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I tried 30 of Trader Joe's seasonal spring products, and there are only a few I wouldn't buy again

Savanna Swain-Wilson   

I tried 30 of Trader Joe's seasonal spring products, and there are only a few I wouldn't buy again
  • I tried the seasonal foods at Trader Joe's for the spring and reviewed them.
  • The coffee-creme Joe-Joe's and Meyer-lemon cookies were both delicious and adorable.

Trader Joe's stocks its shelves with a variety of seasonal products every spring.

So, I've been trying the spring offerings from my local store as part of an ongoing series where I review the grocery chain's seasonal foods.

Keep reading to see which items I'll be stocking up on and which I'll skip.

The cheese blintzes would make a perfect addition to any brunch table

A blintz is a popular breakfast treat that's essentially a lightly sweetened pancake wrapped around a cheese or fruit filling. They're often associated with Shavuot, a springtime holiday celebrated in the Jewish faith, but are also popular throughout parts of Eastern Europe.

You can find Trader Joe's blintzes in the frozen section, which makes them a great option for anyone who wants to try these treats without making a mess in the kitchen.

A single package comes with four blintzes, which is enough to share with others as a brunch side dish or with another person as a full meal.

Although the product doesn't come with toppings, its box features a picture of a blintz paired with whipped cream and fruit, so I followed suit to get the full experience.

This was my first time trying blintzes, and I mostly enjoyed them. They tasted like a traditional crepe, and I appreciated that their light sweetness became more noticeable with the berries.

I was caught slightly off guard when I bit into these expecting a velvety cream-cheese filling, only to find cottage cheese instead.

Before sampling these, I didn't read the ingredients list or check what type of cheese is standard for blintzes. I don't necessarily dislike cottage cheese, so I accustomed myself to the lumpy texture after a few bites.

Perhaps these tasted exactly as they should, and they're just not for me. Maybe they taste nothing like traditional blintzes, and I'll be surprised when I have them homemade.

All I know is the Trader Joe's take left me with a mixed taste in my mouth, literally.

VERDICT: Overall, the blintzes were decent, but they weren't my favorite. The fruit and whipped cream certainly elevated them, but I still had trouble getting over the texture.

But if you're a cottage-cheese fan or like a versatile breakfast, these will probably be right up your alley.

The gluten-free coffee-cake muffins tasted incredible

The most noticeable thing about these muffins was their size — compared to a standard version, these were gigantic.

I actually Googled the difference between muffins and cakes to understand how to categorize these, and based on their texture, they fall into the muffin camp.

Each treat sported that signature coffee-cake look with a ribbon-like swirl of cinnamon on the bottom, which was dense and sturdy, yet also slightly crumbly. The tops were adorned with a dusting of sprinkles.

After taking a bite, I decided I wanted to find the baker who came up with this recipe and personally thank them for figuring out how to perfect gluten-free muffins.

I'm usually wary of gluten-free pastries because of their tendency to be either super dry or way too dense and crumbly, but these muffins were surprisingly moist and delicate, with a lightly sweet flavor that made them suitable for an early-morning bite.

When paired with a cup of coffee, the cinnamon flavor really popped.

VERDICT: Although I can't see myself buying these muffins all the time, I will absolutely be hitting up Trader Joe's for these when I'm craving a sweet breakfast or having guests over.

The oven-baked cheese bites would be great in soup or on their own

If you ever wanted to know what spaghetti would taste like in snack form, this is your answer. And as strange as that might sound, this item is absolutely worth it.

Basically, these gluten-free bites are dehydrated, aged cheese with a few added seasonings.

Like any good snack, these morsels delivered in crunch, and I gave them bonus points for their airiness that gifted each bite with a crispy, melt-in-your-mouth quality.

Since they're made of pure cheese, they delivered a clear, strong Parmesan flavor.

But what made these a real standout was the zesty chili-and-tomato flavor that came through with each bite, giving these morsels a nice kick and upgrading them from an ordinary cheesy snack to a complex flavor bomb.

VERDICT: 10/10. I'm obsessed.

The vegan taco salad earned high marks for its filling seitan crumble and tasty jalapeño-ranch dressing

I buy taco salad at least once a week, so I was beyond excited to give this one a try.

Each bag contains iceberg lettuce, blue tortilla strips, corn salsa, and chipotle-seasoned seitan. According to the package, it contains roughly five servings, but it seemed more like two or three to me.

