You might know Maddie and me from our fashion series in which we style similar pieces for two very different body types. We’re friends, we’re coworkers, we’re just like you! But you might not know that like the rest of the world, we also love food and fall. So when the task arose of trying all the fall arrivals at Trader Joe’s this year, Maddie and I stepped to the plate with minimal questions asked. Try fall food and review it? Could our jobs be any better?
We went into this with a few goals in mind. First, we only wanted to grab the things that really interested us. So if you’re looking for a major list of everything TJ’s has to offer this year, you’ll find it here instead.
We also wanted to try as many “new” products as possible while also recommending our favorites from previous years. So while you might have seen some of these last year, a lot of them were either new to us, new to Trader Joe’s, or they were old favorites we had to tell everyone about. We took the same approach as our fashion try-ons: each try the item (as much as we could—again, pandemic) and share our thoughts. I pulled it all together, and here you have it: our ranking of Trader Joe’s fall goodies, from best to worst. If you’re heading to Trader Joe’s for a grocery run this fall, here’s to grab and what to absolutely skip.
Our Ranking of Trader Joe’s Fall Goodies, From Best to Worst:
1. Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Mix
This got a 10/10 from Maddie. Last year, Maddie made pumpkin bread from scratch to bring in the office, and as much as I hate stroking her ego, it was pretty bomb, NGL. We all loved it. So, she was really excited to see this in the store, hoping it would be way easier for a taste that was about half as good. After she made it, she said it was just as good as her homemade one for about a quarter of the effort. I haven’t tasted, but based on this photo she sent me…
I’d say if you buy anything from this article, make it this mix and tell Alexa to remind you to thank us later.
2. Rustic Apple Tarte
Upon first bite, this immediately flew to the top of the list. This was beyond easy to cook—just pop it in the oven—making it the perfect treat for small gatherings or just after a long day this fall. It tasted as good as a homemade galette without all the added prep work, time, and cleanup. The sliced almonds on top added such a good flavor and crunch to the soft, warm apples. The crust was also perfection. We gave this 10 out of 10 stars for sure.
3. Pecan Pumpkin Oatmeal
This is a staple at TJ’s every fall for basically everyone in our office. We loved it last year, and we love it this year. The addition of the pecans is so good to give the creamy oatmeal a little crunch. I’ll be stocking up with a few boxes.
4. Spiced Cider
This is my favorite apple cider every year at Trader Joe’s. Unlike a spiced drink you’ll see below (MUCH below), the spice isn’t overpowering, it just adds a little something extra to the taste. I love this both cold and warm. My favorite fall drink is apple cider mixed with some apple whiskey or bourbon, and this will make the best apple cider to use in it this year!
5. Pumpkin Flavored Tortilla Chips
These chips might just look like chips to you. But to me, they are my life and soul. I look forward to them every single year, and throughout the fall season, I purchase approximately 12 bags. They’re not a regular chip, they’re a cool chip. They just hit different. I don’t find them to be overly pumpkin-flavored; the flavor profile (I’ve learned from the best: Guy Fieri) is actually quite savory in these. So if you’re worried I’m suggesting you down a pumpkin pie in chip form, don’t be. They’re the ideal mix of sweet and salty. My favorite way to eat these is with the TJ’s Spicy Avocado Hummus or any medium salsa. The pumpkin pairs really well with a little bit of spice for some reason (might I suggest it’s the sweet, spicy, AND salty?). I also am dreaming of making these with some pulled chicken and butternut squash for nachos one night!
I like salty, savory, somewhat earthy snacks, while Maddie has a sweet tooth and prefers her snacks as such, which is why these weren’t her #1. Which brings me to…
6. Petite Pumpkin Spice Cookies
These were Maddie’s favorite, and she even did a happy dance when we saw them in the store. Maddie tried these last year and loved them. TBH, I think she liked them even more this year. She explained that they were the perfect sweet snack during the day that wasn’t too pumpkin but still tasted just like fall. If you love a little sweet treat at the end of your day (don’t we all?), Maddie said these were ideal for that with a little fall twist.
Take my review with a grain of salt because it’s not my kinda snack anyway, as evidenced above. I wanted them to taste like a frosted animal cracker, but I didn’t really get that (I think it’s because of the pumpkin—I either want all sweet or no sweet).
Here’s where we certainly could have used one more person’s opinion because we were torn on these two, and they were basically each of our favorites, so I’d say the pumpkin tortilla chips and these cookies are tied. I think it all lies upon your taste buds—whether you want a sweet or savory snack.
7. Maple-Flavored Oat Milk
Y’ALLLLL. This is my new obsession. I wish they sold this all year long. To me, it tastes like the milk left over after a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats. I first tried it alone and fell in love. Then, I mixed it with the Spiced Chai Concentrate (which you’ll read about soon), and I hated it, but I attribute that to that horrible chai (again, keep scrolling). I used my milk frother to froth it up and added it to my coffee this morning. WINNER! I’ll be drinking this until the foreseeable future. Goodbye to my pumpkin spice creamer forever.
