The Best Trader Joe’s Items for Celebrating the Holidays

Everything merry, bright, chocolaty, and more.

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Design by Chineme Elobuike for Thrillist
Design by Chineme Elobuike for Thrillist

The holiday season may be about spreading cheer and giving gifts and getting cozy. It’s also, to many, about the limited-edition Trader Joe’s items that blow into the grocery chain as soon as it strikes midnight on November 1.

Rows of toffee candies, peppermint chocolate combinations, and apple-flavored everything crowd the store shelves as grocery shoppers prepare for their end-of-year celebrations. To get ready for yours, here are our favorite holiday-themed cookies, gift sets, and drinks you should pick up on your next trip to Trader Joe’s—as a stocking stuffer for someone else or a gift to yourself.

Trader Joe’s and the Astounding Multi-Flavor Joe-Joe’s

Every year, this Joe-Joe’s variety box is a hit. With four different flavors—double chocolate, peppermint, peanut butter, and vanilla ginger—there’s a fudge enrobed Joe-Joe for everyone. These would make for a great stocking stuffer or just a pantry essential for when the hankering for cookies comes about (which, during the holiday season, is always).

Truffle Oil Duo

The holiday season at Trader Joe’s also coincides with truffle season. Truffle popcorn is back, plus look out for truffle potato chips, new truffle-flavored soy sauce, and truffle powder to sprinkle all over your food. Among the truffle selections, one of the best things to get is the truffle oil duo. A box contains both a white and black truffle olive oil and comes in beautiful packaging ideal for gifting. If you’re keeping it for yourself, drizzle it over frozen french fries before popping them in an air fryer, pasta with parm and pepper, and roasted vegetables for a delicate yet unmistakably earthy truffle flavor.

Mini Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

I thought the maple biscotti that’s available for fall was unbeatable, but this cranberry pistachio flavor might just top it. The sweet tart dried cranberries balance out the nuttiness of pistachio, and the entire cookie is tied together with a white fudge drizzle. I’ve dunked this in coffee, tea, and hot chocolate—all with delicious results.

Panettone Classico

Panettone during the holiday season is a nostalgic treat for me. The sweet bread, studded with aromatic candied orange and raisins, is wonderful toasted and smothered in butter. The problem, however, is that a whole full-sized, dome-shaped loaf is difficult to get through all on my own. Thankfully, Trader Joe’s—or Trader Giotto—sells a mini size of this classic perfect for individuals or couples. And if you’re struggling to finish it before it goes stale, it makes for an amazing French toast.

Taste Test of Caramels

The Taste Test of Caramels is a fun gift to give (or keep for yourself) because it’s interactive. Hidden beneath each chocolate dome are fillings ranging from blood orange balsamic to hot chili to toffee apple and strawberry black pepper and it’s up to you to pinpoint them. This stick of 12 chocolates can be stuffed in a stocking and unwrapped for a palate-testing party. That, or you can just enjoy all 12 in a single sitting—whichever works.

English Toffee with Nuts

English toffee should really be a year round treat. The butteriness in each toothsome bite of almond-coated toffee is deliriously sweet in the best way. It’s impossible to eat just one, so buy the container and be done with it.

Scandinavian Tidings

If you like the Scandinavian swimmers Trader Joe’s carries all year—a riff off Swedish fish—then you’ll definitely enjoy this holiday-themed version, which comes in shapes like trees, ornaments, and stars. These cute gummies can be the center of a dessert board or live in a candy bowl for the remainder of the year.

Sparkling Honeycrisp Apple Juice Beverage

This is like apple juice for adults and I’m not complaining. The sleek cans, light bubbles, and sweet honeycrisp flavor feel less childish than a boxed version. (Topping it off with a splash of champagne would also do the trick.)

Baked Lemon Ricotta Cheese

Lemon might not be the initial flavor you think of when it comes to holidays, but trust me when I say this baked lemon ricotta cheese will be the star on any dessert board or whipped up in pancakes for a Christmas morning breakfast. The lemon flavor is present but not too zesty, and the ricotta is delightfully creamy with a smooth mouthfeel. Although the cheese clocks in at $12.99 per pound, it’s worth every penny.

Mini Gingerbread People

Look, I know I’m supposed to recommend the gingerbread house-building kit you can buy at Trader Joe’s because that would be the festive thing to do. But the cookies in those kits aren’t good—they’re baked too hard to support a solid foundation. It would be a disservice to you to recommend them for eating. The mini gingerbread people, however, are delicious. The flavor of ginger and allspice is sharp, and just when you think this cookie might be a little toospicy, the white fudge comes in to mellow everything out. If anything, buy a box so you have cute ginger people living in your gingerbread house.

Thanksgiving Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips

If you ever wondered whether it’d be possible to condense the flavors of a Thanksgiving feast into a chip, I’m here to tell you Trader Joe’s has done it. The stuffing-flavored kettle chips taste like turkey drippings and happiness. It’s got the aromas of a classic mirepoix mix thanks to onion and celery seed, but also remains herbaceous with rosemary, thyme, and sage. There’s a lot going on in this chip in the best way possible. No one would complain if a tray of these were left out for appetizers before a big holiday meal.

Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Beverage

Ginger ale is all the rage during the holidays and this Trader Joe’s version kicks it up a notch with the addition of cranberry. This can is perfect on its own but would also make for a great mixer in mocktails, cocktails, or fruity sangrias.

Hot Chocolate Sticks

If you wanted to, you could easily snack on these dark chocolate batons and call it a day. But melted down into a steaming bath of milk, these hot chocolate sticks make for a creamy and deliciously dark hot chocolate that I want to sip all season. It takes just as little effort as a powder pack but the results are a bit richer with a balance of bitter and sweet.

Cornbread Stuffing Mix

It's not every day we get to enjoy savory bread puddings so when it comes to stuffing season, it's important to select a great base. We love cornbread for its sweetness that's typically balanced out by everything else served at a holiday gathering. Trader Joe's makes preparing the dish extremely easy so if you're tasked with bringing the stuffing for your holiday party, be sure to pick up a box of this mix. 

Salty Honey Toffee Milk Chocolate Covered Crackers

If you've ever made cracker candy, you know the struggles of caramelizing sugar, melting chocolate, and getting your sheet pans extremely sticky. Despite this, the salty-sweet combination is a holiday classic worth having. To remedy this, Trader Joe's has their own version of cracker candy available, spruced up with coffee, salty honey, and a sprinkle of diced almonds. 

Panoply of Organic Italian Pasta

Trader Joe's has so many amazing homeware and delicious snacks that make for great gifts, but this might take the cake. This collection of Trader Joe's pastas include festively striped farfalline, papillon, and fischietti as well as lemon-flavored torchietti and a bag of rainbow of creste di gallo. The pastas are a blank canvas for delicious flavors and each pasta shape can be used for a different sauce, making this the ideal present for any avid home chef. 

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Kat Thompson is a senior staff writer of food & drink at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @katthompsonn