The Ultimate Guide to Trader Joe’s Seasoning Blends

Everything But the Bagel and everything else, explained.

trader joe's seasoning blend guide everything but the bagel
Design by Chineme Elobuike for Thrillist

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
Price: $1.99
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.

Ajika Georgian Seasoning Blend

What's in it: Crushed chili peppers, coriander, fenugreek, dried minced garlic, salt, marigold.
Price: $1.99
Thoughts: Ajika is a traditional paste that hails from Georgia and is known for its spiciness and deeply aromatic flavor. The Trader Joe's seasoning blend version is produced in Georgia and isn't too hot, but definitely possesses the savoriness that makes ajika so special. It fairs well on eggs, added to sour cream to make a spicy-yet-cooling dip, and sprinkled on different proteins.

BBQ 101 Seasoning

What’s in it: Brown sugar, smoked paprika, dried roasted garlic, dried red chile pepper, salt, dried onion, black pepper
Price: $2.29
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.

Cheesy Seasoning Blend

What's in it: Dry cheddar cheese blend, whey solids, sea salt, garlic powder, onion powder, dried rosemary, dried oregano.
Price: $2.99
Thoughts: If you're the type to crave cheesy popcorn, this is definitely a seasoning blend you'll want to have in your pantry. It adds the perfect, dusty pop of cheesiness to anything you add it to: pasta, pizza, veggies, fries. The cheesy possibilities are endless—and the addition of oregano and garlic powder make it a bit more rounded.

Chile Lime Seasoning Blend

What’s in it: Sea salt, chile pepper, red bell pepper, lime juice powder, citric acid, rice concentrate.
Price: $1.99
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
Price: $1.99
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
Price: $1.99
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
Price: $2.49
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
Price: $3.29
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
Price: $2.49
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
Price: $2.99
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
Price: $1.99
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.

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Kat Thompson is a staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @katthompsonn