I tried 36 of Trader Joe's holiday foods, and would buy at least 24 of them again
I tried all of the seasonal products I could find at my local Trader Joe's and reviewed them.
The holiday vegetable hash and candy-cane Joe-Joe's ice cream are definitely worth buying again.
I'll pass on repurchasing the turkey pot pie, peppermint bark, and creamed greens.
Over the past few weeks, Trader Joe's locations all over the US have started to roll out iconic holiday foods just in time for the winter.
As someone who can't get enough of festive, winter flavors, I decided to hit up my local store and try 36 of the chain's seasonal treats.
The Gobbler quesadilla seemed like a cool idea, but the execution just didn't work
Although I appreciate Trader Joe's for taking a risk, this quesadilla is proof that creative leaps don't always pay off.
This quesadilla looked floppy and sad, especially after being cooked in the microwave. I had hoped for a more substantial filling.
But the most glaring flaw about this quesadilla — which consisted mostly of mozzarella cheese, butternut squash, kale, and some strips of turkey — was that it contained a few sporadically placed cranberries throughout.
Sometimes I'd get pockets of turkey, kale, and cheese, and then out of nowhere, a surprise burst of cranberry. The tart flavor stood out a little too much, which made the ingredient feel wildly out of place.
Otherwise, it was a decent quesadilla. The turkey and jack cheese tasted great together, and the addition of butternut squash and kale gave it a more sophisticated, complex flavor.
VERDICT: If Trader Joe's rereleased this product without the cranberry bits — perhaps as turkey quesadilla with sauce on the side — I would give this option another chance, but for now, I'm going to skip buying this one again.
The peppermint bark had a nice flavor but was thicker than I expected
Of all the delicious sweets to eat each winter, I probably look forward to peppermint bark the most, as it's a quintessential Christmas confection.
I've wanted to try Trader Joe's famous peppermint bark for years, but have never been able to do so because it's usually sold out at my local store. After hearing friends online and offline rave about it, I made sure to pick up a box as early as possible so I could finally give it a try.
The tin looked like a beautiful present with candy-colored ribbon, and on the inside, each piece of bark was individually wrapped to maintain its freshness.
Like most peppermint bark, this one consisted of a layer of candy-cane-topped white chocolate over a peppermint-infused dark-chocolate base.
This peppermint bark is extremely thick — the piece I tried seemed a tad hard and required a much heavier bite than I anticipated.
But once I got past that initial crunch, the nuances of silky-smooth dark chocolate, buttery-sweet white chocolate, and fresh peppermint created a harmonious flavor.
VERDICT: I probably wouldn't buy this peppermint bark again on my own, but I wouldn't turn it down if someone offered it to me.
The festive chocolate pack contained high-quality candy and would make an excellent stocking stuffer
There's no need to choose between dark, white, and milk chocolate when you can have all three wrapped in a cute, festive package.
Trader Joe's chocolate collection contains a small assortment of these three flavors in a variety of adorable holiday designs.
And the chocolate used to make this candy was seriously top-notch.
I tried the white-chocolate snowman first, which had a nice bite to it that gave way to an exceptionally smooth, buttery mouthfeel.
The other two varieties also had that same rich texture and robust chocolaty flavor. I'm still salivating just thinking about it.
VERDICT: For the price, these chocolates would make an excellent last-minute gift. I don't know if I need to buy more than one per season for myself, but I'd totally get this again for someone else.
I used the chocolate-peppermint-loaf mix to make extra-soft, chewy crinkle cookies
When I bought this box of chocolate-peppermint-loaf mix, I was happy to learn I could also use it to make cookies.
And I have zero regrets about that decision because the cookies turned out very tasty. They had a yummy, soft texture and robust dark-chocolate flavor that was further enhanced by the subtle dusting of powdered sugar.
I can see these treats pairing well with a cold glass of your milk of choice or eggnog, if you're feeling adventurous.
The cookies were very tasty, but I noticed a slightly grainy texture that might have come from not mixing the batter well enough.
Plus they required minimal steps to prepare, so they're a great option for anyone who wants to do some easy holiday baking with family or friends.
