Trader Joe's Frozen Desserts Ranked Worst To Best

Trader Joe's has a wonderful collection of fun, eclectic products. Its frozen food section has fed people for years, providing a diversion from the ordinary lackluster grocery store freezer section with a variety of delectable products. Unlike some grocery stores that stick to their main stock, Trader Joe's is constantly coming out with new and seasonal products, allowing consumers to sample new things.

The downside to this is that it can be hard to discern what is worth purchasing and what you should pass over. Trader Joe's predominantly carries its own brand, which helps keep its prices low, but it also means you are never quite sure what you are getting until you try it. That is why we decided to tackle Trader Joe's frozen desserts section and rank the products. For this, we tried to stick with regularly available items and not repeat similar stock. If we covered every single version of every product, we would be here all week.

16. Oat Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert Sandwiches

We love it when companies come out with dairy-free versions of childhood favorites so that folks can continue eating them, even if they've outgrown digesting lactose or eating animal products. We can see what Trader Joe's was trying to do here, specifically creating an ice cream sandwich reminiscent of the kind eaten on playgrounds by small children. Let us be clear, though, these may look like those ice cream sandwiches, but they taste nothing like them.

Theoretically, this sandwich has two chocolate wafers that sandwich oat milk ice cream. The problem is there is only one flavor present here, and it is oat. We have nothing against oat milk, and we are honestly flabbergasted as to how they got oat milk ice cream to taste so strongly of oat that nothing else could possibly make it through. There is no chocolate; there is no ice cream; there is only oat.

15. Classic Lemon Bars

We have come to expect great things from Trader Joe's. It is often thought of as the place to get high-quality, low-price items. When it comes to its lemon bars, though, we are left underwhelmed.

These bars need to be defrosted before eating. This means letting them sit out on the counter for one hour, or in the refrigerator for four hours, or defrosting them in the microwave for 30-second intervals. That last method provides uneven heating, so we do not recommend it if you decide to buy a pack.

Each lemon bar consists of a pastry bottom, a thick layer of lemon curd, and then it's topped with a dusting of powdered sugar. The end result should be sweet and tangy with a creamy center and a delectable crust. Now, while these aren't terrible, they also aren't fantastic.

First of all, while 12 bars come in a pack, the bars are tiny. They are smaller than a typical lemon bar. The crust on the bottom is flavorless and really only serves as a vessel for the lemon curd. The lemon curd is thick and gloopy, though it does offer a nice balance of sweet and tart.

14. Chocolate & Vanilla Bean Swirl Gelato

Gelato and ice cream are similar, but they are not the same thing. Where ice cream is typically made from cream, gelato is typically made from milk. Gelato also tends to be churned slower, which means it isn't supposed to be as puffy as ice cream. Despite this, the Trader Joe's chocolate and vanilla bean swirl gelato feels like fluffy nothing. It scoops easily, but that is part of the problem; there just doesn't seem to be a lot of substance there.

This is further confirmed with a look at the ingredients. For both the chocolate and vanilla gelato, the first ingredients were water, sugar, glucose syrup, and coconut oil. We haven't even gotten to the milk yet, and this was reflected in the taste. It felt like eating frozen syrup as opposed to ice cream. It simply was not pleasant to eat. Neither the chocolate nor the vanilla portions were up to typical Trader Joe's standards.

13. Ice Cream Bon Bons

These ice cream bon bons surprised us, but not in a good way. The concept is simple, a chocolate cookie with a dollop of vanilla ice cream covered in a chocolate shell. They must be somewhat successful, because Trader Joe's has since come out with a non-dairy version, but we found these little ice cream bites underwhelming.

The first thing we noticed was that the ice cream inside was icy, not creamy. Why the apparent drop from Trader Joe's usual high quality of ice cream? We can't say. The cookie layer was fine — unexciting, but not bad. It was soft and easy to bite through. The whole thing was topped with a chocolate coating that didn't have as much chocolate flavor as we would have liked. Overall, these are fine, but nothing to write home about. We'll likely skip them in favor of other ice cream treats.

12. Macarons

Trader Joe's offers a few different packages of macarons, including seasonal flavors, but we wanted to try the classic mixed assortment that is available year-round. Because this is Trader Joes, these macarons are sold under the questionable name of "Trader Jacques'." Each container has a dozen macarons, with flavors including fig, lemon, apricot, coconut, pistachio, and salted caramel. The box defrosts in 30 minutes and will keep in the fridge for two days.

The first thing we noticed is that these macarons are smaller than the ones we would typically find at a patisserie. The colors are pleasant and not overly vibrant, which keeps them appealing. We decided that in order to properly assess this box, we had to try each flavor.

Overall, we found the macarons to be a mixed bag with some consistent themes. Each filling was delicious, though we could have done with a bit more, while each of the shells was fine but not exceptional. They were chewier than we would have preferred and lacked the lovely crisp shell that you get from a fresh macaron. That being said, while normally we would recommend hitting up a local patisserie for some fresh macarons, these are fine in a pinch.

