I tried Trader Joe’s award-winning sweet and savoury snacks, but the runner-ups were even better

All of the fan-favourite sweet and savoury snacks at Trader Joe’s. Paige Bennett for Insider

Each year, Trader Joe’s chooses its top products based on shoppers’ opinions.

In the recent 12th annual Customer Choice Awards, recurring winners like the Mandarin orange chicken and the salted peanut butter-filled pretzel nuggets topped the charts again.

As a Trader Joe’s fan, I wanted to give some of the top salty and sweet snacks a try to see if they were as delicious as the voters say they are.

I tried the winners and runners up of both the snack and sweet-treat categories and ranked them from my least favourite to most favourite.

Read on to see how the sweet and savoury snacks stacked up.

First, I tried the winning snack alongside the runner-ups

Salty Snacks 1
The top five savoury snacks at Trader Joe’s. Paige Bennett for Insider

This year, the peanut butter-filled pretzel nuggets took home the prize for the best Trader Joe’s snack.

I’m already a fan of that product, so I was excited to see how the runner-ups — plantain chips, Bambas peanut snacks, elote corn-chip dippers, and rolled chilli-and-lime corn tortillas — would fair against the fan-favourite.

The plantain chips weren’t crisp or flavorful enough for my taste buds

Plantain Chips
I wasn’t a huge fan of the beloved plantain chips. Paige Bennett for Insider

I think fresh plantain chips are delicious, but I wasn’t sure how I’d like a store-bought version.

One bite confirmed my suspicions: I wasn’t a fan of this snack. They tasted very earthy and plain, and the texture was akin to a stale chip.

Paired with a dip, these would be better, but they won’t be on my grocery list anytime soon.

I hadn’t tasted the Bamba peanut snacks before, and I can’t say I’d buy them again

Bamba 3
The Bamba snacks confused me. Paige Bennett for Insider

I’d never tried or heard of this snack before, but it didn’t seem like something I’d typically go for.

After taking a bite, I was very confused. The texture is similar to cheese puffs, so my taste buds expected that flavour. But the actual flavour was more like a muted peanut butter.

They weren’t bad, but they weren’t for me, and I wouldn’t buy these again.

The elote corn-chip dippers were good, but they’d be better with a side of dip

Elote Corn Chips 1
I think these would be better with dip. Paige Bennett for Insider

I’m not typically a huge fan of corn chips, but I do love Trader Joe’s elote seasoning blend.

The corn-chip dippers had a slight spiciness and an excellent crunch, and the elote flavour definitely came through.

I wouldn’t eat them alone again, but I would love to try these dipped in guacamole, salsa, or queso.

The salted peanut butter-filled pretzel nuggets were named best snack, but they weren’t my top pick

Pretzel Nuggets
I love these pretzels, but they surprisingly weren’t my favourite snack. Paige Bennett for Insider

Trader Joe’s peanut butter-filled pretzels are a hit in my household.

I love the balance of sweet, creamy peanut butter and salty, crunchy pretzels. Once you eat a couple, it’s hard to stop.

These were the winner of the salty snacks category, and though I think they deserve that title, I actually found a different snack I enjoy even more this year.

The spicy chilli-and-lime rolled corn chips were my favourite salty snack

Chilli Lime Chips
The chilli-lime flavour won me over. Paige Bennett for Insider

Although these chips were a runner-up this year, I actually loved them more than the peanut butter-filled pretzels.

They were a little spicier than the elote corn-chip dippers, with just a hint of lime, and they were crunchier too thanks to the rolled format.

These would be delicious paired with a dip, but I’d happily eat them plain.

Next, it was time to rank the top-voted sweet treats

Sweet Treats
The top five sweet treats at Trader Joe’s. Paige Bennett for Insider

I’m also a big fan of this year’s fan-favourite sweet treat — the dark-chocolate peanut-butter cups — so I understand why it took the top spot.

But I was hesitant to accept that the bite-sized candy was really better than full-on desserts like the brookie, Danish Kringle, Hold the Cone ice cream, and ice-cream sandwich.

The brookie was a very sweet, indulgent dessert

Brookie 1
The brookie was a great combination of the iconic desserts. Paige Bennett for Insider

Chocolate-chip cookies and brownies are two of my favourite desserts, so I expected this fan-favourite combo to be a knockout.

The brownie was very rich and fudgy, so I could taste it more so than the cookie. But overall, it was still delicious.

I definitely recommend enjoying this with milk though because it was very chocolaty and dense.

O&H Danish Kringle is hard to get your hands on, and now I know why

Danish Kringle 1
The Danish Kringle isn’t available year-round at Trader Joe’s. Paige Bennett for Insider

I knew this would be amazing when the Trader Joe’s cashier said, “I’m so glad these came back in stock recently” while I was checking out.

The Danish pastry is available sporadically throughout the year, in different flavours depending on the season.

Danish Kringle 2
I tried the pecan flavour, and the filling tasted like pie. Paige Bennett for Insider

I purchased a pecan option, and it definitely lived up to the hype.

The filling was similar to a pecan pie and, paired with the creamy, slightly tangy icing and the flaky pastry, it was incredible.

This will be a recurring purchase for me when it’s in stock.

The dark-chocolate peanut-butter cups are a staple in my apartment

Peanut Butter Cups 1
This bite-sized treat tastes best cold. Paige Bennett for Insider

These are so good thanks to the balance of the sweet peanut butter and the bitter dark chocolate. I buy tubs of them to keep in the fridge because I think they’re even better chilled.

The bite-sized treats won the sweet-treat category this year and were a runner-up for the overall winner of all fan-favourite products.

They’re delicious, but I do think there are products more worthy of the sweets crown.

Hold the Cone is a classic Trader Joe’s dessert with different flavours depending on the season

Hold the Cone 1
These ice-cream cones are a great little treat. Paige Bennett for Insider

The company has multiple flavours of their beloved Hold the Cone treats. I’ve previously enjoyed the seasonal pumpkin variety, but for this taste test, I grabbed the chocolate-chip option.

It had a chocolate cone, vanilla ice cream sprinkled with chocolate chips, and a chocolate coating on top.

All that chocolate might seem overwhelming, but the small portion size and the vanilla ice cream balanced it all out.

I loved the flavour and the size is perfect, too. It’s ideal for a little treat.

The ice-cream sandwiches were my favourite sweet treat

Ice Cream Sandwich 2
I loved everything about these ice-cream sandwiches. Paige Bennett for Insider

These ice-cream sandwiches feature two chocolate-chip cookies hugging a block of vanilla ice cream that’s then rolled in miniature chocolate chips.

Sure, these are a little messy, but they were full of flavour, and I appreciated the contrast of textures between the crunchy chocolate chips, chewy cookies, and smooth vanilla ice cream.

Out of everything from both categories, I thought the ice-cream sandwich was the best

Ice Cream Sandwich 3
The chocolate-chip ice-cream sandwich was the best of the whole bunch. Paige Bennett for Insider

There were a lot of great products featured in both the sweet treat and snack categories for this year’s customer awards, but nothing beat the flavorful chocolate-chip ice-cream sandwich for me.

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