8. Organic Pumpkin Toaster Pastries
I hadn’t had a PopTart in approximately eight years when I ate this, so I’m not sure if it’s the nostalgia talking or the actual flavor, but I loved them. The first time I ate one, I ate it at room temperature, and the pumpkin flavor wasn’t super strong, but it was a nice sweet breakfast treat. Once I warmed it up, we were in business, baby. This made the inside really sweet and pumpkin-y and gooey. All the things you want in a PopTart.
Maddie and I are safely heading into our office about once a week, so we left these there to enjoy on long office days (and also because we’d eat them all in a very short amount of time if either of us took them home).
9. Pumpkin Butter
The thought of this made my insides rattle with happiness. I love apple butter, so I expected this to be a favorite, and Trader Joe’s didn’t let me down. I have grand plans of how I’ll use this all fall long: on toast, with waffles and pancakes, instead of jelly on a PB+J, with apples, on a banana, and so many more. The taste is just pumpkin enough, but it’s not overpowering. Maddie felt “meh” at first, but it grew on her, so don’t knock it at first taste! I will note, as with the PopTart, this is much better when you warm it up.
10. Fall Leaf Shaped Tortilla Chips
They’re just tortilla chips. They’re mostly just cute as all hell rather than groundbreaking in any way.
11. Organic Pumpkin Spice Granola Bark
These are good. Great, actually. But Maddie and I did have one thing to note: these are sized in the oddest possible way. The way they cut the bark is approximately four times the size of the piece I actually want to eat. And I do not eat like a bird; “he can tell I ain’t missin’ no meals” is a line I identify with in my soul. But these pieces are just absolutely too large to even enjoy, and it means you have to break them up each time. They’re good, and I’ll definitely buy them again, but they’re a little work.
12. Riced Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Risotto
Maddie and I wanted to taste-test every single sweet and savory snack Trader Joe’s had to offer, but we did notice our cart was lacking in actual food items. Maddie took this home to make for a quick lunch, and she said it was just OK, but she’d buy it again for an easy meal option. This has cauliflower rice, so it tasted like a lot of vegetables AKA healthy, so if that’s your vibe, you’ll likely enjoy this fall take on a classic. She said that none of the flavors were overpowering (which can happen with cauliflower rice), but that they weren’t outrageously flavorful either.
I must admit that I am uncultured swine who has never once in her life had risotto. I’m a texture person, and that stuff looks like straight mush to me. But Maddie’s sweet Italian ass gave it a test for me, and now I’m intrigued to pick it up for myself too!
13. Pumpkin Flavored Ice Cream
First of all, we were absolutely cracking up that this is called “Pilgrim Joe’s.” That is deeply unnecessary, Trader Joe’s. No one cares that your food is just called Trader Joe’s. It’s fine. This ice cream was equally as unnecessary. It was good, don’t get me wrong. But why does this come in a quart size and not a pint? My freezer is smaller than a fraternity cooler, Trader Joe’s; I cannot fit this comfortably with all the other frozen stuff you’ve brought into my life. The taste was fine, but it’s no Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s at Christmastime is all we’re saying.
14. Pumpkin Waffles
I expected these to be a favorite of mine. And while they were OK, I don’t think I’d buy them again. For starters, they made my kitchen smell amazing, so that was a plus. But I didn’t love the taste. They were crispy on the outside, but the inside almost felt like they were underdone… I don’t know how to explain it. The pumpkin comes through in the scent, but I barely tasted it. These weren’t horrible and were a super easy breakfast for a busy morning, but I could easily go without them.
15. Maple Sea Salt Kettle Corn
Is this the best kettle corn I’ve ever tried? No, but it’d be great for Hocus Pocus viewings, so here she lies at #14.
16. Fall Harvest Salsa
When I first wrote this review, I raved about how much I loved this salsa, especially with the Pumpkin Tortilla Chips. However, I took it home, ate a little more, and the allure has really worn off. After you eat through the top layers, it becomes the chunkiest salsa to the point that it’s just chunks of vegetables and not salsa. I ended up throwing it away half-way through the jar because it stopped being an enjoyable texture. I enjoy it so much at first, but it gets gross way too quickly for me to purchase again. TJ’s has a giant section of amazing salsas—choose one of those instead.
17. Pumpkin Flavored Joe-Joe’s
These aren’t bad, but unless you’re having a party (which I hope you’re not because pandemic??) or are feeding kids (that is allowed and encouraged) without a palate who just care that they’re sugar and fall-themed, they’re a skip. They taste like pumpkin almost to an extent that is overwhelming. I’d rather an orange Joe-Joe than this any day.
18. Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli
I opted to try this for lunch with a little bit of butter and parmesan cheese. They weren’t bad… but as my friend (and Maddie’s boyfriend, but I prefer to call him my friend) put it, these would be significantly better if they were simply regular cheese ravioli shaped like pumpkins. The pumpkin taste is there, but do I really need that in ravioli? No, I don’t, even the basic B I am wearing ghost PJs next to five pumpkins and a letterboard that says “home sweet haunted home” doesn’t need frickin’ pumpkin ravioli. Save it to the man who does it best: Mr. Chef Boyardee.
19. Spiced Chai
On a scale from “I’d rather drink bleach” to “This will go in my grave with me,” this lands at roughly “Sipping gasoline out of a straw would serve me better.” This tastes like a candle in the worst possible way.
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