11. Mini Cheesecake Cones

The mini cheesecake cones are phenomenal if you eat them at exactly the right time and not a moment later.

These confections start with a rolled almond Florentine cookie, which is then filled with an Italian-inspired cheesecake filling made with ricotta and quark cheeses. The instructions on the box tell you to defrost these for 20 minutes at room temperature or for 90 minutes in the refrigerator. If you follow these directions exactly, you have a crunchy cookie filled with a rich, creamy cheese filling that's much lighter than a traditional New York cheesecake filling but no less delicious. The problem we found is that if you go past that time, the cone gets soggy and loses its crunch, and the sugar doesn't maintain its integrity and can get onto your hands. This turns into a very sticky situation rather quickly.

We love the concept of these cheesecake cones, but it reminds us that there's a reason why chefs often don't fill desserts like cannoli until just before serving. They can get messy.

10. Gone Bananas

Gone Bananas got a serious upgrade in recent years. Once upon a time, Gone Bananas from Trader Joe's consisted of whole bananas dipped in chocolate and sold frozen on a stick. While chocolate covered bananas are delicious, the treat was difficult to eat and could be too much.

Now, though, Gone Bananas is made from sliced pieces of bananas covered in chocolate. Not only are they less of a hassle to eat than the old Gone Bananas, but you can easily walk by and take as many or as few pieces as you want. We are happy to see that despite changing the shape, Trader Joe's kept the same delicious flavors of Kauai bananas and dark Belgian chocolate. Don't worry — the sock monkey is still featured on the packaging.

Despite being dark chocolate, Gone Bananas has skim milk in the ingredients, so they are not vegan treats. Additionally, at the end of the day, they are simply frozen chocolate-covered bananas. We enjoy them, but they are incredibly simple.

9. Sublime Ice Cream Sandwiches

Is it possible for an ice cream sandwich to be too thick? Trader Joe's really pushed the envelope with the Sublime ice cream sandwiches. The base of these treats is vanilla ice cream, which is sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies and is finished by rolling the edges in more mini chocolate chips.

We do appreciate that these ice cream sandwiches are substantial. That said, they are not the most practical. They are tall, and the chocolate chips tend to fall off. The cookies themselves are excellent — they provide enough structure to hold, and are noticeably chewy, which we liked. The ice cream is fairly run-of-the-mill vanilla, nothing special, but not bad. The mini chocolate chips provide texture, but it might be too much; sometimes, the outside bites are difficult to chew. It feels as though, in an attempt to pull out all the stops, Trader Joe's may have overdone it a smidge.

8. Mochi Ice Cream

Mochi ice cream is a beautiful combination of chewy sweet mochi made from rice and ice cream filling. When mochi ice cream first hit the United States, it was relatively difficult to find. Now, of course, you can find mochi ice cream at places such as Target or even Aldi. Even though Trader Joe's stocked this dessert early on, there is not much that sets its mochi ice cream apart from its competitors. The price is about the same as what you would pay at Target for My/Mochi. And while the flavor and texture were fine, we would not say it was better than the others.

On the other hand, Trader Joe's mochi offers more flavor choices than the other stores. Trader Joe's mochi ice cream comes in a variety of flavors, including several seasonal ones. In the past, they have had Thai tea, mango, and coffee mochi. When we were there, the freezer had vanilla, strawberry, green tea, and ube. Ube is a yam with a distinct purple color. The exterior of the ube mochi was a deep purple and was perfectly chewy. The inside was a light lavender and had a distinct flavor. While it may not be to everyone's taste, we found it a creamy and delightful change of pace. We also found that the Trader Joe's mochi seems to be larger than that of its competitors.

7. Apple Pie Blossoms

Trader Joe's apple pie blossoms are sold in two-packs. The blossoms are similar to an apple dumpling. The outside is a folded-up pastry shell filled with diced Northern Spy apples and topped with brown sugar, which caramelizes as it bakes.

Since these apple pie blossoms are frozen, they need to be warmed up before eating. According to the box, you can either be microwaved for one minute or placed in an oven for 15-20 minutes. While the oven takes significantly longer, we found it produced a much more pleasant result. The sugar caramelized more, the outside was crisper, and the inside was evenly heated.

Assuming they are warmed in an oven or toaster oven, we would absolutely eat these again. While the crust is nothing like a homemade all-butter crust, it is a perfectly acceptable store-bought shortening crust. It crisped nicely and had a hint of flake. The filling had a distinct apple flavor and held up beautifully, keeping its shape while also softening.

That said, there is not much in the way of spice. There is some cinnamon, but it really does not show through much. This is fine for those that prefer the apple to be the standout, but not if you enjoy apple spice. We would absolutely eat these again and would choose them over a grocery store apple pie.

