Trader Joe's Food Items That Have Cult Followings

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It's hardly a secret that Trader Joe's has become one of the most popular grocery stores in the country, and for more than just millennials. But there are a few secrets to the company's success. For one, the company almost solely sells products under its private Trader Joe's label, which the company says cuts costs and allows them to pass on savings to the customers. Secondly, the company offers significantly fewer products than most other grocery stores, so it can focus on making those products literally amazing. 

And it shows. Many of the company's unique offerings have become so popular, they've basically developed cult followings. From unique seasoning blends to convenient veggie creations, Trader Joe's keeps customers coming back to find out what kind of culinary concoction the company will dream up next. We've rounded up some of the most beloved items to hit the shelves over the years. Keep scrolling for all the delicious details.

Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel Seasoning

Good for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel Seasoning has quickly become a smash hit since it was introduced in 2017. It was immediately nominated by customers as one of their favorite products that year and the next. By 2019, customers voted the Everything but the Bagel Seasoning as the number one product at Trader Joe's, with one shopper saying. "This stuff is, quite literally, my everything."

The Trader Joe's signature seasoning blend contains sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and sea salt, along with dried garlic and onions. Sure, it's great for spicing up a bagel and cream cheese, but this blend can do so much more than that. Trader Joe's reportedly recommends adding Everything but the Bagel Seasoning's "crunchy, roasted, savory flavor to grilled chicken, buttered popcorn, baked potatoes, creamy dips, pizza dough, salad dressings, pasta, mac & cheese, or panko-breaded anything" (per Food & Wine). If that's not enough, here are 50 more ideas from Eating Well. 

Though you can only get the seasoning blend from Trader Joe's, some shoppers have taken to reselling it on Amazon, where it's garnered more than 10,000 positive reviews.

Trader Joe's Cauliflower Gnocchi

If you haven't had the Trader Joe's Cauliflower Gnocchi, you're missing out. This is another item Trader Joe's customers voted as one of their favorites in 2019, naming it the best vegan/vegetarian item (and it was a runner up the year before). These soft little delights, located in the freezer section, are made with one of the trendiest vegetables and can be ready to eat in just a few minutes.

Cauliflower alone is already known for being an extremely versatile veggie. It can be riced, mashed, grilled, made into pizza crust — you name it. Skip the prep work and grab these cauliflower gnocchi from Trader Joe's, and likewise, the possibilities are nearly endless — but here are 20 recipe ideas to get you started from Women's Health.

As Grub Street puts it, "they're cheap, convenient, and they are ostensibly healthy," calling Trader Joe's Cauliflower Gnocchi "the embodiment of the Influencer approach to eating." Maybe that's why you can find displays of the product all over instagram. In fact, it even has its own dedicated Instagram account run by a superfan.

Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken

Another consistent crowd pleaser from Trader Joe's is the Mandarin Orange Chicken. It was voted favorite entrée in the most recent Trader Joe's Customer Choice Awards after ranking as the best overall product for several years in a row.

Another staple from the freezer section, the Mandarin Orange Chicken probably owes some of its popularity to its convenience. You just have to bake the chicken according to package instructions and then sauté it up in the defrosted sauce until it gets "perfectly caramelized, sweet and tangy," according to Trader Joe's, which says it "looks like takeout, and tastes even better."

And you don't just have to take it from the company. According to Insider, chefs rank this chicken as one of the best frozen foods you can get at Trader Joe's. And The Kitchn says that it's "basically like if you got an order of orange chicken from a restaurant, and every piece in the carton was a 'good' piece." That just sounds like a dream come true.

Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe-Joe's

The Joe-Joe's at Trader Joe's, basically the company's take on an Oreo, are already beloved by fans. At one point in time, they were ranked as customers' third-favorite product on the shelves. But it seems the seasonal version of this Trader Joe's treat, the Candy Cane Joe-Joe's, are seemingly on a whole other level. These cookies are so popular, in fact, they have their own Facebook page with thousands of likes. 

The Candy Cane Joe Joe's are made with the same chocolate cookies but with real pieces of peppermint in the cream filling. They are only available in limited supply during the holidays at Trader Joe's, and every year, they fly off the shelves. The candy cane cookies were ranked as the best version of Joe-Joe's by Spoon University. Shoppers on Influenster said these were their favorite cookies to eat at the holidays, with several saying they stock up on boxes so they can eat them year-round.

