Trader Joe's shoppers are known for being passionate about the grocery store chain's exclusive private store label products. But which are their favorites?
On Monday, the brand announced the winners of its 13th annual Customer Choice Awards, naming the top five overall items fans crave as well as the most-beloved foods in eight different categories.
Winners for every category were determined by customers, who could name their favorites on Trader Joe's website.
The top product overall for 2022 was unsurprisingly Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken. The longtime favorite "bake & serve" version of the sweet-sour Chinese-American dish has often come in first in previous years, and features chunks of juicy chicken in a crispy breading with a sweet and spicy orange sauce.
Runners up in the overall category include their Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (2nd), Unexpected Cheddar (3rd), Everything but the Bagel Seasoning Blend (4th), and Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese (5th) — the last being a seasonal item that those hoping for a taste will have to wait around for.
Here are the winners of the other categories:
Favorite Beverage: Non-Dairy Oat Beverage
The milk alternative uses "natural, balanced sweetness rather than adding cane sugar," the brand says. The result is "a slightly sweet, delightfully smooth, and criminally creamy vegan Oat Beverage that's perfect for cereal, smoothies, lattes, & more (Or just pour a glass and enjoy it on its own, at any time of the day)."
Runners up: Spiced Apple Cider (2nd), Ginger Beer (3rd), Sparkling Honeycrisp Apple Juice Beverage (4th) and Tangerine Juice (5th). Both the Spice Apple Cider and Sparkling Honeycrisp Apple Juice Beverage are seasonal items.
Favorite Cheese: Unexpected Cheddar
Trader Joe's signature cheese tastes like an aged premium cheddar but with hints of parmesan. Like the Mandarin Orange Chicken, it's a TJ's favorite that has long been embraced by customers — so much so that it nabbed a spot on the top overall favorite as well.
Runners up: English Cheddar with Caramelized Onions (2nd), Baked Lemon Ricotta (3rd), Syrah Soaked Toscano (4th), and Triple Crème Brie (5th). The Baked Lemon Ricotta is a seasonal item.
Favorite Sweets/Dessert: Hold the Cone! Mini Ice Cream Cones
These delicious tasty mini treats come in a variety of flavors — including chocolate, vanilla, and chocolate chip — and stand out from other pre-packaged cone frozen treats by replacing traditional sugar cones with lined cones (the chocolate chip flavor, for example, comes in a chocolate cone lined with chocolatey coating). Added bonus? The lining makes it impossible for ice cream to leak out from the bottom. A win win!
Runners Up: Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (2nd), O & H Danish Kringle (3rd), Sublime Ice Cream Sandwiches (4th), Brookie (5th).
Favorite Entrée: Mandarin Orange Chicken
No shocker here, as the Mandarin Orange Chicken also came in first in the overall category. But one thing important to note: Trader Joe's recommends you bake the chicken in a 400º oven, rather than microwave it. "When the chicken is cooked through, add the sauce to a skillet or wok," they suggest. "Once the sauce is hot, add the chicken and toss together until the sauce adheres to the chicken and caramelizes a bit." Serve with rice and veggies for a complete meal!
Runners up: Chicken Tikka Masala (2nd), Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice (3rd), Joe's Diner Mac 'n Cheese (4th), Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese (5th). The Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese is a seasonal item.
Favorite Home, Bath & Body Product: Scented Candle Tins
Offering a variety of scents — including grapefruit, which is in stores this March — these hand-pour candles are made with a natural coconut-soy wax blend and a led-free cotton wick. The 5.7 oz. tins go a long way!
Runners up: Body Butters (2nd), Ultra Moisturizing Hand Cream (3rd), Hand Sanitizers (4th), Tree Tingle Shampoo & Conditioner (5th). Body Butter scents vary by season.
Favorite Produce: Teeny Tiny Avocados
Most people struggle with avocados. The creamy, buttery fruits are notorious for ripening and going bad before you have a chance finish them. The solution? TJ's Teeny Tiny Avocados. The 6-count bag provides a perfect single-serving, and makes it much easier to ensure customers won't be left with brown avocados.
Runners up: conventional and organic bananas (2nd), Persian cucumbers (3rd), conventional and organic arugula (4th), and Carrots of Many Colors (5th).
Favorite Snack: Peanut Butter Filled Pretzel Nuggets
Made for Trader Joe's in Pennsylvania, "each real-peanut-butter-filled pretzel nugget is coated with coarse salt, and delivers crunchy and creamy and salty," the brand says. "They're great party nibbles with cocktails or beer, juice or even sparkling water, and they make satisfying snacks for lunchboxes or after-school."
Runners up: Organic Corn Chip Dippers (2nd), Organic Eloté Corn Chip Dippers (3rd), Chili & Lime Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips (4th), Bamba (5th).
Favorite Vegan/Vegetarian Product: Soy Chorizo
Trader Joe's might as well call these plant-based chorizo, "I Can't Believe It's Not Meat!" because they taste so real. The links can be prepared in a multitude of ways and added into a handful of dishes. And they've got the perfect amount of heat to them, with spices, red pepper, and garlic powder flavoring.
Runners up: Vegan Kale (2nd), Cashew & Basil Pesto Vegetable Fried Rice (3rd), Cauliflower Gnocchi (4th) Chicken-less Mandarin Orange Morsels (5th).