From Tim Hortons to butter tarts, Canada is home to some pretty incredible things. Sadly, one thing we just don’t have access to on Canadian soil is Trader Joe’s, the American cult-favourite grocery stores known for its game-changing private label products like Everything but the Bagel seasoning and Cacio E Pepe Pasta Sauce. If you’re anything like me, you love a good grocery store shopping haul, which is why one of my favourite weekend activities is crossing the Rainbow Bridge over from Toronto to Buffalo to get my Trader Joe’s fix.
As a food editor and seasoned cross-border shopper, I’ve carefully curated my Trader Joe’s shopping list so that I can always stock up on the essentials when I’m in the States. While their selection of produce is downright gorgeous and their butter is always well-priced, read on for my ultimate Trader Joe’s picks that you can’t find in Canada. Consider it your future shopping list!
Editor’s note: All prices are in USD.
Trader Joe's Non-Dairy Oat Creamer Brown Sugar Flavor
There’s coffee creamer, and then there’s Trader Joe’s Non-Dairy Oat Creamer Brown Sugar Flavor. Canadian grocery store offerings simply can’t compete with this insanely delicious brown sugar coffee creamer, which instantly boosts any morning cup of joe to coffeeshop quality. The fact that it’s dairy-free is simply the cherry on top.
Trader Joe's Maple Poffertjes
A convenient take on the iconic mini pancakes popular in the Netherlands, these light and puffy little delights make any breakfast or brunch extra special. They’re already lightly maple flavoured and delicious on their own, but also make for a great base for preserves, whipped cream, or more maple syrup. Sure, you could spend the whole morning making mini pancakes, but why bother when you can just pop these in the microwave?
Trader Joe's Mushroom and Company Multipurpose Umami Seasoning Blend
Looking to add a little dash of umami to just about anything? This multipurpose seasoning blend is the answer. Featuring a flavourful base of porcini and white button mushrooms and other seasonings like onion, mustard seed, black pepper and thyme, sprinkle it on everything from veggies to popcorn for an extra hit of savoury goodness.
Trader Joe's Giant Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce
These giant beans make for the perfect easy lunch or even dinner, all you have to do is heat and serve! Enjoy them on their own, or pair with some nice crusty bread and a nice salad for a simple meal that feels so sophisticated. Swimming in an herby tomato sauce, you’d never guess these come from a can.
Trader Joe's Sweet Cannoli Dip
Inspired by classic Italian cannolis, this playful sweet dip is made with a base of cream cheese, sour cream, and ricotta for a vanilla-tinged, velvety dip that feels a bit like eating frosting (don’t mind if we do). Serve with your favourite cookie for dipping, or you can even try layering it in your next cake for an extra creamy hit.
Trader Joe's Unexpected Cheddar Cheese
Yes, you can find incredible cheese in Canada, but this offering from Trader Joe’s is something special. At first bite it tastes like an aged cheddar, but that smooth creaminess gives way to a Parmesan-like tang with subtle salt crystals for a truly incredible texture. At just $3.99, it’s an absolute steal that’ll be the star of any cheese board.
Trader Joe's Chocolate Chip Hold the Cone
This tasty dessert ranks as one of Trader Joe’s all-time most popular products, and for good reason. These mini cones are like a bite-sized version of your favourite ice cream cone treats, making for the perfect drip-free bite. A chocolate mini cone is lined with chocolate and filled with chocolate chip ice cream. What’s not to like?
Trader Joe's Steamed Pork and Ginger Soup Dumplings
Another Trader Joe’s cult-fave, these delightful soup dumplings are inspired by xiao long bao, a Chinese dumpling that is traditionally filled with a hot soup and pork filling. These gingery-pork delights heat up in the microwave in two minutes for a seriously delicious bite. If you can’t get fresh soup dumplings near you, this is the next best thing.
Trader Joe's Spiced Chai Black Tea Concentrate
There’s nothing better than a fresh, homemade cup of chai, but when you don’t have the time, this delightful chai concentrate is a super convenient substitute. Featuring a blend of allspice, black pepper, cardamom, clove, cinnamon, and ginger, this concentrate hits all the right notes. All you have to do is mix two parts of your milk of choice with one part Black Tea Concentrate and voila, you’ve got the perfect cup of chai.
Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken
Just about every list of top Trader Joe’s must-buys features this Mandarin Orange Chicken, so you know it has to be good. Tender chunks of chicken are coated in a crispy breading and then tossed in a sweet and spicy orange sauce. While it’s not exactly revolutionary, it sure is delicious and makes for a seriously easy dinner when paired with rice and veg.