19 Trader Joe's Hacks You Should Try At Least Once

Trader Joe's is a mecca for health nuts, bargain hunters, unique snack enthusiasts, and anyone who loves food. The nautically themed stores can be found all over the United States, and the empire's expansion doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon. TJ's has firmly cemented its place in the heart of pop culture and especially on social media, with gigantic Facebook groups, numerous podcasts, and plenty of Instagram and TikTok groups dedicated to celebrating the store and its products.

These fan sites are gold mines when it comes to hacks for Trader Joe's products. Food trends are all over the place on the internet, many of which involve taking simple foods and "hacking" them by combining, swapping, or eliminating elements or ingredients. Considering TJs' popularity, it should come as no surprise that most hacks and fads wind up on one Trader Joe's fan page or another —  but while some of these tips and tricks are fantastic, others leave much to be desired. How do you know what to try and what to avoid? We dug through the morass and came up with Trader Joe's hacks you simply MUST try at least once.

Swap Shrimp Boom Bah and Mandarin Orange Chicken sauces

TJ's Mandarin Orange Chicken is one of the brand's most popular frozen entrees and offers a cheap and easy fix when you're craving Chinese takeout but don't want to pay exorbitant DoorDash fees. The orange and ginger sauce is the star of the show for many TJ's enthusiasts — but those who like their food on the spicier side may be left wanting.

Enter Shrimp Boom Bah sauce. Trader's introduced this frozen shrimp dish in April 2023, and it's quickly become a fan fave. The accompanying sauce is rich, sweet, and spicy in flavor and offers a great kick. While the Shrimp Boom Bah sauce pairs well with its intended shrimp dish, it's an absolute game changer for the chicken and is a great hack to take Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken to the next level.

Make ramen with Beef Birria

Fusion food has a real stronghold these days. Hop online or check out your local restaurant scene, and you'll see fusion foods like Korean BBQ tacos, tandoori chicken burgers, falafel banh mi, and a whole host of others. Asian and Mexican/LatinX foods are two of the most commonly combined fusion styles, and it's items from these two cuisines that led to this Trader Joe's hack that had TikTok amazed.

Shortly after TJ's unveiled its frozen Beef Birria, TikToker @foodieonfleek posted a video in which they microwave the birria (which comes in a rich, spicy broth) and combine it with a cooked pack of ramen noodles, doctoring the dish with extra broth, fresh cilantro, onions, and lime for a mind-blowing combo exploding with flavor. Try it at home and add whatever accoutrements call your name.

Use TJ's Organic Biscuits for dumpling soup

"Inside Trader Joe's," the store's official podcast, is a treasure trove of information about the store's history, new and discontinued products, corporate leaders, and more. In an April 2023 episode titled "Knack for Hacks," the show's hosts revealed their favorite hacks for sprucing up TJ's items. One of the best reveals from the episode was a Trader Joe's biscuit hack for lightning-fast dumpling soup.

This maneuver is a bit more time-consuming than throwing microwaved beef birria and ramen noodles together, but it's well worth the effort. By sweating diced veggies, aromatics, and herbs in a pot, adding broth and pre-cooked chicken, and then tossing quartered biscuit pieces directly into the mix, you'll achieve a hearty chicken and dumpling soup to warm your bones on a cold winter night.

Flesh out Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Chimichurri Rice

If you're looking for a flavorful meal that comes together with zero prep in about ten minutes, this needs to be added to your quick dinner rotation. This Trader Joe's rice hack marries a carton of TJ's Organic Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup and a frozen bag of Peruvian-Style Chimichurri Rice with Vegetables for a mouthwatering and filling entree. Each of these items makes a nice side dish, but the soup isn't very filling, and most people don't want to sit and eat a plate of rice.

However, when these two are combined, something magical happens. Neither is overpowering, but rather, the soup's citric tomato and smoky red pepper flavors perfectly complement the herbaceous, aromatic rice. It's a killer combo and a belly-filling dish you'll want to return to again and again — test out other rice and soup fusions, too.

