I tried 10 of Trader Joe's holiday breakfast foods, and I'd buy 8 of them again

  • I taste-tested 10 Trader Joe's holiday breakfast items to see which ones were the most delicious.

  • I wouldn't buy the iced gingerbread squares or the panettone again.

  • I was a big fan of the organic hot-cocoa mix and mini cranberry-pistachio biscotti.

Trader Joe's carries lots of seasonal foods, so this year, I decided to try the chain's breakfast options for the winter season.

Here's how 10 Trader Joe's holiday breakfast items stacked up.

I wasn't so sure about the filling in Trader Joe's apple-cranberry tarts.

Trader Joe's apple-cranberry tart in box
Trader Joe's apple-cranberry tarts had flaky crusts.Paige Bennett

I found a two-pack of apple-cranberry tarts in the bakery section.

I expected the cranberries to be pretty tart and the thick, golden crust to be buttery and delicious.

The apple-cranberry center looked bright red and kind of mushy.

I liked the apple-cranberry tarts.

Trader Joe's apple-cranberry tart
The filling of the apple-cranberry tarts was really good.Paige Bennett

The crust was slightly crumbly but held together well. It was also moist with a good buttery flavor.

Though the filling didn't look amazing, it was really good. It was sweet at first, then tart from the cranberry.

The tarts reminded me of the apple-pumpkin version Trader Joe's sold in the fall, but I liked the apple-cranberry combination even more.

The iced gingerbread squares sounded like they'd be good with coffee.

Trader Joe's iced gingerbread squares
Trader Joe's iced gingerbread squares needed to be thawed out.Paige Bennett

The iced gingerbread squares seemed like they'd pair great with coffee or hot cocoa and fruit on the cold mornings.

I let the frozen squares thaw out at room temperature briefly before eating.

They looked soft and fudgy, though the glaze looked a little thin in some spots.

I was surprised that I didn’t really like the gingerbread squares.

Trader Joe's iced gingerbread square on a plate
Trader Joe's iced gingerbread squares tasted OK.Paige Bennett

I usually love gingerbread but I don't think I'd buy the squares again.

The glaze was hard and crispy and the gingerbread was denser and drier than I expected.

In my opinion, the icing had an artificial taste to it. The gingerbread was too sweet for me and not as spiced as I prefer.

The maple-cranberry-orange spread didn’t sound the most appetizing to me.

Trader Joe's maple-cranberry orange spread
I wasn't exactly sure what to eat with Trader Joe's maple-cranberry-orange spread.Paige Bennett

I didn't know what to expect from a combination of maple, cranberry, and orange in a single spread, nor did I know how I could use it outside of adding it to toast.

Well, until I tried it.

The maple-cranberry-orange spread was really unique and versatile.

Trader Joe's cranberry-orange spread on a plate
I'd use Trader Joe's maple-cranberry-orange spread on toast, yogurt, and more.Paige Bennett

After tasting the rich spread, I immediately thought of several uses for it. It tasted similar to a caramel sauce but with more depth.

I first tried it on its own to get an idea of the flavor and eventually paired it with pancakes.

The spread would be amazing with yogurt or oatmeal, or used in winter mocktails or cocktails.

I made a thick batter with the cinnamon-bun-inspired pancake and waffle mix.

Trader Joe's cinnamon-bun-inspired pancake and waffle mix
I expected Trader Joe's cinnamon-bun-inspired pancake and waffle mix to be pretty sweet.Paige Bennett

I followed the box's instructions to turn the mix into pancakes.

When I was finished, I triple-checked the instructions as the batter was so thick, I thought I may have mistakenly made the waffle mix instead.

Luckily, the thick pancake batter gave me no trouble while cooking.

The pancakes turned out great.

Finished pancakes made with Trader Joe's cinnamon-bun-inspired pancake and waffle mix
The pancakes I made with Trader Joe's cinnamon bun-inspired mix turned out perfect.Paige Bennett

After my first tester pancake, the rest of the batch cooked up easily and beautifully.

The pancakes tasted sweet and cinnamon-y as I expected.

Even after using a generous amount of butter in the pan, they were drier than I would've liked. But it was nothing syrup couldn't fix.

I also tried them with baked apples, which made the perfect pancake stack for a chilly day.

Trader Joe's mini panettone was the perfect size for one to two people.

Panettone bread with wrapper being peeled away and some bread sticking to wrapper
Some of the bread stuck to the wrapper of the panettone. Paige Bennett

I was thankful that Trader Joe's carries a standard version and a one-person serving of panettone, an Italian sweet bread typically made with candied fruits.

After opening the package, I noticed this mini panettone smelled strongly of raisins and that a lot of the bread stuck to the wrapper as I pulled it off.

The panettone was OK, but I'd skip buying it for myself in the future.

