11 chefs share the one food they always buy at Trader Joe's

  • Trader Joe’s can be overwhelming with options.
  • We talked to chefs from around the country about what their favourite Trader Joe’s product is.
  • From frozen food to spices, these are chefs favourite Trader Joe’s items.

Trader Joe’s is a grocery chain offers refreshing spins on classic favourites. And while there are literally tons of sauces, produce, and frozen foods to choose from at this store, it never hurts to take a page from expert chefs and select items that will totally spice up your meals.

To bring you some culinary inspiration, we spoke to 11 chefs about the items they always get when they shop at Trader Joe’s. From coffee to dumplings to chips, below are some must-have essentials worth adding to your shopping list next time you pay this grocery chain a visit.


Buy your organic produce at Trader Joe’s.

Madeline DiamondTrader Joe’s produce.

“I honestly like a lot of the organic produce from Trader Joe’s,” said celebrity chef Marcel Vigneron. “The opal apples usually have a very nice crisp texture and a delicious sour apple flavour, which is indicative of the characteristics that I look for when choosing an apple,” he told INSIDER.


Take a peek at the Trader Joe’s frozen-food aisle.

Madeline DiamondTrader Joe’s frozen food.

“I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s products, but especially a few of the prepared frozen foods,” said chef Jonathan Olson of The Keep in Columbus, Ohio.


Try some Trader Joe’s Gyozas.

Flickr/snowpea&bokchoiGyoza (not from Trader Joe’s)

“My wife and I eat these almost every week,” said chef Nick Erven, executive chef of Antihero in Ferndale, Michigan. “They cook quickly, and taste really, really good,” he added.


Look for Trader Joe’s Chicken Soup Dumplings.

LWYang / FlickrSoup dumplings (not from Trader Joe’s).

“The beauty of a soup dumpling is best experienced as soon as it’s ready, which is the magic of the Trader Joe’s dumpling,” said Adam Tortosa, chef, and owner of Robin, an omakase restaurant located in San Francisco. “After heating them up, you instantly get soft dumplings filled with chicken and a rich savoury broth.”


Add coffee to your Trader Joe’s shopping list.

“I love my java in the morning, and whenever I shop at Trader Joe’s, their Trader’s Dark Coffee is one of the things I stock up on, as well as their instant Colombian Coffee,” said chef Nicole Andrea Guzman. The dark coffee has a nice chocolate undertone to it, she explained, and the instant coffee has a fresh brewed taste and provides a nice caffeine boost whenever you really need it.


Snack on the Chilli & Lime Rolled Tortilla Chips.

Trader Joe’sChilli & Lime Rolled Tortilla Chips.

“There’s a Trader Joe’s across the street from Calo Kitchen + Tequila, and one thing I always grab for my own personal consumption when I’m looking for a snack is the Chilli & Lime Rolled Tortilla Chips,” said Clemente Heredia, chef, owner, and restaurateur of Calo Kitchen & Tequila in Los Angeles told INSIDER.


Stock up on some unsulfered mango slices.

AmazonJust Mango Slices.

“My favourite item (besides the raw nuts, seeds, or the endless trail mixes) has got to be the unsulfered mango slices,” said Thomas Marlow, executive chef of the award-winning Mimosa Grill in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Growing up, my family always had these in the cupboard, and now my two sisters have these treats around for their two daughters,” he said.


Munch on some Trader Joe’s Organic Popcorn with Olive Oil.

Trader Joe’sTrader Joe’s Organic Popcorn with Olive Oil.

“Whenever I am at Trader Joe’s, I always grab a few of bags of the Organic Popcorn with Olive Oil,” said Jason Hall, executive chef of TAO properties at the Moxy Time Square (Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge).

“I keep a few in my desk drawer, and tend to reach for one after a long shift,” he told INSIDER.


Give Trader Joe’s tamales a try.

Eric Minnich, the executive chef at The Commissary in San Francisco, explained that he actually stocks his freezer with Trader Joe’s tamales for a quick and filling meal.

“These tamales are the best for a quick lunch (or dinner) because their perfectly seasoned filling wrapped in moist corn masa leaves you perfectly satisfied,” he told INSIDER.


Invest in the Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend.

Trader Joe’sEverything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend.

“I love the Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend- it’s my favourite add-on any time I toast or warm up bread,” said Brad Warner, executive chef of Bodega Negra at Dream Downtown, NYC.

“I take Pita or Lavash, brush the bread with a little olive oil, and sprinkle it with this seasoning blend for a quick and easy snack in minutes.


Pick up some umami powder.

Trader Joe’sUmami powder.

“Professionally, this is one of my best secret tricks to boosting flavour,” said chef Elizabeth Schuster of Tenacious Eats LLC in St. Louis, Missouri. “I always add this mushroom powder to my burger mix, stews, soups, and even vinaigrettes,” she said.

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