Putting the salad together couldn't have been easier. I simply cut open all the ingredient bags and tossed the contents together in a bowl. I didn't even have to heat the vegan-meat crumbles because they came precooked.

As an on-and-off vegetarian, I'm no stranger to meat alternatives, particularly the ones Trader Joe's has to offer. The Chipotle seitan made this mix a filling meal on its own and gave it a necessary layer of savory flavor, which is crucial in salads with a limited amount of dressing.

This seitan wasn't dry or soggy, and though I couldn't really detect the chipotle flavor, it was still seasoned enough to have that taco-meat taste. It was like a toned-down version of the chain's soy chorizo, which I can't recommend enough.

Beyond the seitan, I thought the other salad components tied everything together nicely. Visually, the pico de gallo looked like a mess, but it had a yummy, spicy flavor that brought out the nuances of the faux meat.

The combination of the crunchy chips, slightly chewy seitan, and crispy lettuce was amazing. Trader Joe's absolutely nailed the dressing. It didn't have a weird artificial taste, and the only downside was that there wasn't more of it.

With the limited amount of dressing, it could be challenging to split this salad into multiple meals unless you're really careful about rationing. Your only choice is to douse the entire meal in it and hope the mix doesn't turn soggy by the time you come for leftovers. But if you're like me, there's a good chance you'll go through this entire bag before the day ends.

VERDICT: With the mix of textures, super-filling seitan, and tasty dressing, this salad is a must-buy for anyone looking to spice up their lunches.

The lemon bars were so mind-blowingly delicious that they tasted homemade

Chocolate is great and all, but nothing screams springtime like a yummy lemon bar.

There was no mistaking the presence of real lemon in these bars — as soon as I opened the box, I noticed a sweet citrus aroma that instantly made my eyes and nostrils widen.

I let these lemon bars defrost on my counter for an hour before tasting them, and I'm not sure I'll ever attempt baking this dessert on my own again — they were out of this world.

Had I not purchased this dessert myself, I never would have guessed it came from the freezer section. Each bar had a scrumptious, fresh taste, so it could easily pass as homemade.

The combination of vanilla shortbread with the bright, citrusy lemon curd and a dusting of powdered sugar was absolutely divine. But these stood out for their texture — they had a perfect level of chewiness with an impressively buttery crust despite being frozen.

Best of all, they're cut into 12 even squares, making them ideal for sharing and perfect for a picnic.

Just put the pieces in a cute pink or white box with some cellophane, and I would be convinced they came from an upscale bakery.

VERDICT: I apologize in advance to anyone who lives near me and wants to try these lemon bars because I might be buying them all the next time I hit up Trader Joe's.

These peanut-shaped chocolates were fun and creative

In my opinion, all chocolate tastes better when it comes in a cute shape, and these peanut-like candies were proof of that.

Plus, they had just the right ratio of high-quality chocolate exterior to creamy peanut-butter filling. Each bite was so melt-in-your-mouth delicious that the treats could have passed for something I'd buy at a specialty candy shop.

The texture really won me over, as each piece had an added layer of rice cereal under the coating for extra crunch.

Thankfully, their elongated shape made them a two-bite treat, so I only needed a few pieces to satisfy my peanut-butter-chocolate craving.

Other candy makers should take notes because Trader Joe's clearly knows what it's doing when it comes to chocolate.

VERDICT: To say I loved this candy would be an understatement. Please, Trader Joe's, I'm begging you to make these available year-round.

The dark-chocolate plantain chips would make a great addition to your spring snack rotation

Crunchy, salty, and slightly sweet, these plantain chips were everything I'd been craving.

I appreciated how Trader Joe's didn't go overboard with the chocolate coating by opting for a light drizzle. Plantains already have a natural fruity sweetness, so they only need a touch of cocoa flavor to highlight their sugary notes.

Milk chocolate would have been too sweet, plus the dark alternative's slight bitterness toned down the sweet flavors enough to make these passable as a snack instead of a dessert.

Although I thought these plantain chips were tasty, I'm not sure I would rate them above the jerk-style variety, as I was over these after a few bites.

VERDICT: Overall, I'd say these chips are a must-buy for anyone who loves the combination of dark chocolate with salty flavors. I can also see them making a superb sweet addition to any snack platter.

I fell in love with the lemon-and-ricotta ravioli's tasty filling

My longtime favorite Trader Joe's ravioli is the Caprese one, but after trying this lemon version, I'm not so sure.

