Each season brings with it the promise of new seasonal items from Trader Joe’s, but as any true Trader Joe’s fan knows, there’s a real bonanza of seasonal specialties in the fall and winter. From seasonal beverages to festive snacks and desserts, it seems each aisle in the store is teeming with new things to try. But if you’re anything like me, you might peruse these new items and wonder, “will I even like them if I give them a try?” Given the fact that I’ll try just about anything once (especially seasonal snacks and treats!), it’s pretty low-risk for me to purchase. I recruited the rest of The Everygirl office and together we tried 10 of Trader Joe’s holiday items. Here’s what we thought:
1. Orange Cardamom Muffins
These muffins were an absolute hit in the office. They’re slightly citrusy (but not overpoweringly so) and a little bit sweet. The cardamom adds a bit of character during a time of the year when cloves and cinnamon seem to be in everything. Basically, we totally loved them and I’ll definitely pick them up from time to time for a more festive breakfast or for when I’m hosting guests. They’re so, so good. (Did I say that enough?)
2. French Onion Soup Bites
If you like caramelized onions, you’ll definitely like these French onion soup bites. They’re a true one-to-two-bite appetizer that bake up in no time at all and would be as perfect at a dinner party as they would be on your coffee table for movie night. Also, they totally live up to their name. It’s basically a bowl of French onion soup in one bite, minus the toasty bread, but plus a bit of pastry.
3. Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s Ice Cream
If you read our roundup of holiday arrivals at Trader Joe’s, then you already know that I’m a BIG FAN of both Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s and peppermint ice cream. I absolutely knew that this was a must-buy as soon as I saw it. (I may or may not have audibly gasped.) It lived up to my high hopes and will definitely have a place in my freezer all winter long.
4. Cheese Biscuit Duo
I wasn’t initially super sure about what these would be like, but when I opened them, Team TEG quickly ate them up. They taste cheesy without being greasy or too much, and they’d probably be good on a cheese board (double cheese, what’s not to like?) or amongst an appetizer spread with various dips. For me they were sort of just “meh,” but I was clearly in the minority here (I think I was the only one who felt like that), so they’re still pretty high on our list because everyone else loved them.
5. Fig Goat Cheese
True confessions: I’m a goat cheese hater. Luckily, I work in an office full of goat cheese lovers. So I’m trusting the goat cheese fans in the office to judge this one. Fig and cheese are a pretty classic combination, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. The only real drawback was that it really doesn’t look all that pretty because of the chopped figs on the outside of the cheese log. But because it still tasted good (they even snacked on the leftovers the next day), that redeemed it.
6. Over The River & Through The Wood Trek Mix
Honestly, I really appreciate a good snack and this mix is one of the easiest and arguably most festive way for me to snack on the go. The drawback though? There’s really nothing very special about it — it’s pretty average. That being said, the sweet and salty mix of roasted nuts and seeds, chocolate covered pretzels, and spiced pecans makes it a perfectly OK option for winter snacking.
7. Gluten-Free Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s
The office was SPLIT on these alternative Joe-Joe’s. One of the editors threw hers in the trash, but a few of us thought they were OK substitutes for the real thing. I will say that I didn’t like the first cookie I ate — it tasted too pepperminty (almost like a mint toothpaste) and I didn’t taste the candy cane pieces. I gave it another chance however (because I so wanted to love them) and thought the second cookie tasted more like the Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s I know and love, but with a cookie that was crumblier. I’m not sure why one tasted so different to me than the other. Because of that, I think there are better options out there if you’re looking for a seasonal treat. If you’re not gluten-free, I (unsurprisingly) definitely think you should opt for the original, but if you are gluten-free, some other sort of gluten-free, chocolate peppermint treat would be my personal preference.
8. Ginger Snowball Cookies
These simple butter cookies got a major fancy addition in the form of crystallized ginger. Each bite is full of ginger flavor, which isn’t itself bad, but I thought that the chunks of spicy ginger were too overpowering, so I definitely wouldn’t seek these out as a first-choice cookie. I love snowballs this time of year, but I couldn’t really taste much of the buttery cookie that I really like, which was a real bummer. It was all ginger. Basically, if you love ginger, these could be right up your alley, but if you don’t, you probably won’t like them.
9. Gingerbread Crisps
I decidedly did not love the flavor of these on their own and since I don’t like goat cheese, I didn’t take a taste with cheese. Some in the office thought they were way too spicy from all the ginger (they were spicy — if that’s not your thing, beware). I know that the box specifically says that they’re meant to be served with cheeses and spreads, but I tend to judge a cracker on its own — not just if I’d eat it with something else — and these didn’t pass muster. If I was pulling together a fancy-schmancy cheese board, I might include them, but I think there are many better crackers (including others at Trader Joe’s) so it’s unlikely I’ll end up buying them again.
10. Peppermint Hot Chocolate
Sadly, this was my least favorite item that we taste-tested. I mixed it up with water here in the office and it was overwhelmingly minty. I wanted much more chocolate flavor. Also, the mint didn’t taste much like peppermint (it tasted too toothpaste-y). Someone suggested that it might be better mixed with a regular hot cocoa to cut some of the mint and I think that I might prefer it mixed into coffee (or my go-to milk). But I probably won’t buy it again to try because I disliked it so much when mixed with water. Ultimately, I was so excited for this and it just didn’t live up to my expectations at all.