Trader Joe’s – to know them is to love them. The popular and quirky chain of grocery stores currently has over 500 locations across the United States, offering both fan-favorite products that have been on shelves for years, and new seasonal offerings that regularly change. Trader Joe’s is also particularly well-loved for its line of delicious and affordable frozen products. While we love TJs just as much as the next person, a lot of their products are hit or miss. That’s why finding the best Trader Joe’s frozen foods among hundreds of options can save you time, money, and the risk of a disappointing meal.
Shopping at Trader Joe’s is not only abnormally fun due to their diverse and innovative line of products, they’re also pretty ethical compared to other major grocery chains. The company prides itself on a sustainability framework and packaging improvements. The company also donates unsold items to food banks and has high approval ratings from its employees based on benefits and working environment, as noted by The Green Stars Project.
Cruising the freezer section while shopping may even be linked to a healthier diet, data suggests. A recent study using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that those who consumed frozen fruits and vegetables also ate more total fruits and veggies than those who solely stuck to non-frozen produce. To accompany higher fruit and veggie consumption, tangible health benefits among this group were also observed: those who ate frozen produce were more likely to have sufficient intake of recommended nutrients of concern, while simultaneously possessing a lower BMI (body mass index). While our list below is certainly not veggie or fruit-centric, make sure to check out Trader Joe’s full range of frozen produce too!
Additionally, many at-home cooks (specifically parents) feel they lack the talent and time to make a proper meal all by themselves. A recent study found that parents often get frustrated by the time it takes to prepare ingredients (54%) and cook their kids’ meals (44%). Additionally, three in five parents say the burden of cooking in their household usually falls to one parent (62%) – and it’s usually themselves (62%). It’s pretty clear that we could all use a little help from the freezer section, right?
StudyFinds searched the web to find the cream-of-the-crop Trader Joe’s finds. We visited 10 of the leading expert websites to see which frozen items were rated the best. Our list is ranked based on the most-recommended frozen Trader Joe’s products across these sites. Have your own suggestions? Be sure to leave them in the comments below.
The List: Best Trader Joe’s Frozen Food, According To Pros
1. Mandarin Orange Chicken
It’s everyone’s favorite for a reason. Crispy, tangy and perfect to satisfy that craving for take-out, Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken is a keeper.
“Keep a bag (or two!) of this sticky, orange-flavored chicken in the freezer and you can skip that so-so takeout joint down the street. Pair the chicken with rice and frozen veggies, give taco night a twist, or make them the star of your grain bowl,” The Kitchn writes.
Customers and employees alike agree that the top-selling dish is perfect for any occasion, whether it’s late-night snacking or a complete meal.
“Once again, Trader Joe’s makes no mistakes with their mandarin orange chicken. California orange peels, ginger, green onions and soy sauce bring everything together,” Taste of Home writes.
2. Cacio e Pepe
It’s unlikely to think that a chain of grocery stores in the U.S. would ace a Roman pasta dish, but somehow they managed to pull it off with Trader Joe’s Cacio e Pepe.
“For a frozen cooked pasta, this impressed us. The noodles were perfectly al dente. The sauce was glossy and creamy, and there’s plenty of that black pepper flavor,” Delish writes.
The sauce combines Pecorino Romano cheese, made from sheep’s milk, with bold, black pepper to make for a wonderfully simple, yet decadent, dish.
“Cacio e Pepe has made a name for itself lately and for good reason. The dish is simple but divine when done right, but can be hard to perfect. Leave it to Trader Joe’s to provide a yummy frozen alternative. Rich and creamy, biting into this Cacio e Pepe frozen dish is just heavenly,” Parade writes.
3. Paneer Tikka Masala
Trader Joe’s line of frozen Indian-inspired dishes are surprisingly well-reviewed, and foodies agree that the Paneer Tikka Masala is a great quick option if you’re craving the deliciously flavorful cuisine.
“This fan-favorite item is a classic rendition of Paneer tikka, an Indian dish made from hearty chunks of grilled paneer — also known as Indian cottage cheese — marinated with yogurt and spices like chaat masala, coriander powder and red chili powder,” Salon writes.
The dish consists of a rich tomato-based sauce that will leave you wondering why it’s the first time you grabbed it off the shelves.
“The cubes of cheese hold up surprisingly well in the microwave, and the spinach basmati rice should be in all the Indian dishes,” Delish writes.
4. Gyoza (All Variations: Pork, Chicken, Shrimp or Vegetable)
Trader Joe’s line of Gyoza are drool-worthy. Regardless of whether you’re a meat-eater, pescatarian or vegetarian, there’s something for everyone.
“It’s easy to take frozen potstickers from appetizer to dinner by steaming some right in a pot of soup or tossing them into a stir-fry. The dough is just the right thickness, and the meat is well-seasoned and mixed with cabbage, scallions, and a hint of soy sauce and ginger,” The Kitchn writes.
Already fully cooked, they make a quick and easy choice whether you decide to steam, pan fry, microwave, or add to soup.
“These frozen potstickers are ideal for a quick snack or to sub for a night of take-out. Their doughy shell protects a blend of chicken, cabbage, ginger and spices creating a perfect storm of flavor,” Parade writes.
5. Four Cheese Mac n Cheese
American comfort food doesn’t get any better than a heaping bowl full of Mac and Cheese, and Trader Joe’s has managed to perfect this iconic dish with a well-balanced blend of cheeses and tender pasta.
“Frozen dinners for the win! This box might look little, but it’s packed with big flavor. Just pop it in the microwave, and get ready dive into a warm bowl of pasta in minutes. Feel free to add broccoli, breadcrumbs, or truffle flakes to the mix,” Pop Sugar writes.
Other variations of the mac such as Hatch Chile Mac n Cheese and Reduced-Guilt Mac n Cheese are also both highly-recommended. “A classic, and 100% better than the grocery store boxed kind—you can actually taste the four cheeses,” Delish writes.
- Taste of Home
- Eating Well
- My Everyday Table
- Food Network
- Pop Sugar
- The Kitchn
You may also be interested in:
- Best Frozen Pizza
- Best Frozen Meatballs
- Best Meal Kit Services
- Best Food Processors
- Best Cookware Sets
- Best Pasta Sauce
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.
Bring back small jars of marinara sauce please