Like the chain's other ravioli varieties, this cooked in less than 10 minutes on my stove, which makes it an excellent dinner option if you're looking for something to throw together quickly.

In the interest of tasting the ravioli in its purest form, I coated the dish in just olive oil, salt, pepper, and Parmesan — and it was so delicious on its own.

The filling was super smooth and had a pleasantly fresh flavor to it, as the delicate hints of lemon provided a needed contrast to the ricotta's sweetness to make it less rich than the standard cheese-stuffed ravioli.

I also loved that I didn't feel heavy after eating this meal, which almost never happens with cheesy pasta. It would have been next-level good if I had some basil to top this dish off.

According to the package, the ravioli serves three people, but if you're a fan of anything lemon, it's almost impossible to say no to seconds.

VERDICT: It's safe to say this ravioli will be my new go-to weeknight dinner this spring.

The almond-butter almonds make a perfect snack

With a super-smooth coating and lightly salted nutty interior, these almond-butter almonds tasted like candy — and I say this as someone who used to toss aside any sweet that contained even a sliver of nuts. Thankfully, I'm capable of evolving.

Super creamy and sweet with subtle notes of cocoa and vanilla, the almond-butter coating was so yummy I could have eaten it by the spoonful. A few times, I scraped it off each almond the same way one might eat the cream from an Oreo.

I must apologize to the dark-chocolate almonds I usually buy because these are my new go-to nutty treat.

VERDICT: Almond on top of almond might sound like a bit much, but it proved to be an excellent choice. These bites were delicious. I hope Trader Joe's keeps them around, but I'll stock up just in case.

These crispy mushrooms were a bit of an acquired taste

I love mushrooms, but when I saw these snacks at Trader Joe's, I raised an eyebrow. Fungi add a layer of complexity to just about any meal, but the thought of eating mushrooms alone seemed a bit weird to me.

I wasn't sure what to expect from these, but at a glance, they didn't look super appetizing — more like overcooked mushrooms than anything else.

Appearance aside, these were a decent savory snack. They tasted like nothing I'd ever eaten, so I gave Trader Joe's credit for creativity.

According to the package description, the mushrooms are lightly salted, dried, and tossed in sunflower oil, so their natural umami taste stood out because it wasn't competing with too many seasonings.

Their texture made them a memorable snack, as they had a light, crispy exterior like a chip and a slightly chewy inside like a cooked mushroom.

However, I'm still not sure this is the kind of snack I'd eat often. As much as I love mushrooms, their strong taste can be a bit too much at times, especially without any other flavors to complement them. This was the case here, as I was over these after a few bites.

VERDICT: The crispy mushrooms are worth trying at least once, but I think I'm going to skip repurchasing.

The cheese-filled fiocchetti with pink sauce was good, but not mind-blowing

I'm always going to give Trader Joe's bonus points for any meal that can be cooked in a single pan.

The pasta, seasonings, and cheese all come mixed in the same bag, so I simply poured everything into a pan with oil and water and waited for it to come together.

Just as the package suggested, the fiocchetti cooked to an optimal tenderness in less than 10 minutes, but the sauce didn't really look quite right.

Even though I measured the water and oil according to the instructions, the mix looked much thinner and less pink than advertised. Despite its light-orange hue, I still gave it a chance.

I generally enjoyed the pasta component of the dish, as its shape reminded me of a flower — maybe that's what makes it a spring item. Biting into each piece was like opening a small gift filled with soft Taleggio cheese, but the sauce left much to be desired. It desperately needed more tomato flavor and garlic.

It's possible I watered it down during the cooking process, but even so, the flavor wasn't as bold as I anticipated, and it came out so thin that it seemed more like a lightly seasoned broth than a sauce.

I set aside some leftovers in the fridge and noticed the next day that the sauce had thickened slightly. However, that didn't really help me when I wanted to eat it for dinner the previous night.

VERDICT: Overall, I'd say this pasta is a great vegetarian entrée to add to your weeknight repertoire.

Although the dish's flavors were quite mellow, the meal could easily be upgraded with a few extra ingredients, like red-pepper flakes and more cheese, so I'm willing to buy this one again.

The pink-and-white shortbread cookies would make a great addition to any picnic

With their cute floral shape, colorful yogurt coating, and adorable rainbow sprinkles, these cookies were pretty much impossible for me to dislike.

