Summer is here, which is my favorite time for all the new items at Trader Joe’s. There’s something about the flavors in summertime Trader Joe’s items that make me so much more inspired in the kitchen. And as someone who is currently waiting impatiently for my passport to be renewed, a lot of these top items transported me to another place. Whether these items took me to a Los Angeles street taco cart, a beach chair in Cannes, or just a backyard barbecue, I was all for it.
If you’re overdue for a flavor trip of your own, pick up these top Trader Joe’s picks of the month and your cooler will be packed for any which way you choose to wander.
1. Beef Birria, $7.99 for 16 ounces
Living in LA ruined me for any other tacos in my life. And seeing as I live on the East Coast again, I’ve been missing all my late-night street taco spots. Which is precisely why I nearly wept when I spotted this beef birria in the freezer section. It’s truly so frighteningly spot-on that I had to corroborate my feelings with a Californian friend to make sure my tastebuds weren’t tricking me. (She agreed.) The birria is ridiculously tender, brothy, and needs no embellishment outside of perhaps some fried tortillas, a bit of chopped white onion, and cilantro. Throw in a Michelada and I feel a lot less homesick.
2. French Fizz Le Blanc, $6.99 for 750 ml
I’m actually not a huge bubbles person, but I do love when a wine becomes what I call “kombucha-adjacent.” It has an ever-so-fruity quality that is punctuated with light bubbles. It’s affordable, unfussy, and extremely fun to drink. It’s something you always keep chilled and on hand, for drinking on the porch when it’s so hot you get a bit of sweat under the knee. I’m anticipating many of these days ahead and thus many moments with “Le Fizz.”
3. Seasoning in a Pickle, $2.49 for 2.3 ounces
I’m no stranger to the wild magic of Trader Joe’s seasoning blends. Their Herbes de Provence blend and Za’atar are my standbys for flavoring dipping olive oil and homemade focaccia. So anytime there’s a new seasoning shaker, I’ll be there yesterday. This tangy, salty blend of garlic, dill, and powdered vinegar has already been sprinkled into egg and chicken salads, generously shaken on top of french fries, and mixed into sour cream for a dip. But I will absolutely not be stopping there. I’m planning on mixing it into burger patties and using it as part of a dredging mixture for double-fried chicken.
4. Blueberry Fields Hard Cheese, $4.99 for 8 ounces
Summer is one of my favorite times to buy cheese at Trader Joe’s, as spring through summer are when goats, cows, and sheep all do their best grazing. The hard cheese itself reminded me a lot of classic Syrah Toscano cheese mixed with that crystallized saltiness of their Thousand Day Gouda. In other words, it has just the right bite of nutty sharpness. But the real delight is in the rind of this cheese, which is soaked in a blueberry juice for just the right amount of tart sweetness. It made me daydream about how this cheese would fare in a grilled cheese sandwich with apples. Or simply cubed for a cheese board. Or shaved on a salad. In short, Blueberry Fields Forever.
5. Tteok Bok Ki, $3.79 for 16 ounces
Anytime I can skew group lunch or dinner plans towards Korean BBQ, you can count on me to do just that. Perhaps it’s my love of cooking food directly at my own table, all the banchan, or the excuse to eat as much gochujang as possible. It’s likely all three. With a delightfully crispy exterior leading to an almost mochi-like interior, Trader Joe’s tteok bok ki really captures all that I love about the classic Korean BBQ staple. These fiery, bold, delicious stir-fried rice cakes have just the right amount of peppery flavor that makes them ideal alongside short ribs and fluffy rice. Follow these with a cold soju or an extra-tall Terra lager to help quell any lingering spice.
6. Dorothy’s Comeback Cow, $6.99 for 7 ounces
This cheese is perfectly named because I will absolutely be coming back to buy any of Dorothy’s cheeses. I often opt for milder Bries and camemberts, nothing too bloomy or funky, and this one was right in that sweet spot, with a hint of truffle and almond. Did I bake this with a tart jam on top, serve it with crusty bread, and call it “lunch”? Yes, 100%.
Dorothy’s is an amazing Illinois-based creamery that supplies a seasonal cheese selection to Trader Joe’s each year. The brand’s other variety, Dorothy Keep Dreaming (maybe my most favorite cheese name ever), is also a rich, soft-ripened cheese that, like the Comeback Cow, develops in flavor as it ripens. I know I am a cheese nerd, but this is just one of those cheese makers that gets you excited about the future of American cheese (There’s a lot to be excited about!).
7. Strawberry Lemonade Joe-Joe’s, $2.99 for 16 ounces
I really didn’t think another cookie could top my other favorite Trader Joe’s seasonal cookie, the Peppermint Joe-Joe’s, but here we are. These cookies did it. The lemon-y wafer cookies made with dried lemon combined with the strawberry creme filling pack in as much of the classic drink flavor as possible. After a bite (or two) of these summer-y cookies, visions of what I’d create with them danced in my head. Do I crush these up to coat a strawberry cake? Or mix them into a milkshake? Even if you just simply stash these in the fridge for a chilled, mid-afternoon treat, you won’t be sorry.
Which of these are you most excited about? Tell us in the comments below.