VERDICT: I cannot recommend this chocolate-peppermint-loaf mix enough, due to its incredible versatility.
The cranberry-topped goat-cheese log had a pleasant tang
If there's a way to add cranberries to something, Trader Joe's will make it happen.
In this case, the fruit is dried and on top of the chain's signature goat-cheese logs for the ultimate festive upgrade.
As a fan of both goat cheese and dried cranberries, I bought this fully knowing that I would probably love it. So I kept things simple and paired the cheese with Trader Joe's Social Snackers.
After tasting this cheese and realizing how delicious it was, I can see it being great on top of toast, spread on a bagel, or clumped over a kale salad.
It's slightly tangy, tart, and above all, creamy. It's also sturdy enough to be sliced but soft enough to spread.
So it's a supremely versatile cheese that you can use to add a festive flair to a cheese board or a variety of other dishes.
VERDICT: This cheese is good enough to be a year-round staple — I wish Trader Joe's made it available beyond the winter.
The peppermint-coated Pretzel Slims were a crispy, delightful snack with just the right amount of minty flavor
'Tis the season for holiday films, which means it's also the season for movie snacks, like these Pretzel Slims that hit the right balance of salty and sweet with just enough mint flavor.
Rather than using dark chocolate, which is the conventional peppermint partner-in-crime, Trader Joe's switched things up by going with a sweet white-chocolate coating, which made the fresh minty flavor stand out much more.
The peppermint-candy crust also gave these a signature, festive look and tasty crunch.
I portioned out a small bowl while watching "Love Actually" for the 100th time, and they disappeared well before the Hugh Grant dancing scene.
VERDICT: I am going to buy another bag of these ASAP.
The turkey pot pie had potential but contained too much gravy
Nothing complements a cozy winter night indoors quite like the comfort of a warm pot pie.
Right away, I was stunned by how large the meal was. It's easily big enough to be shared by two people, and potentially a family of three.
The container only cost about $7, so I thought this had a good value for the price.
I microwaved my pot pie rather than baking it but immediately regretted this decision. The dish got quite soggy.
I found most of the dish's flavors were pretty indistinguishable from one another, but it didn't help that my meal was drowning in gravy, which made almost everything taste exactly the same.
I also couldn't get past the rubbery, soggy texture of the crust.
VERDICT: After consulting some friends, I learned that baking it in the oven is the only way to go when preparing this meal, but I still think I'll pass on buying it again.
The gingerbread sandwich cookies tasted like they were freshly baked
Pillowy soft, perfectly spiced, and packed with a yummy, vanilla cream-cheese frosting, these gingerbread cookies are the embodiment of holiday bliss.
They were so soft and moist that they tasted like they were baked that morning — and I didn't eat any of them until two days after purchasing.
They also had the perfect balance of every spice. I could easily detect ginger, nutmeg, clove, and a subtle, yet powerful hint of molasses. These components were only further enhanced by the super-rich, cream-cheese vanilla frosting in the center.
Instead of pie, I put these cookies on the table for myself and my roommates on Thanksgiving, only for the top layer of the box to disappear before the night ended.
VERDICT: I probably don't need to purchase these again, but I'm still going to do so because they brought me and my roommates so much joy.
The chocolate-covered pretzel assortment had an impressive variety of flavors
I don't throw around the word "artisanal" often when it comes to food, but that's the best way to describe these dark-chocolate-covered pretzels.
They're pretty enough to put on display at a holiday party and scrumptious enough to have come from an upscale confectionery shop.
The box came with three different pretzel types — dark chocolate with almonds or candy canes and milk chocolate with sprinkles.
I really appreciated that Trader Joe's included an option made with milk chocolate because this meant the box could be shared with anyone who doesn't care for the subtle bitterness of the darker alternative.
My personal favorite was the dark-chocolate almond-topped pretzel because I really loved the symphony of crunchy textures.
Each piece was roughly the size of my palm, so I could eat one and totally satisfy my craving for something sweet and salty.
