14 Trader Joe's Items That Will Leave You Disappointed

Whether you shop there for the savings, the unique assortment of items, or simply because it's what everyone else seems to do, Trader Joe's has grown into one of the most popular grocery chains in the nation (via YouGov). Devotees swear by many of the supermarket's unique products and store-brand food items. Everything from its seasonings to its frozen foods has led to a cult-like following, and its local marketplace vibes make for a grocery store that isn't just a retail experience but a way of life. While Trader Joe's has created many hits over the years, it has inevitably come out with a fair number of misses as well.

With such high standards from its fans, Trader Joe's is always showcasing its latest releases, introducing new flavors, or taking a fresh spin on an old classic. Given the number of products, over time there are bound to be some disappointments, ranking from overrated to downright awful. Before you go to TJ's for your next grocery run, be sure to avoid these items that missed the mark, either due to their taste, consistency, or pricing.

Everything but the bagel chips

The Everything But the Bagel seasoning blend at Trader Joe's has quite a fanbase. First introduced in 2017, its admirers — who once voted it as the best item available at TJ's — continue to find new items and meals to season with it. So, the logical conclusion would be for the company to sprinkle the seasoning on everything, right?

In the case of the Everything But the Bagel Seasoned Kettle-cooked potato chips, two rights made a wrong. The chips are your standard Kettle-cooked potato chips coated with the now-iconic seasoning, which sounds like a recipe for success. However, many fans wound up being disappointed. One Redditor commented that they threw away their bag after everyone refused to eat them, and another chimed in and said that the chips were too sweet. Another Reddit thread pointed out that loving everything bagels should have extended to the chips, but they were undoubtedly inferior. One comment emulated the general consensus: love the seasoning, hate the chips.

There are some fans of the chips, such as the reviewers on Sweet on Trader Joe's who had mixed reactions, ranging from two to five stars.

Cheesy seasoning blend

Everything But the Bagel is not the only seasoning Trader Joe's offers. In fact, the seasonings seem to be one of the hallmarks of the grocery chain. But while there are plenty of hits, there are also the occasional misses, which seems to be the case with the cheesy seasoning blend.

On paper, it sounds like a genius idea: You can add cheese to any dish you want. Sounds too good to be true, right? Unfortunately, the high hopes of cheese lovers were soon dashed. Many Redditors noted their initial excitement to try the seasoning, but quickly faced disappointment with the first taste. Some people pointed out that the blend didn't even taste like cheese. The Trader Joe's Reviews Instagram account tasted the product and remarked that the primary flavors were garlic, onion, and rosemary. Last time we checked, those three ingredients weren't cheese.

If you are curious and want to try the cheesy seasoning blend for yourself, keep in mind that the flavor you are anticipating may not be what you ultimately taste.

Joe Joe's cookies

If you have committed yourself to the Trader Joe's lifestyle, then you probably had high hopes about the gluten-free Joe Joe's chocolate and vanilla creme cookies. TJ's version of the Oreo cookie — what could be better? The chocolate-adjacent sandwich cookie has a lot of similarities to the Nabisco juggernaut, but for many who have tried both, the flavor of the Trader Joe's version just does not measure up.

One Redditor who happened to prefer Joe Joe's to Oreos reached out to the internet community to see if they could find any like-minded customers. However, the thread actually filled up with comments from customers who thought otherwise and felt let down by Joe Joe's. One person even wrote that they wound up returning their box to the store.

Trader Joe's also sells a variety of seasonal Joe Joe's cookies, including a Halloween version, a requisite pumpkin spiced flavor for fall, as well as a candy cane variety during the holidays. Someone who actually liked the original cookie left a comment on Trader Joe's Reviews, saying they were horrified with the taste of the autumnal version.

Overnight oats

Overnight oats are a convenient breakfast to start your day. While many people choose to soak their own oats at home, you can also find a premade version ready to eat on your way out the door in the morning. Trader Joe's sells its own version of vanilla overnight oats, which you can usually find with other prepared foods like sandwiches, wraps, and salads in the refrigerated section.

One Reddit thread about Trader Joe's products to never purchase again kicks off with a user tearing down the overnight oats. Not only are customers less than fond of the taste, but the overnight oats are also disappointing from a price standpoint. The meal is a great budget breakfast because it's made with relatively low-price grocery items, but one small cup at Trader Joe's costs $1.99. That might not seem like much, but She Finds points out that you are only getting 5.5 ounces. Your money is better spent buying a bag of rolled oats and making the breakfast dish yourself.

