I Tried Trader Joe’s Burrata Ravioloni, Then Went Back for 3 More Boxes
This month at Trader Joe’s, the new products include snacks and sweets to tempt you—but not all deliver their promised pleasure. Banana candy? Olives with grill marks? Chickenless Buffalo wings? It’s innovative, but are we into it? As your faithful and judgmental reviewer, I’ll let you know which are treasure and which are trash. It’s my honor.
All Butter Shortbread Sandwich Cookies With Raspberry Filling
It was Girl Scout cookie season when I bought these, and these are so much better. The shortbread is so delicate, they have to package it in divided sections to keep it from breaking, and the thin layer of tart jam is just enough to balance the rich cookie. One of Joe’s best cookies in a long time.
PB&C Snack Duo
I tested these out on my toddler niece, who one day looked at me over breakfast and said, “Awex, you know what’s actually weally good? A gwape dipped in jelly.” And then she took a half-eaten grape and scraped it across a jelly-coated bagel. You can’t compete with a palate that advanced. She declared these snacks “dewicious,” because “it’s like Weese’s.” The concept is a wiff on TJ’s perfect PB&J Snack Duo, this time with chocolate-filled wafers and a peanut butter dip. Will you run out of the dip before the wafers are gone? Yes, but Daddy can refill the cup with more PB if needed.
Buffalo-Style Chickenless Wings
As these bumpy little drumettes (not wing-shaped at all) air-fried, I was salivating in anticipation. The chickenless filling is soy protein, sunflower oil, and don’t make me list the rest. The texture is unholy. You know when you’re eating a real chicken wing and you get a small piece of tendon that’s so chewy you sneak it out of your mouth and stash it on the side of your plate? These have that muscular texture, but then it dissolves into something like soggy Wonder Bread. I could only stomach three. Too bad! TJ’s Tempura Cauliflower is a better bet if you want a non-meat frozen fried snack.
Tirokafteri is a Greek dip of red-chile-spiked feta, but Trader Joe’s version isn’t very spicy and doesn’t have enough depth to be a dip. I think it’s best for spreading on a sandwich situation. But someone in my house ate it all before I could test the theory. Feta fans, this one’s for you.
Sriracha Sprinkle Seasoning Blend
This spicy seasoning takes inspiration from the flavors in sriracha (like garlic and red chile), but it’s not like they dehydrated actual sriracha to make it. Its spiciness is tamed by sugar, and I thought it was just fine sprinkled into my scrambled eggs, where it added a subtly funky-tangy heat. Do you need more spice jars in your cabinet? If so, stock up.
Olives with Burger King commercial grill marks. They truly taste smoky—and it’s not liquid smoke. I was into it. Would be awesome on a charcuterie plate with homemade marinated feta.
Extra chunky. I think this olive and basil pesto would be great on a salami sandwich. I ate it on crackers until I was bored (cracker #4), because jarred pesto never has that same brightness as fresh, ya know?
Slightly Coated Dark Chocolate Almonds
Trader Joe’s tries restraint on for size with these “slightly coated” almonds that have a dusty cocoa powder coating, as if you’ve pulled each one from your hoodie pocket. I think more salt would have helped them, but otherwise a little sweet treat.
Dark Chocolate Bark
Yawning in boredom just thinking of the single bite I tried of this nutty chocolate bark, standing in my kitchen in search of procrasti-snacks. Where’s the pretzel? Where’s the freeze-dried strawberry? Would a marshmallow kill us? This is basically a bag of broken chocolate bars, which is what bark is, I guess.
Lemon Torchietti pasta
This electric yellow pasta is flavored with lemon oil, which is intense and reminds me of Froot Loops. I rolled with the theme and made Molly Baz’s Pasta al Limone, which was awesome per usual. Do I need lemon-flavored pasta in my life, when life has given me actual lemons? No. But the packaging is pretty.
Tomato and Burrata Ravioloni
Ravioloni is genius marketing because while it means larger-than-usual ravioli, it conveys special ravioli. It works. These are the best ravioli at Trader Joe’s, which I can say as someone who’s studied the genre. The creamy tomato and gooey burrata is a sauce in itself; all you need to do is boil and toss with something garlicky. My move: Sauté some chopped garlic, add a bag of baby spinach, wilt and go. I loved these ravioloni so much I went back and bought three more containers so I could give them to my friends like a budget daytime TV host. They loved it.
This is an Italian brand of gnocchi with a cool design that reminds me of Sainsbury’s iconic 1960s food packaging. A standard TJ’s life hack is to stock up on gnocchi when you’re there for that inevitable night when you want dinner fast. I like to toss them in oil and roast for 15-ish minutes, then serve with whatever else is around. Kale? Canned tuna? A single hot dog? That’s nice.
Chai Tea Mints
“It’s burning a hole in my mouth,” said my dining companion when I ruined an otherwise fantastic dinner by offering one of these mints after dessert. (Yes, the name is redundant—in Hindi, chai means tea.) The cardamom comes through strongly, clashing with the chalky mint, like drinking chai while you clean the tub with Soft Scrub (the best household cleaner, in my scrubby opinion).
Bananas Bananas! Candy
Inspired by the frozen “Gone Bananas!” treat (good) at TJ’s, this is chocolate shaped like bananas with crunchy cacao nibs and banana “crème,” whatever that is. These are fun to share to see who hates them and who “actually likes them.” I was surprised at how nicely the bananas were balanced by chocolate, delighted by the crunch of cacao, but not tempted to go back for another.
Blood Orange Cake Mix
If you buy this, I recommend adding an extra egg and, instead of water, try buttermilk, watered-down yogurt or sour cream, milk, expired milk, etc. That way it has more moistness and flavor. This cake has the unsettling complexion of an Oompa Loompa (1971 version) and tastes like a Creamsicle. It’s cartoonishly sweet. I wish they’d thrown in a little bag of dried blood orange slices—which they know how to make since they have all kinds in the nut aisle—to decorate the top. But no one ever asks me!
Strawberries & Cream Gelato
This gelato, TJ’s says, is made in Italy, with more milk than cream for a lighter than light texture. You want it. I recommend leaving it out for like 10 minutes while you’re watching Abbott Elementary, and then scoop into the swirls of pink and white—like the best two layers of Neapolitan—and be happy.
The Wild Card
Egg Omelets With Cheddar Cheese
A TJ’s employee was stocking the shelves when I asked, “Are these new?” And he said yes, adding that it made no sense to pay $4 for something you could make at home for a fraction. He’s 100% correct, and I let the eyes of judgment burn upon me as I snatched this from the shelf. Sure enough, the floppy precooked omelet patties were as nasty as old sponges. In the microwave, the cheese oozed out into a shallow pool that, once it touched air, turned into sticky tack. In good news, my dishwasher took care of the mess.