I've spent a few years eating my way through Trader Joe's seasonal fall offerings.
Some of the best things to buy this season are the pumpkin-spice Pretzel Slims and pepita salsa.
I also love Trader Joe's pumpkin rolls and pumpkin-spice hummus.
I've been slowly eating my way through Trader Joe's seasonal selections for years.
While trying to eat all of Trader Joe's fall foods, I've encountered a variety of festive products.
I end up passing on some products the following season, but some are so good that they make me want to tag the grocery chain on Twitter and beg Trader Joe's to offer them year-round.
After carefully reviewing my past notes, I've compiled a list of my favorite finds that have become seasonal staples.
I present to you my Trader Joe's Fall "Haul" of Fame:
The butternut-squash mac and cheese is the perfect frozen meal.
There are not too many frozen dishes out there that are so yummy I'd happily pretend I made them myself, but this butternut-squash mac and cheese is an exception. It is absolutely heavenly.
The butternut-squash sauce is decadent and rich, with notes of aromatic sage and salty cheese coming through on every bite that tone down the squash's natural sweetness.
The dish is smooth and super thick, like a bechamel, but doesn't have the usual slight stringiness you might expect from pureed squash. It also gives a perfect cheese pull thanks to its seamless mixture of gouda, cheddar, and parmesan.
On top of that, the rigatoni somehow cooks to a perfect al dente in the microwave. I especially love how the sauce clings to the inside of each tube, adding a burst of creaminess to each bite.
Each time I eat it I feel like I'm treating myself to a fancy dinner. I'm crossing my fingers Trader Joe's never discontinues this because it truly is something special.
The pumpkin-and-ginger Hold the Cone treats are my dream fall dessert.
The contrast of the creamy pumpkin ice cream with the warm ginger creates a symphony of spicy and sweet on my taste buds that makes me want to burst into song.
The cones have bold flavors but taste light and delicate. They're ideal for an after-dinner snack when you just want a taste of something sweet, but not a full plate of dessert.
The cones taste so much more interesting than any other ice-cream treat I've ever bought from a grocery store.
I didn't expect to like Trader Joe's pumpkin-spice hummus so much.
I love this sweet hummus because it perfectly captures the essence of pumpkin pie in a single, creamy dip without tasting artificial.
The flavor of the squash is detectable even under the heavy nutmeg and cinnamon presence, with a pleasant nuttiness that rounds everything out nicely.
It's thicker than most hummus but has a delightful whipped quality that makes it seem much lighter than actual pie filling.
It tastes amazing with the chain's pumpkin-cranberry crisps, and it's also just as good with a graham cracker. I may or may not have taken a spoon to the container a few times because it is that yummy.
If I want to upgrade a holiday cheese board, I reach for Trader Joe's pumpkin-cranberry crisps.
The combination of pumpkin spices and tart cranberry in these crackers tastes great and feels a little bit fancier than the standard club cracker.
I love that these are on the sweeter side but are savory enough that they don't taste like a cookie. They're also nice and sturdy, so they hold up both to hot, creamy dips and cold, thick ones.
I think they taste best with sweet dips like their cranberry-crusted chèvre and pumpkin hummus. But they're also tasty enough to be snacked on by themselves.
With an irresistible combination of smoky chipotle, sweet bell pepper, and savory garlic, this pepita salsa is pretty much my kryptonite.
The salsa is pleasantly chunky and has enough of a mellow heat to keep a spice-lover like myself satisfied and reaching for more without my eyes watering.
The pepita (pumpkin seed) component is ground up fine enough to not cause a textural issue but bulks it up the salsa nicely so it never feels watery. Plus pepitas add extra protein, so I can't complain there.
I like pairing this with Trader Joe's fall chips or putting it on top of eggs.
The frozen pumpkin waffles are one of my favorite fall products because of their flavor and subtlety.
As much as I love indulging in pumpkin-spice-flavored everything, sometimes I want a food that gives me a subtle taste of pumpkin without smacking me in the face with nutmeg.
These pumpkin waffles do exactly that. They're not terribly sweet, and the pumpkin spice in them is super mellow — I'm talking a three out of 10 as far as intensity goes.
For me, this works well because there's still enough pumpkin to remind me that it's different, without overpowering every bite.
These have crunchy edges and a slightly chewy center, and I think their interior tastes fluffier and better than many other frozen waffles I've tried, including Trader Joe's whole-wheat version.
I think they're scrumptious with just plain butter, but you can make them sweeter with maple butter, honey, or a cinnamon spread.
The Harvest Chili is vegetarian and super satisfying.
This Harvest Chili offers a yummy, fall-themed twist on a beloved staple by using sweet potato, butternut squash, and pumpkin puree to give its black bean and spicy base layers of flavor.
Every bite contains a blend of smoky, spicy, savory, and subtly sweet that's absolutely divine.
This dish is loaded with so much flavor and spice that I forget it contains cauliflower and tons of other vegetables. I find they bulk the chili up nicely without distracting from any of the main flavors.
The fact that this can be prepared in the microwave in less than 10 minutes is just an added bonus.
To this day, it's a meatless Monday staple in my house.
I buy several cans of Trader Joe's pumpkin rolls to keep in my freezer all season long.
Many know autumn as pumpkin-spice and cozy-sweater season, but I know it as the beginning of "desserts for breakfast season."
As soon as the weather dips below 70 degrees Fahrenheit — here on the West Coast that's considered chilly — I switch from my usual yogurt bowls to pumpkin-spiced muffins, scones, and loaves.
But nothing satisfies like a warm tray of these pumpkin rolls.
They taste like a cross between a bakery-style cinnamon bun and my favorite pumpkin bread. They're delightfully soft, with a mellow hint of nutmeg and other fall spices coming through with every bite.
As you might expect, underneath its layers of doughy goodness is a sticky cinnamon core that's so delicious getting to it feels like uncovering a hidden treasure.
They also come with a cinnamon- and nutmeg-twinged icing that's so good I'd lick it off the plate.
The pumpkin-spice Pretzel Slims are a perfect snack.
I wait for Trader Joe's to bring these Pretzel Slims back every fall.
Each Slim is a crispy, thin pretzel coated with a sugary-sweet yogurt topping that is infused with a mellow touch of pumpkin spices. They also come covered with crunchy, spice-infused pepita "sprinkles."
I'm obsessed with their mixture of sweet and salty flavors and satisfying crispy-crunchy texture.
They also taste like no other pumpkin-spice product I've tried, making them a mainstay on my list.
Whether you're an experienced baker or have never used an oven, this pumpkin-bread mix is great to have on hand.
As much as I enjoy making pumpkin loaf from scratch, it's nice to have a foolproof mix that can give me this wonderful treat with ease.
I've tried many store-bought mixes for pumpkin bread, but this is the first one that produces a truly moist treat.
The loaf takes less than an hour to bake and it's so full of flavor that it can totally rival the ones offered at your favorite local coffee shop.
Nutmeg and clove dominate the flavor profile, but I can still clearly taste the cinnamon and actual pumpkin. I think it also tastes like it contains a hint of brown sugar (or something molasses-like) that deepens those spices beautifully.
Best of all, it isn't overly sweet. I regularly pair a slice with my morning coffee between the months of September and December.
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