They tasted just like the frosted circus-animal cookies I was obsessed with growing up. My fellow '90s babies will know what I'm talking about, as one bite of these Trader Joe's cookies instantly transported me to my childhood.

In terms of texture, they were of comparable thickness to graham crackers with a familiar, crumby feel.

And though these could be a good cookie for dunking, unless you like sprinkles in your milk or coffee, I'd keep them separate.

Most of all, I enjoyed that these cookies were sweet but not overwhelmingly sugary. The yogurt coating was super smooth and contained subtle notes of vanilla that didn't taste artificial.

And despite being just for show, the sprinkles still added a nice extra crunch to each bite.

VERDICT: I can picture serving these cookies as a treat at brunch or an outdoor picnic with friends. They'd also make a great decorative addition to an ice-cream sundae. Perfect for kids and adults who want a hit of nostalgia, these cookies are worth buying again.

The Meyer-lemon cookies would make a scrumptious springtime treat

The first thing that came to mind when I opened this box of cookies was afternoon tea. With their pale-yellow color and paper-thin texture, they were practically designed to be consumed off a pretty pastel-colored plate atop some doilies.

These cookies had a delightfully airy quality and nice crisp that crumbled in my mouth with every bite.

As a fan of all things citrus, I appreciated that the tangy flavor was detectable but not artificial tasting. They also had a slightly floral quality, which probably came from the use of Meyer lemons.

Either way, they were absolutely delicious.

VERDICT: If you're searching for a super-light sweet treat to munch on, look no further than these Meyer-lemon cookies.

I couldn't get enough of these candy-coated almonds

With their slightly crunchy, colorful shell, these candy-coated almonds look a lot like Cadbury's mini eggs. They were also delicious.

The coating offered a yummy crunch that regular chocolate-covered almonds can't compete with. Plus, I loved the pastel colors.

The chocolate layer was pleasantly smooth, and the almond center gave these treats dimension and a yummy, nutty flavor. It also made them a lot more satisfying than other candy.

I had to stuff these behind a few things in my cupboard to keep them out of sight — otherwise, I would've devoured the entire bag in two days.

These would make a great addition to a picnic or a springtime gift basket for those who can safely eat almonds.

VERDICT: As someone who frequently craves chocolate, these springtime almonds are a must-have.

This blood-orange cake mix made a delicious loaf, but I wasn't impressed by the icing

I've never thought to use blood oranges for anything beyond cocktails, so I was excited to try this mix.

It seemed like the kind of dessert Ina Garten would make from scratch, but I have no qualms with shortcuts.

The moment I started mixing the ingredients, I caught a strong whiff of the bold, citrus aroma, and the batter was bright orange. Like most boxed cake mixes, this came together with just a few ingredients and under an hour of bake time. It also included a packet of icing, which saved me even more time.

On its own, this cake was awesome. The blood-orange flavor was pronounced, offering a unique profile that was noticeably more tart than sweet. Its texture was dense yet tender and moist, like a pound cake.

However, I found that the icing tasted too much like candy. It was sweet with a seemingly artificial flavor. Next time, I'll try topping it with my own cream-cheese frosting and blood-orange zest.

VERDICT: Buy the cake mix, but ditch the icing — it doesn't need it.

These lemon madeleines made my spring mornings even brighter

These fluffy tea cakes were sweet, buttery, and delicious. The lemon-zest flavor was very subtle yet detectable. Some people may want more of the flavor, but I think Trader Joe's was wise not to go overboard.

They're dainty, which made them suitable for early mornings when I wasn't quite ready for a full meal. Plus, there was something about their cute seashell shape that made me smile.

Their flavor was comparable to a classic vanilla pound cake, with just the slightest kiss of lemon. The firm yet spongy texture would be ideal for dipping in hot coffee or tea.

VERDICT: As someone who often craves light sweets in the morning, these lemon-zest madeleines hit the spot. I'll gladly be buying a couple more packages before the season ends.

Fans of spinach would really enjoy this frozen Florentine lasagna

Based on the box, I assumed this lasagna would be loaded with Italian flavors, but I later learned that Florentine is actually a French cooking term that refers to a dish with cooked spinach and a cheesy, creamy sauce.

I was excited about this dish since it's vegetarian, serves more than one person, and doesn't require any actual prep work — just patience.

