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I Tried 7 Award-Winning Trader Joe's Items & One Truly Lives Up To the Hype

We put the winners of this year's TJ's Customer Choice Awards to the test to see which products would come out on top.
The product recommendations in this post are recommendations by the writer and/or expert(s) interviewed and do not contain affiliate links. Meaning: If you use these links to buy something, we will not earn a commission.

Forget the Golden Globes, Grammys, and even the Oscars. In the grocery business, awards season means one thing: Trader Joe's Annual Customer Choice Awards.

Each year for the last 15, the popular specialty grocer has collected votes from its shoppers to identify the most adored food and drink items in its stores. Categories include Beverage, Cheese, Produce, Appetizer, Breakfast & Brunch, Lunch & Dinner, Snack, Sweet Treat, and Bath, Body & Home (the only nonconsumable category). Plus, one very special product is crowned as the No. 1 pick overall.

The results are in for 2024, and there were some surprises. Trader Joe's shook things up this time by not including the five products with repeat titles and the only five items yet to be inducted into the store's Hall of Fame. This includes Mandarin Orange Chicken, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, Peanut Butter Filled Pretzel Nuggets, Unexpected Cheddar Cheese, and Soy Chorizo. With these items out of the way, other worthy products were able to shine, and some received recognition for the first time.

As this year's winners enjoy their time in the sun, I wanted to give each a try. I set out for my local Trader Joe's and rounded up the titleholder across each grocery category—except the top beverage, Spiced Apple Cider, which is a seasonal item. I put each one to the test and developed my own mini-rankings. Let's jump in to see which champions reign supreme when pitted against each other.


trader joe's bananas
Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!
PER Serving (1 BANANA): 108 calories, 0.6 g fat (0.1 g saturated fat), 1.26 mg sodium, 28.8 g carbs (3.3 g fiber, 15.4 g sugar), 1.4 g protein

This may seem like a boring award winner—especially when up against elaborate munchies or full meals—but produce is on nearly every shopper's grocery list. And, because of its variable nature, it's always helpful to hear straight from consumers which fruits and veggies are consistently quality. At Trader Joe's, that happens to be b-a-n-a-n-a-s!

The classic yellow fruit—which comes organic and in a standard Chiquita variety from Ecuador—is no stranger to success. This time around is the item's fifth win in the produce category—enough badges of honor to earn bananas a spot in the Trader Joe's Hall of Fame. As is the case with these items, customers love TJ's bananas for their taste. They also come at an unbeatable price of $0.19 each. Now, that's something to go bananas about.

The look: I picked up a bunch of three bananas in the produce section—although single bananas up to bunches of six or seven were available. In the non-organic section, I found that most options were unripe with peels sporting a bright green shade. The trio I grabbed was more mature, and a day after I brought them home, they were almost fully yellow with light brown spotting. Inside there were no blemishes. All three measured in at almost seven inches long on the dot.

The taste: The archetype of a good banana. It was still a bit unripe for my liking. I usually don't even think to pick up a banana until it's sprouted brown freckles, but that's more of a personal preference. It was sweet, firm, and free from any phloem bundles (those annoying stringy bits that can drive people mad). The fruit comes in a good size—not too dainty but also not too big so you lose your appetite for it at the end.

I hate to place this victor in last place since it is nearly flawless and something I would gladly grab again. But, that just proves how on-point this customer-curated list is.

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trader joe's hash browns
Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!
PER Serving (1 PATTY): 120 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 250 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (1 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 1 g protein

Potatoes at breakfast tend to go over well, and they are finally receiving the praise they deserve at TJ's. Trader Joe's Hashbrowns are the most recent medalists in the breakfast and brunch bracket. A big win over three types of sweet croissants and the store's Chicken Breakfast Sausage Patties. Like the sausage, the hash browns come in a compact, convenient patty form. This makes them the perfect freezer staple for those busy mornings when you don't have the time to hunch over the stove monitoring slow-cooking potatoes. Just pop these bad boys in the oven, and they're ready to go in less than 15 minutes.

The look: Shredded hash browns smooshed into a 4-by-3-inch patty. They turn a nice shade of golden brown and cook up somewhat evenly in the oven.

The taste: The first thing I noticed is that they come out more flimsy than crisp, even after their allotted time in the oven. I ended up eating them with a fork rather than holding them like the patties from McDonald's. But, there lies my only complaint. Each hash brown is soft, clearly made from real potatoes, and the perfect sidekick for a plate of bacon and eggs. Since they are on the greasy side, they may not make for the most healthful start to the morning, but perhaps the happiest.

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Chèvre Goat Cheese

trader joe's chevre goat cheese
Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (1 OZ): 80 calories, 6 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 80 mg sodium, <1 g carbs (0 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 5 g protein

Cheese is such a hot topic at Trader Joe's that it takes up an entire grouping in the Customer Choice Awards. This year, the store's goat cheese was at the forefront, beating out quality cheddar, burrata, cheese dip, and more. This cheesy champion is described as creamy and fresh. And, with a significantly lower lactose content than cow cheese, it's a more approachable option. The cherry on top is that the chèvre (goat cheese in French) comes in other flavors and varieties, including fine herbs, cranberry, blueberry vanilla, and honey.

The look: An alabaster-colored cheese log—fairly small measuring just about 3.5 inches long. It's a tad difficult to transfer from the package, and I had to reshape it after plopping it onto my plate.

The taste: Sweet and tart. It's so light and smooth that it essentially dissolves in your mouth. Pro tip: Leave the chèvre out for a couple of minutes before digging in to achieve this softer texture. Otherwise, it's more on the crumbly side. I paired it with standard snack crackers since it is so spreadable. I could also see it as the perfect topping on a salad or pasta dish, or even covering a pizza crust.