But I also thought the pretzel-to-chocolate ratio was a bit off — the former was just slightly too thick, which made every bite dryer than it should've been.
VERDICT: Although I thought these pretzels were slightly too thick, they were still quite yummy, so I'd totally buy them again.
The dark-chocolate mint star cookies tasted like crunchy handfuls of holiday magic
Sweet and buttery with a delicate chocolate-minty finish, these bite-sized shortbread cookies have rapidly become a new seasonal favorite of mine.
They have a pleasing crunch that makes them super snackable and white sprinkles that give them an adorable snow-capped look.
And although it would seem these cookies aren't anything to write home about, I'd argue their size makes them ideal for satisfying a chocolate or mint craving without going overboard.
The closest thing I can compare these treats to is a massively popular flavor of Girl Scout cookies — but this alternative comes in a much cuter, festive shape.
VERDICT: We are already on the second box of these in my house, so it's safe to say I'd highly recommend adding them to your shopping list.
The harvest grain salad contained my favorite savory winter flavors, but it could've used more dressing
After spending the week devouring so many sugary sweets, I wanted to try a savory seasonal item, so this salad was the perfect option.
It contains a medley of my favorite winter flavors: savory greens, butternut squash, pecans, cranberries, and kale. Underneath this colorful melange was a layer of grains, primarily farro.
It reminded me of salads-in-a-jar that I see when I'm scrolling through food on Pinterest or Instagram.
You could eat this directly from the container for convenience, but I find it's best to toss this option in a bowl.
There were a lot of really great things about this salad.
For one, it was big enough to be two separate servings. It's also vegan, which makes it an easy option for people who have dietary restrictions.
Taste-wise, the combination of crunchy pecans, tart cranberries, sweet butternut squash, earthy greens, and slightly nutty, bran-like grains created a delicious mix. But I would've preferred the salad without the raw celery.
I appreciated the convenience of having the salad pre-tossed, but I wish the dressing came in a separate ramekin.
I really liked the dressing and wish I had more of it. In the end, I added a few globs of goat cheese to my salad to give it an extra pop of flavor.
VERDICT: The harvest salad was quite tasty and had great value for the price, so I'll definitely consider buying it again.
Although I enjoyed the chewy, fluffy texture of the sugar-glazed Lebkuchen cookies, I didn't care for their strong fruity flavor
I really wanted to like this product because it looked so cute and festive, but these Lebkuchen treats tasted like the cookie version of a fruitcake.
Their standout feature was a strong orange flavor and texture that seemed slightly denser than a regular cookie, but not quite cake-like.
After some light research, I learned that traditional German Lebkuchen is known for having a bar-like texture and being coated with candied fruit, nuts, and spices like ginger and nutmeg.
My palate may just be used to chocolate and peppermint desserts, but I wanted this option to be sweeter — the sugary glaze coating on the bottom got lost in the flavor of nuts and spices.
VERDICT: I'm glad that I gave these a try, but I probably won't buy them again for myself. But I recommend them to anyone who wants to try a dessert that isn't based on peppermint or chocolate.
The Minty Mallows' fluffy center practically melted in my mouth
When compared to treats like peppermint bark or candy-cane Joe-Joe's, the Minty Mallows seemed pretty unassuming as far as winter desserts go.
Basically, they're marshmallows topped with a semi-thick coating of mint-infused chocolate, but that doesn't make them any less special.
The marshmallow on the inside of this treat was noticeably softer than the regular bagged alternative. The texture seemed closer to marshmallow creme, which slightly resembles snow.
That pleasantly fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth texture was enough to make these worth the purchase, but the sweet, mint-infused dark-chocolate coating really won me over.
VERDICT: The Minty Mallows were surprisingly one of my favorite things from this haul, and I'd absolutely buy them again.
The cranberry-and-Camembert fillo bites were exquisite appetizers that were easy to prepare
These little morsels were totally crispy and ready to eat after just 12 minutes in the oven.
The entire pack came with eight pieces, which made them perfect for sharing. They were the ideal amount of food for a light pre-dinner snack.
