Trader Joe’s is constantly on the hunt for a new invention that will get customers hooked. With low prices and in-house recipe conceptualizing, the aisles can be a barrage of original ideas — especially when the seasonal items hit around the holidays. That’s why we want to cut through the noise and taste the latest Trader Joe’s products to find the ones worth their price tags. Each of these would work for a Thanksgiving appetizer spread, anytime snacking, or part of a more ambitious meal.
Organic Carrots of Many Colors, $2.99
No one wants to eat “health food” or “diet food.” Thankfully, Trader Joe’s multicolored dehydrated carrots are neither of those things, though they happen to be much more healthful than a bag of potato chips. The carrots have all the crunch of chips and look beautiful in a bowl as a starter for a fall-themed party. Pair them with roasted garlic hummus and a drizzle of olive oil for a funky kick.
Pumpkin Bisque, $3.99
Fall is inundated with pumpkin-infused products, for better or worse. On the better side: Trader Joe’s has nailed a soup that makes use of pumpkin’s savory qualities by adding tahini (roasted, ground sesame seeds turned into a paste used in hummus). Serve it before the big turkey and family and friends might forget that pumpkin pie exists.
Chili Onion Crunch, $3.99
Trader Joe’s has perfected several ingenious sauces and spices (see: Everything But the Bagel Seasoning), but it’s hit on something special with this Chili Onion Crunch, a riff on Asian chili oil blends. Dried onion and garlic add texture and pungent flavor that’s deeper than Sriracha and goes well with just about anything. Try a bit on TJ’s shrimp gyoza. Though $4 for a jar might seem steep, this stuff is best in small doses and should last you a while.
Plantain Crisps, $2.49
While Trader Joe’s has offered plantain chips before, this particular variety is heartier, twice-fried, and therefore a lot more addictive. Savory, chopped plantains get the simple tostones treatment — a standard dish in Latin American culture that needs to be expanded into the U.S. far more widely.
Philly Cheesesteak Bao Buns, $3.49
Every discerning fan of the Trader Joe’s frozen aisle knows that the chain loves to play with Asian-inspired hybrids. These fit into that tradition. While you’d do well to go with the straightforward pork bao, if you’re looking for a more Americanized flavor, it’s hard to resist these fluffy buns stuffed with the ingredients of a Philadelphia cheesesteak. Philly natives might scoff, but these are basically made for NFL season.