Our Favorite 2-Ingredient Recipes You Can Make With Trader Joe's Items

Shopping at Trader Joe's is an unrivaled experience. You'll spend time twisting and turning down the aisles, getting overwhelmed by the various chocolate peanut butter snacks the store offers, and ultimately, lose yourself in the low prices that seem too good to be true. This unparalleled shopping adventure, as well as the sheer variety of products it sells, is the reason why Trader Joe's remains one of the most popular grocery stores in the country.

Besides novelty products, Trader Joe's has a variety of ready-to-make meals that make dinnertime during a busy week more manageable. You can heat up some cacio e pepe gnocchi and serve it alongside a bagged salad, or cook its delicious roasted red pepper and tomato soup on the stovetop for a warm end to your night. And what is quicker and easier to whip than something that only requires two ingredients? I curated a list of the best two-ingredient recipes you can recreate, exclusively using Trader Joe's products, for a simple, tasty dinner, dessert, or snack.

Tandoori naan with fontina semi-soft cheese

Trader Joe's tandoori naan is a take on the classic Middle Eastern bread. It pairs well with curries, sauces, and soups and also makes a great replacement for regular bread. This recipe utilizes naan and semi-soft fontina cheese to make the ultimate comfort food: a grilled cheese sandwich.

On its own, the Trader Joe's naan has a brown tint, so you need to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't get too toasty on the stove. After buttering a pan, I placed a slice of naan in the center and piled mounds of fontina cheese on top — though you can also use havarti or Gruyére. I chose tangy fontina for this recipe because the naan has a garlicky seasoning on it. Pairing the allium with the tangy cheese creates a pleasant yet surprising balance in the grilled cheese. It's rich and cheesy but never too salty. 

The naan also maintains its fluffiness on the inside — even while its outside gets perfectly crunchy — which is hard to achieve with a grilled cheese. Swapping out a standard, sliced bread with naan will make an elevated grilled cheese that is still warm and comforting.

Kohlrabi vegetable pasta with cacio e pepe pasta sauce

Kohlrabi is a cabbage-like vegetable initially grown in Europe. Trader Joe's recommends pairing this vegetable-turned-pasta with its cacio e pepe sauce — and I was pleasantly surprised by the results.

The pasta calls for a five-minute saute, but I kept mine in the pan for several more, and it was still slightly crunchy. You can also microwave the pasta for faster results, but I found that it was fresher when cooked on the stove.The kohlrabi strands taste crunchy and fresh, like a carrot. When it's warm, the vegetable exudes a sweetness that offsets the peppery taste of the cacio e pepe sauce (which is strong, so a little goes a long way). The pasta shrinks because of the heat, so I recommend adding more than you think you'll need. 

Yet, there are some important textural considerations with the pasta. It won't toss and twirl like fettuccine. Moreover, you have to cook it enough for it to lose its crunch but not too long so that it falls apart.

The cacio e pepe sauce adds a seasoned, creamy texture to the pasta, which makes me overlook the kohlrabi's crunchy texture. The vegetable keeps its fresh, green taste even after being doused in the sauce, making it a delicious alternative to traditional pasta. 

Vegetable fried rice with super-firm tofu

Trader Joe's has tons of options for making takeout-quality food at home, including its packaged tofus and frozen fried rice. Its Organic super-firm tofu has less water than regular or silken tofu and 14 grams of protein per serving, so it was my top choice for this recipe. It was easy to brown the tofu on all sides because there was very little water in the package. You can also upgrade the flavor of the protein by seasoning your tofu with ingredients like salt, red pepper flakes, soy sauce, and garlic. I also recommend cooking the tofu in olive oil for maximum crispiness.

Tofu can be cooked in a variety of ways, including frying, sauteing, and crumbling it into dishes like tacos. Sauteing was the best option here because you could make the tofu and vegetable fried rice in the same pan. This means the rice and tofu could soak up all the flavors and create one cohesive dish.

