If you’re a Trader Joe’s devotee like me, you probably have a handful — or cartful — of must-haves that you grab every visit. Now you can see how your favorites stack up against other TJ shoppers by checking out the winners of Trader Joe’s 11th Annual Customer Choice Awards.
While the list is a great resource on its own if you want to try a few new options, I wanted to make this list even more useful. So I’ve taken the winner from each of the categories and found a cool recipe that showcases it.
Though you may notice that I skipped the Trader Joe’s scented candles that won the Home, Bath, & Beauty category because, while they smell delicious, they taste terrible.
Photo at top: Trader Joe’s
Trader Joe’s Favorite Overall: Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seed Seasoning Blend
Recipe and photo: Gimme Some Oven
One of our staff favorites (Liz literally bought some last week!) Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend is pretty much great on everything savory, which is why you’ll see me sprinkling it on avocado toast, scrambled eggs, roasted veggies — even the cream cheese on an already everything bagel. Yes, I’m that obsessed.
This versatile seasoning blend also makes an excellent coating for chicken, as seen in this recipe for Everything Chicken from Gimme Some Oven. With only five steps and three ingredients (3!), it makes a quick and easy dinner that still feels special.
Trader Joe’s Favorite Entree: Mandarin Orange Chicken
Recipe and photo: The Kitchn
You may already be familiar with TJ’s Mandarin Orange Chicken; it’s been flying out of the freezer case since 2004. In fact, I always keep a bag on hand for those nights we get home from practices late and need to get something on the table, pronto.
Normally, I follow the instructions on the bag, but I am intrigued by The Kichn’s recommendation to prepare the chicken in an air fryer rather than inside the oven. This method is still easy and quick, with just a slight tweak that makes something awesome even more awesome. Cool!
Trader Joe’s Favorite Vegan/Vegetarian: Cauliflower Gnocchi
Recipe and photo: Familystyle Food
Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi is a fantastic gluten-free option that we gluten-eaters will love to gobble up too. It’s delicious with just a traditional brown butter and sage sauce, though I’m also eyeing this Cauliflower Gnocchi with Spicy Tomato Sauce recipe from Familystyle Food. You’ll only need one pan and about 15 minutes to throw together a dish full of heat that will taste so good on a freezing winter night. Just read the suggestions for how to dial back the spice if your kids have more sensitive palates.
Trader Joe’s Favorite Snack & Favorite Produce: Plantain Chips & Avocados
Recipe and photo: Minimalist Baker
Topping the category for Favorite Snack are Trader Joe’s Plantain Chips, both plain and jerk style, and in the Produce category, TJ’s Teeny Tiny Avocados take the win. Together, they shine in Minimalist Baker’s recipe for Baked Plantain Chips with Garlicky Guacamole. No need to try slicing a fresh plantain into wafer-thin discs as described in the recipe, though; you can just open the bag and start snacking!
Trader Joe’s Favorite Beverage: Non-Dairy Oat Beverage
Recipe and photo: Cupful of Kale
Moooove over cow’s milk (sorry, ha), but Trader Joe’s Non-Dairy Oat Beverage is tops in the beverage category in the 2020 Customer Choice Awards. Want to try it in a way the kids will instantly recognize as something good? How about as Creamy Oat Milk Hot Chocolate using this recipe from Cupful of Kale. With only three ingredients — six if you DIY the non-dairy whipped cream — this comes together so quickly. Perfect after-school treat, or a warm-up after playing in the snow.
Trader Joe’s Favorite Cheese: Unexpected Cheddar
Recipe and photo: Trader Joe’s
I’m about halfway through my very first package of Trader Joe’s Favorite Cheese, Unexpected Cheddar, and I agree that this cheddar/parmesan blend is hard to resist. Even harder to resist would be this outrageous Cheesy Tot Breakfast Bake from Trader Joe’s own site, featuring sausage, eggs, bacon, and, yes, Unexpected Cheddar.
Trader Joe’s Favorite Sweet Treat: Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Recipe and photo: Trader Joe’s
I think we can all agree that Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup are perfect right out of the container, but If you want to jazz them up a bit, I’ve got you! This TJ’s recipe for Peanut Butter Brownies Is a show-stopper. It’s so decadent and gooey, the only tricky part will be not eating all the chocolates before the brownies are finished baking.
Check out Trader Joe’s complete list of the 11th Annual Customer Choice Awards Winners, including the runners-up in each category. You may find some new-to-you picks that could end up on your own list of personal faves.