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Move over Reese's, there's a new peanut butter cup in town, and it can be found on the shelves at Trader Joe's. The company's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are a tried and true crowd pleaser. The candies are smaller and deeper than a typical Reese's and come in a plastic bin that makes it easy to keep popping them into your mouth without thinking about it.

Customers voted these candies their favorite sweet treat at Trader Joe's in 2019, a title it has held in previous years, along with favorite candy at Trader Joe's. And how's this for an endorsement? In a peanut butter cup taste test conducted by Mic in 2017, Reese's was ranked lower than Trader Joe's in the dark chocolate category. Thrillist also ranked the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups among its list of the 50 most essential products at Trader Joe's.

Trader Joe's Chicken Tikka Masala

The frozen foods aisle at Trader Joe's is nothing short of a wonderland of unique creations. It's got everything from breakfast to dessert, conveniently prepared produce, all the party appetizers you'll ever need, and all kinds of entrées you'd probably never make from scratch (not without a humongous mess, at least). Ranking high among the treasures from the frozen section is the Chicken Tikka Masala from Trader Joe's.

In fact, Delish tried and ranked every single frozen meal at Trader Joe's and voted Chicken Tikka Masala as the best of the bunch, saying "it's truly the gold star of frozen food, and as good, if not better than, any take-out meal you could order."

But forget take-out. One popular Trader Joe's reviewer raved that the Chicken Tikka Masala "tastes just as authentic as the food from the best Indian restaurants I've been to." They couldn't find a single fault with the dish, saying "TJ's really went above and beyond with this dish. Everything down to the Basmati rice was phenomenal. The texture of the chicken is excellent, there's a good amount of sauce, and the real kicker is that they got the flavor right."

Trader Joe's Hold the Cone! Mini Vanilla Ice Cream Cones

The only thing better than an ice cream cone is an adorable miniature ice cream cone that's been dipped in chocolate. That's probably why the Hold the Cone! Mini Vanilla Ice Cream Cones at Trader Joe's are such a huge hit. That, and the fact that these tiny treats are only $2.99 for a box of eight. The Mini Vanilla Ice Cream Cones are consistently ranked among customers' favorites in the store. In 2017 and 2018, they were voted the best dessert, and they were named a runner up in 2019

When Thrillist ranked them as one of the 50 best products at Trader Joe's, it called these frozen treats "a bit of a mixed blessing," noting that, on one hand, the cones are "quite appealing as a minimalist after-dinner treat, giving you a downsized version of the glorious experience that is ordering yourself a Drumstick right off the ice cream truck, right down to the chocolatey end of the cone, which we all know is the best part." Okay, totally fair point. So what's the downside? Apparently the fact that the tiny size of the cones "makes it rather easy to talk yourself into polishing off an entire box." Well, we'll just have to agree to disagree on that.

Trader Joe's Unexpected Cheddar

When it comes to customers' favorite cheese at Trader Joe's, the company can probably expect the unexpected. By that we mean, the Unexpected Cheddar continues to be voted the best cheese in the store. Thrillist says this cheese "might be the crown jewel of the TJ's cheese spread," adding that consumers should "expect to eat a whole block in one sitting." Take it from the golden state. According to market data, reported by SFGate, Unexpected Cheddar is Californian's favorite Trader Joe's item in the whole store.

This is a cheddar unlike any other. According to Trader Joe's, this cheese "tastes like an aged Cheddar" at first bite ... "then something unexpected happens. The smooth creaminess of the Cheddar gives way to a tangy flavor and slightly crumbly texture, a subtle hint of salt crystallization is discovered, and it begins to taste like an aged Parmesan." Certainly not what you expect from your average block of cheddar. 

Customers reach for the Unexpected Cheddar so much, Trader Joe's recently also started offering bags of it in pre-shredded form along with the classic block, so you're one step closer to adding it to quesadillas, chili, mac and cheese, and more.

Trader Joe's Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Spinach and artichoke dip is a comforting classic when it comes to party spreads for everything from holidays to tailgates to potlucks. And why whip it all up from scratch when you can get the cheesy, gooey goodness straight from the Trader Joe's frozen section? The company's Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Dip is a major crowd pleaser. It's made with Swiss and parmesan cheeses, plus a blend of herbs and spices. And the best part is that it's hot, bubbling, and ready to go after just five minutes in the microwave. 

The Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Dip has praise coming in all directions. In 2018, Trader Joe's customers voted it their overall favorite appetizer at the store. PopSugar includes it on their list of the tastiest comfort foods at Trader Joe's, saying "this rich dip will leave you scraping the bottom of the barrel." And NBC's Today puts it at the top of their list of must-have items from Trader Joe's for your Super Bowl party, saying "this melty, cheesy dip packed with chopped spinach and artichokes rivals homemade or restaurant versions."

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter

It's safe to say that cookie butter took the U.S. by storm once it finally arrived. The decadent spread, made from crushed cookies, creamy fat, and loads of sugar has been a winter staple in Europe for decades. According to Bon Appétit, cookie butter, or speculoos, was introduced to the U.S. in 2011, and it won over countless palettes thanks to Ben & Jerry's and Trader Joe's. In fact, the TJ's version of the sweet spread was voted customers' absolutely favorite product at the store several times. 

It's easy to see why people love this stuff so much. It's truly delectable and tastes so good with both sweet and savory pairings ... or straight out the jar with a spoon, if we're being honest. Plus, as Business Insider points out, it's inexpensive, doesn't need to be refrigerated, and can be used in all kinds of delicious baked goods.

Trader Joe's Butternut Squash Zig-Zags

Butternut Squash Zig-Zags have developed a loyal fan base among Trader Joe's shoppers. Not because they are made from anything fancy (literally, it's just butternut squash) but because their preparation is frankly genius. The hearty gourd that we love to use in just about everything during the fall comes in crinkle cut form at TJ's. Not only is this unique, it's practical. The Zig-Zags aren't just great in salads or soups but can be baked into "fries" or used in place of pasta. PopSugar calls them a must-buy for easy and healthy meal prep. 

Butternut Squash Zig-Zags come washed and ready to cook, so Trader Joe's has all the hard work for you (and prepping this squash certainly takes some work). That ease coupled with the veggie's versatility in so many dishes makes these Zig-Zags an easy way to sneak more healthy food into your diet, which is why Thrillist says these crinkle-cut squash pieces have the power to trick even picky eaters.

Trader Joe's Buffalo Style Chicken Dip

Buffalo chicken dip has become a game day snack staple. So naturally, Trader Joe's decided to answer the call of the masses and offer up a ready-made version of the "classic recipe that reaches peak search-engine status during football season" with their own Buffalo Style Chicken Dip. And seriously, this dip hits all the right notes. 

As Trader Joe's describes it, this dip "combines the lip-smacking tang of chicken wings with oozing, melty cheese in an easy-to-scoop dip." It's packed with bite-size pieces of chicken breast, a tangy and savory cayenne pepper sauce, plus cream cheese, sour cream, and Monterey Jack. It's great for digging into with tortilla chips or veggie sticks, and it's certainly much less messy than a basket of buffalo wings. You can eat it cold, but Trader Joe's says when you warm it up, "this dip tackles your taste buds in the best way possible."

Trader Joe's Cinnamon Bun Spread

A newer holiday offering from Trader Joe's, Cinnamon Bun Spread has quickly become a favorite. Beloved by Instagram foodies, this seasonal item is only sold in limited quantities during the holidays, and fans can't wait to get their hands on it.

The sweet, gooey topping is made with brown butter, cinnamon, vanilla, real cream, and honey. Trader Joe's describes its spread as the best parts of a cinnamon bun put into a jar, calling it "smooth and spreadable, easily adding notes of cinnamon, honey, and vanilla to whatever you put it on." And there are so many things you can spread it on, from waffles to toast to ice cream. As for the taste, we can't put it much better than this fan on Reddit, who said "it's like someone took the innermost part of a cinnamon bun, made it caramel and then made it kiss with a Toaster Strudel filling." Yes please.

Trader Joe's Scented Candles

It's not just the food at Trader Joe's that customers love. The company also makes some of its own home and beauty products, and those seem to fly off the shelves as fast as their freezer-aisle favorites. In particular, people seem to love Trader Joe's growing line of candles, with scents ranging from Vanilla Pumpkin, Lemon Cookie, and Mango Tangerine to Cranberry Pine, Peony Blossom, and so many more. The company says its candles are "considered collectable, cult classics." And in 2019, customers named the candles their favorite non-food and beverage product at Trader Joe's. 

Trader Joe's rotates its candle selection seasonally, only offering certain scents for a limited time each year, meaning shoppers are clamoring to get their hands on them. If your favorite candle sells out, you can try and find it being resold online. But high demand leads to steep markup. The candles, which are about $3.99 at Trader Joe's, can run as high as $23 on Amazon.