20 of Trader Joe’s Employees’ Favorite Fall Groceries

published Oct 30, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Andriy Blokhin/Shutterstock

Are you wondering if the pumpkin ice cream is coming back to Trader Joe’s this fall? Well, you’re not alone. The latest episode of the Inside Trader Joe’s podcast dropped yesterday, and, with it, news about dozens of new and returning seasonal groceries. There’s a lot for us — and crew members — to unpack.

This time, hosts Mark Sloan and Tara Miller are joined by special guest (and fellow crew member) Jasmine to give us an inside look at their favorites. Pumpkin-flavored hits, including cream cheese, madeleines, bagels, waffles, and samosas, will be gracing the shelves in the coming weeks. (At least a few are already in stores, and, yes, the pumpkin ice cream is one of them.) Fall standouts, like apple, maple, squash, and, of course, more pumpkin-y delights, will also be present and accounted for. Here are the 20 groceries they’re most excited about.

1. Pumpkin Sticky Toffee Cakes

This gord-eous variation on sticky toffee pudding is well-positioned (being that it’s first on the list and all) to become your new favorite treat. Heat the individual cakes in the microwave for about a minute, according to Tara, for a five-star restaurant dessert.

Credit: Mara Weinraub

2. Pumpkin Spiced Joe-Joe’s Sandwich Cookies

Out with the old Joe Joe’s and in with these pumpkin-spiced sandwich cookies, which Matt likes to think of as “little candy bars.” The cookies are dipped in yogurt, topped with sea salt, and contain a tangy, creamy pumpkin filling.

3. Delicata Squash

The return of this easy-to-love squash is one both Tara and Matt are looking forward to. Easy to slice and prep (no need to peel because you can eat the skin), the duo recommends roasting the squash in the oven on a sheet pan before tossing with a pumpkin chipotle sauce (more on that below).

4. Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Another squash favorite, this mac and cheese, explains Tara, consistently shows up on the list of TJ’s Annual Customer Choice Awards even though it’s only in stores in the fall. (Last year, it was a runner up in the Favorite Entree category.) According to the host, “People buy enough of it to stock their freezers for months.” Are you one of them?

5. Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Bites

A bite-sized cousin to the aforementioned mac and cheese (and our pick last year for TJ’s best new fall item), these butternut-forward bites are not to be missed. Tara suggests splitting a box of these between two people with a salad on the side for a fun and filling dinner.

6. Pumpkin Chipotle Roasting Sauce

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs, frozen meatballs, root vegetables, and the aforementioned delicata squash are just a few items Jasmine, a category manager of grocery at TJ’s, Tara, and Matt plan on roasting with this sweet, smoky sauce this fall.

7. Organic Maple Vinaigrette Dressing

Fun fact: This dressing was inspired by a recipe from one of TJ’s Vermont maple syrup supplier’s moms. You might have already noticed the bottles popping up in stores (according to Matt they’re hitting shelves the first week of September). And like the sauce above, he plans on tossing it with some delicata squash.

8. Crunchy Chili Cranberry Orange and Onion in Olive Oil with Dried Bell Peppers and Brown Sugar

Yes, you read that correctly. The newest chili crisp to hit TJ’s shelves has a name that’s so long, according to Jasmine, it almost didn’t fit on the label. She loves the sweetness and chew you get from the “fairly large” cranberry pieces. Matt suggests you welcome fall by spooning some over a “giant batch of tater tots.” 

9. Maple Oat Beverage

Back in stores around mid-September, according to Tara, this maple-flavored twist on another repeat winner is vegan-, lactose-, and dairy-free, and just the thing you’ll want to add to your morning coffee.

10. Salted Maple Ice Cream

The grocer has been on a roll with its sweet, creamy desserts lately (hello, horchata ice cream!), and, by the sound of it, this pint promises to be another fan favorite. It’s “considered a super premium ice cream because of the amount of butter fat,” says Matt. Bonus: It has a ribbon of maple swirled throughout.

11. Cinnamon Roll Blondie Bar Baking Mix

Just as it sounds, this bar is part cinnamon roll, part blondie — but it’s 100% necessary for your next brunch … or breakfast, or dessert. You make the rules. Serve them warm, according to Tara, to enjoy an extra gooeyness that mimics a freshly baked cinnamon roll.

12. Caramel Apple Dipping Kit

For years (years!) the folks at TJ’s have been trying to bring caramel apples to stores that have a reasonable shelf life, sans preservatives. Well, 2022 is the year — sort of. This 16-ounce DIY kit comes with a tray of caramel (that you microwave), plus one package each of chopped nuts and fall-colored sprinkles, and six wooden sticks. You’ll have to head to the produce section to pick up the apples, though.

13. La Ferme Julien Sparkling Rosé

Rosé isn’t just for summer. Made for TJ’s “by a very well-renowned producer in France,” says Matt, it “would be equally at home at a brunch setting, as it would as an aperitif.” Enjoy with cheeses, fruits, charcuterie, and a few friends. Look for it on shelves in early September, adds Tara.

14. Reserve Garnacha Lot 230

According to Tara, TJ’s has never had a wine from Spain in one of its Reserve Labels — that is, until now. This wine is from the Cariñena region of Spain — what she describes as the Spanish equivalent to what Napa Valley is to the U.S. — and would be great paired with the previously mentioned chicken thighs roasted in the pumpkin chipotle roasting sauce. 

15. Grand Reserve Malbec Lot 111

From Spain to Argentina, this wine is “so deeply, purpley red that it’s striking just to look at,” says Tara. Beyond looks, though, it’s a big flavorful wine that’s “lush on your palate.” Matt recommends enjoying a glass with grilled or braised red meat.

16. Platinum Reserve Petit Verdot Lot 105

The first of two Platinum Reserve wines, this one from Napa Valley, may also be the first ever Petit Verdot to don the P.R. label. The red blend is 95% Petit Verdot and about 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, explains Matt, and has a great depth of flavor. 

17. Platinum Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from the Stags Leap District Lot 104

From the district responsible for last year’s best bargain wine comes yet another phenomenal bottle at a bargain price (it was $20 a bottle last year). The two hosts were coy on the details of this Cab, but they did mention it would, once again, sell out really quickly.

18. Coffee Peanut Butter Cup Porter

“A serious sipper,” says Matt. “This beer actually has peanut powder thrown into the malted grains” during the brewing process. It “tastes like dessert,” adds Tara and, at 22-ounces per bottle, is great to share with three or four friends.

19. Pumpkin Spice Cream Liqueur

Back for its fourth or fifth season, according to Tara, this creamy liqueur is for all you pumpkin spice latte lovers that want to bookend your day with a nightcap — “decaf, of course,” says Matt. He also recommends pouring a little over ice cream for an easy grown-up dessert.

20. Panama Rum

This five-year-aged rum from Panama is stored in bourbon barrels before being transferred into wine barrels in Sonoma, California and then aged for an additional (undisclosed) amount of time. Coming to select Trader Joe’s stores sometime in early September, you can mix this into a cocktail, explains Matt, although it’s so smooth that he likened it to a sipping tequila or scotch, best enjoyed on its own.

Which of these fall items are you most excited about? Tell us in the comments below!

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: The 20 Fall Groceries the Trader Joe’s Staff Is Most Excited About.