Trader Joe’s around the holidays might as well be my personal Olympics—dodging the charcuterie board creators, Pinterest holiday cocktail recipe makers, those who will throw hands to get that last tin of Jingle Jangle—oh, and the guy who’s just trying to get his Orange Chicken. But I braved the chaos in search of the #1 way to celebrate the season: Trader Joe’s holiday products.
I scoured the aisles (you’d think they could just put everything in one place?) in search of all of the seasonal items that I could find while trying to have a pretty good variety of choices for us to try. We skipped the gift-y treats and holiday tins in favor of items you might actually buy for your kitchen. And much to our dismay, there was not one tin of Jingle Jangle in sight, so that will not be included in this ranking (but it’s top three in our hearts).
Because everyone has been loving our system for ranking Starbucks’ seasonal drinks, we decided to follow the same format for this Trader Joe’s taste test and ranking. Five of us gathered in our office to test out the best of the best holiday sips, sweets, and treats and share our thoughts with all of you. We ranked them based on overall taste and flavor, festiveness, and likelihood that we would actually buy them again.
Keep scrolling for our official ranking of all of the Trader Joe’s holiday products that we could find:
14. Dark Chocolate Covered Minty Mallows
We all basically said “immediately no” to these. They have a strange texture that’s almost like a cross between marshmallow and the filling of a York Peppermint Patty—and they are extremely minty. Overall, we all just agreed that these would not be the sweet treat to reach for—one even said “I love all dessert, but I would skip these.” I will also say that none of us are huge fans of marshmallows in general, so if you’re a marshmallow lover, you might like these. We also all agreed that they would be good dropped in a holiday hot chocolate.
13. Sugar Glazed Lebkuchen Cookies
Many of us were really excited to try these, but they just didn’t taste as good as they looked. We were all extremely shocked by the texture: They’re crunchy on the outside but soft and almost donut-like on the inside. The flavor is very nutty and spiced, so one taste tester described them as “tasting health food-y.” They also have a paper-like wafer on the bottom that was an interesting texture for everyone. Upon further research about Lebkuchen cookies, however, I would say these are very true to the real deal.
12. Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s
OK, no one come for us here. I know there are some huge fans of Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s out there, but they just weren’t it for us. We all thought the filling tasted very artificial and almost toothpaste-like, plus the majority were not fans of the candy cane chunks. These just don’t live up to the deliciousness that is Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s. However, most of us agreed that if we needed a sweet treat and there was nothing else on hand, we would eat one again.
11. Egg Nog Greek Yogurt
This yogurt is not bad by any means. However, it has no specific eggnog flavor. We all thought that it just tastes like your typical vanilla greek yogurt, so there’s nothing special enough about it that would inspire us to pick it up on our usual TJ’s run.
Much like the eggnog yogurt, this oat milk eggnog did not have a show-stopping flavor. It kind of just tastes like regular oat milk with a faint hint of some spices and with a much thicker consistency. If you’re looking for a dairy-free eggnog to serve with your alcohol of choice at your holiday party, this could be a great option.
9. Truffle Dip
Let’s get one thing straight: This dip is good. The reasons it’s ranking so low are 1) it’s not very festive and 2) it’s really not a dip, it’s more of a sauce or spread. We all agreed that this tastes very similar to a truffle aioli and would be amazing as a dipping sauce for french fries or spread on a burger. If you were going to eat it as a dip, it would probably pair best with some sort of potato chips. We also all agreed that it’s not overwhelmingly truffle-flavored, so it’s a good starting point if you’re not the biggest fan of truffles.
8. Candy Cane Green Tea
Everyone described this tea as “nice, mild, and light”—so it’s good but not a major standout. It tastes a lot like a typical peppermint tea with just a hint of added sweetness. If you like peppermint and want something festive to replace your usual tea throughout the month of December, this would be a great choice for you.
7. Fruit & Nut (& Other Stuff) Crisps
Everyone really liked these crisps, and they were probably what we ate the most of. They have a very festive, spiced taste that makes them the perfect addition to your holiday charcuterie board. The almonds and dried fruit pieces make for a good texture without being too overpowering. If you like TJ’s year-round versions of these crisps, you’ll definitely like these. We did all agree, however, that they’re less of a standalone item and more of a vessel for a spread, soft cheese, or dip. Keep scrolling to meet their perfect match.
6. Mini Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti
The best way to describe this biscotti is that it’s truly delightful. The cranberry-meets-pistachio flavor is delicious and festive without being too sweet, and the drizzle of icing on top is the perfect finishing touch. They are pretty hard to bite into on their own, but we know that’s how biscotti is meant to be. We all agreed these would be absolutely delicious with a festive cup of tea or coffee.
5. Mini Dark Chocolate Mint Stars
These are an absolute necessity when the holiday season comes around. They are an ideal tiny sweet treat that can satisfy your sweet tooth without being too much. Some of the things our taste testers compared them to were Snow Caps and Thin Mints—however, these are plain shortbread cookies covered with dark chocolate and sprinkles, so they are unique in that way. These would be so fun sprinkled around a charcuterie board as a finishing touch.
4. Winter Wassail Punch
I’ll start by saying that everyone’s face looked like this upon first sip: 😮. We all said that we had never tasted anything quite like it—it really tastes like Christmas in a cup. I do need to say, however, that you probably wouldn’t just be drinking a glass of this on its own; instead, it is the perfect mixer for a holiday cocktail. If you served up some sort of festive punch, mimosa, or mule with this in it, your guests would be extremely impressed.
3. Decked Out Tree Cookies
The word that came to everyone’s mind immediately when we tasted these was “nostalgia.” They are the quintessential chocolate-y holiday cookie and are kind of reminiscent of Keebler fudge cookies. Let’s just say that if I was a small child and found these delivered by my Elf on the Shelf, I would 100% believe that they came straight from the North Pole. We also decided that these would be great for a holiday party, either to serve yourself or to bring as a hostess gift since the packaging is so cute.
2. Cranberry Goat Cheese
Let me just list out some of the things that were said when we were tasting this goat cheese:
- “Brilliant, incredible, amazing, show stopping, spectacular…” – Lady Gaga – Ashley Selleke
- “This is so good I could eat it with a spoon.”
- “If you invite me to your holiday party and this is on your cheeseboard, I’m eating the whole thing. If it’s not, I’m leaving.” – Julia Poulter
- “This is a good gateway goat cheese if you don’t like goat cheese.”
- “I get the blueberry goat cheese every time I go to Trader Joe’s, but this one is even better.”
…so, yeah. That’s all!
1. Peppermint Pretzel Slims
Now you might be wondering: If you said all that about the goat cheese, what could have possibly topped it? Well, enter the Peppermint Pretzel Slims. These truly have it all. They are the ideal combination of salty and sweet, are festive without being obnoxious (one taste tester even said that she doesn’t even really like peppermint but loved these), and are not overpoweringly sweet like some of the other holiday treats. We all agreed that we could easily eat the entire bag in one sitting, and one taste tester said, “These are so good that I grabbed my second before I finished my first. I’m going to Trader Joe’s tomorrow to get these for myself.”