Make margaritas with jalapeño limeade

Trader Joe's carries plenty of specialty beverages that make for killer (and easy-to-make) cocktails. Margarita enthusiasts will be thrilled to learn this simple hack for Trader Joe's spicy lemonade: Combining the store's jalapeño limeade with tequila makes for one of the easiest and tastiest margs you'll ever taste.

For a basic cocktail, you'll only need the limeade and tequila, but you can certainly doctor it up. Add fresh sliced jalapeños if you like more of a spicy kick; use mezcal instead of tequila for an earthy, smoky quality; or add berries or fresh herbs to brighten things up. TJ's Jalapeño Limeade is seasonal, so unfortunately, you won't be able to enjoy this drink year-round, but keep an eye out in the late spring and early summertime.

Use pizza dough for pretzels

There's nothing like homemade pizza on a fresh-made crust ... but while making pizza dough from scratch isn't very difficult, it's something that needs to be planned far in advance. Luckily, most supermarkets now sell ready-to-go pizza dough, and Trader Joe's is some of the best. Pizza dough can be put to use for more than just pizza  the dough can transform into anything from dinner rolls to pita bread to cinnamon rolls.

Trader Joe's pizza dough also offers the perfect shortcut to buttery soft pretzels. You can make traditional pretzel twists, pretzel pieces, or whatever whimsical shapes you desire by plunging the shaped dough into a mixture of boiling water and baking soda, then sticking the pretzels in the oven to finish them off. Brush them with some butter and seasonings of your choice, and you've got a top-notch appetizer for a Superbowl party, game night, or movie marathon.

Cook frozen pizza in a cast iron skillet

Trader Joe's frozen pizza selection is unlike anything you'll find at Walmart, Target, or your local supermarket. The store's frozen pizza medley features offerings like cheese pizza on cauliflower crust; roasted garlic and pesto; and burrata, prosciutto, and arugula flatbread. There's something for everyone, and the pies are great for a last-minute, lazy dinner situation.

However, there are a number of ways to mess up a frozen pizza, and if you ruin the crust, your pizza party is over before it even begins. How can you ensure the crust on your frozen 'za is perfectly cooked? Trader Joe's marketing execs recently shared an employee-approved tip for crispy crust, and it's pretty darn genius. Heat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, place your frozen pie in a cold cast iron skillet before baking, and wait till the cheese is brown and bubbly for a delicious, crispy crust every time.

Elevate Fiocchetti with Pink Sauce with sausage and veggies

Whether we're fangirling over TJ's pre-made salads, sandwiches, and wraps; ogling the vast display of bakery items, or wandering the frozen aisles in a daze, there's no denying that Trader Joe's has convenience foods down pat. One of the tastiest (and dare we say... cutest?!) of TJ's frozen entrees is the Cheese-Filled Fiocchetti with Pink Sauce. The scrunchy fiocchetti pasta balls are filled with three kinds of Italian cheese and then cooked with a gorgeous pink tomato and cream sauce.

While the frozen fiocchetti and sauce are plenty filling on their own (carbs and cheese alert!), we can't help but feel the dish is sort of a grown-up mac 'n cheese, lacking any true diversity of flavor. Luckily, there's a three-ingredient TikTok hack to spruce it up — just add TJ's Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Sausages and fresh spinach after the pasta's cooked.

Turn paper bags into gift wrap

Most grocery stores' paper bags are either plain or have the company logo printed on them. As usual, Trader Joe's deviates from the norm by printing fun, cute patterns on their paper bags, with designs changing seasonally. If you've found yourself with a stack of TJ's reusable bags and don't know what to do with them, don't throw them out — you can turn Trader Joe's bags into adorable gift bags or wrapping paper.

