. 

This bottle encapsulates everything in a great hot sauce and more. Not only do you get the subtle heat from the chilis, but also the unique citrusy and tangy pop of the yuzu. One of the best ways to use this hot sauce is as a vinegar substitute in a vinaigrette dressing — it is guaranteed to make even the sharpest arugula more palatable. 

Frozen garlic naan

Trader Joe's bakery and bread section is a popular destination for many shoppers. If you're looking for an accompaniment for your frozen chicken tikka masala, try grabbing a package of garlic Indian-style flatbreads. Naan, as the bread is otherwise known, is a soft, buttery bread perfect for dipping and scooping.

Trader Joe's garlic naan is always brimming with fresh flavors and charred spots that add a bit of texture to the otherwise dense bread. To prepare, just warm up the bread in your oven and brush it with a layer of ghee (which Trader Joe's also conveniently sells). 

Pork gyoza

Gyoza are tiny dumplings that can be steamed, fried, or pan-seared. The litany of preparation methods makes the brand's gyozas a must-have for freezers everywhere. Its pork gyozas are exceptionally flavorful because they are filled with ginger and cabbage — not just the meat. Paired with a soy sauce or its brand-name gyoza dipping sauce, these potstickers are unbeatable. Not to mention, they are relatively cheap and come in bags of 20. 

Pork-free folks will also love Trader Joe's chicken gyoza potstickers made with the same seasoning. The only reason why the chicken version of this Trader Joe's classic didn't make our list was that the pork had much more flavor and depth. 

Sea salt and turbinado sugar dark chocolate almonds

Every Trader Joe's trip needs to end with something sweet. This snack hits that craving every time. Each nut is covered with a layer of sweet dark chocolate, a sprinkle of sea salt, and crunchy turbinado sugar — meaning that you get a little bit of sweet and salty in every bite.

The nuts in this package aren't crunchy to the point where they hurt your teeth, either. Instead, the softness plays into the confectionery side of this product. The only struggle you'll have is not reaching back into the container for more.

Dark chocolate sea salt sunflower seed butter cups

Dark chocolate peanut butter cups usually steal the show at Trader Joe's, but the dark chocolate sea salt sunflower seed butter cups are an underrated pick. Bright yellow packaging is like a beacon of light in the Trader Joe's checkout aisle, and these sweet treats beckon us every single time. The cups are made with allergen-friendly sunflower seed butter and a decadent coating of Fair-Trade dark chocolate. 

The sunflower seed butter isn't particularly strong or distracting in flavor; rather, the butter just helps carry the body of the confection through. It's sweet, slightly salty, and won't make you feel like you're missing out if you have a peanut or tree-nut allergy. 

Organic elote corn chip dippers

To some, Trader Joe's regular corn chip dippers are a knock-off of conventional brands. But add a unique seasoning blend, and we're sold. 

The Trader Joe's organic elote corn chip dippers are made with the familiar corn-chip texture but with a unique addition of elote seasoning — made with chipotle peppers, buttermilk, habanero pepper powder, and lime. Although we can't definitively say that these chips taste exactly like Mexican street corn, it's evident that the upgraded topping makes a difference to snacking, dipping into salsa, or using as a breading for chicken. 

Pancake bread

Trader Joe's is the epicenter of whimsical bakes and desserts. One of Trader Joe's best-baked goods is its pancake bread. This decadent loaf is brimming with pancake syrup flavor and has the denseness of a loaf cake. 

The pancake bread also promises (and delivers) an undercurrent of buttermilk that makes eaters reminisce about a short stack of diner pancakes. The crumble on the top of the loaf makes the dessert just like an upgraded coffee cake. Ultimately, you might second-guess leaving the Danish Kringle behind for this unique Trader Joe's invention. 

Horchata ice cream

Have you heard of horchata? It's a Mexican beverage made with soaked rice seasoned with a sweet blend of cinnamon and sugar. And for Trader Joe's, it's the perfect flavor combination to make into an ice cream. 

Trader Joe's new horchata ice cream is nothing but a success story. The pints are flavored with the same horchata flavors, along with the addition of crunchy horchata-flavored cookie pieces. The cinnamon flavor isn't overwhelming, either, and can be enjoyed solo or alongside a warm slice of apple pie.

Brownie crisp coffee ice cream sandwiches

Trader Joe's knows how to make the classic ice cream sandwich even better. The grocery retailer sells coffee ice cream sandwiches stuck together with a layer of its iconic brownie crisps. Its coffee ice cream is so profound because it's made with coffee syrup, coffee extract, and espresso grounds.

You get an outstanding coffee flavor sandwiched between chocolatey and slightly softened brownie thins. These ice cream sandwiches are sophisticated yet whimsical and are one frozen item you'll definitely want to add to your cart. 

Kung Pao tempura cauliflower

If you buy one cauliflower product at Trader Joe's, it should be the Kung Pao tempura cauliflower. It's a meatless alternative to the frozen Kung Pao chicken — and it doesn't skimp on the flavor. The tempura batter remains crispy, while the cauliflower inside has a slightly soft consistency that is not exactly the same as the chicken variety of this entrée. 

The star of the tempura cauliflower dish, though, is the Kung Pao sauce. It's brimming with refreshing pineapple juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger. The flavors are great for any meal.

Buffalo chicken dip

Trader Joe's dips, as a whole, are underrated. One dip that deserves way more attention is its buffalo chicken dip. You'll get the same flavor as if your favorite wing recipe was immersed in ooey-gooey Monterrey jack cheese, sour cream, and cream cheese. 

The best part about this dip isn't just the cheesiness but also the seasoning blend of cayenne, vinegar, and garlic. Not only will you want to dip your favorite Trader Joe's tortilla chips into this tailgate-ready spread, but keep a container in your fridge for whenever the mood strikes. 

