I tried Trader Joe’s 7-time award-winning cheese, and it’s the best $5 I’ve spent in a long time

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Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar won best cheese at the chain’s 12th Annual Customer Choice Awards. Savanna Swain-Wilson for Insider
  • Shoppers vote on their favourite products during Trader Joe’s annual Customer Choice Awards.
  • This year, the Unexpected Cheddar won best cheese for the seventh time.
  • This product is delicious and completely worth the hype.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Trader Joe’s shoppers are known for their loyalty to their favourite products, which is why it’s unsurprising — if not somewhat ironic — that the Unexpected Cheddar won best cheese for the seventh year in a row during the chain’s 12th Annual Customer Choice Awards.

First introduced in 2011, this year-round best seller combines the boldness of aged cheddar with the nutty nuance of rich, Italian parmesan. This year, the fan-favourite cheese took the top spot over worthy competitors like the blueberry-and-vanilla chevre, the creamy Toscano soaked in Syrah, and the baked lemon ricotta.

After first trying this option for my roundup of Trader Joe’s award-winning products, I am now a proud member of the Unexpected Cheddar fan club and will defend its rightful spot as the chain’s ultimate cheese.

For less than $US5, this 7-ounce block delivers artisanal quality

Trader joe's unexpected cheddar
This cheese has hints of parmesan flavour. Savanna Swain-Wilson for Insider

This particular product was so “unexpected” due to its surprisingly complex flavour profile.

When I first tried it, this cheddar reminded me of the kind of cheese I’d find on the menu at a wine bar for double the price.

It had a sharp bite that instantly hit the front of my palate with a bold, cheddar flavour, and the notes of parmesan provided a layer of nuttiness and a savoury finish.

Trader joe's unexpected cheddar
The texture is perfectly crumbly. Savanna Swain-Wilson for Insider

The product’s impressive taste was also complemented by its unique texture, which fit somewhere between smooth and crumbly without being grainy.

In other words, it was the best of both worlds melded into a block of scrumptious, snackable goodness. After one bite of this stuff, I knew there was no turning back.

This versatile cheese can fit any occasion

Trader joe's unexpected cheddar on pasta
I used the Unexpected Cheddar to top a pasta dish. Savanna Swain-Wilson for Insider

The Unexpected Cheddar is fancy enough to impress foodie friends but also perfectly palatable for anyone who isn’t a fan of strong cheeses.

With a unique savoury flavour, the Unexpected Cheddar would be ideal for elevating the taste of paninis, soups, salads, wraps, and vegetables or enjoying on its own.

I tried it on top of a simple vegetarian fettuccine, and it did a superb job of adding a bold layer of umami flavour without totally overpowering the dish.

Trader joe's unexpected cheddar
This product would make a great addition to a cheese board. Savanna Swain-Wilson for Insider

And although its crumbly texture made it challenging to slice into perfectly even squares, this cheese still would make a delicious accompaniment to any charcuterie board.

I also loved how well it paired with both red and white wine, but I could just as easily eat this cheese one nibble at a time by itself.

Overall, the Unexpected Cheddar is a delicious and high-quality snackable cheese that deserves its win streak

Trader joe's unexpected cheddar
I will be buying this cheese again and again. Savanna Swain-Wilson for Insider

What can I say? It’s worth all the hype.

The only other “unexpected” thing about this cheese is how many blocks of it I’ll be buying this year.