This easy hack is a great way to upcycle material that may have otherwise ended up in the trash or recycling, and it also gives your presents a homey, charming feel. Bonus points if you use TJ's paper bags to wrap up store-specific gifts — think an artisanal cheeses selection, an assortment of your favorite sauces and condiments, or a medley of Trader Joe's personal care products.

Use garlic naan for a killer grilled cheese

If there's a comfort food that tops a classic grilled cheese, we've yet to hear about it. Grilled cheese sandwiches can be made using whatever bread and cheese you have in your pantry or fridge, and they're a great way to use up ingredients that are about to meet their expiration dates. Most of us turn to white or wheat bread for our toasted cheese sammies, but if you're adventurous, try out this tasty bread swap for your next grilled cheese: Instead of bread, use garlic naan.

Garlic naan adds a level of buttery, pungent flavor to your grilled cheese while also providing a very different textural experience from grocery store bread. The sky's the limit when it comes to what type of cheese you can use. Try it out with melty fontina, lightly sweet Havarti, or classic sharp cheddar, and see what tickles your fancy.

Top fried rice dishes with Thai Lime & Chili Cashews

There are many cult favorite items at Trader Joe's, and the grocer's Thai Lime and Chili Cashews certainly fall into that category. Dusted with a seasoning mix of lemongrass, tom yum seasoning, chili powder, paprika, and lemon flavor, the cashews masterfully balance salt, fat, acid, and heat.

The nuts are perfect for snacking, adding to trail mix, or tossing in salads, but they're also the perfect way to give fried rice dishes a kick. Whether you're making your own fried rice or using TJ's frozen Vegetable Fried Rice, the Thai Lime & Chili Cashews add a complex heat to the dish. Kick things up another notch by pairing the nuts with one of the many fan favorite protein options from the frozen section, such as the Kung Pow Tempura Cauliflower, beef and broccoli, or Mandarin Orange Chicken.

Whip up easy homemade ice cream

Ice cream cravings can be pretty intense, especially if they hit late at a time when most stores are closed. Cravings are often tough to ignore, and while you might be tempted to brave the late-night characters loitering outside your local 7-Eleven for a pint, it's much easier (and cheaper!) to make it at home.

With a simple Trader Joe's two-ingredient ice cream hack, you'll find yourself digging into a delightful ice cream-adjacent dessert in no time. Grab a pack of frozen blueberries (or berries of your choice) from the freezer, pour them into a cup, cover the berries with milk, and stir. Let it sit for a couple of minutes while the berries soften, then stir again. You'll wind up with a slushy-texture "ice cream" that could stave your craving until you can get the real thing.

Try before you buy

Each month brings something new to look forward to when you shop at Trader Joe's. While new foods are exciting, there's always a risk when trying out an unfamiliar snack — what if you don't like it? One of the best little-known services TJ's offers is the option to try foods right in the store before purchasing.

If you're curious about the Chocolate Hummus, Caramel-Washed Gouda, or Birthday Cake Popcorn, you can ask an associate for a taste of the product on the spot. Of course, there are certain limitations — don't ask to sample raw meat, frozen items, or anything that needs to be prepared — but the policy offers consumers a great way to try new things without breaking the bank for a snack they may not enjoy.

Use crescent rolls to make beignets

Beignets are a staple in New Orleans, and a stop at Cafe du Monde or Morning Call is pretty much a prerequisite for anyone visiting the Crescent City. While nothing compares to munching on a fresh-off-the-press beignet piled a mile high with powdered sugar while wandering the French Market, it is possible to make beignets at home.

The traditional way of making the deep-fried delights is quite time-consuming, but we found an easy crescent roll hack for beignets that will have the fritters on your table much sooner. Deep fry squares of Trader Joe's crescent roll dough in oil until golden brown, then douse them in powdered sugar, and voila — beignets in about 25 minutes. Don't forget your chicory café au lait to truly recreate the NOLA experience.

