The 10 Trader Joe's Products That Chefs Secretly Love

We spill the tea.

A Trader Joe's storefront with a blue sky

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Trader Joe's might be favorite among home cooks, but did you know that professional chefs also covet the grocery store? It makes so much sense: Trader Joe's is filled with everyday staples at great prices, and also specialty items that make dining at home a little more special. From Thai Lime & Chili Cashews to Frozen Mango Chunks, here are the finds that some of our favorite professional chefs pick up when they visit Trader Joe's.

Note: Some of these items may be seasonal or only available for a limited time.

A package of Trader Joe's Thai Lime & Chili Cashews

Trader Joe's

1. Thai Lime & Chili Cashews

Chef Samantha Fore of Tuk Tuk Lexington—whom you might have seen on TV as a regular contributor to Christopher Kimball's Milk Street—swears by Trader Joe's products. She loves the blend of spice and sour on these crunchy cashews. "They're an excellent topper and add a ton of texture to rice dishes. So much zip!"

All-Butter Puff Pastry from Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's

2. All Butter Puff Pastry Sheets

Chef and culinary educator Mary Kay Gill stocks her freezer with this easy-to-use pastry shortcut. "Their all-butter frozen puff pastry is a winner. I use it to wrap wine-poached pears for an elegant dessert. Martha Stewart has a lovely stone fruit and frangipane tart and this pastry shines."

Freeze-Dried Berry Medley from Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's

3. Organic Freeze-Dried Berry Medley

Chef Fore loves these dehydrated fruits to help make desserts special. "My friend Stella Parks, author of BraveTart cookbook and contributor to Serious Eats, taught me that buzzing these with cream leads to the easiest fruit-flavored whip ever." It's the perfect topper for all your summer sweets!

A jar of Trader Joe's Fire-Roasted Red Peppers

Trader Joe's

4. Fire-Roasted Red Peppers

Cookbook author Amelia Levin always has these in her pantry. They are an easy addition to everything from a charcuterie platter to a stir fry, but she especially loves to combine them with another TJ's staple. "I make easy Romesco sauce with Trader Joe's jarred roasted red peppers and their unsalted roasted hazelnuts!" How smart is that?

A box of Trader Joe's steamed lentils

Trader Joe's

5. Steamed Lentils

Registered Dietician and Nutritional Educator Raeanne Sarazen loves to have these vacuum-sealed, pre-cooked legumes on hand for healthy vegetarian entrées or delicious side dishes. A busy mom, Sarazen sneaks healthy plant-based protein into easy weeknight dinners by mixing these in with tomato sauce to create a perfect pasta sauce.

A package filled with Spanish cheese from Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's

6. Spanish Cheese Tapas Sampler

Fore always grabs this variety pack of premium Spanish cheeses when shopping at TJ's. "It makes things easy for entertaining, or even better, for a snacky cheesy dinner!"

A package of Dorot Gardens' Crushed Garlic Cubes

Dorot Gardens

7. Frozen Crushed Garlic Cubes

Garlic is one of those ingredients that makes everything better, but it can sometimes be a bit fussy when you're trying to get dinner on the table in a hurry. Sarazen keeps a stash of the Dorot Gardens frozen crushed garlic cubes from Trader Joe's for those days when dealing with fresh is just beyond available bandwidth. They can be used straight from frozen or thawed quickly in just a few minutes at room temperature. Bonus? If anyone in your family tends to have a sensitive tummy where fresh garlic is concerned, the frozen stuff is often more easily tolerated.

Mango Chunks from Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's

8. Frozen Mango Chunks

While these are an obvious choice for things like smoothies, pies, and other recipes, Chef Fore loves them for savory dishes as well. "They are the perfect ripeness for curries!"

A box of Steamed & Peeled Baby Beets from Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's

9. Steamed & Peeled Baby Beets

If you want the world's easiest elegant salad for entertaining, look no further than these vacuum-packed cooked beets. Sarazen buys them along with bags of TJ's mixed greens and their chèvre and makes a classic salad that tastes like you spent hours on it.

Seasonal Bouquet from Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's

10. Seasonal Bouquet

Flowers can often be an overlooked part of your shopping at Trader Joe's, but Chef Fore says to take another look! Whether you are hosting guests or just for yourself, a well-priced bouquet is worth picking up. "Flowers that are reasonably priced and beautiful add so much to my table." 

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