There's a lot to love about Trader Joe's. The friendly employees, the well-curated collection of private label products that you can't find anywhere else, the rush of discovering a tasty new treat you haven't seen there before. But there are also a few things that even the most loyal TJ's fans just can't get on board with, namely the seemingly interminable lines and the occasional products that just don't taste very good.
But don't just take our word for it; we reached out to our old friends at What's Good at Trader Joe's (who helped us out with "Trader Joe's Summer Products You Need to Buy Before They're Gone" and have helped us assemble big rankings like "The Best and Worst Products at Trader Joe's" Part 1 and Part 2), and they were kind enough to pass along their absolute least favorite Trader Joe's products in more than a dozen different categories. And you should trust them: These folks have tasted - and reviewed - nearly every single product to grace the shelves of Trader Joe's since 2010 (we've also included their thoughts on each of the products).
Don't forget that you can sample just about any product before you buy it if you alert an employee first, and if you do end up buying something that you don't like, you can return it no questions asked; but first you should read up on products you should never buy at Trader Joe's. What's Good at Trader Joe's
Dips: Curried Carrot & Cashew Dip
This is not what we expected.
We were expecting the curry flavor to dominate this product, but it certainly doesn't. In fact, carrot is the primary flavor coming through. It's essentially a tub of creamed carrots, with a few miscellaneous spices and vague cashew flavor throughout... not sweet. What's Good at Trader Joe's
Beverages: Organic Lemon Ginger Herbal Flavored Water
Save your money! The ghost of lemon and ginger present here is just potent enough to ruin the super-neutral taste of plain water, and yet it's not strong nor sweet enough to be any kind of delicious chuggable beverage. What's Good at Trader Joe's
Dairy Products: Mango Chia Pudding With Cultured Coconut Cream
The main issue with this product is all the chia seeds... the cup's full of them. Top to bottom. That's just too many. What's Good at Trader Joe's
Bulk Candy: Vienna Coffee Meringues
These things are cavities just waiting to happen.
There's something chalky about the texture that makes biting into these meringues like the dental equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. What's Good at Trader Joe's
Meat: Pork Rib Bites
Unfortunately, the piggy poppers would have been best left on the shelves. It's the meat itself. It's... just not great. And the portion size is tiny; it's barely enough for one person.
In general, you're better off just shopping at your local butcher shop or farmers market. You'll get fresh meat and at a lower price. What's Good at Trader Joe's
Condiments: Thyme Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
It's basically just olive oil if you ask us - and maybe not even the most flavorful olive oil I've ever had. It's pretty bland, pure and simple. But even after ample agitation, the trace amounts of balsamic we dredged up from the bottom of the bottle barely produced anything more tangy or tasty than the first few drab drizzles. What's Good at Trader Joe's
Organic Juice: Trader Joe's Organic Purple Carrot Juice
This juice does taste vaguely like traditional carrots, but not quite as much as we expected it to. The splash of lemon is barely detectable. A bit more of that tartness might have helped, but we doubt it would have done much to influence the overall essence of the drink. Save your money for a juicer. What's Good at Trader Joe's
Frozen Desserts: Jingle Jangle Ice Cream
This Jingle Jangle stuff must come from a different supplier than TJ's other ice cream products, because it's so... nondescript. All we tasted was cold, hard chunks. Run of the mill. This ice cream is really rather ho-ho-ho-hum. What's Good at Trader Joe's
Appetizers: Nduja Spicy Salami Spread
I scooped up my first biteAnd plopped into my mouthAnd took only a bite or twoBefore it all went south
How I do say it?It tasted like it had some funkNot fermented, per seBut still kinda like a skunk What's Good at Trader Joe's
Miscellaneous Items: Cotton Kitchen Towels
Yes, they're pretty; yes, they're made in an exotic foreign country; and no, they're not particularly absorbent. At $6 for three towels, we definitely would recommend buying household items somewhere else. What's Good at Trader Joe's
Miscellaneous Items: Paper Towels
If you're used to premium paper towels like Bounty, then you're going to be mighty disappointed by these. They're thin and not very absorbent, about on-par with the lowest-tier paper towels at the supermarket. iStockPhoto
Seasonal Items: Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Salted Caramels
These caramels are a prime example of the trend gone wild.
Take decent dark chocolate. Add wax from a generic autumn-scented candle and a pile of salt from your winter driveway stash. Insert in mouth. Chances are, you'll be happier. What's Good at Trader Joe's
Pre-Made Salads: Trader Joe's Honey Glazed Miso Salmon on Salad Greens
We're just going to go ahead and tell you to try this if you're desperate for a lo mein-topped salad with Asian-ish dressing. But be prepared to scoop out the salmon and serve it to a stray cat, who very well might pass on it, too. What's Good at Trader Joe's
Pre-Made Items: Sushi
An employee told Business Insider that the only Trader Joe's product that employees never eat is the sushi. Why? "Because it's not made in store and it sits in a box from production, to your shopping bag." If that's enough to keep employees away, it's enough to keep us away. Yelp/ Nancee M.
Snacks: Trader Joe's Cranberry Coconut Snacking Crackers
Literally, after just three or four, we were coughing up crumbs everywhere.
These crackers do taste somewhat okay, though. Aside from the textural shortcomings, there's nothing all that wrong with the actual cracker itself. We can see but not taste the coconut flakes, mostly because it's too subtle a flavor compared to the wheaty base, the raisins and cranberries (nothing much to say about them)... or the sesame seeds.
What's Good at Trader Joe's
Yogurt: Avocado Citrus Greek Yogurt
Avocado yogurt. It doesn't sound like it should work, and in my humble opinion, it simply doesn't. The best part about this product is that it doesn't really taste that much like avocados. It's much more citrusy than avocado-y. But there's enough avocado to make your mouth a bit confused. What's Good at Trader Joe's
Cereal: Organic Purple Maize Flakes
Salt. These corn flakes are downright salty. So much so that if TJ's were to market these as tortilla chip cereal, I would think it appropriate. We kinda want to dump some salsa on the cereal to give it a try. It just might work. What's Good at Trader Joe's
Dried Fruit: Triple Fruit Treat
This "fruit treat" tastes like we chopped up some wax fruit from our Aunt Betty's coffee table and tried to ingest it. Ugh. The "mango" tastes nothing like mango, and we could only tell the blueberries and cranberries apart because of the color difference - it all just blends together in a mass produced blend o' blandness. What's Good at Trader Joe's
Frozen Food: Chicken Breast in Poblano Sauce
The chicken itself in this frozen meal was barely enjoyable. It was fatty and gristly. The sauce was even worse, virtually flavorless. With so many ingredients, we hoped that at least one of them would come through to spice up the dish. But nothing. Just a bland mush. What's Good at Trader Joe's
Frozen Food: Breakfast Burritos
These taste like cardboard. That says it all. They do. I'm not sure what process can prevent the natural flavors of eggs, potatoes, turkey bacon, and cheese from coming through at all, but TJ's has apparently discovered one.
Honestly, to call these "bland" would be a gross understatement. We slathered our burritos with Cholula hot sauce in order to finish them. If you're looking for a frozen dish from Trader Joe's, you'll be much better off with these high-scorers.
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What's Good at Trader Joe's