Trader Joes Holiday Items Tasting Party Review
Food, Holiday, Shopping

What happened when 10 of my friends tried 44 of Trader Joe’s Holiday exclusives?

What happened when 10 of my friends tried 44 of Trader Joe’s Christmas/Holiday exclusives? What a night!

Tasting is believing, and that’s exactly what we did! I had a party and invited over my friends to try 44 items ranging from savory to sweet. (By the way, 44 is my lucky number so the night could only be awesome!)

But first, let’s go back to the idea. I feel like a kid in a candy shop walking into Trader Joe’s at the holidays; treats and surprises around every corner. Kind of like a scavenger hunt too! I wanted to try it all, so I started putting everything I saw that wasn’t usually there into my cart…peppermint this… chocolate that. I knew there was more, though, the not-so-obvious items that were there temporarily. Appetizers and gifts and more. So, I sought out the manager at my local store to see if he could help. His name is Ian Alsen, and I owe him huge thanks. Ian was kind enough to walk me though the entire store AISLE BY AISLE,  and show me all the items that are seasonal and that will disappear soon, or most likely will sell out before the end of the season. We even looked at their unique selection of gift items…and I have info on all of those too. I started to wonder what fills up these shelves when it’s not holiday season there were so many options; but that’s a puzzle to solve after the holidays are over…

Even my dogs got in on the tasting. They tasted the dog treats and every night they have so much fun with their doggie Advent calendar. Their opinion: they LoVE Trader Joe’s!

Dogs enjoying Trader Joe's Dog Treats

 

What we didn’t try the night of the party – there’s only so much we can eat, right?? –  I listed on the free printable at the end of this post, so you have the most complete list of their offerings.

So here goes, and since there are so many items to review, I’ll list the top 10 right off the bat.

Don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom to get your printout to take with you!

In no particular order….10 favorites with sound bites from the tasting party reviewers:

1. Vegetable Pouches (appetizer) – out of all the appetizers we tried new (not including the tried and true brie in puff pastry,  which is a holiday must), these were the best and least fragile of the seasonal appetizers. Kind of a veggie egg roll taste, most of the comments were that it would be even better with a sweet and sour sauce on the side.

Trader Joes Veggie Pouches Appetizers
Vegetable Pouches – One of the best appetizers at Trader Joes this season.

2. Mini Peppermint Ice Cream Cones – approximately 4 bites of pure joy. One of our tasters said “I don’t like peppermint and these are good!” The rest of the year TJs has other flavors, but grab this holiday delight while you can.

Trader Joes Hold the Cone
Hold the Cone Mini Peppermint Ice Cream Cones

3. Mini Cheesecakes – Creamy, delicious and pretty bites of cheesecake. 3 holiday flavors per box: Maple Vanilla, Gingersnap Spice, and Peppermint. Yum!

Trader Joes Cheesecake in a Bite
Trader Joes Cheesecake in a Bite – 3 flavors of creamy, cool bite sized delights

4. Dark Chocolate Marshmallows – deemed “dangerous” by our tasting crew. Use them for hot chocolate, in your coffee, or as is!

Trader Joes Dark Chocolate Minty Mallows
Dark Chocolate Minty Mallows are divine

5. Slicing Brie – we’ve all made a mess of that brie round trying to put some on a cracker. Who knew we needed this, but we do! Just slice it and it fits perfectly on your cracker. Super creamy and tasty. And for rind haters like me….way easier than cutting off the rind.

Trader Joes Slicing Brie
Slicing Brie…who knew we needed this!

6. Antipasto Assortment – all ready to go with 2 salamis, my favorite unexpected cheddar, and ripe olives. One of my guests pointed out that this would be perfect to quickly put out for a small gathering or grab couple for a lager crowd.

Trader Joes Antipasto Assortment
Antipasto Assortment – perfect for a small gathering

7. Roasted Creamy Cauliflower and Onion Dip – a great warm veggie appetizer: microwave and serve. Would be good on mini pumpernickel bread slices or chips. It pleased the crowd because it was a little different with the cauliflower.  (Check ingredients, not sure if it’s purely vegetarian.)