This product also made incredible use of all its ingredients. Camembert cheese reminds me a lot of a more pungent Brie, which makes it the perfect partner for cranberry sauce.
I also loved how the snack melted and practically oozed out the sides of the flaky, buttery fillo after I bit into it.
VERDICT: Overall, I thought these bites were a solid seasonal item, but I still don't think I'd buy them unless there was a special occasion.
The candy-cane Joe-Joe's were a solid holiday snack, but I didn't think they were as good as the chocolate-dipped alternative
It's impossible for me to say no to a Joe-Joe, and the peppermint version of these iconic Trader Joe's sandwich cookies did not disappoint.
For one, the creamy center had actual candy-cane pieces, which gave every bite an added layer of texture and sugary sweetness.
The chocolate cookies of these Joe-Joe's had a very mellow cocoa flavor, but this allowed the peppermint component of the treat to really shine.
VERDICT: Even though the candy-cane Joe-Joe's were pretty tasty, I think the chocolate-dipped version of these same cookies is superior. That said, I would probably skip buying these again in favor of buying more of the latter.
The dark-chocolate-covered Joe-Joe's were a serious upgrade from the candy-cane version
Although I enjoyed the candy-cane Joe-Joe's as they were, I couldn't help but wish they had more chocolate. These dark-chocolate-dipped Joe-Joe's were just that.
They reminded me of the kind of dessert I'd buy at a holiday county fair or amusement park but with more polish.
At first, I was concerned the dark chocolate would overpower the candy-cane flavor of the Joe-Joe cookie, but it had the opposite effect.
These had a much bolder chocolate flavor than the regular Joe-Joe's, so they were a huge win in my book.
VERDICT: I hope these Joe-Joe's stay on the Trader Joe's holiday roster for years to come because I will absolutely be repurchasing them.
The candy-cane Joe-Joe's ice cream was a dream come true
With ultra-smooth, creamy vanilla ice cream, a delicate whisper of natural peppermint flavor, ribbons of soft dark-chocolate fudge, and chunks of chocolate peppermint Joe-Joe cookies, every spoonful of this dessert was like a perfectly tuned symphony.
I've eaten a lot of peppermint ice cream over the years, but this was some of the best. It had just the right amount of vanilla, peppermint, and chocolate to keep me coming back for more spoonfuls.
Importantly, the cookies managed to stay soft while maintaining their shape. I usually avoid ice cream with mix-ins because I don't like how hard they can get, but that wasn't a problem with this.
Take this as a warning: Once you take that first bite, this ice cream is nearly impossible to put down.
VERDICT: I'm currently thinking about how I'm going to buy this again next week and probably grab an extra carton to keep for January.
I could easily eat an entire box of these mini gingerbread people
I simply could not get enough of these cookies.
The contrast of flavors and textures between the slightly soft chewiness of the sweet fudge icing and crunchy, spicy gingerbread made these simply irresistible.
They tasted like real ginger. I was left with a pleasant, spicy taste in my mouth that didn't feel sticky or overly sugary.
Most of all, I couldn't help but smile when looking at them. Gingerbread people are such an iconic holiday snack and eating them always puts me in a festive mood.
VERDICT: I can't wait to buy these again.
I would eat this holiday vegetable hash for breakfast every day
As someone who fully believes the most tedious part of cooking is evenly chopping vegetables, this hash earned points for doing the work for me.
Prior to buying this, I mistakenly thought hash only referred to meat or potatoes, but it turns out the term comes from the French word "hacher,'' which means "to chop," so it can be anything — including this delicious combination.
This colorful medley contains finely chopped butternut squash, sweet potato, red onion, celery, parsley, sage, and rosemary.
I didn't know what to do with this when I first bought it, but given that the first thing I thought of when I heard "hash" was breakfast, I incorporated it into an egg casserole.
The holiday vegetable hash elevated the entire dish — the rosemary, sage, onion, and parsley flavors permeated throughout every corner of the pan, which packed each bite with yummy, herbaceous seasoning.
The butternut squash and sweet potato cooked perfectly in the oven and paired well with the buttery flavor of the baked eggs.
