11 Trader Joe’s Items That are Totally Worth Braving Their Parking Lot

These classics have proven their staying power in a crowded grocery landscape.
Updated May 16, 2024
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Millions of shoppers love Trader Joe’s for its reliably good customer service and reasonable prices, which help everyone save money shopping.

In addition, a handful of the grocer’s products have won the undying loyalty of fans.

Last year, more than 18,000 respondents answered a Trader Joe’s survey asking customers to name the products they would take with them to a desert island. The following are some of their choices.

Editor's note: prices are subject to change and may vary by location.

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Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend

Courtesy of Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend

Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend is a crowd-pleaser, thanks to its great combination of flavors and its versatility in the kitchen.

You can put it on almost anything, whether you’re seasoning meat, amping up pizza, or adding a depth of flavor to dip.

The magic is in the ingredients, which include sesame seeds, dried onion and garlic, poppy seeds, and salt. And for $1.99, it’s a steal. No wonder it was voted Trader Joe’s top seasoning and came in at No. 4 in the “overall” category.


Courtesy of Trader Joe's Box of trader joe's hashbrowns

Sometimes, simple really is better. That is certainly the case with Trader Joe’s Hashbrowns.

These frozen breakfast staples come in at No. 2 overall in the survey, just behind Trader Joe’s Chili & Lime Flavored Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips. Made from Idaho potatoes, a 10-pack costs $2.79.

What makes this treat especially convenient is that it’s fully cooked, so you can just throw one in the skillet and brown it up. That saves you the arduous labor of peeling and grating potatoes and then pressing them all together. It’s a real time saver.

Unexpected Cheddar Cheese

Courtesy of Trader Joe's crackers and cheese ball covered in nuts in the middle with Trader Joe's pack of Unexpected Cheddar Cheese in the back

This is the first entry on our list from the Trader Joe’s Product Hall of Fame: Unexpected Cheddar Cheese.

Per the branding, it’s unexpected because the initial cheddar flavor melts into a creamy Parmesan — which is delicious. But the price is also a surprise: $3.99.

Along with flavor, versatility is likely a factor in Unexpected Cheddar’s success. You can enjoy it straight up, press it into a sandwich, bake it into some pasta, or do whatever else it is you like to do with your favorite cheese.

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English Cheddar with Caramelized Onions

Courtesy of Trader Joe's Grilled cheeses plate with caramelized onions and in the back a block of Trader Joe's Cheddar Cheese Caramelized Onions

Trust us when we tell you there is room for two cheese selections on this list — and two of the cheddar variety at that. Trader Joe’s customers voted English Cheddar with Caramelized Onions the No. 1 cheese of 2023.

A pound will set you back $9.99, but it’s worth the money, even though this is on the expensive side for Trader Joe’s. 

Cultivated on an English cheese farm and blended with savory onions, it is a creamy, chutney-forward marriage of texture and flavor.

Mandarin Orange Chicken

Courtesy of Trader Joe's Bowl of Mandarin Orange Chicken from Trader Joe's

Frozen Mandarin Orange Chicken is another Trader Joe’s product that’s been inducted into the Product Hall of Fame.

You can keep this weeknight dinner staple in the freezer, busting it out on a busy night when you need to put good food on the table. It’s only $4.99 — much cheaper than takeout.

Bake the chicken, then toss it into a skillet to blend with the sauce for the best results. Pair it with noodles or rice and veggies and you’ll understand why this is such a customer favorite.

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Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice

Courtesy of Trader Joe's Trader Joe's Frozen food Butter Chicken with basmati rice

If you’re only cooking for one or need lunch on the go, Trader Joe’s shoppers have a suggestion: a frozen, single-serve entree of Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice.

This convenient riff on an Indian classic took home the gold in the “entree” category for 2023.

At $4.49, it might seem pricey. But the depth of flavor and quality of the chicken pays off deliciously. And while it is a touch high in fat and sodium, overall it’s a healthy spin on a dish that’s comforted many for generations.

Peanut Butter Filled Pretzel Nuggets

Courtesy of Trader Joe's peanut butter filled pretzels from Trader Joe's on a table with color crayons spread

This popular Trader Joe’s snack has the distinction of occupying a spot in the top 10 list of manager favorites. Yes, Peanut Butter Filled Pretzel Nuggets are a true Trader Joe’s legend, selling for $2.49 a bag.

These are simple snacks, with a crunchy and salty pretzel on the outside and creamy, sweet (but not too sweet) peanut butter on the inside. They can do the heavy lifting in kid’s lunch boxes or bring an elevated shine to a charcuterie platter.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Courtesy of Trader Joe's Dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joe's

If you prefer your peanut butter in a format that is strictly sweet, chances are you already know about Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. These treats occupy a rightful place in the Trader Joe’s Product Hall of Fame and only cost $4.49 for 16 ounces.

The candies lack artificial colors and artificial flavors, and you can tell you’re getting the real deal — peanut butter and cocoa — when you sink your teeth into them.

Hold the Cone! Mini Ice Cream Cones

Courtesy of Trader Joe's Box of Trader Joe's mini ice cream cones

Worthy of an English tea party or an elevated kid’s birthday bash, Hold the Cone! Mini Ice Cream Cones have the honor of winning the best Trader Joe’s dessert for 2023.

Available for $3.99 per box, this treat comes in a variety of flavors. Plus, at 280 calories per serving, this dessert isn't a splurge that your dietitian will frown upon.

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Soy Chorizo

Courtesy of Trader Joe's Three tacos on a wooden board and a pack of Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo next to it

We thought it fitting to cap off our list with a Trader Joe’s product that pleases carnivores and vegans alike: Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo.

Another product that boasts versatility, you can scramble the chorizo into an omelet, layer it in a taco, slice and sauté it with peppers — the list goes on.

Since it’s soy-based, you’re saving yourself the calories, fat, and cholesterol that come with pork. And for a low cost of $2.99, you get it all.

Flowers and plants

Kristina Blokhin/Adobe buckets of flowers with Trader Joe's signs

Yep! Not only does Trader Joe's offer food and drinks that are unique, delicious, and well-priced, but one of the best places to get some fresh flowers and potted plants for a bargain is at our beloved TJ's.

The Mums go for as little as $4.99 and are known to last. As it is with other products, they keep some of the same favorite items, but you'll always find seasonal flowers and plants to buy for your home or gift someone. 

Pro tip: buying flowers or a plant to gift someone with? Go ahead and grab an artsy greeting card for just $99. 

Bottom line

Kristina Blokhin/Adobe A Trader Joe's shopping cart

Trader Joe’s has clearly cornered its share of the market, and that’s arguably due to the fact that the grocer carries one-of-a-kind products that customers love.

So, grab one of the top cash back credit cards and head to Trader Joe’s to try out some of the products on this list. If customer reviews are any indication, you’re unlikely to be disappointed.

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Author Details

Cat Lafuente Cat Lafuente is a Florida-based writer and editor with extensive experience in digital and print content spaces. Her own personal finance journey — particularly consolidating debt and paying it off, in turn boosting her credit score and becoming a homeowner — inspired her to join the FinanceBuzz team; she hopes she can help others do the same.

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