The tofu tasted soft but not spongy and stayed crispy once the rice was added. Thanks to the veggies, the rice was super fresh, while the soy sauce seasoning really added to the whole dish. This Asian-inspired, meatless meal is one worth adding to your weekly menu.

Organic fusilli corti buscati pasta with Unexpected Cheddar Cheese spread

Trader Joe's Unexpected Cheddar Cheese is a knockout product. The popular spread has the tanginess of cheddar cheese. It's a great pairing for a fun spiral pasta shape, which can easily capture the cheese's richness. The spread gets into each layer of the spiral, so no noodle is left uncoated.

Trader Joe's has released many Unexpected Cheddar Cheese spread variants, including one with hatch chiles and a seasonal version with cranberries. The classic Unexpected spread is the best one for a classic mac and cheese dish that even picky eaters will enjoy. 

The amount of cheese spread you use is up to you. I used four big scoops, which made for a cheesy yet approachable taste. Mac and cheese is meant to be rich and comforting, so I used enough to get the perfect smooth, creamy texture. If it gets too thick, you can always add milk or pasta water (as I did) to loosen the sauce without losing the luscious, cheesy mouthfeel.

This dish is great for a quick lunch or dinner after a long day. Because of its richness, it is best in smaller portions, but it is filling and reason enough to keep these two ingredients on hand. 

Chicken shu mai with organic free-range chicken broth

Frozen meals don't have to be low quality, and Trader Joe's proves that with its chicken shu mai frozen dumplings. The dumplings, made with chicken and vegetables, come with a side of dressed-up soy sauce. This product can be made in the microwave or brought up to temperature in a steamer basket. 

To elevate this dumpling dish, you need one extra ingredient: Trader Joe's free-range chicken broth. This boxed product will transform the dumplings into a delicious, comforting dumpling soup. I enjoy this dish because you can decide just how soupy you want it to be and add broth accordingly. I added some red pepper flakes, soy sauce, and chopped green onion to spice up the soup. You can also add sesame seeds or another seasoning of choice. 

The chicken filling makes these dumplings hearty, while the pockets of vegetables add freshness and lighten up the dish. The dumpling has a gentle sweetness that combines with the added spices to create a balanced flavor profile with elements of tanginess and spice. This works well since the chicken broth on its own is not very flavorful. The liquid nature of the broth keeps the dish from being too heavy, though, so it remains a light meal all the way through.

Sesame teriyaki beef skirt steak with Brussels sprouts

Trader Joe's makes adding red meat to your dinner routine easier with its pre-marinated sesame teriyaki steak. The brand packages its pre-cut steak in a log, which makes it easy to pull out and grill. My package came with three slices of skirt steak marinated in sesame teriyaki sauce, honey, sesame seeds, and rosemary extract.

Preparing the Brussels sprouts for this recipe requires some legwork. First, examine the produce for spots or tinged leaves that might indicate rot. Usually, a simple fix is just chopping off the part of the vegetable that looks less fresh. After I prepped the Brussels sprouts, I chose to season them with red pepper flakes and garlic powder for an extra kick, but you can just sprinkle olive oil on for a little bit of char.

The sprouts came out soft with crispy edges and a charred flavor that enhanced the pepper's spiciness. This sharp flavor profile paired nicely with the sweetness of the steak. I found the meat tastes best when cooked to a perfect medium, and it chars well because of the marinade, so the meal was balanced and full of heat.

Organic tomato and roasted red pepper soup with Peruvian-style chimichurri rice

This Trader Joe's rice hack is the way to go if you're trying to avoid any and all cooking. It uses two ingredients: the brand's Organic tomato and roasted red pepper soup and the Peruvian-style chimichurri rice. On its own, the texture of the roasted red pepper soup is perfect if you're sick and need a pick-me-up or something to soothe your throat. All you need to do is match it with the spiced rice, which is mixed with crème fraîche, garlic, ginger, and cilantro. The rice also has Peruvian panca peppers, which add a smokiness and counteract the red pepper soup's sweet undertones. When paired, complex spice and sweet notes make for a comforting meal.