Trader Joes Appetizer Assortment
Creamy Roasted Cauliflower and Onion Dip (pictured front left)

8. Scandinavian Tidings Gummy Candies – Wow, just WOW on these! I almost didn’t open them for sampling because all gummies taste the same, right? Wrong! These are soft and oh so sweet, more like a fruit snack taste than a gummy. Everyone said the same thing when they tried one and listed it as one of their favorite tastings. The cute ornaments, trees and stars are an added bonus. Do they have them in a Valentine’s Day version?

Trader Joes Gummy Candy
Scandinavian Tidings Soft Gummy Candies (pictured left)

9. Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe-Joe’s – the entire cookie selection was AMAZING but the Dark Chocolate Covered Joe-Joe’s took the prize. Super decadent, and worth every calorie! There’s even a gift box of a variety of Dark Chocolate Joe-Joe’s – check them out on the Trader Joe gift list.

Trader Joes Holiday Cookie Assortment
Trader Joes Holiday Cookie Assortment (Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe-Joe’s were a top choice)

10. Mini Dark Chocolate Covered Mint Stars – I’m not sure why, but I love things that come in “mini” sizes and so did most of the crew. Kind of like how puppies are so cute when they are small. LOL. These have inspired many Pinterest recipes, because the cute little stars are a perfect topping for cookies and cakes. They taste like a thin mint, sort of, maybe better!

Trader Joes Mini Mint Stars and Cookies
Mini Mint Stars (pictured left)

That was our top 10 but there is sooooooo much more! Here’s some quick notes on the other 34 items that we tasted. Don’t forget to check out the printable list of ALL the holiday findings including Trader Joe’s Gift Ideas at the bottom of the page.

  • Gluten Free Candy Cane Joe-Joes – Nice flavor, not as crunchy as regular ones which are also available.
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    Trader Joes Peppermint Green Decaf Tea

  • Candy Cane Green Tea – Makes you want to curl up in front of the tree. Flavorful, spa-like tea.
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    Friend Tracy sampling Trader Joe's Egg Nog Liquor

  • Egg Nog Liqueur – delicious with a little kick. Add a little cinnamon or nutmeg on top. Tracy really enjoyed it so I sent her home with the bottle to share with her family.
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  • Allie from the Girlfriend-Connection eating Hold the CornHold the Corn Appetizer – cone has a nest-like, crunchy texture. They were described as festive too. Here Allie, from the Girlfriend-Connection, takes a bite.
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  • Trader Joe's FondueFondue – traditional Swiss with Ementhal flavor so you need to like that. Way easier than making your own.
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    Trader Joe's Mini Cheesecake Cones

  • Mini Cheesecake Cones – Cone was flavorful and very sweet…maybe a little too sweet.
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    Trader Joe's Salty Honey Toffee Chocolate Covered

  • Salty Honey Toffee, Chocolate Covered – another “dangerous” treat. Nice balance between salty and sweet!
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    Trader Joe's Italian Cookie Assortment

  • Italian Cookie Assortment (pictured in back) – nice assortment. Dry like tea/coffee cookies.
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    Trader Joe's Italian Strawberries

  • Italian Strawberries – super sweet but oh so good mini Italian strawberries. Would be great on waffles or pancakes or in a cookie.
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    Panetone from Trader Joe's

  • Panettone Classico – classic Italian cake. Something you might have grown up with. In gorgeous wrapped boxes.
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     Trader Joes Herbaceous Cheesy Bites

  • Herbaceous Cheesy Bites – like a cheese stick but fancier. Great flavor. A little hard to work with.
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    Trader Joe's Hasselback Potatoes

  • Hasselback Potatoes – this takes away the hard part of this beautiful dinner side dish. Add whatever you want in the cracks and voila, a delicious and beautiful side dish.
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    Trader Joe's Montezumas Truffles