Per the instructions, you can heat this in the microwave in two six-minute intervals, but I opted to bake mine in the oven instead. Microwaved lasagna didn't sound all that appealing to me.

This took just under an hour to bake, and I let it rest for 15 minutes before digging in.

The aroma of garlic, herbs, and cheese filled my entire apartment while this cooked, which was reason enough to give this a solid rating.

I genuinely enjoy cooked spinach, but this dish had a lot of it, which was a bit overwhelming. However, there was nothing terribly wrong with that since the box advertised the green as the star ingredient.

However, spinach has a high water content, which was evident the moment I cut into this lasagna. It looked more like a cheesy soup with pasta. So getting any kind of square slice was impossible. I used a spoon to scoop it onto my plate.

If you really dig cooked spinach, you'll probably enjoy this. The bitter, metallic green tasted great with the creamy, sweet ricotta.

I also appreciated that Trader Joe's included Parmesan in the cheese blend — which added a nice balance of salt — and a ton of flavorful dried herbs and garlic.

VERDICT: Although the Florentine lasagna offered a lot of fragrant, cheesy flavor, its lengthy cook time and sloppy texture kept it from being as good as possible.

I'd probably give this another shot one day, just not immediately.

Trader Joe's Springle Jangle would make a great last-minute, sugary snack for road trips or movie nights

Like the winter equivalent, the Trader Joe's Springle Jangle consists of various bite-sized snacks, like butter-toffee peanuts, yogurt-dipped pretzels, dark-chocolate Joe-Joe bark, dark- and milk-chocolate mini peanut-butter cups, sprinkle-covered chocolate discs, and candy gems (which are similar to M&Ms).

I could immediately tell I would like this better than the winter version if not for the aesthetics alone. The mix was super colorful, so I could identify what I was grabbing.

It's more of a candy mix than a snack one, as it was very sweet and barely salty, save for the yogurt-dipped pretzels. Those were my favorite parts, even though some pieces tasted a bit stale.

The chocolate could've been better, as it was slightly chalky and didn't quite have that melt-in-your-mouth quality I expect from most dipped treats.

Overall, this would make a decent snack if you want something sweet but can't decide on what to buy. However, I think it could've used one more salty component, like a handful of almonds.

VERDICT: Although the Springle Jangle is a yummy snack that people with a sweet tooth will likely enjoy, it's far from my favorite springtime Trader Joe's product.

Although this spring cupcake mix seemed like a fun Easter dessert, it required way more work than I anticipated

This spring cupcake mix had a lot going for it — the baked goods looked so cute on the box — but the assembly wasn't what I expected.

For one, the box didn't come with finished frosting, but rather frosting powder, which required milk and butter to prepare (more ingredients I had to buy) and needed to be beaten with a hand or stand mixer.

It also didn't include a piping tip, so my cupcakes wouldn't look anything like the ones on the box. That wouldn't be an issue if the selling point wasn't the promise of making cute, spring-themed treats — but this ended up being quite a letdown.

Working with the frosting without a piping-bag tip was a disaster. I did my best with what I had, but my cupcake grass looked more like Medusa's hair than anything you'd find in an Easter basket.

The other ingredients were also a bit odd. The box called for egg whites instead of whole eggs and 6 tablespoons of butter instead of a full stick.

On a positive note, the cupcakes themselves turned out great. I don't usually reach for vanilla-flavored treats, but I know they're a crowd-pleaser. These had a nice buttery flavor and were super fluffy.

The caramel candy eggs that came in the box were by far the best part and made the price tag worth it. Honestly, I wish there were more.

VERDICT: These spring cupcakes had so much potential, but between all the additional ingredients you have to buy and the extensive prep, it wasn't really convenient, especially if you plan to make them with kids.

I'd rather buy one of the better cake mixes that Trader Joe's sells.

There's no need to buy Easter candy if you have these chocolate-mousse eggs on hand

These are basically the spring equivalent to the pumpkin-mousse cakes the chain sells in the fall, which are also an amazing product. These creamy treats are probably one of my favorite finds in Trader Joe's bakery section.

The chocolate cake was soft, moist, and rich, while the mousse layer was sweet and fluffy. The double-chocolate flavor worked well since the mousse had more of a milk-chocolate profile that built on the cake's richness.

All of this came wrapped in a thin, chocolate-candy coating, complete with colorful icing designs on top. This was a nice touch, as it gave my teeth something to bite into before the melty center.

