The Ultimate Guide to Trader Joe’s Seasoning Blends
Everything But the Bagel and everything else, explained.
It feels like life can be divided by the before Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning emerged, and after. Suddenly, every other brand was recreating the iconic mixture of sesame seeds, garlic, poppy seeds, and onion. Everything bagel seasoning was found sprinkled on avocado toast, atop ice cream, and in salads. It instantly became a fixture in the Trader Joe’s canon, much like cookie butter and the treasure trove of frozen Indian entrees.
Since that initial launch, Trader Joe’s has tried to recreate the success of its seasoning blends with new iterations, both globally and domestically inspired. There’s za’atar, a basic barbecue blend, and a mixture that eerily replicates the flavors of grilled street corn. We’ve decided to break down each offering by price, ingredients, and what pairs well with each. Hopefully you’ll find your next Everything But the Bagel masterpiece.
21 Seasoning Salute
What’s in it: Onion, black pepper, celery seed, cayenne pepper, parsely, basil, marjoram, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, rosemary, cumin, mustard, coriander, garlic, carrot, orange peel, tomato granules, lemon juice powder, oil of lemon, citric acid
Thoughts: What’s impressive about 21 Seasoning Salute is that there’s no salt in it—but it’s still herbaceous, bright, and full of flavor. Trader Joe’s recommends putting this in a vinaigrette, on top of burgers before grilling them, or even in an omelette. My suggestion for this blend—which isn’t a dust of seasoning, but maintains plenty of texture—is to toss it in a salad, season grilled fish generously, or add to roasted vegetables.
BBQ 101 Seasoning
What’s in it: Brown sugar, smoked paprika, dried roasted garlic, dried red chile pepper, salt, dried onion, black pepper
Thoughts: When it comes to barbecue, I like to create my own seasoning blend with ingredients I already have around the house—garlic powder, chipotle, ground mustard seed, and more. This seasoning blend is really convenient for those who want to skip that step and have a sweet and smoky mixture at hand, ready to go. I have a couple gripes: It’s a little bit too sweet for my taste and I’d prefer more heat and smoke (chipotle, I noted, is an absent ingredient here). That being said, this would taste fantastic on a rack of ribs or chicken.
Chile Lime Seasoning Blend
What’s in it: Sea salt, chile pepper, red bell pepper, lime juice powder, citric acid, rice concentrate.
Thoughts: I was a little apprehensive about this, as Tajin is my go-to when it comes to limey salt blends. This Trader Joe’s version, however, is also delicious. There’s puckery tartness, a balanced amount of salt, and a very mild heat. Pour this over watermelon, corn, pineapple, apples, mangos, or anything else that needs a little more zip.
Cuban Style Citrusy Garlic Seasoning Blend
What’s in it: Garlic, citric acid, onion powder, salt, lime oil, lime juice, red pepper, bay leaves, coriander powder, cumin powder, ground black pepper, rice concentrate, bitter orange oil, oregano, cilantro, basil, lemon oil, marjoram, parsley
Thoughts: This Cuban-style seasoning blend does not skimp on the citrus. It’s meant to replicate mojo sauce, although everyone makes their own version differently. This powdered version of mojo is tart and onion forward, and would be incredible for roasted vegetables, summer salads, or as a rub for outdoor grilling days.
Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend
What’s in it: Sesame seeds, sea salt flakes, dried minced garlic, dried minced onion, black sesame seeds, poppy seeds
Thoughts: This is the Trader Joe’s seasoning blend that really kicked off the empire. It’s simple and easy to make yourself, and yet it’s remained the perfectly convenient accompaniment to avocado toast, eggs, and even plain steamed rice over the years. My personal favorite use is to slather a slice of toasted sourdough bread with good butter and then top it off with several hearty shakes of Everything But the Bagel. It’s a classic for a reason.
Everything But the Elote Seasoning Blend
What’s in it: Cane sugar, sea salt, corn flour, chile pepper, parmesan cheese, chipotle powder, citric acid, dried cilantro, organic rice fiber, cumin powder
Thoughts: This elote blend is a little misleading because it actually does contain some corn in it, but that’s besides the point. This seasoning is extremely cheesy, a little bit spicy, and packed with the classic flavors of street cart ear of corn. This would be incredible on corn, of course, but also popcorn, instant ramen, cauliflower, sauteed squash, or anything else you want to spruce up with something that is both creamy and acidic.
Italian Style Soffritto
What’s in it: Dried minced onion, tomato flakes, sea salt, dried minced garlic, crushed chili peppers, parsley flakes, crushed red pepper, dried rosemary, sage leaves
Thoughts: Soffritto is the base of all decent Italian cooking, so use this blend as a shortcut to your favorite sauces, stews, and soups. This version is very tomato-forward and a bit heavy handed on the rosemary. Because it’s a dried seasoning blend with large chunks, it’s a bit jagged and abrasive to eat as is—so, again, use this for sauces or more liquid dishes that can soften up the soffritto as it’s meant to be.
Japanese Multi-Purpose Seasoning
What’s in it: White sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, nori, salt, kelp powder
Thoughts: This furikake is incredibly straightforward. The versions I keep in my pantry typically have some sugar or a little bit of MSG to round out the flavor, but this one is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get-experience. That doesn’t mean it’s bad! This is perfect for any situation where some added seaweed is welcomed: onigiri rice, spam musubi, atop ramen, or over fried eggs.
Mushroom & Company Multipurpose Umami Seasoning Blend
What’s in it: Kosher salt, dried onions, ground mustard seed, porcini mushroom powder, white button mushroom powder, crushed red pepper, black pepper, dried thyme
Thoughts: This is Trader Joe’s answer to vegetarian-friendly chicken bouillon. Crafted with a blend of mushrooms, this umami-forward mixture is perfect for anything that needs not just an added dose of salt (although, yes, it’s very salty), but depth of flavor. The flavor is finished off with a bit of pepperiness and gentle heat from the crushed red pepper. I’d put this into soups, stir frys, stews, and curries.
Za’atar Seasoning Blend
What’s in it: Toasted sesame seeds, thyme, marjoram, coriander, oregano, chickpea flour, sea salt, sunflower oil, citric acid, lemon oil
Thoughts: This Middle-Eastern inspired blend is nutty and herbaceous, but relatively mellow compared to other za’atar I’ve had. I was expecting more umph and acidity—this one is salty and aromatic, but doesn’t have the same pop as other za’atar I’ve experienced. That being said, this would still be a wonderful addition to french fries, in a vinaigrette, or baked into manakish.