Break up Everything But The Bagel seasoning with a spice grinder

Everything But The Bagel seasoning has firmly cemented its place in the hearts of Trader Joe's zealots. Introduced in 2017, the seasoning mix contains, well, all the stuff you'd expect to find on an everything bagel: white and black sesame seeds, sea salt flakes, dried and minced garlic and onion, and poppy seeds.

The only issue with the bagelicious blend is the size of the spice granules. They're quite large, and don't easily stick to foods that aren't soft themselves (like guacamole or raw chicken) or doused in oil or butter. Thankfully, there's an easy hack for Everything But The Bagel seasoning that fixes this. Simply use a spice grinder to pulverize the EBTB until it reaches a fine powder. This allows the seasoning to retain its flavor while helping it really stick to your snacks.

Upgrade avocado toast with Small Curd Cottage Cheese

It's been a couple of years since the avocado toast craze first swept the nation, but plenty of us still enjoy the healthy, delicious combination of toasted bread and mashed avocado. These are really the only two ingredients one needs for avocado toast, but c'mon — it's so easy to jazz things up with balsamic glaze, a fried egg, prosciutto, or whatever you have on hand.

The internet has another suggestion for a creamy, cheesy addition to avocado toast. Inspired by Trader Joe's creamy Green Goddess Dressing, TikToker @chicago.dietitian suggests blending avocado with cottage cheese and then using this mixture to top your toast. It's deliciously smooth and rich; and you can purchase avocados, Small Curd Cottage Cheese, and your favorite bread right at TJ's, the store that inspired the combo.

Elevate fried eggs with Chili Onion Crunch

Eggs are an incredibly versatile protein. They're packed with nutrients, taste awesome, and because there are so many different ways to prepare them, they never get boring. That said, many people don't have the energy to prepare Scotch eggs every evening or the eggs-pertise to poach them for a benedict, so plain old fried eggs are a classic standby.

Even within the fried egg realm, there are tons of ways to shake things up. You can change up your cooking oils, add spices and seasonings — or check out this spicy TikTok hack to take your fried eggs to the next level. Instead of frying eggs in butter or oil, cook them up in Trader Joe's Chili Onion Crunch. This chili flake and onion oil adds both a pungent flavor and a nice crunchy texture to your delicious breakfast protein.

Replace lasagna noodles with ravioli

Trader Giotto's (the name TJ's adorably slaps on its Italian-inspired products) has a superabundance of pasta items, and the ravioli in the refrigerated section makes an excellent Tuesday night dinner with little prep. If you're looking for something a little more complex than plain ravioli boiled in water, it's easy to use Trader Joe's ravioli to make a no-frills lasagna by swapping traditional lasagna noodles for the stuffed pasta.

Ravioli lasagna can be as simple as taking Trader Giotto's 4-Cheese Ravioli and layering it with tomato sauce and mozzarella and parm — but it's easy to get even more creative. Try stacking the Honey-Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli with ground turkey cooked down with TJ's Autumn Harvest Pasta Sauce and shredded cheese, or elevate your Meatless Monday by layering Porcini Mushroom and Truffle Ravioli with Alfredo sauce, baby portabella mushrooms, shredded mozzarella, and gruyère.

Amp up Organic Jumbo Cinnamon Rolls with eggnog

The holidays might just be the best time of year to shop at Trader Joe's. Between Thanksgiving and New Year's, the supermarkets are bursting at the seams with seasonal treats like Jingle Jangle, Chocolate Passports, Candy Cane Joe Joes, and more. TJ's also carries its own version of Eggnog, a traditional holiday beverage made from milk, cream, sugar, and warm spices like nutmeg and turmeric.

There's a lot you can do with Trader Joe's Nog, but the Instagram fan account Trader Joe's Treasure Hunt has an ingenious hack: using eggnog to give cinnamon rolls a festive upgrade. Pouring TJ's Egg Nog over the store's Organic Jumbo Cinnamon Rolls before baking leads to both a fluffier roll and a deeper cinnamon flavor. Try it out next time you host brunch, and see for yourself.