If you're looking for a chowder-like consistency, I recommend a 1-to-1 ratio of rice to soup. You'll want to heat the mixture on your stovetop for as long as it takes to thicken. While this might seem tedious,  it only takes about 10 minutes — and it's definitely worth the wait. The rice amplifies the heartiness of the soup.

The soup has a hefty tomato taste, while the rice offers flavors similar to those of the veggie add-ins. The two bind together to create a cohesive dish. This soup is perfect for people who want something a little more filling than soup but not a full plate of rice. It's a happy medium — a definite meal on its own that's not too heavy.

Pub cheese with organic vegetarian chili

Trader Joe's has two ingredients to make a classic chili cheese dip that you'll remember forever: vegetarian chili and pub cheese. The vegetarian chili has red beans, onions, textured pea protein (which makes it filling), bell peppers, jalapeños, and more. Still, it lacks a bit of flavor, which is where the pub cheese comes in. The ingredients in the cheese spread, like horseradish, bring out the dormant flavors in the chili.

This dip requires little preparation. If you're pressed for time and want a quick treat, the chili can be warmed up for a few minutes in the microwave. Once you add the pub cheese, give it a quick stir for a no-hassle appetizer.

When combined, the dip is rich in texture and contrasting flavors. It has a hit of spice followed by a quick flicker of cheese. I tried mine with tortilla chips, but corn chips might be a better combination to bring in extra sweetness. The beans give this dip a protein kick that transforms into a must-have appetizer for your next family gathering. The dip is not cheesy in a cheese-pull kind of way, but you can add more pub cheese if you want to get a similar effect. I recommend not putting too much, though, because the horseradish flavor can become overpowering quite fast.

Spatchcocked lemon rosemary chicken with garlic shiitake green beans

Roasting a whole chicken is all about technique, and Trader Joe's makes it easy with its plastic-wrapped spatchcocked lemon rosemary chicken. Spatchcocking is when whole chicken is split and flattened to make it cook faster while still retaining its juices. Once you grab this product from your store, you can easily transform it into whatever you're craving, like this super easy protein-side combo.

The green beans are sold frozen and coated in an umami garlic shiitake sauce. In comparison, the chicken is sold from the fresh section of the store and comes coated in a citrusy brine. Cooking the chicken gave it a brown, crispy skin that accentuated the other seasonings: olive oil, garlic, rosemary, parsley, and slices of whole lemon.

This combination works well because it requires almost no time hovering over the stove. Once you pull the chicken out of the package and toss it in the oven, it stays there for about an hour. Cooking the green beans only takes five minutes, and the last minute or so is spent covering them to soak up the steam from the stovetop. This is the low-maintenance, hands-off dinner of every busy person's dreams.

The umami-rich seasoning gives the veggies a full, deep flavor that contrasts its crunchiness. Together, the chicken and green beans make for a dinner full of light and refreshing herbal aromas.

Speculoos cookie butter with organic crescent rolls

Desserts can often feel daunting, but they don't have to be. You can bake a fluffy, sweet treat in no time by spreading cookie butter inside of Trader Joe's crescent rolls. 

If you're a fan of making desserts in your air fryer, you'll definitely want to try this one. I baked these in a conventional oven for about 15 minutes, but an air fryer could probably get the job done in anywhere from five to 10. This could be a fun one to make with kids, too, as it requires getting your hands dirty just a little bit — from unrolling each piece of crescent roll dough to spreading a thick layer of cookie butter on each one. Because you're rolling these yourself, you could make them any shape you want. You can also add a sprinkle of powdered sugar for extra sweetness when they come out of the oven for extra decadence. 

The cookie butter has a sweet flavor profile consistent with cinnamon sugar — almost like a snickerdoodle. The crescent roll's fluffiness makes it a fun dessert that could even double as a replacement for muffins as an easy breakfast in the morning. If you're a fan of a chestnut praline latte in the winter, you'll recognize the holiday spices in the cookie butter, which add to the warmth of this dessert.