The truth about Trader Joe's mandarin orange chicken

Trader Joe's is an Aladdin's cave of food wonders, where just about everything you touch and try makes your taste buds want to get up and dance a jig. So when Trader Joe's runs its annual Customer Choice awards, you have to wonder what flavors might go into the bag, bottle, or box that makes customers vote for the same thing, year after year. 

Trader Joe's mandarin orange chicken entree has dominated the Customer Choice Awards since 2017 when it dethroned cookie butter for Favorite Overall. Even back then, though, the mandarin orange chicken was also named Favorite Frozen Item, beating out other Trader Joe favorites like the diner-style mac n' cheese, French-cut green beans, chicken tikka masala, as well as the four chocolate croissants (via Delish).

Why Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken wins fans over year after year

Trader Joe's winning frozen entree features chunks of chicken enveloped with a crisp breading, which comes with a house sauce made with California orange peels, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, fresh green onions, and soy sauce. The best way to prepare the dish, Trader Joe's says, is to bake the chicken tenders according to instructions, and before the oven has done its work, the home cook is to put the defrosted sauce into a hot (not warm, hot) wok, and then transferring the baked chicken into the sizzling sauce. The result: a caramelized, sweet and tangy union of chicken and orange sauce that would make any home cook proud (via Trader Joe's).

This mouthwatering, easy-to-prepare entree also has the vote of food sites like The Kitchn and Delish, who've echoed customer choice sentiment and rated the mandarin orange chicken as easily one of the best items Trader Joe's has come up with so far. Will it continue to top the Consumer Choice Awards year after year? Only time will tell, but the odds seem good, and ee can't wait to see whether this bestseller will continue to hold the top spot and beat back challengers like the cauliflower gnocchi.