Each egg-shaped cake is slightly bigger than a truffle, yet smaller than a cupcake. This makes them just the right size for a mid-afternoon or after-dinner sweet. Eating just one or two satisfied my chocolate craving.

VERDICT: I wish they were individually wrapped, but as long as these are available at Trader Joe's, I'll keep buying them.

These blueberry-and-lemon hand pies are the perfect pastry for the spring season

These crescent-shaped mini pies tasted like they were from a local farmers market. The crust was thick and semi-flaky, with bits of yummy raw sugar on top and imprints that gave them a rustic feel.

Each pie was loaded with a bright, semi-sweet blueberry filling that tasted like the first day of spring. The filling was primarily made with puréed blueberries, but a few chunks made it feel more like a homemade pie than a mass-produced one.

The use of lemon flavoring on the pastry made them significantly more tart than I expected, but I wouldn't call them sour. It's almost as if they're made to be consumed with sweet tea or vanilla ice cream.

For the price, these are a solid way to enjoy a fruity dessert without having to bake an entire pie. The fact that they're handheld is even better.

VERDICT: If you're a huge fan of blueberries, these are a must-buy. If you're pretty indifferent about them, this may not be for you. I found these hand pies to be quite tasty, but I'm not in a rush to buy them again because blueberries aren't my favorite. If Trader Joe's made these with other fruit fillings, I'd buy them.

These Sprinkles Walk into a Sandwich cookies are a fun treat for kids, but they were too sweet for my taste

These crumbly, buttery, cookie sandwiches took a while to grow on me, and I'm still not totally sold.

The thin layer of buttercream frosting had a super-sugary sweetness with a slightly fluffier quality than I expected. This made the buttery flavor in the shortbread pop. The sprinkles, meanwhile, were a nice touch and provided a bit of fun texture.

Overall, each bite kind of tasted like a cross between vanilla Funfetti cake and a Walker's shortbread cookie.

I also thought the cookie part was a little bit too dry and could have been thinner. That said, I can see these being a hit with others looking for a sweet springtime dessert that's easier to transport than a cupcake. Kids will definitely get a kick out of them.

VERDICT: These cookies were a bit too sweet for me. Although they were decently tasty, I'm not in a rush to buy them again.

Trader Joe's Portuguese custard tarts totally lived up to the hype

I've been to Portugal twice, and the custard tarts — called pasteis de nata — are always a highlight. When the tarts are enjoyed fresh, they have a signature crunch that I love, so I was nervous to try these out of a box.

Fortunately, Trader Joe's knocked it out of the park. I popped all four tarts into my oven with the intent of sampling just one, and ended up devoured three in a sitting. The crust was buttery and flaky, and the custard center was light and creamy.

Best of all, they weren't overly sweet, which can sometimes happen with American custard tarts.

These would pair perfectly with coffee, hot chocolate, or anything else with a slightly bitter component to make its subtle sweetness pop. For those hesitant about trying custard, don't worry, it doesn't taste eggy at all.

Nothing is ever going to be the same as getting pasteis de nata in person, but for coming out of a box and requiring pretty much zero effort (or travel plans) these were absolutely spectacular.

Verdict: I waited an entire year to finally get my hands on a box of these and have already stocked my freezer with several more boxes for the season.

The goat's-milk cheese rubbed with vanilla sugar has a unique flavor, but its sweet profile may not be for everyone

Made using goat's-milk cheese that's aged for several weeks, this semi-solid cheese smelled and tasted faintly like a vanilla cupcake.

I found the cheese itself was overall very mild in flavor, but undeniably sweet. The vanilla notes were clearly detectable at the end of each bite. I can see this being a hit with people who like the idea of a sweeter cheese they can use on crepes or fruit.

That said, I was thrown off by the lack of tang I'm used to getting with goat cheese, and I'm not sold on the flavor yet.

On the plus side, since the texture was smooth and semi-solid, this was was easy to cut into cubes, which could make for a unique appetizer to pair with a sweet wine like riesling.

VERDICT: I appreciate the creativity of this goat cheese, but don't know if I'd go out of my way to buy it again.

I was blown away by how delicious these Joe-Joe's with coffee creme tasted

These chocolate-dipped Joe-Joe's taste less like something from a grocery-store prepackaged cookie section and more like a dessert I'd expect to see behind a glass case. The cookie component was semi-soft, and the dark-chocolate coating was smooth, thick, and delicious.