Masala simmer sauce

Trader Joe's doesn't just offer ready-made entrées but also components you need to make a whole meal, customized to the ingredients you love. One of the integral items you need to have in your pantry for a DIY Indian meal is Trader Joe's masala simmer sauce. 

This item has been on the grocer's shelves for over 25 years, which is a testament to its success. You'll find delicious notes of fenugreek, ginger, garlic, and cloves in a thick tomato sauce that's perfect for a variety of poultry, meat, and seafood.

Vegetable pakoras

There's always room to eat more vegetables, and Trader Joe's vegetable pakoras make it easier than ever. Pakoras are made with chickpeas, similar to falafel, but also include other vegetables like potatoes, peas, carrots, and Indian seasonings. These tiny appetizers (or sides) can be baked in the oven for 15 minutes and come out crunchy, piping hot, and perfectly savory. 

Although the pakoras themselves are delicious, the tamarind sauce the package comes with is even more surprising. It's sour, slightly bitter, and not overwhelmingly sweet. Next time you're craving falafels, pick up a box of these instead. 

Way More Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of the biggest problems with chocolate chip cookies is that there are never enough chocolate chips. Trader Joe's has solved that problem with its Way More Chocolate Chip cookies. It's a favorite Trader Joe's cookie because the texture is sublime — not too soft and squishy but not tooth-breakingly hard, either. 

Serve these right from the cookie bucket, or crumble and add them to your favorite Trader Joe's ice cream for an elevated sundae experience. 

Dill pickle mustard

Trader Joe's might appear to be in the business of selling groceries — but really, it's made for solving life's greatest problems. For example, why keep multiple condiments in your fridge when you can have a single product with both flavors? Enter the dill pickle mustard. 

The dill pickle mustard is the absolute best Trader Joe's condiment because it has a very clear zing from the pickle brine that elevates the flavor of standard yellow mustard. In addition, the vegetal dill flavor also shines through and helps break up the monotony of flavor. Add it to your burgers, your marinades, and of course — your shopping cart. 

Vegetable biryani

Trader Joe's is a very friendly place for vegans and vegetarians; its vegetable biryani is one of many entrées plant-based folks have to choose from. This biryani is made with a fragrant South Asian spice blend of turmeric, mint, green chili, cilantro, and creative textural contrasts like raisins, cashews, cabbage, and green peas. 

What really makes this preprepared dish unique, though, is the vegetable kofta (dumplings) that are as aromatic as they are tasty. This dish can be served as a side, but it's filling enough to eat on its own as a meal.

Smoked trout filets

If you're thinking about canned fish, your go-to probably isn't trout. Trader Joe's sells canned smoked trout in oil — and it's surprisingly delicious. The filets are smoky and salty without being as strong as other canned fish like anchovies or sardines.

Besides being super inexpensive, the trout is surprisingly functional for all three meals. Use it to top your eggs, as a protein in a creamy pasta dish, or mix it with Greek yogurt and spices for an easy dip. 

Speculoos cookie butter ice cream

Trader Joe's is well-known for its Speculoos cookie butter: a cinnamony spread made by blending cookies into a peanut butter-like consistency. But the grocery chain takes it a step further with its Speculoos cookie butter ice cream. 

In this tub, you will find plentiful specks of Speculoos cookies and ribbons of cookie butter throughout the ice cream. It's the kind of frozen dessert you'll want to dip into when you're on the couch with your favorite streaming show. 

Dark chocolate ganache mini sheet cake

If you're buying a cake from Trader Joe's, take this recommendation and pick up a dark chocolate ganache mini sheet cake from the bakery section. The texture of the cake is between a brownie and a cake. It's fudgy, decadent, and completed with a thick layer of stick-to-your-ribs chocolate ganache.

Size is maybe the best about this dark chocolate ganache cake. its relatively small size makes it the perfect cake to bring to a small birthday party — or for you to enjoy on the couch solo. 

Fig & olive crisps

Trader Joe's charcuterie section is plentiful and filled with inexpensive yet quality cheeses. But the real star of the charcuterie section, which shoppers often overlook, is the fig and olive crisps. 

Each piece is like a tiny slice of bread with flecks of flax, sesame, and sunflower seeds. Dried California Mission figs and Kalamata olives make these crackers truly remarkable for serving with soft cheese or dipping into a bowl of hummus. 

Guajillo salsa

If you're buying a bag of tortilla chips from Trader Joe's, you can't escape without a jar of salsa. The new top choice? Fruity Guajillo salsa. It features a mild, sweet heat from the Guajillo peppers, fresh tangy tomatoes, garlic, red chili flakes, and chipotle pepper powder.

The undercurrent of smoke and depth makes this salsa a perfect option for dipping with chips, baking on chicken, or including it in your DIY Chipotle dinner. On Reddit, one Trader Joe's shopper even used it to make and 'the best fajitas' they ever tasted

Chicken soup dumplings

A soup dumpling is just as much an eating experience as a filling meal option. Each Trader Joe's chicken soup dumpling is filled with a pool of soup and a hefty serving of ground chicken inside. The broth is mildly sweet and salty, while the meat is perfectly soft and lush.

These dumplings are made to be eaten in your favorite soup base (don't worry, Trader Joe's has a lot of options here) and are guaranteed to be a new staple on your weeknight dinner rotation. 

Dark chocolate almond butter pretzel nuggets

It's always the peanut butter pretzel nuggets — never the dark chocolate almond butter pretzel nuggets. The latter is a much more worthwhile option to choose because the copious dark chocolate coating adds a new dimension of flavor to the nugget. 

In addition, the almond butter flavor is less intrusive than peanut butter, so you can more easily enjoy the salty, crunchy pretzel, chocolate, and filling together as a whole.