Beef pho soup

One Trader Joe's item that seems to be universally disliked amongst repeat customers is the frozen beef pho soup. It was one of the most mentioned items in a Reddit thread about the worst products at the store, and one customer commented that it was "unsalvageable," despite adding various spices and seasonings to enhance the dish. The frozen pho was equally well-represented in another Reddit thread filled with items shoppers would never purchase again.

Freezer Meal Frenzy speaks to what the Redditors have in common: They love pho, but the frozen beef soup is a huge letdown and misses the mark on what makes pho tasty in the first place. Another review on Club Trader Joe's mentioned how disappointing and bland the meal is, especially if you've tasted good pho. Across the board, it seems like plenty of customers would love to find a quick and easy frozen pho entree, but the one offered at Trader Joe's ultimately does not match their expectations.

Cauliflower pizza crust

Whether you follow a gluten-free diet or are looking for healthy substitutes for your favorite cheat meals, chances are you are familiar with cauliflower pizza crusts. They're offered at multiple grocery stores, including CostcoAldi, and of course, Trader Joe's. While the latter's version is not necessarily a disappointment in terms of flavor, it's a bit of a letdown nutritionally.

People tend to turn to cauliflower substitutions when they are seeking healthy alternatives to gluten and wheat flour. But as one Reddit thread mentions, a glance at the nutritional facts tells a different story. According to the packaging, one-sixth of the crust (or roughly one slice) contains 17 grams of carbohydrates. With a list of ingredients that includes corn flour, cornstarch, and potato starch, some customers feel a bit slighted by what they thought would be a low-carb option. Although it maintains its promise of not containing gluten, if you're looking for a keto option, Redditors suggest trying the Fathead pizza dough recipe instead.

Vodka sauce

There are tons of ways to dress up a basic bowl of pasta, from classic red sauces or cheesy Alfredo to a simple drizzle of melted butter. For something a little different, many pasta fans turn to vodka sauce to provide a unique flavor to their dinner. So when shoppers come across a jar of premade vodka sauce at Trader Joe's, it's natural that they feel tempted to purchase it to add to their weekly lineup of meals.

Fans are divided over the sauce; while some love the flavor, others find that it is more reminiscent of a basic marinara and not of vodka sauce. A Reddit thread mentioned that the flavor was boring and closely resembled a "run-of-the-mill" red sauce that needed some heavy seasoning in order to liven up the taste. Another Reddit thread echoed the concern that it tasted like a generic red sauce. Some comments on an Instagram post about the sauce remarked on its seemingly bland taste, including @richied456 who said that it was "barely vodka sauce," and @traderjoesdarling who mentioned that the flavor was unlike any other vodka sauces they had in the past.

Is it a decent jar of red sauce? Perhaps. But is it vodka sauce? That seems to be up for debate. If you are looking for that distinct vodka sauce flavor, you may be better off making it yourself from scratch with a simple penne alla vodka recipe.

Watermelon jerky

Every once in a while, you might come across a grocery item that sounds so unique, it must be an undiscovered gem. After all, why go through the trouble of making something so wild if it doesn't taste good? Whether it is part of your trail mix or you are eating it on its own, the dried fruit craze has reached nearly every fruit imaginable. But while some dried fruits are common, others require a little more heavy lifting to convince shoppers that they are worth a try, including watermelon jerky.

Although dried fruit can be a healthy snack option, one Redditor commented that Trader Joe's watermelon jerky was "an abomination to anything called jerky." Another consumer pointed out that it would not be so bad if the bag wasn't filled with crunchy black seeds. One Redditor even described the jerky as "solidified garbage juice," which led a reviewer to assemble a collection of their favorite descriptors of the product, including a standout comment about repurposing the watermelon jerky as dog treats.

Ranch dressing

This bottled product should be a safe bet for anyone who likes ranch dressing on salad or as a dip. In fact, ranch dressing seems to be so universally loved by its fans, that you would think it's hard to mess it up, right? According to Trader Joe's shoppers, the grocery store's version seems to have done exactly that.

Trader Joe's sells a large assortment of unique dressings and sauces, but its organic ranch which you'd think is one of its most popular is in fact one of the most divisive. One Redditor mentioned that they found the dressing to be "inedible," while another Redditor was surprised that ranch dressing was not the top answer to a thread about the worst product offered at Trader Joe's. Another comment pointed out that there are many better versions of ranch dressing out in the world than the one from the chain supermarket.

