Some stores sprinkle a little fall here and there to spruce up the joint, and some stores fire pumpkin and maple cannons down every aisle while a parade of Autumn fairies dance in their wake, creating delightful products to appeal to our basic nature. Well, Trader Joe’s fall line is here, and the fairies were working overtime.
Walking through the cheerful aisles of the kitschiest of grocers, you will be overcome with autumnal inspiration as you (probably) overspend on all things fall. Whatever you want, they have, and they have it in pumpkin or maple or both. Of course, apple cider is also present, but as usual, it takes a backseat to the big orange gourd and its spicy goodness. The thing is, it’s not just food that Trader Joe’s has given the fall treatment. Right now, I am burning their $4 vanilla pumpkin candle, and my home office has never smelled better. Seriously, I bought one of the last available, and I’m mad at myself that I didn’t buy more. I plan on remedying that later.
Many of these products you’ll recognize from years past, but a few are new to me, at least, and overall, I was very impressed. And also very full because I bought and ate so many.
1. Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli
I know this is technically supposed to be boiled, but hear me out — air fry or deep fry them. They are so freaking good this way. You can dip them in a brown butter or ricotta honey mixture, or just serve them with a bit of pumpkin butter. They are so delicious.
2. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
What are they trying to do to me with this one? I love all oatmeal cookies, chocolate chips, and pumpkin, and they put them all in one cookie. Yes, I bought a tin, and I’m saving it for the weekend. I think it’s the perfect sweet to savor with my friends at virtual Rosh Hashanah.
3. Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffin Mix
Trader Joe’s is fairly well-known for their gluten-free goodies, and I imagine that this one is no different. Pumpkin muffins are sold all over the place, but gluten-free varieties are hard to come by. Bring the coffee house to your house with this inexpensive mix from Trader Joe’s.
4. Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix
This one I’ve had, and it’s really great. It tastes a bit nutty, but the pancakes are light and fluffy, and the pumpkiny-spicy batter is definitely right for the season. My kids like it with a ton of pumpkin butter and almond butter on top for a little extra protein (and a lot of extra sugar).
5. Traditional Pumpkin Waffle Mix
Admittedly, this is the mix we normally use. Not only is it cheaper, we just like it more than the gluten-free mix. This makes a light-as-air pancake or waffle, and it’s practically perfect slathered in butter and maple syrup. I do add a bit more fat than the box calls for though.
Left Image:Cat BowenRight Image:Cat Bowen
Pumpkin butter, maple butter, apple cider fruit spread, and cinnamon bun fruit spread are all back and exactly as wonderful as you remember.
Maple butter is a bit pricier at $6, but that’s because it contains real, grade-A maple syrup. It’s phenomenal on biscuits and also? Chicken fingers. I know, it sounds weird, but it just works. Think about chicken and waffles. You’re seeing it, I can tell.
If you eat pork, the apple cider fruit spread makes a wonderful basting liquid for ribs if you reduce it with a bottle of pumpkin beer, some garlic, some cayenne, and of course, salt. (I use Accent MSG and kosher salt.)
7. Rustic Apple Tart
Apples and cream cheese in a rustic crust all ready to go in the oven and then topped with a pile of vanilla ice cream. This tart is ready for serving in under an hour, and it will wow your guests. It’s one of Trader Joe’s more elegant offerings for dessert.
8. Pumpkin Ice Cream
For $4, you’re not going to find a tastier quart of fall ice cream. And yes, I did top it with hot maple butter because it’s a pandemic and I am all about gilding the lily at this point, because it makes me happy. You can feel free to eat it all by itself if you must. I don’t rule your life.
9. Savory Corn Pie
I’ll admit, I haven’t had this yet, but it was selling out quickly, so people must love it. (At least in New York City.) It is $6, and takes almost an hour to cook, so if people are still cruising toward it? That’s saying something. It looks like it could be a tasty side dish, or a vegetarian main.
10. Butternut Squash Risotto
This cauliflower rice and squash blend ($3) is so good when you zhuzh it up with their South African smoke pepper grinder spice, and a little bit of cream cheese. It’s complete on its own, but it’s designed to be doctored, and doctor it you should. I serve it with grilled tofu or kabsa chicken.
11. Pumpkin Waffles
My daughter just shoveled the last bite of her pumpkin waffle ($3) into her face just before her first school meeting on Google. She covered it in their pumpkin cream cheese with a bit of pumpkin butter on top. Never enough pumpkin with our family, and we will ride this train until peppermint chocolate and eggnog season begins the day after Thanksgiving.
12. Maple Leaf Cookies
These maple leaf cookies are under $4, and completely habit forming. I could dip these in tea all day long and be perfectly happy with all of my life choices that led up to that moment. Unfortunately, my kids feel the same way, which usually means that I get one cookie, and they get 20 each.
13. Apple Cider Cookies
Curse you, cookie demon! Why must you be so alluring and sexy? Why must you continually sacrifice yourself at the altar of my mouth? You oat temptation. You cidery crumble of warmth and happiness.
In all seriousness, these $3 cookies are my favorite. They aren’t overly sweet or tangy, but they have a balance of each. I suggest eating them with your partner, and dipping them in hot spiked cider after the kids go to bed, pretending it will lead to sexy times, but in reality, you just fall asleep watching Netflix while everything smells nice and cozy.
