8 Items You Shouldn't Buy at Trader Joe's

No one is perfect. Not even TJ's.

Trader Joe’s is beloved for its reasonable prices, array of easy-to-make frozen dishes, and inventive grocery items, but even the popular grocery store chain has made a few missteps. While we’re big fans of the Mandarin Orange Chicken—a recent TJ’s Hall of Fame inductee—and the versatile Everything But the Bagel Seasoning, it’s no secret that not every TJ’s product is capable of achieving superstar status. In fact, we think that there are a handful of Trader Joe’s staples not worthy of your hard-earned money. Keep reading to find out which items you shouldn’t buy at Trader Joe’s. 


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01 of 08

Pre-Cooked Chicken Strips

Green salad with grilled chicken strips on top

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If we’re being honest, is pre-cooked chicken ever that good? We understand that for convenience purposes, these chicken strips are easy to add to a salad or sandwich, but they are admittedly dry and lacking in flavor. If you’re looking for a quick way to add protein to your meal, consider getting some pre-marinated chicken from the meat section instead. You will have to cook it, but at least it’s already seasoned!

02 of 08

Beef Pho Soup

A bowl of Vietnamese beef pho soup

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Many Reddit users urged fellow TJ's customers to not even try the Beef Pho. One user said they tried to enhance the flavor with some additional spices and broth, but nothing seemed to make it taste better. Yikes! Luckily, Trader Joe’s has plenty of pre-made soup varieties that are hearty and flavorful, so there are other options to enjoy.

03 of 08

Ranch Dressing

A bowl of ranch dressing on a counter

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Since we’re being candid, condiments are definitely not TJ's strong suit. Maybe it’s because there are so many classic condiment brands that we’ve already grown to love. The bottom line is, ranch-obsessed people are very particular with not just the taste, but the consistency of their go-to dressing, and TJ's ranch isn’t highly praised. More specifically, many customers feel that the flavor is overly sweet and differs too much from the standard creamy, herby dip.

04 of 08

Queso Cheese Dip

A bowl of queso with chips

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If you’re a queso lover, you may be shocked by what you read next. According to many Reddit users, the vegan queso from Trader Joe's is far superior to the one made with real cheese—plot twist! Apparently, one of the ingredients in the regular Queso Cheese Dip is apple cider vinegar, which adds an unwanted acidity and sourness to the condiment. You could always grab a container of the dairy-free version, or even make your own at home.

05 of 08


A bowl of homemade mayonnaise

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Yet another condiment that seems not to be worth the squeeze. The biggest complaint about TJ's mayonnaise is that it tastes vastly different than the typical white sandwich spread. While customers can’t quite put their finger on what makes this product unappetizing, it’s probably best to stick to well-known brands, like Hellmann’s or Sir Kensington.

06 of 08

Pre-Made Sandwiches and Wraps

A sandwich on a croissant

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If you’ve ever checked out the pre-made sandwich section at TJ's, you already know they’re just mediocre, quick-lunch options. The biggest problem with these convenient items is that they are usually soggy and messy to eat. They’re also not loaded with flavorful ingredients, so it certainly won’t be the best meal you’ve ever had. That being said, if you need something in a pinch—they aren’t the worst thing you can reach for.

07 of 08

Joe’s O’s Cereal

A bowl of Cheerios on a placemat
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Most of TJ's cereal selection is a 10 out of 10, but Joe’s O’s are just a sad Cheerio imposter. The flavor is bland, and they don’t have the same crunch as other grain cereals. Perhaps they would taste better in a bowl with milk and some fresh fruit, but you may as well just get the real deal.

08 of 08

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

A cauliflower pizza crust topped with tomatoes and spinach

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The cauliflower trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but this pizza crust has many flaws. The cooking instructions say to put it directly on an oven rack, but the crust breaks and crumbles under the weight of any toppings, leaving a difficult mess to clean up. Sure, you could bake it on a baking sheet instead, but it still won’t have that same crisp factor. If you still want a cauliflower pizza option, TJ's also has a pepperoni-topped version that’s delicious and easy to make!

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