11 Trader Joe’s Items Our Food Editors Always Have on Hand

Mmm, pork gyoza

trader joe's food editor picks: elote corn dippers, chicken tikka masala, pork gyoza from trader joe's
Trader Joe’s

There’s no shortage of new Trader Joe’s products to add to your shopping list every month. (After all, the grocery store is known for its inventive, unconventional foods, snacks and drinks.) But what are the go-tos that you simply can’t live without? The ones you stock up on in advance so you’re never running on empty? PureWow’s food team rounded up their 11 favorite Trader Joe’s items that they lean on again and again, ranging from pantry staples to lightning-fast frozen mains.

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1. Greek Chickpeas with Cumin and Parsley

Complete with garlic and lemon. “My husband likes to keep a tin or two of these TJ’s chickpeas in our pantry,” explains PureWow senior food editor Katherine Gillen. “They’re already seasoned, so they make quick and easy lunches. He uses them as a high-protein filling for pita with feta, cucumber, tomatoes and hummus.”

2. Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers

Whether you crush them up to bread chicken or nosh on them straight from the bag (with guacamole, obvi), you will fall hard for these zesty chips. “They’re equal parts smoky, citrusy and tangy, thanks to buttermilk in the seasoning,” explains PureWow food editor Taryn Pire. “They’re also very generously coated—no naked chips here.”

3. Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

These poppables, made from high-quality cacao beans and slow-roasted peanuts, have a cult following for a reason. “I can’t walk past the checkout without buying them,” admits PureWow VP of editorial Candace Davison. “The chocolate is so rich, the filling is creamy—not gritty—and they’re just...perfection.”

4. Pork Gyoza Potstickers

Dumplings are always a no-brainer for busy nights; that’s why you should always have some on deck, ready to fry or steam. “We pretty much always have a bag of the pork gyoza in our freezer, which are excellent on their own as a quick lunch but also great for tossing into broth for soup,” Gillen suggests. “A tip? Don’t buy the veggie or chicken ones, they’re not as good.”

5. Umami Seasoning Blend

It may be hard to describe umami, aka the fifth taste, but a dusting of this powerhouse seasoning should help. “It’s made from porcini and white button mushrooms, plus onion, mustard seed, red and black pepper and thyme,” explains Pire. “I love dusting it over popcorn and roasted potatoes, and I always add it to ground beef for burgers, along with Worcestershire sauce.”

6. Soup Dumplings (and Other Frozen Apps)

“Trader Joe’s frozen food section is the best of any grocery store, ever,” asserts Davison. “The apps are my secret source for last-minute guests. The steamed pork and ginger soup dumplings are my go-to—they have a great broth-to-pork ratio and are nearly impossible to screw up. And I can turn the kung pao tempura cauliflower into a meal, too. When baked, the batter is light and crisp, and the sauce has nice, medium heat that isn’t overpowering.”

7. Enchilada Essentials

“I frequently make veggie enchiladas with exclusively Trader Joe’s items: flour tortillas, fire-roasted corn, black or pinto beans, diced tomatoes, chopped onion and bell pepper, cheese and TJ’s bottled enchilada sauce,” Gillen recommends. “Technically, you could do this at any grocery store, but it’s the fire-roasted frozen corn and sauce that are key. Bake the enchiladas at 350°F until warmed through—they freeze great, too.”

8. Gyro Slices

This shockingly tasty main asks nothing from the chef but to be warmed through in a pan. “These seasoned slabs of ground beef and lamb are total lifesavers on busy nights,” claims Pire. “Kissed with garlic, oregano and lemon, they’re prime for grilling and popping on pita, salad, pizza or even eggs with a boatload of cucumber salad, feta cheese and tzatziki.”

9. Chicken Tikka Masala

“When you don’t have time to cook (or you need something easy to tote to the office and reheat), this is a flavor-packed, affordable option,” Davison suggests. “Plus, the portion size is decent, so you’re not reaching for a bag of chips 30 minutes later.” This Indian-inspired main stars a mildly spicy, rich, curry-tomato sauce that’s begging to be sopped up with naan and basmati rice.

10. Oatmeal Cranberry Dunkers with White Fudge Drizzle

A long cookie that’s designed to sink all the way into a glass of milk while keeping your fingers dry? Believe it, friend. “My dad always had a container of these bad boys in his kitchen,” remembers Pire. “They’re just sweet and salty enough, plus offer both crunch and chew in every bite, due to the dried fruit. If you think you don’t like oatmeal cookies, these will change your mind.”

11. Japanese-Style Fried Rice

“The edamame adds a refreshing note to this foolproof fried rice,” Davison raves. “Top it with a protein or serve alongside tempura cauliflower, and you’ve got a satisfying, ready-in-less-than-15-minutes meal.” (It’s also dappled with tofu and seaweed, BTW.)

taryn pire

Food Editor

Taryn Pire is PureWow’s food editor and has been writing about all things delicious since 2016. She’s developed recipes, reviewed restaurants and investigated food trends at...