After my second helping, I started picturing all of the other ways I could use this hash for an instantly tasty, meatless meal and immediately realized it would make an excellent base for a vegetarian stuffing.
VERDICT: Using the hash was a convenient way to save time when cooking, and it added a substantial aromatic and savory flavor to my food without much extra effort. For this reason alone, this product was one of my favorite seasonal items.
This tin of Danish butter cookies would put a smile on anyone's face
Nothing transports me back to my childhood quite like tins of Danish butter cookies. For years, my grandmother always kept several of them stocked on the highest shelves in the cupboard during the holiday season.
Each tin comes with five stacks of different cookie shapes, two of which are coated in extra sugar for an added crunch. I could easily see them on a holiday treat tray surrounded by chocolate and fruit.
The magic of these cookies is that they're so simple but unbelievably scrumptious. They all sort of tasted the same to me, but the ones shaped like they came out of a swirling piping bag were my favorite.
Each one had a delicate crumble and a light, buttery flavor that would be perfect for eating at any time of day.
VERDICT: Although these Danish butter cookies may not be as memorable as other options, they're definitely a crowd-pleaser. I'll buy them again.
The peppermint chocolate-chunk cookie mix was a perfect 10
I'm the designated holiday baker of my family, but as a single woman with bills to pay, all of the ingredients can add up.
So this can of Trader Joe's peppermint-cookie mix immediately won me over on value alone. It's less than $4 and makes two-dozen cookies. You can also use it to make peppermint bars.
The cookies turned out amazing. My favorite part was the abundance of chips, with white chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and peppermint chunks in every bite. It was like the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" in snack form.
The rich, cocoa-butter flavor in the white chocolate brought out the sweetness in the semi-sweet chips, and the candy-cane bits gave the dessert a much-needed spark.
The cookies were thinner than I anticipated, spreading out like brittle, but they were delightfully chewy, with crisp edges that gave way to a soft center.
The peppermint flavor wasn't very pronounced, but this didn't bother me too much. There was just enough of it to tickle my taste buds and remind me this was a festive dessert.
If you're looking for a treat that's festive, easy to throw together, and guaranteed to please a crowd, this is an absolute must-buy. I baked a batch for Thanksgiving dinner and they were gone by the end of the night.
VERDICT: Overall, I'd call Trader Joe's peppermint-cookie mix an instant classic. Whether you're an experienced baker or newbie, this is a great item to keep stocked this winter.
Trader Joe's green-bean-casserole bites weren't what I expected
I'm always down for the appetizer-ification of anything, so these green-bean-casserole bites were right up my alley.
Just based on aesthetics, these looked amazing. They consist of flaky, fillo-dough cups stuffed with finely chopped green beans, fried onions, and other seasonings. Fresh out of the oven, they looked like crispy blossoms.
The pastry tasted fantastic and was crispy with no soggy bits.
I anticipated a rich, creamy filling but instead found finely chopped veggie bits and onion strings sitting in a thin, gravy-like substance, which I didn't care for.
I also thought there weren't enough green beans since I mostly tasted mushrooms, fried onions, and the fillo.
If I saw these on a table, I'd probably snatch up a few, but I certainly wouldn't use them as a stand-in for green-bean casserole.
VERDICT: Although I appreciated the modern spin on this traditional dish, these were a miss.
Trader Joe's mini cranberry-pistachio biscotti would make the perfect pairing for your morning coffee
Pistachios are elite — everything they touch turns to gold, whether it's gelato, pie, or in this case, biscotti.
Trader Joe's paired pistachios with cranberries for a yummy, nutty cookie that was as satisfying as that first cup of hot coffee in the morning, and I say this as someone who usually doesn't go for biscotti at all.
Each biscuit had a yummy toasted flavor with subtle notes of vanilla.
The cranberry flavor was also quite prominent, as the treats include actual bits of the fruit. They become even more noticeable after softening the cookie in coffee.
My favorite part was the drizzle of vanilla icing on top of each cookie since the biscotti wasn't that sweet on its own.