Sliced Trader Joe's panettone
The panettone had a decent flavor.Paige Bennett

The texture of the mini panettone was spongy and soft, and the raisins and candied citrus were evenly distributed.

The bread itself was subtly sweet but fine overall.

I appreciated the smaller size for serving just one or two people, but I don't think I'd buy it again.

I was excited to try the cranberry-pistachio biscotti.

Trader Joe's mini cranberry-pistachio biscotti
I expected to like the flavor of Trader Joe's mini cranberry-pistachio biscotti.Paige Bennett

I'm a big fan of pistachio, so I looked forward to tasting it in Trader Joe's mini cranberry-pistachio biscotti.

Because the biscotti are small, I thought they could make a great addition to a breakfast of fruit, yogurt, or eggs.

Trader Joe's cranberry-pistachio biscotti was a perfect treat, especially paired with coffee.

Trader Joe's mini cranberry biscotti on a plate
The cranberry-pistachio biscotti had a drizzle of icing on top.Paige Bennett

The dried cranberry and nuts looked pretty evenly distributed throughout the biscotti.

The cookie was very crunchy but softened up nicely when I dunked it in my coffee.

I enjoyed the combination of the earthy, salty pistachio and the chewy, sweet bites of cranberry.

I don't really like peppermint drinks, so I didn’t expect to enjoy the candy-cane green tea.

Trader Joe's candy-cane green tea
Trader Joe's candy-cane green tea is decaffeinated.Paige Bennett

I enjoy swapping my usual coffee for tea every so often, but I don't typically gravitate toward peppermint tea.

Still, I liked seeing that the candy-cane green tea is decaf.

I was immediately hit with a strong peppermint smell when I removed the plastic wrapping from around the tea box.

The candy-candy green tea won me over, especially when I added just a little honey.

Trader Joe's candy-cane green tea in a mug
The tea bags didn't have strings.Paige Bennett

The tea had a much more subtle peppermint flavor than the smell had led me to believe, and the beverage was smooth and earthy.

I liked the tea best when it had a little bit of honey stirred into it.

My only complaint is that the tea bags didn't have a string to pull them from my mug, but that's not a big issue.

I was interested to see how the organic hot-cocoa mix would be with water.

Trader Joe's organic hot-cocoa mix
Trader Joe's organic hot-cocoa mix comes with 10 envelopes.Paige Bennett

Trader Joe's offers a variety of holiday beverages, but when it came to a chocolaty drink, I opted for the classic hot-cocoa mix.

The mix came in a cute sweater-patterned box.

The hot cocoa was rich and creamy, but still basic enough to pair with toppings or mix-ins.

Trader Joe's organic hot cocoa in a mug
Trader Joe's organic hot-coca was a delicious, warm beverage.Paige Bennett

Per the instructions, I combined the cocoa powder with hot water.

Even with water, the beverage was tasty without being too rich.

I drank some as-is, which was great, but I also paired it with Trader Joe's cookie mug hangers.

The two holiday products went together really well, and I think the mix would also go great with whipped cream or marshmallows.

Trader Joe's cookie mug hangers looked so cute on the box.

Trader Joe's cookie mug hangers
A lot of the mug toppers I bought were broken.Paige Bennett

The gingerbread mug hangers seemed like a cute little treat to have with my coffee in the mornings.

But when I opened the package, I was pretty disappointed to find that a lot of the cookie figures were broken.

Luckily, they tasted good enough to buy again.

Trader Joe's cookie mug hangers
Trader Joe's cookie mug hangers had a nice crunch.Paige Bennett

Many of the cookie figures didn't make it all in one piece but the ones that did nicely hung on the side of my mug.

They also tasted good, with an ideal balance of sweetness and spiciness.

They were very crunchy but softened up after dipping into hot cocoa.

I'd probably buy these again, though I hope my next box has fewer broken cookies.

I had to proof the double-chocolate croissants before I could bake them.

Trader Joe's double-chocolate croissants
Trader Joe's double-chocolate croissants come in a pack of four.Paige Bennett

I've seen rave reviews of Trader Joe's double-chocolate croissants on social media, so I looked forward to trying them.

Per the instructions, I removed them from the box to let them proof overnight.

The proofing was slightly inconvenient, but I felt hopeful the croissants would be worth the wait.

I didn't think the croissants looked great but they tasted good, especially out of the oven.

Baked Trader Joe's double-chocolate croissant
Trader Joe's double-chocolate croissants were light and flaky.Paige Bennett

I let the croissants rise for a little over nine hours, during which they doubled in size. Then, I baked them for 25 minutes.

I didn't think they looked very appetizing when I pulled them from the oven.

The pastry was light and flaky, with a slight chocolaty flavor, but I wished it was a little more buttery.

The chocolate inside was very rich and delicious, especially when it was warm from the oven.

I'd probably buy these again, but I might brush them with some melted butter after they come out of the oven to give them a better sheen and more flavor.

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