Honey walnut shrimp

The freezer section at Trader Joe's is often where you will find the most original and tasty items. At first glance, the honey walnut shrimp sounds like a unique meal idea, and you may quickly find yourself tossing a couple of bags into your shopping cart for an easy dinner. As it turns out, it happens to be among the items that customers strongly dislike.

It's worth consulting Reddit threads to see what other customers thought about the frozen bag of shrimp before taking them home. One comment cautions shoppers, describing the shrimp as "awful" and adding that it "smells like vomit and tastes only slightly less worse." Yikes. Another Redditor prefaces their thoughts by saying that they usually love walnut shrimp, but the item sold at Trader Joe's did not measure up to their expectations as it was "too sweet and goopy." However, it may not be a total lost cause. One comment recommended adding Sriracha chili garlic sauce to the shrimp to enhance the flavor.

Almond butter puffs cereal

Trader Joe's excels in a few categories, one of those being its butters and spreads. Aside from peanut butter, the store sells some fun varieties, including the mega-popular Speculoos cookie butter. Most of the nut butters have an equally large following, and there's a Reddit thread filled with words of praise for seemingly every variety sold. For fans of the almond butter, excitement was likely high when Trader Joe's rolled out the almond butter puffs cereal.

Despite Trader Joe's claims that almond butter makes up 40% of the recipe, one Redditor mentioned that they would not have been able to tell that was the predominant flavor in a blind taste test. Several commenters echoed their sentiments that the cereal was underwhelming, with many pointing out it was so hard and crunchy that they initially thought it was stale. Another Reddit thread highlighting the stale consistency included many comments from customers who were excited to try what seemed to be an almond butter version of Reese's puff cereal, only to be sorely let down.

Spiced apple cider

If you hail from the northeast, then you probably have very strong opinions on what good apple cider should taste like. A fall staple in many households, apple cider should have a distinct fresh flavor that you won't find in any garden-variety bottle of processed apple juice. Depending on where you live, you may find that your local Trader Joe's sells fresh apple cider in its refrigerated section. However, nationwide, you are more likely to come across its shelf-stable spiced apple cider.

The beverage comes with a laundry list of ingredients, including spices like allspice, cinnamon, and cloves, which Become Betty deemed to be overkill. Many customers who tried the shelf-stable cider were quick to point out on Reddit that the addition of those flavors took away from the apple-forward aromas that cider fans expect to taste. 

While TJ's spiced apple cider may offer something different than regular apple juice, the unique flavor you find in fresh apple cider is missing from this shelf-stable version. The majority of Redditors preferred fresh cider to the spiced version, with one comment simply calling the spiced version "trash." Long story short: The spiced apple cider might be a step up from apple juice, but it simply pales in comparison to what you can find fresh.

Queso cheese dip

There are few food groups more universally beloved than melted cheese, so whenever there is an opportunity to pick up a jar of queso, people naturally jump on it at lightning speed. Expectations are sure to be high when you come across the queso cheese dip at Trader Joe's because as the review from What's Good at Trader Joe's put it, "how can it go wrong?"

Apparently, a lot can go wrong. The article knocks the cheese dip on both texture and taste, pointing out that heating it up is an absolute must in order to be able to somewhat enjoy it. One Redditor pondered how anyone could think it is tasty when it contains zero grams of fat, while another simply stated that the queso is "disappointment in a jar." Others criticized the dip for tasting too vinegary, and one comment in a Reddit thread confirmed that apple cider vinegar is indeed one of the ingredients. As Become Betty puts it, the queso is "inexpensive, but it shows."

Paper products

Another category of Trader Joe's items that many customers find disappointing is not actually a type of food. Just like any other grocery store, the chain also sells cleaning products, flowers, and items like toilet paper and paper towels. While it may be tempting to make Trader Joe's a one-stop shop and pick up a few rolls of paper towels while you're there, Redditors caution against it.

When asked about the worst product at Trader Joe's, one comment on Reddit noted that the paper towels are worse than any food item you can buy in the store, claiming that they basically dissolve the moment they come into contact with water. Another Redditor warns users to avoid even touching the paper towels with wet fingers, or they will immediately disintegrate. Yet a different customer wrote that the toilet paper was just as bad. Some comments, however, remark that the paper towels are of decent quality for the price and that they are comparable to many other store brands. You'll have to decide whether it's worth the gamble.