These tasted like the cookie version of a dark-chocolate-covered espresso bean. The layer of mocha filling in the center was fluffy and smooth, with a bold coffee flavor that was impossible to miss.

Overall, the flavor was bold and quite intense, with each bite offering a good balance of bitter and sweet tones. I also appreciated how large each cookie was — one was enough to satisfy me.

VERDICT: The Joe-Joe's with coffee creme are now my favorite of the entire Joe-Joe's lineup.

The triple-ginger pretzels are a great spring snack for those who reach for pumpkin-spice pretzels in the fall

As someone who usually reaches for pumpkin-spice items in the fall, the ginger version of these pretzels is just right for spring. These pretzels are satisfyingly crunchy, delicately sweet, and delicious.

Despite the name, these pretzels weren't as front-loaded with intense ginger as I expected them to be. Instead, the spicy flavor came through on the finish of each bite, building a nice, warm sensation that tickled the sides of my mouth more and more with each successive bite.

Overall, I'd describe these as quite similar to pumpkin-spice pretzels, with a slightly more peppery taste.

The candied ginger sprinkled on top was a nice finishing touch, adding extra crunch and a bright, slightly peppery flavor that makes the subtle sweetness really shine.

One thing to note is that these were significantly smaller than the previous seasonal pretzels I've tried. But in my opinion, it actually works out for the better with all the ginger flavor going on. Unfortunately, for my sake, it makes them too easy to eat by the handful.

VERDICT: I'm already longtime fan of Trader Joe's various coated pretzels, and these are now giving the chocolate and peppermint ones some serious competition.

Trader Joe's all-butter shortbread sandwich cookies with a raspberry filling were so delicious I can't believe they came from a box

I honestly wasn't expecting these cookies to be as good as they were. I loved everything about these.

With their sleek, rectangular shape and striking layer of visible, bright-red filling, these cookies were clearly made to be served on pretty plates with doilies on an outdoor patio.

The texture was crumbly, yet not as dry as I anticipated. In my opinion, the ratio of shortbread to raspberry on these cookies was just right, offering a yummy, slightly sweet, faintly tart, fruity flavor that resolved nicely into the delicious melt-in-your-mouth buttery shortbread.

VERDICT: For a boxed cookie, these were absolutely incredible.

Trader Joe's mini lemon sheet cake is the showstopper every spring brunch needs

I saw so much hype about this lemon cake online, and based on my experience, it's well-deserved.

The cake was tender and exquisitely moist, and its lemon flavor was fragrant and inviting without tasting overly sweet or artificial.

The lemon cream cheese was sublime. It tasted like a recipe from an Ina Garten cookbook that uses real lemons.

The dusting of lemon zest on top was a perfect garnish for a dessert this classy. If someone told me Trader Joe's lemon sheet cake came from a fancy bakery, I wouldn't question it for a second.

VERDICT: This cake is a high-quality gem. I'll keep buying it as long as it's in stores.

The spring gummies felt like a grown-up version of fruit snacks

These are the softest gummies I've ever purchased.

They resembled fruit snacks rather than traditional peach rings or gummy worms.

They had a pleasant, fruity flavor without tasting too sugary or hurting my teeth. The spring-themed shapes were a bit indiscernible (I think they were supposed to be birds), as were the flavors.

One gummy kind of tasted like raspberry, and another had a slightly sour, citrusy vibe. Still, the snack was as bright and vibrant as spring itself.

VERDICT: I probably wouldn't buy multiple bags per season, but I'd get one for snacking.

The dulce de leche ice cream was decadent, but also very one-note

This ultra-smooth, creamy dessert felt like pure decadence when it hit my palate.

The flavor reminded me of a light caramel candy. It was buttery, sweet, and milky.

Though this ice cream had a lot going for it, I thought it was a one-note dessert. The combination of dulce de leche and caramel tasted like one super-sweet flavor stacked on another.

Even the caramel swirls, which required a bit of an excavation to find, were underwhelming. The near-uniform ice-cream texture lost its luster after a few bites.

In the future, I'd pair this ice cream with something to cut through the sweetness, like salty pretzels or a dark-chocolate brownie.

VERDICT: I wouldn't buy this as a stand-alone dessert, but I'd get it if I wanted an accompaniment that wasn't basic vanilla.

Click to keep reading other Trader Joe's taste tests in this series.


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