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Creamy Spinach & Artichoke Dip

trader joe's spinach artichoke dip
Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (2 TBSP): 40 calories, 3 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 125 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 2 g protein

If you're looking for this item among Trader Joe's myriad of other dips, you'll never find it. It lives in the freezer section nestled among various frozen specialties. I shamefully had to be escorted there myself on a trip to the market—hopefully, you can learn from my mistake. I was on the hunt for the Creamy Spinach & Artichoke Dip because it won this year in the all-important appetizer category. The likes of Trader Joe's Mac and Cheese Bites, Parmesan Pastry Pups, Greek Spanakopita, and the unique Vegetable Bird's Nests received honorable mentions in this area.

The look: It came out of the packaging in a stout cylinder shape and turned into a thick soup after about four minutes in the microwave. The color is standard cream to off-white with plenty of green spinach laced throughout.

The taste: Closer to goopy and smooth rather than chunky like other spinach and artichoke dips I've had—more like the consistency of queso. Something about it tastes homemade and warm and soothing to the soul. Swiss and parmesan cheeses were the perfect choices for the app with their mild and sweet notes. The artichoke flavor, on the other hand, is more elusive. Small pieces of the vegetable are present.

Fair warning with this one: It is unlikely you will be able to stick to the measly serving size of two tablespoons, judging by the fact that my husband and I polished off the whole bowl in one sitting.

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Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice

trader joe's butter chicken basmati rice
Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (1 CONTAINER): 400 calories, 13 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 640 mg sodium, 49 g carbs (2 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 24g protein

The Trader Joe's Butter Chicken is widely adored, and I was shocked to learn this was its first time in the limelight. This is because it falls into the same category as the store's Mandarin Orange Chicken, which now sits pretty in the Hall of Fame. This year, Butter Chicken got a fair shot.

The meal consists of basmati rice and chicken drenched in an Indian-inspired sauce. It makes for the perfect on-the-go lunch or quick and easy meal when you don't feel like cooking, and customers often express that it is exceptional.

The look: A pool of terracotta-colored liquid containing five sizable chicken pieces. On the other side, the rice is standard white, long-grain rice. Based on its looks, I was wary. But, the smell as I pulled the container from the microwave raised my hopes.

The taste: The sauce is curry-like with strong flavors of ginger and turmeric. At the same time, the addition of whipping cream and butter thickens it, making it as rich as it is spicy. Having bathed in this mixture, the chicken turns out tender and juicy. I think there would need to be more chicken here to help it eat like a meal. But, all in all, the Butter Chicken is impressive for a frozen, packaged meal, and probably one of the best I have had.

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Sublime Ice Cream Sandwiches

trader joe's sublime ice cream sandwiches
Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (1 SANDWICH): 370 calories, 19 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 51 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 34 g sugar), 5 g protein

Step aside, Hold the Cone! Ice Cream Cones and Chocolate Lava Cakes. Sublime Ice Cream Sandwiches are TJ's customers' current sweet obsession. And, with a name like that, they ought to be. These frozen treats have held a spot in the store's freezer for quite some time, and they finally made their way to the winner's circle this year. Each sandwich consists of two chocolate chip cookies with a thick glob of vanilla ice cream stuffed in the middle. The whole dessert is rolled in mini chocolate chips so that each side is fully coated with hardly any white ice cream peeking out from underneath.

The look: Not as picture perfect as what's on the box, but pretty close. The cookies come in that quintessential shade of light brown with chocolate chunks throughout. The ice cream layer is respectable, and there is no shortage of dark brown chocolate morsels.

The taste: I am a big ice cream fanatic, but I don't usually reach for ice cream sandwiches as I've found that the cookies eclipse the ice cream, and the dessert ends up being too rich. I was more than pleasantly surprised that is not the case with the Sublimes. The ice cream shines through with vanilla flavoring that almost makes it taste marshmallow-esque. The buttery cookies give off an air of being homemade with a soft, chewy texture, but they don't fall apart. I probably could have done with about half the portion of chips. Still, it's a top-notch treat from Trader Joe's.

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Chili & Lime Flavored Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips

trader joe's rolled corn tortilla chips
Megan Hageman, Eat This, Not That!
PER Serving (15 CHIPS): 150 calories, 8 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 260 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (2 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 2 g protein

These Takis lookalikes are a staple in Trader Joe's snack aisle, demanding attention in their bright pink and yellow bags. Right now they are receiving attention as winners of not only the snack category but also the store's No. 1 pick overall. It's one of the highest honors a munchie like this could hope to receive. The tortilla chips are made from stone-ground corn masa and flavored with a bold combination of chili and lime. They are gluten-free.

Other snackable foods at Trader Joe's like Patio Potato Chips and Crunchy Curls took a backseat to the spice this time. They still earned recognition as runner-ups.

The look: The rolls are not as dust-covered as I would have thought. They take on a shade of orange with a few fiery red spots here and there.

The taste: Both the citrus and spice hit you hard on the first bite. The intense flavors settle down as you continue to chew and you're not left with a breath that's too fiery. I found myself seeking out the darker rolls to get extra seasoning and heat. They pack an incredible crunch, letting you know that the base tortilla chip is quality. I think if Trader Joe's sold them plain, they would be a hit. Although, as plain chips they might need to take a different shape. These skinny scrolls couldn't hold much dip. Overall, I have to agree with the Trader Joe's customer panel on this one. These chips are absolutely deserving of the awards they received.

Megan Hageman
Megan is a freelance writer based in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Megan