I could write sonnets about my love of dips. Often, I’ve made them a whole meal, using them to fill peppers and top chicken, or just enjoying dip as a makeshift lazy dinner when I’m unwilling to make eye contact with my stove. As someone who used to work for Trader Joe’s, I’ve tried all of their dips — and I have some pretty strong opinions. Whether you’re hovering over one of these dips on your counter, dipping away with your mini peppers and tortilla chips, or tossing them with pasta, you’ll be hard-pressed to find dips as exciting, flavorful, and endlessly dippable as these.
A little disclaimer: As someone who has the blessing (and maybe curse) of tasting things for a living, my palate has become … maybe *too* discerning? (I have the “Simon Cowell of American Idol season one” of palates.) That being said, I stand by my top picks. If you notice I do not have hummus or guacamole on this list, you are seeing correctly.
1. Garlic Spread Dip, $2.99 for 8 ounces
Also known as toum, Trader Joe’s garlic spread is made just like the classic Lebanese-style dip you’ve likely had when getting your favorite takeout. It couldn’t be simpler, consisting of just an emulsion of garlic, lemon juice, and oil that lends the dip a sort of fluffy, creamy, almost mayo-esque texture. It’s ideal for spreading on crackers, dipping with crunchy, sweet carrots, and smearing onto kebabs, sandwiches, and roasted vegetables. And it’s transcendent when stirred into soups.
2. Artichoke & Jalapeño Dip, $3.99 for 10 ounces
Let it be known that the Artichoke & Jalapeño Dip was my first foray into “can this dip be dinner?” line of thought. I first fell in love with this dip when I dipped into it with mini sweet peppers, which immediately had me daydreaming of using it as a binder for a host of fillings for cooked stuffed peppers. I’ve tossed this with ground chicken, lentils, and even soy chorizo before stuffing into peppers and broiling with Monterey Jack cheese. No matter what, this dip will always be my number-one when I want a light, snack-y dinner along with crackers, vegetables, and a bit of cheese.
3. Romesco Dip, $3.99 for 8 ounces
Romesco is a Spanish staple that is delicately sweet from roasted red peppers, yet almost slightly cheesy from the crushed almonds (although the dip itself is entirely vegan!). I love this dip for making a quick pasta salad and for dipping sliced peppers but I cannot (I repeat: cannot) wait to add this into my next grilled cheese sandwich. I can also imagine this would be amazing in place of pesto for topping your next caprese salad.
4. Everything and the Elote Dip, $3.49 for 8 ounces
Elote-flavored everything might as well be a food group for me. It very nearly is a whole food group at Trader Joe’s where you can find the flavor in a shaker, in a salad, on a chip, and now in a dip. Elote, also known as Mexican street corn, is grilled corn coated with mayonnaise, cotija cheese, lime juice, and a dusting of chili powder. The creamy, chili-lime flavor lends itself perfectly to the Greek yogurt base in this dip, punctuated with bits of sweet corn kernels to round it out. Dip your favorite lime-flavored tortilla chips into this tangy dip and you might just see the bottom of the dip container before too long.
5. Buffalo Style Chicken Dip, $4.99 for 12 ounces
I don’t have enough fingers to count how many times I’ve made a lunch of the Buffalo chicken dip. I simply don’t. Especially if I have the time to broil (or microwave) plenty of Pepper Jack on top before dipping into this hearty dip? I lose track. It really doesn’t get any better than the vinegary tang and spicy cayenne kick. Sure, you can eat this with celery sticks, corn chips, and top with a sprinkle of blue cheese crumbles, but don’t stop there. Word on the street is that this is incredible when tossed with pasta.
Did your favorite Trader Joe’s dip make the list? Tell us in the comments below.
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