17 Groceries Chefs Always Buy at Trader Joe’s

published Feb 23, 2020
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Credit: Diana Liang

Chefs, they’re just like us! But really, they are—at least when it comes to shopping at Trader Joe’s. To prove our point, we asked a few of our favorite chefs to give us a peek at their grocery lists, and they look a lot like ours: freezer-aisle favorites, wine, coffee, chocolate… Sorry, we got carried away. Our point: Trader Joe’s is widely beloved and that includes the chef community.

Here’s what the pros like to stock up on.

Credit: Dana McMahan

1. Seasonal Coffee

“We know flavored coffee is made fun of, but whenever it’s available, my wife Ali and I buy TJ’s gingerbread and pumpkin spice coffee,” says Jet Tila, Food Network Chef and co-author of “101 Epic Dishes“. “It’s a tradition that we look forward to.”

Credit: Lauren Masur

2. Truffles

“I’m also partial to their truffles!!!” says Ali Tila, who is a pastry chef and co-author of “101 Epic Dishes“. If a pastry chef can sing the praises of a Trader Joe’s truffle, you know they must be good. Pssst: Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it!

3. Kefir & Non-Cow Dairy Products

“I usually pick up my kefir from Trader Joe’s,” says Nik Sharma, author of “Season” and the popular blog, A Brown Table. “I also love the options they have when it comes to yogurt made from different milk sources. Sometimes if I want to make a Middle Eastern dish that involves yogurt, I go to TJ’s to find sheep’s milk or goat’s milk yogurt.”

Credit: Lauren Masur

4. Condiments

“One of the best parts about Trader Joe’s is the selection of condiments,” says Nik—and we agree wholeheartedly. “They’re a good quick fix to add a whole new dimension of flavor to a dish.” Personally, we’re super partial to their Blue Cheese Mustard and Zhoug Sauce.

Credit: Lauren Masur

5. Jerk-Style Plantain Chips

Nik also highly recommends these Jerk-Style Plantain Chips. “I can go through an entire bag in one day.” So can we, as evidenced by this glowing review we gave them when when these snacks launched back in May.

Credit: Trader Joe's

6. Trader Joe’s Head to Toe Moisturizing Balm

Here’s a super-practical TJ’s buy that Nik swears by: “This is more of a beauty tip than anything but I can’t recommend this stuff enough. My hands tend to dry out a lot, as I wash my hands constantly while cooking and styling food for photographs. This balm has done wonders for my skin and protects it from drying out without leaving it greasy.”

Credit: Joe Lingeman

7. Wild Caught Red Argentinian Shrimp

“I always keep a bag of these in my freezer because they are really tasty wild-caught shrimp, which are not so easy to come by,” says Claudia Sidoti, Head Chef and Head of Recipe Development at Hello Fresh. “They have a nice, sweet flavor and are excellent for last-minute dinners when you need a protein that defrosts quickly.”

Credit: Trader Joe's

8. Black Bean and Cheese Taquitos

Claudia also had great things to say about these Black Bean & Cheese Taquitos: “These are a go-to when I need something fast, nutritious and delicious. They’re a great snack and they’re easy to turn into a meal if you cover them with salsa and cheese!”

Credit: Trader Joe's

9. Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels

Forget regular, boring pretzels! Claudia says these peanut butter filled pretzels are the ultimate treat. “They’re salty, sweet and irresistible, if you love peanut butter as much as I do.”

Credit: Elisabeth Sherman

10. Hold The Cone Mini Ice Cream Cones

“I’m not actually a regular at Trader Joe’s, but I’ll make a special trip for these mini ice cream cones with chocolate on top,” says Ted Allen, host of Food Network’s “Chopped”. He’s not alone in his affinity for these cones. The mini cones were our pick for “best” dessert at Trader Joe’s last year.

11. Butter

“My favorite thing to buy from Trader Joe’s is their butter. It’s more reasonably priced than anywhere else in New York City, and as a baker, I go through a lot of butter testing recipes,” says Vallery Lomas, winner of “Great American Baking Show“.

12. Wine

Vallery also suggested another Trader Joe’s favorite on everyone’s mind: Two Buck Chuck. Okay, okay, so even if you aren’t getting the cheapest wine, Trader Joe’s still has unbeatable prices. “I love their inexpensive wine—I use it to make mulled wine.”

Related: How To Make Slow Cooker Mulled Wine: The Easiest, Simplest Method

Credit: Cassiohabib

13. Frozen Dinners

Another relatable suggestion from Vallery? “I often don’t feel like cooking after a day of testing cookie and cake recipes. I love their frozen Chicken Tikka Masala!” Considering how often we shop TJ’s freezer aisle, we couldn’t agree more.

14. Mirepoix Mix

“When it comes to convenience, I love their Mirepoix Mix as a soup starter,” Cooking Channel star Kelsey Nixon told us. It’s a mix of pre-chopped carrots, celery, and onions—the beginning to many a great meal.

15. Dorot Crushed Garlic Cubes

Kelsey also admits to using their Dorot Crushed Garlic Cubes all the time. Our Food Editor-at-Large, Christine Gallary, says the same: She calls these perfect cubes her “happy discovery.” Christine adds: “Garlicky smells stay in the food and not on my hands. Plus I shave off a few minutes of prep time, and I never have to worry about having fresh garlic around.”

16. Citterio Salami Sticks

“For snacking, my family loves the Citterio Salami Sticks,” Kelsey adds. These finger-friendly meat sticks are also a favorite in the Keto community!

Credit: Lauren Masur

17. Super Seed & Ancient Grain Blend

When we caught up with Molly Yeh, host of Food Network’s “Girl Meets Farm“, a few months ago, she revealed her very favorite $5 buy: “I love Trader Joe’s Super Seed & Ancient Grain Blend. It has flax seeds, hemp seeds, amaranth, quinoa, chia. It’s not sweet—just crunchy!” It’s perfect on top of yogurt with a little bit of honey.

What would you add to this list?

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: 17 Groceries Chefs Always Buy at Trader Joe’s