Like all biscotti, they tasted best paired with a cup of hot coffee, but even if you're determined to eat these dry, they're still decent.
VERDICT: Between the festive colors, winter flavors, and mild sweetness, this pistachio option is a must-buy this holiday season.
I've already gone through one box and will definitely pick up another before January.
This vegan holiday roast was so good it could even impress meat eaters
Although I currently eat meat, I'm always on the lookout for good plant-based options.
I'd never actually eaten any kind of meatless roast before this, mainly because I used to hear rumors of how they can be gross, soggy, and bland, but this option proved me wrong.
This roast — made out of a soy-based meat replacement that's been marinated in a blend of classic turkey seasoning —came together in under an hour, complete with gravy and all, and was genuinely delicious.
The outside is breaded, and after only 30 minutes in the oven, it browned beautifully into a mouth-watering crust. I can't believe it was able to achieve this without any butter.
The interior consisted of a juicy meat replacement loaded with savory stuffing and bits of cranberry.
Overall, Trader Joe's knocked it out of the park with this roast. Every bite was moist, flavorful, and delicious. It tasted very similar to a traditional turkey dinner, with hints of rosemary, marjoram, and other warm, savory herbs.
My only critique is that the gravy, although nice and velvety, tasted too much like soy sauce, which is the top ingredient. It wasn't bad for a vegan option, and once it soaked into the roast, I barely noticed its saltiness.
VERDICT: Trader Joe's clearly knows what it's doing when it comes to vegan food, and I'm absolutely here for it.
These instant scalloped potatoes could've used more spice
Like many other frozen entrées, these potatoes can be prepared in the microwave or oven, but I went with the latter because I figured it would probably taste better that way. Unfortunately, the extra effort didn't seem to pay off.
According to the description, these are made with a blend of four cheeses and seasoning, but I could only detect the onions and a touch of Asiago. After a few bites, the flavor just seemed vaguely salty.
I think it could've used some pepper, paprika, or some other spice to balance out all of the richness and salt.
I also didn't care for the texture. I understand scalloped potatoes are supposed to be sturdy to stay intact under the weight of all that sauce, but these medallions were a bit too firm.
VERDICT: As much as I wanted to love these scalloped potatoes for their convenience, the underwhelming flavor profile left me wanting more. I definitely won't be buying them again.
Trader Joe's Jingle Jangle contains a fun mix of different holiday treats
This holiday treat mix features several popular Trader Joe's sweets.
Even though I loved the assortment of chocolate-coated goodies in here — dipped pretzels, caramel corn, and M&M-like bites — I wasn't too impressed by how everything tasted.
Rather than separating each item into individual pockets or sleeves, everything was haphazardly thrown together. You'd never know if the round piece you just grabbed was caramel corn or candy.
Plus the flavors seemed to fuse together. Every bite was pretty much identical, no matter what I got.
For the most part, this was a decent snack. It's certainly great if you're a fan of alternating between salty and sweet. But nothing was particularly memorable to me.
VERDICT: Although I thought the Jingle Jangle was a cool idea, I'm not sure if it's something I'd reach for myself.
The holiday baton variety pack features four flavors of this iconic wafer
I'm a sucker for Trader Joe's batons. Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of swirling one of these wafers in a morning coffee.
I ran to the nearest store when I found out Trader Joe's released a holiday pack with four flavors — hazelnut, cocoa, chocolate orange, and cookies and cream.
Much like every other baton wafer Trader Joe's sells, these were absolutely scrumptious and perfect for satisfying a sweet craving.
I absolutely loved the flavors offered in this box and each one was excellent in its own way.
The orange-chocolate one offered a bright, citrus-infused cocoa cream that'll wake you up in the morning while the cookies-and-cream option tasted like a Joe-Joe. The hazelnut was my personal favorite to pair with coffee because of its slightly toasted flavor, but even the plain cocoa baton was wonderful.
If you're not a coffee person, I recommend breaking them into smaller pieces and using them as decoration on top of hot chocolate.
VERDICT: With a crunchy exterior and smooth, cream filling, these batons are essential to have on hand this winter season.