6. Tiramisu Torte

Once again, we see Trader Joe's branding itself with an internationally themed name: "Trader Giotto's." Maybe someday Trader Joe's will smarten up and stop doing that. Anyway, this torte consists of a coffee-based cake layer followed by a soft mascarpone cheese layer which is speckled with chocolate chips and topped with a thick layer of cocoa powder. When we say thick, we mean it measured about ¼-inch thick in the cake we purchased.

Despite the overabundance of cocoa, the flavors of this tiramisu were light and pleasant. The torte itself is not too dense and consists of just one layer of each ingredient. But it works for this torte. The center is creamy and not overly rich; the chocolate flecks provide a non-traditional flavor and texture, and the coffee cake on the bottom is pretty good. The main downside to the tiramisu torte is that despite having some gelatin in it, the cream gets incredibly soft after a short while, even if it's left in the fridge. This makes it hard to cut and serve but does not affect the delicious flavor.

5. Sweet Bites

The Sweet Bites are a surprisingly delightful dessert assortment. Each box contains 12 pieces with three varieties: a chocolate and coffee "Opera" cake, a raspberry "Macaron Aux Framboises" cake, and a caramel and chocolate cake. The cakes are small but not insubstantial. They are rich enough that if you just want a little something, they are perfect. In fact, they would be great to serve at a party.

Each of the cakes is surprisingly moist and delicate. They do not suffer from being frozen and defrost easily in the fridge. Of the three, we found the caramel and chocolate cake to be the weak link. There is a crunchiness to the bottom layer that was not expected and not pleasant, and the caramel on top is gelatinous and not pronounced enough. Still, they are overall tasty and provide a nice selection.

A note to any vegetarians or those who do not eat pork or beef: Each of the cakes contains gelatin. One is beef gelatin, and one is pork, so these will not be suitable for people with certain dietary restrictions.

4. Brownie Crisp Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches

For this product, Trader Joe's took two of its excellent products — the brownie crisps and coffee ice cream — and put them together to gift the world with the brownie crisp coffee cream sandwiches. The name is a mouthful, and so is the product.

The outside consists of brownie crisps, which are functionally a dessert entirely made from the edge pieces of brownies. They are thin crispy squares with chunks of chocolate baked right in. They are crunchy and crispy, but when combined with the ice cream, they soften up to a texture similar to that of a traditional ice cream sandwich. The coffee ice cream is also nothing to scoff at here. It is made with coffee syrup, coffee extract, and ground espresso beans. It is sure to wake you up.

The combination of these two factors gives you an ice cream sandwich with a depth of flavor and texture. If you were a fan of ice cream sandwiches as a kid and are looking for a more sophisticated version, these are your ticket. 

3. Black Tea and Boba Coconut Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert

After just one bite, we were sold. The flavors and textures here are spot on. The base is a coconut milk black tea ice cream which is as creamy as any milk tea you could want. The consistency does not suffer from being a vegan base, and the coconut blends perfectly with the other flavors. The boba, too, remains a deliciously chewy treat. We were worried it would be a frozen, inedible block of tapioca, but thankfully, we were wrong. The whole thing is finished with a brown sugar swirl that adds the perfect sweetness and depth of flavor to the whole pint.

You do not need to be vegan to enjoy this frozen dessert. It comes from the same supplier that makes Trader Joe's cold brew coffee, so we should have known it would be good. The depth of flavors and textures in this pint is what really sold us. We foresee this becoming a standard purchase for any boba lover.

2. Hold the Cone

Hold the Cone is basically a perfect dessert. It is creamy, crunchy, chocolaty, and has a punny name. The basic product is a familiar concoction of an ice cream cone lined in chocolate, filled with ice cream, and then coated with more chocolate. Trader Joe's now offers a whole range of Hold the Cone confections, including chocolate, vanilla, chocolate chip, coffee, and non-dairy options. We can see why they have become so popular.

The ice cream is appropriately creamy, and the shell adds a perfect crunch. The chocolate coating, while hardly mind-blowing, does its job and helps keep the cone from getting soggy and provides chocolate with each bite. The size, too, is perfect. They are listed as "mini," and we suppose they are when compared to a Drumstick, but to us, it is the perfect size. Not only that, instead of just shoving them all into a box, they come in a tray which keeps them intact and means you don't have to take plastic or paper wrappers off them. The whole experience is wonderful.

1. Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream

The only thing that can top Trader Joe's amazing Hold the Cone is the speculoos cookie butter ice cream. Truly a marvel of the frozen food aisle, it starts with a delicious and creamy ice cream base, then mixes in broken pieces of speculoos cookies. For those not aware, speculoos are thin, spiced cookies. Trader Joe's doesn't stop there, though. They add in generous ribbons of cookie butter, a magical connection made of ground speculoos cookies.

Part of what makes this such an amazing dessert is simply that it has a unique taste. Trader Joe's was founded as a place to get flavors outside the stereotypical American palate. That is exactly what this ice cream does. Trader Joe's was instrumental in introducing Americans to speculoos, which is popular in Europe. Not only is this ice cream delicious, but it is also the epitome of what Trader Joe's strives for.