5 Items You Never Should Buy At Trader Joe's

If ever there was a utopia for delightful snacks and devilishly delicious frozen meals, it would be Trader Joe's. The quirky, Tiki-themed grocery store has a dedicated following of shoppers who enjoy their unique food offerings and low prices. Its popularity has even sparked a whole cottage industry of social media accounts dedicated to finding the newest food selections and creating unique recipes with ingredients found at the store. It's no wonder as to why, products such as their Everything But the Bagel seasoning, Mochi Cake mix, and frozen Kimbap have garnered a unique and dedicated fanbase for their uniqueness and delicious taste. Each year, more delicious products are introduced, just ask the grocer's dedicated shoppers.


That being said, not every product at Trader Joe's is a winner. In fact, there are some items you would simply do best to avoid altogether. From bland sauces to disappointing dough, some of Trader Joe's products simply aren't worth buying. If you don't want that brown paper bag to be a mixed one, you might want to skip these five items during your next grocery run. 


Like Trader Joe's, "rooster sauce", otherwise known as sriracha, has a bit of a cult following, and it's no wonder as to why. The bright red sauce, which originates from Thailand, is a spicy blend of chilis, vinegar, and other seasonings. The sauce was originally developed in the 1930s, and there is no one definitive recipe. However, the Huy Fong brand of sriracha is by far the most popular in the United States. Featuring a rooster emblazoned logo and an iconic green squeeze top, the spicy, tangy sauce is a kitchen standard for many home cooks. However, it has been unusually difficult to find the sauce in recent years, as production has come to a stop intermittently since 2020. Huy Fung's production of their sriracha sauce is once again at a standstill, leading many to look for alternative sauces. 


However, one stop you might want to skip in your search for alternatives is the Trader Joe's version. This is especially true if you're a dedicated fan of the rooster sauce, as Trader Joe's sauce lacks Huy Fong's spiciness and leans heavily on sweetness, which throws off the expected flavor balance of the sauce. Users on the r/traderjoes Reddit subpage have also been vocal in their dislike of this version of the sauce. Reddit user u/frontier91 noted that the sauce is "[b]y far the worst product I've ever tried from TJs.". So maybe skip this item on your next Trader Joe's run.

Frozen pie crust

You know, "easy as pie" is really just a saying. Anyone who has ever attempted to make a pie from scratch knows just how complicated the task actually is, and the most cumbersome part is most definitely the crust. Needing to be both flaky and soft, browned but not stiff, achieving the perfect pie crust can drive even the most experience baker up the wall. Perhaps this is why so many home bakers have turned to frozen pie crust. It is a ready-made, rollable version of pie dough that you need only thaw, then press into a pan and bake. Many home cooks rely on them as a great shortcut during baking projects. But if you're hoping to add Trader Joe's store-branded frozen pie crusts to your shopping cart in preparation for an upcoming pie-based project, you might want to think again.


In terms of defects, Trader Joe's frozen pie crusts have many. According to a test conducted by Bon Appetit, the Trader Joe's frozen pie crust yields an incredibly crumbly and structurally unsound result. The dough also tends to cause a soggy bottom, which is never a good thing in a baked good. Users on Reddit were equally critical of the product, with users such as u/tj_ebooks critiquing the product's unstable texture and inability to hold up to cooking. This is one product you might be better off sourcing from another grocer.

Organic mayonnaise

It's easy to overlook the small things. You pick up whatever box of pasta is the least expensive or choose the store brand can of beans for its low price point. Still, some things shouldn't be taken for granted. Any mayonnaise enthusiast worth their salt can tell you that the quality of your spread definitely matters. Many avid mayonnaise fans can tell you that the brand you buy is key when it comes to getting the most zip and zing out of this creamy egg and vinegar spread. If you're hoping to get the best mayonnaise possible, you should probably skip Trader Joe's Organic Mayonnaise on your next grocery run. 


In a taste test conducted by Bon Appetit, tasters felt that their mayo offering was simply too sour. Others online have complained about the spread's emulsion separating, causing it to turn to a clumpy mess. If you're looking for a more consistently tasty mayonnaise, however, you have plenty of non-Trader Joe's options. From cult favorites like Duke's Mayonnaise (which makes a sneaky good ingredient in chocolate cake) and Kewpie Mayo (which you can try your hand at making at home) to standards like Hellman's and Kraft, this is one dish that is best picked up at your big box grocery store.

Chocolate hummus

You really have to give it to them. Trader Joe's isn't afraid to get creative with their food and drink offerings. From watermelon jerky to chocolate gnocchi, the grocery chain is always up for blending genres and mixing up flavor profiles. But sometimes this bold experimentation simply doesn't work out. This is (sadly) the case for their chocolate hummus. The product is just as odd as it at first seems. The dip has all the standard ingredients of a run of the mill hummus, including chickpeas and tahini, but it blends in cocoa to the mix for a truly chocolate twist. 


So, does this gamble pay off? Not really. Now, its chocolate hummus isn't a complete failure. Many online reviewers praised it for its smooth consistency and true to label chocolatey taste. However, for others, the dip simply lacks the promised sweetness necessary for a dessert dip, and its pairings are limited by its mix of sweet and savory flavors, meaning that you're better off sticking to fruit if you want to make the most of it. Perhaps this product's biggest flaw is in its concept. It is neither fully hummus in its taste and texture nor chocolatey enough to warrant its existence. For some, of course, this will work just fine, but don't expect it to be as delectably sweet as their ube ice cream or Jingle Jangle mix. However you dip it, the chocolate hummus dip is far from the peak of the grocer's creative cuisine.


Beef pho

Pho is more than a soup. It is comfort epitomized. The traditional Vietnamese dish features an aromatic broth base with rice noodles, a protein of choice, and extras that include green onion, slices onion, basil, and lime (among other toppings). Bringing hearty and fresh flavors together into one bowl, it is no wonder that the dish has made its way into the heart of the American dining scene. It has also, apparently, made its way to the aisles of Trader Joe's. Although the grocery chain has made an impressive showing with other Asian dishes, such as their frozen Kimbap and Gyoza dumplings, this is one attempt that you might want to skip.


According to the food blog "What's Good at Trader Joe's?" the pho is best described as being "bland." However, it does has a hint of the fennel taste that is signature to the soup. The review blog was not alone in its assessment of the soup. Users on r/traderjoes almost unanimously agreed that the soup was, well, flavorless and completely lacking that complex oomph that actual pho has. It also simply lacks the fresh toppings that make the soup so special. This can be mended with your own home-prepared toppings, of course, but that can only improve the taste so much. At the end of the day, you're better up ordering from your favorite local pho restaurant.