What’s Vegan at Trader Joe’s? The 15 Best Plant-Based Items to Buy Now
Trader Joe's is a paradise for plant-based eaters: While you might not immediately think of it as a go-to for vegan groceries, the retailer continues to release 100% animal product-free options of your favorite foods year after year, some of which have earned the Trader Joe brand a cult-like-following from vegans: There's even a Vegan Trader Joe's Facebook page that's amassed over 27,000 followers aimed at helping users keep up with the latest product releases and reviews.
If you're lucky enough to have a TJ's near your home (check their store directory here) pick up a few of these 15 items the next time you shop, which won't disappoint you, by taste or price. To get a better idea of the sheer volume of vegan or vegan-izable foods the store has to offer, check out @TraderJoesVegan, an Instagram account dedicated to chronicling all of the grocery chain's meat and dairy-free products.
1. Cashew Fiesta Dip
This dairy-free dip is deliciously creamy and super versatile: Slather it on crackers, heat it up and make nachos with it, or use it to dunk veggies in; any way you spin it, this "queso" is delicious. In my opinion, it's best served hot since it retains more of a hummus-y texture when cold. Heat it up for a chip dip or add some to your pasta for a cheesy, spicy boost.
2. Thai Tea or Mango Mini Mochi
If you're a fan of mochi but haven't been able to locate a non-dairy version, TJ's is here to help! Trader Joe's mini mochi comes in a delicious Thai Tea flavor that anyone who loves the traditional drink will adore, as well as in a Mango flavor if fruity is more your thing. Before you opt for the mango flavor know that the "ice cream" is almost certainly a sorbet. Instead of a creamy texture like the Thai tea, it's a tangy solid.
Both of these mochis are light, bouncy and perfectly-portioned, and are a must-have to keep in your freezer for an occasional dessert. Or, as was admitted to me while I was checking out, you could also demolish the entire tray before your nighttime shift such as one particular Trader Joe's Hoboken employee decided to. And honestly, no judgment, these tiny treats are well worth it: the tray of 15 only rings in at 520 calories.
3. Yellow Jackfruit Curry with Jasmine Rice
Easy, microwavable vegan meals are hard to come by, and the market is even more sparse when it comes to delicious ones. Thankfully, Trader Joe's Yellow Jackfruit Curry with Jasmine Rice is delectable and ready in minutes. The dish features tender jackfruit that mimics the texture of shredded chicken and a spicy curry sauce that complements the veggies and rice. Pick up a couple and keep them in your freezer for lazy dinners.
4. Dark Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter Cups
If you love Justin's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (same!) but are looking for a slightly more affordable option, TJ's Dark Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter Cups are equally as delicious and ring in at only 99 cents per pack. They are free from gluten, soy, dairy and tree nuts, and are a great alternative for anyone who is allergic to peanuts. I like to pop mine in the freezer for a cold treat.
5. Jumbo Cinnamon Rolls
These delightfully oversized cinnamon rolls were likely not intended to be vegan, but in a happy accident, they contain no animal products (but are processed on the same equipment that processes milk, so beware if you are a strict vegan or have allergies). They're generously slathered in cinnamon "butter" that you won't be able to tell is dairy-free, and all of your nonvegan friends will love this classic dessert (or breakfast if you're feeling wild).
6. Chicken-less Mandarin Orange Morsels
These "chicken-less" morsels are a holy grail vegan Trader Joe's item: the "chicken" texture is unbelievably realistic and the orange sauce tangy and delicious. Throw a bag in the air fryer, add some rice and a side of veggies and generously cover in the mandarin orange sauce for an easy, delectable meal.
7. Popcorn with Herbs and Spices
This popcorn is seasoned with a yummy blend of spices for a savory lo-cal treat. Zesty and salty, it's flavored with onion, celery seed and nutritional yeast for a cheesy tang. Be careful, as this addicting treat goes fast, so make sure you're watching your portions if you care about that thing. Otherwise, grab two bags and a friend and sit on your couch, cheers your bags and don't stop eating until you finish the whole 5 ounces.
8. Thai Vegetable Gyoza
Thai vegetable gyozas are one of the best deals TJ's has to offer: These sizable dumplings come in a bag of 15 and ring up well under five bucks. Steam them, pan fry them or add them to some miso broth, these veggie potstickers are perfect for when you're craving takeout but don't want the wait or the price tag. Try their new Chili Onion Crunch dipping sauce for a spicy kick, or their Gyoza Dipping Sauce for a savory complement to the dumplings.
9. Everything But the Bagel Seasoning
Add some garlicky goodness to any dish with the super versatile Everything But The Bagel seasoning, a mix of sesame and poppy seeds, chunky sea salt and dried garlic and onion. Sprinkle it on avocado toast, add it to a veggie bowl or use it to season a rice or soup dish.
10. Organic Baked Tofu
Pre-baked tofu is my secret to vegan success: Not having to take the time to drain, press and cook tofu has made my life exponentially easier. Slice this seasoned tofu, available in Teriyaki and Sriracha flavors, up in strips and add it to any stir fry, sandwich or serve over rice. Although the uncooked packages of tofu are generally cheaper than the baked ones, I find that it's well worth it to me with the time I'm saving to pay an extra dollar or two more.
11. Fully Cooked Falafel Ready to Heat and Eat
For a quick and delicious dose of protein, these pre-made falafels are just as the name implies: ready to heat and eat! They're perfect to add to a pita pocket, rice dish or salad. Just toss into your air fryer or oven and enjoy!
12. Kale, Cashew and Basil Pesto
Finding a tasty pre-made pesto with no parmesan cheese or milk products can be a challenge, but, as usual, Trader Joe's rises to the occasion. Plus, their version of pesto packs in the kale, sneaking more nutrients in than traditional recipes. Did we mention it's good as hell? It's not overly salted, like some premade options, so you can feel free to add some of your own seasoning or mix-ins such as sun-dried tomatoes or pine nuts.
13. Soy Creamy Cherry Chocolate Chip Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert
This fan-favorite ice cream is back! Pulled from stores in early 2019, TJ's customers let the company know they weren't giving up on their favorite frozen treat without a fight, and the grocer listened, promising they would never again disappear from shelves. Just as creamy as the name implies, this "ice cream" is full of generous chocolate hunks and bites of real cherries.
14. Rice Cracker Medley
Great as a vegan option for entertaining, this bag is filled with different varieties of rice crackers that are flavored with wasabi, seaweed and hints of chili. If you're looking for a crunchy, quick snack to grab, the resealable seal on these rice crackers keeps your crunches extra crunchable.
15. Cauliflower Gnocchi
These supple pasta pillows are made from cauliflower, for a dinner option that's lower in carbs than the traditional dish, and free of dairy and gluten. Crisp these up on the stovetop or air fryer or boil them for a softer texture. While you're at it, add some Kale, Cashew and Basil Pesto and some of TJ's Non-dairy shredded 'Mozzarella' cheese.
Did I miss anything? Let us know in the comments below what YOUR favorite vegan Trader Joe's products are. Happy shopping!