The Danish almond Kringle was like a Christmas dream come true
Trader Joe's has been selling almond Kringles for years, but I never had an opportunity to try one because they're always sold out. After finally getting my hands on it, I can see why.
Of all the tasty European baked goods Trader Joe's offers, this Kringle is the best. The ring-shaped pastry is commonly eaten in Denmark (and other Scandinavian countries) with a history going back as far as the Middle Ages.
Although they come in a variety of flavors, the one Trader Joe's currently sells is an almond version from a famous bakery in Wisconsin.
It was absolutely divine — layers of sugary, flaky bliss stuffed with yummy almond pastry cream and topped with frosting.
The pastry was super soft and seemed like a cross between a traditional Danish and croissant, tasting as if it had been baked from scratch that day.
Meanwhile, the almond filling was smooth and rich like a custard. And the drizzle of icing nicely enhanced the nutty flavors.
Even though the pastry is fully cooked and can be eaten straight out of the bag, the label recommends warming it in the oven for a few minutes. I enjoyed it at room temperature, but fresh out of the oven, it was something magical.
Plus the Kringle isn't the kind of pastry you eat in one go. It was so flavorful that a little went a long way. My roommate and I cut it into tiny sections and ate it with our morning coffee for a week straight.
VERDICT: Between its tasty filling and flaky layers of almond pastry, the Danish Kringle is a one-of-a-kind treat that's guaranteed to brighten all of your winter mornings.
You could sneak some veggies into a holiday feast with Trader Joe's tray of creamed greens
Per the package, the greens are a blend of spinach, kale, and Brussels sprouts. Although it undoubtedly offers a ton of vitamins, it's still clearly supposed to be comfort food.
Cruciferous vegetables don't have the most appetizing aroma, so if you're sensitive to smells or have a tiny kitchen with small windows, consider this before heating the tray up.
The box advertises a tray featuring plenty of greens and Brussels with nice crispy, brown edges, but this batch looked more like spinach dip.
But these creamed greens weren't terrible. The consistency was creamy and soft like a green-bean casserole with the spinach and kale adding chewy bits.
Flavor-wise, this definitely checked the boxes for a vegetable holiday side dish. Each spoonful was rich and salty, with a slight bitterness that called attention to the greens.
But I wish this had more Brussels sprouts. The box made it seem like they were the star of the show, but there were only some bits scattered throughout. I almost forgot they were there.
VERDICT: I still think this is acceptable to serve as a side dish or a dip for bread, though I'd add a touch of acid, like vinegar or lemon, to cut the richness.
I wouldn't classify it as something I'd eat more than once every winter, and certainly not something I'd eat by itself.
This gingerbread mix transformed into a cake that practically tasted homemade
This wasn't the first boxed cake mix I've tried from Trader Joe's, but I can say with full confidence this left me the most impressed. If you're new to baking or strapped for time, this is a game-changer.
It can be used to make gingerbread cookies or a cake, but I went with the latter since I see enough of the cookies during this time of year.
Putting it together couldn't have been easier. Just add an egg and some oil, pour the batter into a pan, and bake per the instructions. It's practically foolproof.
The end product was super moist and packed with plenty of yummy ginger flavor, with notes of brown sugar in every bite. There was also a strong presence of molasses that deepened the overall sweetness and made it taste quite rich.
Plus the tiny pieces of soft, candied ginger speckled throughout the cake gave it tasty pops of sugar and spice.
This treat was delicious as is, but I upgraded mine by topping it with a chai-buttercream icing, though I would've used cream cheese as the base if I had any on hand.
VERDICT: Whether you're an experienced baker or totally new, this gingerbread mix is a great shortcut ingredient to have on hand during the holiday season.
These peppermint meringues hit the spot
With a simple combination of egg whites, sugar, and peppermint, these miniature, candy-cane-colored domes were sugary bliss.
For a packaged meringue, these were baked just right. Each bite was satisfyingly light and airy, giving way to a soft center. A mellow peppermint flavor dissolved in my mouth like snow.