  • Montezuma’s Chocolate Truffle Collection – Delicious super rich truffles in a pretty box. Great gift but we couldn’t resist breaking it open to try!
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  • Trader Joes Mini Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti Mini Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti – survey says, so good and would be even better with cup of coffee.
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  • Trader Joes Peppermint Bark PopcornPeppermint Bark Popcorn – sweet and salty and good for a holiday snack. The group seemed to thing the texture was a bit off.
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  • Trader Joes Pistachio Pomegrante CrispsPistachio Pomegrante Crisps – sweet and savory. Tastes great with some slicing brie (above) or cream cheese. Fun holiday addition to your charcuterie board.
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  • Trader Joe's Mini Gingerbread MenMini Gingerbread Men – MINI. GINGERBREAD MEN. CRUNCHY. YUM!
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  • Trader Joes Peppermint MeringuesPeppermint Meringues – light and airy, fun to eat.
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  • Trader Joe's Pferrerniisse Spiced CookiesPferrernusse Spiced Cookies –  tiny spiced cookies popular in Denmark, Netherlands, and Germany. Didn’t quite tickle our taste buds.
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  • Trader Joe's Ginger Snowball CookiesGinger Snowball Cookies – liked by the crowd; described as chewy and crunchy, buttery.
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  • Trader Joe's Step up to the Snack Bar MixStep up to the Snack Bar – well it’s gone already I couldn’t stop eating it. A sweet and salty mix that includes honey roasted peanuts and mustard pretzels among several other crunchy delights. The only reason this didn’t make the top ten is not everyone tried it.
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  • Trader Joe's Over the River Snack MixOver the River Snack Mix – all the tasters loved the unique combo of the dried cranberries and the pumpkin pie spiced pistachios, plus white and dark chocolate and other goodies,  oh my!
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  • Trader Joe's Nuts about Rosemary MixNuts about Rosemary Snack Mix – a blend of pecans, hazelnuts, almonds and cashews with sweet and salty rosemary – lots of rosemary flavor.
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  • Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peppermint CremesDark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Cremes- the crew said “like a peppermint patty on steroids”. An ooey gooey chocolate minty delight.  
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  • Trader Joe's Pastry BitesPastry Bites with Feta Cheese and Caramelized Onion – The consensus was, very creamy cheesy oniony and rich.
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  • Trader Joe's French Onion Soup BitesFrench Onion Soup Bites – is it soup? Is it an appetizer? A taste of Paris in a bite sized morsel.
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  • Trader Joe's Trader Joe's Cornbread BitesCornbread Bites – Mushy rather than dry and crumbly. Another one to let cool a bit before serving. It also has a little kick to it.
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  • Trader Joe's Camembert Cheese and Cranberry Sauce Fillo BitesCamembert Cheese and Cranberry Sauce Fillo Bites – Camembert cheese is a strong cheese so the group was split on this appetizer. Great mix of savory and sweet for those who loved the cheese.
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  • Trader Joe's Pimento Cheese Puffs[Pimento Cheese Puffs – these had bacon in them as a yummy accent and had a little “kick”. They were a little hard to get out of the tray so make sure to let them cool enough before attempting.
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  • Trader Joe's Gingerbread CrispsGingerbread Crisps – Is it a cookie or a cracker; it’s kind of both? Not a fan favorite but very original.
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  • Trader Joe's Trader Joe's Mini MarshmallowsMini Marshmallows – soft and full of flavor. Add them to your hot chocolate or pop them in your mouth as is!
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  • Trader Joe's MarzipanstollenMarzipanstollen – a type of German fruit bread it is said best to eat with some butter or jam. Liked by our tasters,  one commented “delightful”. Some can’t celebrate the holidays without it. In large and mini sizes.
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  • Lebkuchen Cookie (front middle) – a German spice cookie that resembles a soft gingerbread. Those who grew up with it as a holiday tradition, would probably like it the best.
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    AND LASTLY – Not to forget one of the best staples to have on hand that I didn’t need to try because I know from years past it is delicious.

    Trader Joes Baked Brie en Croute
    Brie en Croute a favorite from Trader Joes

    Brie en Croute – a Trader Joe’s favorite, warm yummy brie in a puff pastry. Add a sweet topping such as apricot preserves or cranberry sauce, or even roasted garlic bulbs for an added touch.

     

     

     

     

    This was such a fun party and way to taste all of the goodness. What happened you ask? Everyone had a great time and went home with full bellies and a smile on their face.  And, oh my gosh,  this isn’t even all that Trader Joe’s has to offer for the season. For a complete list you can download for free the “printable” that I made. Get Checklist HERE

    *Just a note, TJ’s puts out a monthly circular, The Fearless Flyer, but items are usually put out week before; so go early each year and grab what you like before they sell out. This year the dog/cat Advent calendars were gone by Thanksgiving. A lot of items are new each year but there are so many yearly repeats you can get a jump on it.

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