I’m a trained chef who shops at Trader Joe’s. Here are 12 things I’m buying this month.

On the left, Hand holding clear pack of cheese rosettes at Trader Joe’s. On the right, Brown box of trader joe's hot chocolate sticks on a shelf.
Snag items like the cheese rosettes and hot-chocolate sticks at Trader Joe’s this December. Lizzy Briskin
  • Trader Joe’s is stocked with both classic products and seasonal treats this December.
  • The gingerbread-house kit and hot-chocolate sticks are festive and tasty.
  • Grab the fruit-and-nut crisps and cheese rosettes for a holiday charcuterie board. 

These fruit-and-nut crisps combine sweet and savory flavors.
White boxes of fruit and nut crisps stacked on Trader Joe's shelf
Trader Joe’s fruit-and-nut crisps would be great on a charcuterie board. Lizzy Briskin
On appetizer boards, I like to include a cracker option that’s both sweet and savory, so these crispy, thin bites fit the bill while feeling elegant and sophisticated.

At $US3.99 ($AU6) per box, they also make a great snack with any of Trader Joe’s dips

 

Trader Joe’s rosemary tree is both decorative and useful.
Rosemary tree among other greenery with a gold bow and tag at Trader Joe's
You can use rosemary in holiday cooking. Lizzy Briskin
I love the festivity of holiday greenery. But since I don’t have the space in my apartment or the will to vacuum every day, this fragrant rosemary tree makes for the perfect alternative. 

Plus it’s a gift that keeps on giving — you can reach for an herb sprig to flavor your holiday roast.

Snag this gingerbread-house kit for festive fun.
Stack of triangular boxes of gingerbread house kits at trader joe's
These kits come with everything you need to build and decorate a gingerbread house. Lizzy Briskin
You’re never too old to spend an afternoon decorating gingerbread houses.

With candy and cookie decorations, this kit has everything you need for a bit of festive fun.

It’s not always easy to find uncured pancetta.
Hand holding a pack of uncured pancetta at Trader joe's
Pancetta works great in stews and soups. Lizzy Briskin
Pancetta is an Italian preparation of pork belly that’s similar to bacon and adds an incredible richness, saltiness, and depth to stews, soups, or breakfast scrambles.

Plus it’s not always easy to find but freezes well, so go ahead and stock up while it’s available.

This Bourbon vanilla extract is perfect for holiday desserts.
Black and white bottle of bourbon vanilla extract on shelf at Trader Joe's
A bottle of Bourbon vanilla extract costs about $US10 ($AU14) at Trader Joe’s. Lizzy Briskin
If you’ve got a long list of holiday bakes, this pure vanilla extract is a must.

It adds a wonderful caramel flavor reminiscent of Bourbon that’s warming, yet not overwhelming.

It costs $US9.99 ($AU14) for a 4-ounce (113.40g) bottle and is the perfect touch to upgrade Santa’s cookie plate. 

 

Brioche is perfect for French toast.
Loaves of brioche on a shelf at Trader Joe's with a blue $US3.99 ($AU6) price tag
A loaf of Brioche costs about $US4 ($AU6) at Trader Joe’s. Lizzy Briskin
Christmas morning calls for fluffy French toast, and brioche is the perfect vehicle.

It’s sweet, eggy, and ready to soak up your batter with its custardy center and crisp edges.  

A loaf of brioche costs $US3.99 ($AU6).

A unique fruit, persimmons are currently in season.
Orange persimmon's on a shelf with a green 79 cents ($1.12) price tag
Persimmons are in season from October to January. Lizzy Briskin
In season from October to January, persimmons are a true wintertime treat and only cost $US0.79 ($AU1) apiece at Trader Joe’s.

They have a slightly spiced, cinnamon flavor that’s delicious for baking, salads, or snacking. 

Upgrade a holiday charcuterie board with these cheese rosettes.
Hand holding clear pack of cheese rosettes at Trader Joe's
Trader Joe’s cheese rosettes are pretty and flavorful. Lizzy Briskin
These frilly and delicate cheese rosettes are the secret to turning an average charcuterie board into a true showstopper.

Stand them up amongst your crackers and salami for a frosty floral effect. 

Japanese sweet potato is a tasty ingredient.
Shelf with purple-ish Japanese sweet potato and a green $US1.29 ($AU2) price tag
These potatoes cost $US1.29 ($AU2) apiece at Trader Joe’s. Lizzy Briskin
These yellow-fleshed sweet potatoes have a unique, cake-like texture and natural sweetness.

Try freezing whole-roasted sweet potatoes for a treat that’s reminiscent of ice cream.

Each potato costs $US1.29 ($AU2).

Trader Joe’s chocolate passport would make a tasty gift.
Colorful chocolate passports on a shelf with blue-and-red $US9.99 ($AU14) price tag at Trader Joe's
Each passport comes with chocolate from eight different countries. Lizzy Briskin
This colorfully wrapped pack makes an ideal gift for the chocoholics in your life.

At $US9.99 ($AU14) per box, it’s also a great size for stuffing stockings and includes flavors from around the world to satisfy every palate. 

This truffle-cream gnocchi is wonderfully decadent.
Black bags of truffle-cream gnocchi in frozen section at trader joe's
Each bag of truffle-cream gnocchi costs about $US4 ($AU6). Lizzy Briskin
Trader Joe’s is leaning into a truffle theme right now. Although some products can be a bit overwhelming with the mushroom flavor, this pillowy, cream-filled gnocchi is a wonderful exception.

At just $US3.99 ($AU6) per bag, this is a seasonal buy that I hope sticks around.

Make a cozy drink with these hot-chocolate sticks.
Brown box of trader joe's hot chocolate sticks on a shelf
Each box comes with eight hot-chocolate sticks. Lizzy Briskin
If you live somewhere that sees snow or gets even a slight chill, these dark-chocolate sticks are a must.

Just stir a rod into a mug of hot milk for an instant restorative sip

A box of eight sticks costs $US3.99 ($AU6).