There are two words that have now become synonymous with fall, and they’ll either bring you joy or anguish: pumpkin spice. Every August (and sometimes even late July), grocery stores start piling on the pumpkin to get shoppers ready for the season and also to make a boatload of money. But there’s clearly one grocery store that outshines the rest when it comes to pumpkin product season: Trader Joe’s. Their selection is so vast that it’s overwhelming, and every fall their pumpkin empire expands to include some truly unexpected offerings (looking at you, Pumpkin Empanadas).
Pumpkin spice can be a great flavor, but it also has the potential to be disastrous and make an item we’d ordinarily love taste like a candle. That doesn’t just lead to some serious disappointment—it’s also a waste of money. So we hit up our local Trader Joe’s and bought every single pumpkin item in stock. Then, we assembled a serious group of taste buds to determine which of Trader Joe’s pumpkin products are actually worth buying.
Here’s what we loved:
Authentic Danish Kringle, Pumpkin
According to our local TJ’s, the pumpkin kringle is the most popular product every fall. A bvnd after trying it, we have to agree that the hype is real. The pastry itself is soft and lightly sweet, almost like un-iced king cake. The real star is the delightfully squishy pumpkin purée inside. Since the kringle is so large, it’s a great option for a celebration, like a holiday breakfast. Just store it in the freezer until the night before, and let it thaw at room temperature overnight.
Spicy Pumpkin Curry Simmer Sauce
Sometimes a sauce is so good that you can just pair it with some rice and call it a stand-up meal. That is exactly the case with the Spicy Pumpkin Curry Simmer Sauce, which, for the unaware, is proof that you should be mixing all kinds of spices with pumpkin, not just your pie spice.
Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix
We tested out how the Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix worked for both bread and muffins, and both had pleasant results. This box mix yielded super moist pumpkin bread for Annie, and perfect pumpkin muffins for Nicole.
Pumpkin Spiced Sunflower Seeds
If you prefer your nut/seed mix with a little sweetness, then you’re gonna like these. Enjoy them on their own, stirred into a homemade snack mix, or even served along a sharp cheese on a snack board.
We didn’t expect to enjoy the Pumpkin Salsa so much, but we did. Rather than overly sweet, we found it tangy and pleasantly spicy. You could pair it with TJ’s Pumpkin Tortilla Chips, but it’s just as good with a regular or cantina-style tortilla chip.
Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix
If you’ve shopped at Trader Joe’s during pumpkin season, you’ve probably seen this box mix—maybe you’ve even purchased it and tried it. The Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix is one of the most solid pumpkin spice offerings, which is probably why it comes back year after year. It’s also one of the easiest ways to add Thanksgiving vibes to your breakfast, which is never a bad thing.
Pecan Pumpkin Instant Oatmeal
One of instant oatmeal’s biggest faults is that it’s loaded with sugar. Instead of a balanced breakfast, you can end up with a headache or slightly dizzy, and that is not the way to start your day. Trader Joe’s Pecan Pumpkin Instant Oatmeal doesn’t have that problem. It’s got just the right amount of sweetness and the added bonus of crunchy pecan bits. It’s well-rounded enough that it should at least be offered the entire year.
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