The minty component wasn't extreme but still noticeable enough for the festive vibe.
I wish it had a chocolaty element, but if you're looking for a unique, light snack, this is well worth a try.
VERDICT: These will probably be a once-a-season purchase for me, and I think they're totally worth a buy if you want a light sweet.
This turkey-and-sweet-potato burrito offered a spicy twist on familiar Thanksgiving flavors
This burrito made for a delicious lunch.
The standout was the turkey, which was surprisingly juicy and plentiful. I thought the seasoning was a bit heavy on the cumin, but I detected other spices in the mix, as well.
The overall flavor profile skewed sweeter than I expected — likely due to the sweet potatoes and cranberry salsa — but I didn't mind since I loved how everything tasted together.
The jalapeno bits in the salsa added a welcome kick. The rice and beans weren't super flavorful but gave this burrito a familiar consistency and some bulk.
VERDICT: This burrito was a win. I got to enjoy a holiday-inspired meal with practically zero work.
This English toffee offered a lot of bang for my buck but wasn't super memorable
This massive, 30-ounce tin came filled with about 60 thick pieces of sugary, crunchy toffee coated in a thin layer of chocolate and chopped almonds.
Trader Joe's website says this English toffee was cooked the "old-fashioned way," but I didn't notice a difference when comparing it to other toffee I've had.
Although this was perfectly fine toffee, it was comparable to what you'd find at most grocery stores during this time of year. It was crunchy from end to end and very sweet.
My biggest gripe was the shape. The pieces were logs instead of flat strips, so there was a lot of toffee per bite, which buried the chocolate flavor.
VERDICT: Although I personally wouldn't opt for this candy, it would be great for anyone looking for something crunchy and sweet.
The eggnog Greek yogurt was luxuriously creamy but didn't quite live up to my expectations
Since I genuinely enjoy eggnog, I was excited to give this holiday-themed yogurt a try. Trader Joe's sells individual cups for $0.99, so I didn't have to commit to a giant package.
This yuletide yogurt was slightly yellow instead of the typical off-white color. It also contained visible flecks of nutmeg.
According to the ingredients list, this festive breakfast is made with an actual eggnog base and Greek yogurt, so I had high hopes.
Although the creamy, smooth texture was on point, I thought the eggnog flavor was a bit of a letdown. To me, it tasted more like vanilla yogurt — even though there's no vanilla in listed in the ingredients — with a hint of the festive flavor.
VERDICT: Despite its yummy texture, this yogurt didn't quite deliver on the eggnog flavor, so I'll pass on buying it again.
The pistachio-pomegranate crisps would be worth stocking up on
The winter version of these iconic Trader Joe's crackers are made with a simple, sturdy base loaded with flax seeds, plus a combination of green pistachios, pumpkin seeds, and sweet, ruby-red bits of apple, pomegranate, and cranberry.
The pistachios added a pleasantly nutty flavor that made the fruity components really pop, so the cracker was noticeably more sweet than savory.
They were good enough to enjoy on their own, but pairing them with cheese was the way to go.
I devoured nearly half a bag with the cranberry-topped goat cheese, but I think they'd also taste great with a super-creamy Brie or honey ricotta.
VERDICT: I'd buy two boxes of these at a time to stock up — my store is already sold out.
I was seriously impressed by the high-quality chocolate used for these Belgian truffles
For a more bougie chocolate assortment, this ballotin box of Belgian truffles would fit the bill. These are the kind of treats you're supposed to eat with your eyes first.
Everything about this box exuded luxury, from the opulent gold packaging to the array of chocolates and flavors, like coffee, caramel, and almond.
The truffles tasted amazing and were shaped into aesthetically satisfying leaves, hearts, domes, and flowers. I couldn't believe the box cost me less than $6.
The only downside was I couldn't find a list of what kind of filling each truffle had. I don't have any allergies, so it was OK for me, but be wary of gifting this to anyone with particular food intolerances.
VERDICT: It's taking everything in me not to buy multiple boxes of these as a gift to myself.
Click to keep reading other Trader Joe's taste tests in this series.
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