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There are myriad reasons Trader Joe’s has a cult following. But let’s be real: Their impressive selection of artisanal frozen food has to be one of the biggest. Quick, easy, affordable, delicious — what’s not to love? A stroll through TJ’s freezer section will always yield new favorites, along with the staples you can’t resist (we’re looking at you, cauliflower gnocchi). There’s just one problem. While variety is a good thing, it can make deciding what to take home downright daunting.
Obviously, it would be nearly impossible to rank every single one of TJ’s frozen food offerings. Have you seen their freezer section?! Seriously, it’s large and in charge, thus bringing us to our current predicament of utter indecisiveness. So, we decided to take a look at the grocer’s frozen food items everyone always seems to be raving about… and rank them. Is the Mandarin Orange Chicken really that dreamy? Is the Coffee Bean Blast ice cream the stuff foodie dreams are made of? By poring over countless reviews and pulling in our own personal experience — thanks for the assist, taste buds — we stacked some of TJ’s most popular frozen foods up against each other.
Granted, we know how this goes. Trader Joe’s fans swear fierce allegiances to their favorite TJ’s foods and will debate about them for days (months, years even). But keep an open mind. You might just find a few new favorites in our ranking, which runs from good to frickin’ phenomenal.
Trader Joe’s frozen Hashbrowns are’t gourmet. But even the snobbiest brunch guests won’t turn up their noses at a crispy potato hashbrown fresh from the air fryer. It’s a breakfast staple, easier than making hashbrowns from scratch (do people actually do that?), and healthier than the deep-fried ones you get at the drive-through. They’re also affordable, $2.49 a package in most locations.
Chickenless Crispy Tenders
Trader Joe’s is one of the funnest places to shop when you’re vegan, because they actually have lots of options, from outlandish fusion snacks to weeknight staples like these whole grain-breaded Chickenless Crispy Tenders. They get ultra-crispy in the air-fryer, and can be eaten on their own with a dip, or added to other recipes. Crispy vegan chickenless tacos sound like a weeknight win to us.
For those times when you just wanta little bite of chocolate, or a frozen sweet treat, you’ve got to have some Gone Bananas! in the freezer. They’re also a delicious ice cream topper (think banana split). And it goes without saying that kids love them too!
Mini Chicken Tacos
How much of a taco snob you are will determine whether you think these bite-sized beauties should be higher in the rankings. Trader Joe’s Mini Chicken Tacos are pretty no-frills, which is why we put them at this point in the line-up. However, they’re quick, easy, tasty, easy to dress up if you want, and perfect for parties.
Pork Gyoza Potstickers
True story: We pretty much always have a bag of TJ’s Pork Gyoza Potstickers in our freezer. Classic and simple, you can prepare these in several different ways depending on your taste.
Chicken-less Mandarin Orange Morsels
Here’s a Trader Joe’s meatless option that vegans will go ga-ga for: Chicken-less Mandarin Orange Morsels that are just as tasty and easy to prepare as the store’s iconic Mandarin Orange Chicken. Serve with rice or noodles, or tuck into a wrap with crispy chow mein noodles, rice, and steamed broccoli for a real meatless Monday treat.
Coffee Bean Blast Ice Cream
Coffee ice cream lovers are a unique breed, but those who like it really, really like it. Trader Joe’s Coffee Bean Blast Ice Cream actually delivers on its promise, blasting your tastebuds with the flavors of brewed coffee and ground coffee beans. The short list of quality ingredients and the thick, rich texture make this a gourmet ice cream experience.
French Onion Macaroni & Cheese
French Onion Mac & Cheese started trending, and boom — Trader Joe’s immediately came out with their own version. It’s creamy, loaded with caramelized onion flavor, and way easier to prepare than making mac and cheese from scratch. We especially love the croutons on top.
Honey Walnut Shrimp
TJ’s Honey Walnut Shrimp is an adventurous take-out favorite done right. The shrimp on their own are fantastic, but they’re even better tossed in the sweet, creamy, lemony sauce with hearty walnuts. And since the ingredients come packaged separately, you can always mix and match as you see fit. We recommend using only half the sauce, at first, then adjusting to your personal tastes.
You had to see this one coming, right? TJ’s Cauliflower Gnocchi is the stuff of frozen food legends, and it’s not hard to see (or taste!) why. Made in Italy, these light and pillowy gnocchi are a low-carb, vegan, gluten-free staple. You can prepare them practically any way your heart desires, making them brilliantly versatile…and totally delicious.
Mandarin Orange Chicken
I mean, obviously. Right? Everyone raves about TJ’s Mandarin Orange Chicken, to the point that you’re probably wondering why this didn’t snag the top spot. More on that in a minute, but suffice it to say this dish is definitely a winner. We think it’s better than take-out, even. Pair it with a package of TJ’s Fried Rice, and your world will be rocked.
Chicken Cilantro Mini Wontons
Nothing beats the delicious versatility of Trader Joe’s Chicken Cilantro Mini Wontons, which in our book are a dead ringer for BiBiGo’s frozen mini wontons. The dumplings are filled with a savory, juicy chicken and cabbage filling that’s bursting with flavor. They’re delish steamed in the microwave, pan-fried and served with a black vinegar and soy dipping sauce, or added to chicken broth with some green veggies to make a satisfying soup. Grab two bags, because you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to devour dozens of these in one sitting.
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