14. Pumpkin Spice Petite Cookies
For under $3, these petite pumpkin spice cookies are a nice treat if you’re into frosted cookies. My kids love them, and apparently so does everyone else, because we snagged one of the last boxes that they had. Pro tip: keep them in the fridge, that frosting gets hella messy when it’s anywhere over 75°.
15. Pumpkin Spice Joe-Joes
These $3 Joe Joes are more my style. They are rich and decadent, and the spice really comes through. The cream is not too heavy and not too sparingly applied. The cookies themselves make a great crust for cheesecake or pudding pie. I would suggest stashing some away in the freezer for later in the year.
16. Halloween Joe Joes
These are just the Joe Joes cookies with different colored cream and faces cut into them.
17. Haunted Chocolate Cookie House
I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life for this $8 chocolate Halloween gingerbread house kit. The best part is, they’ve done all the hard work for you. All you and your kids need to do is argue over how to assemble and decorate it. It’s going to be a real win.
18. Pumpkin Cereal Bar
These bars divide my family. My husband and daughter love them, while my son and I aren’t quite as in love. But we buy them because we’re into compromise.
19. Pumpkin O’s
The best pumpkin cereal on planet earth. My TJ’s did not yet have the oatmeal, which is also aces, but this is really where it’s at. I will eat this every day until there are no more left to be found. Also, babies love it, and it’s a nice change for them.
20. Spiced Cider
My husband waits all year for this to be released. I do too, but he drinks his straight, while I spike mine with cognac and Grand Marnier. My kids prefer the regular cider that they have in the refrigerated section.
I’m serious, though. It’s phenomenal as a base for spiked cider, and it’s also wonderful to use in place of water in a boxed white cake recipe.
21. Spicy Pumpkin Curry Sauce
I am planning to make this for dinner tonight because it looks like it says “first day of virtual school with overwhelming bouts of cataclysmic fatalism that can only be overcome by weirdly specific fusion foods.” Right? Like, it’s spicy and familiar, and pairs well with microwave white rice and cubed tofu.
22. Fall Harvest Salsa
It’s real weird, I get it. Butternut squash and apple salsa? But why? It works, my word, I swear it works and it’s delicious. It is a tiny bit spicy and a tiny bit sweet, but it’s all brought together in a chunky, savory, wholly chip-worthy salsa of the season.
23. Pumpkin Tortilla Chips
These $3 chips should be paired with the harvest salsa or the jalapeno artichoke dip found in the chilled section. My husband argues for melted feta as a topping, and my daughter says that it needs pepper jack. We all agree they are weirdly good, and that they do taste of pumpkin.
24. Maple Sea Salt Kettle Corn
This $2 kettle corn isn’t as sweet as you’re thinking. The balance of sweet and salty is on point, and it is best eaten by the massive handful while you look in your fridge, making up your mind about what you’re going to cook for dinner before ultimately deciding to order delivery anyway.
25. Pumpkin Cream Cheese
My daughter puts this on waffles, on bagels, on crackers, toast, shoe leather, whatever. She loves it, and swears it’s better than even the big brands you see on other grocer’s shelves. The spice isn’t overwhelming, and the cream cheese flavor is super creamy and not too sweet. It’s really a good product.
26. Pumpkin Rolls With Cream Cheese Icing
True story: while I buy these often, I almost never make them according to package. I either cook them on the waffle iron, or I use the dough to wrap around apples or pears and bake them, using the frosting as a drizzle. The pumpkin flavor is subtle, but the spices are dazzling, and the frosting is perfection.
27. Coffees & Teas
Left Image:Cat BowenRight Image:Cat Bowen
It’s TJ’s, of course they’re going to have pumpkin and fall spiced coffees and teas. They have new seasonal varieties all the time, and they are always reliably good. (Even that eggnog one that everyone but me thought was terrible. Everyone but me was really quite wrong.)
28. Apple Cider Donuts
I love apple cider donuts, and these do not disappoint. They are moist and flavorful, and while they’re not “straight out of the fryer” warm, they are a respectable shelf-stable version that deserve a place at your morning table. The spices are heavy, but not unwanted or unnecessary. You’ll love them if you like spiced cider.
29. Pumpkin Bread
It took everything in me not to clean them out of these loaves. They are not sweet. They are hearty and spiced, with chewy oats and nuttiness, and it makes an amazing grilled cheese. I suggest using a brie alongside something sharper like a gruyere or a smoked gouda. Add a little relish for zing.
30. Gluten-Free & Regular Pumpkin Bagels
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OK, which one of you took all the pumpkin bagels from the Staten Island Trader Joe’s? Who was it? Who left only the gluten-free variety? I have a hole in my chest that only a TJ’s pumpkin bagel can fill and now I will only know despair. I blame the guy in front of me who wore his mask below his nose.
31. Non-Food Items
If I could make every room of my house smell like this candle, I would. As it stands, I did not buy enough candles for that — a problem I plan on remedying soon. It smells like a warm hug from your grandmother after she’s been baking for Thanksgiving.
While this is not an exhaustive list of TJ’s fall goods, it’s darn near everything, and I hope you can take advantage of all of these deals very soon.