Taco Nachos and Other New Trader Joe's Hacks, According to Employees

Trader Joes grocery store entrance with sign


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Trader Joes grocery store entrance with sign

Secret Sauce

Every once in a while, the employees at Trader Joe’s gift us with tips and tricks on how to hack the ultimate TJ’s snack or meal. Some of the best places to learn about these hacks? The Trader Joe’s podcast, which dropped another hack-themed episode recently. Co-hosts Tara Miller and Matt Sloan shared their own favorite hacks, as well as some tips from Trader Joe’s employees across the country. Here are some of the best from the episode. Have you come up with others? Let us know in the comments.

Related: Secrets for Better, Cheaper Meals at Your Favorite Chains


Spicy Peanut Broccoli Slaw Salad

After extolling the virtues of Trader Joe’s organic broccoli slaw, which features shredded broccoli stems and carrots, Miller advises against adding a mayonnaise dressing and instead adding peanuts, raisins, and a spicy peanut vinaigrette. Serve it cold and you’ve got yourself a delicious (and healthy) spicy peanut broccoli slaw salad.

Related: Quick and Easy Cold Salads for People Who Hate Lettuce

Scallion Pancakes

Scallion Pancake Tacos

Scallion pancakes are usually filling enough on their own. But Miller wants you to reimagine them as a taco shell, crisping them and stuffing them with imaginative taco fillings. It’s heavy, to be sure, but sounds like a great late-night meal.


Related: The Most Extreme Tacos in America

Caramel monkey bread. Apple pie with brown sugar and cinnamon on a wooden background. Autumn baking. Homemade sweets. Rustic style. Copy space.

Monkey Bread

Trader Joe’s sells a solid pizza dough — and even a gluten-free version — that’s good for more than just pizza. One employee recommends using it to make monkey bread. Start with letting the dough sit on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes, then roll it out until it’s a half-inch thick. Cut the dough into nugget-sized pieces, dip in melted butter and then a cinnamon mixture made with a cup and a half of brown sugar and 1 to 2 tablespoons of cinnamon. Throw the nuggets into a greased loaf pan, bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, and enjoy.

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Loaf of Bread and butter

A Perfect Crust

Dunking a baguette in cold water sounds like a bad idea, but Sloan swears by it. Run the bread under a little cold water until it’s damp on the outside — then bake at 450 degrees for a few minutes, which Sloan says creates an extra crusty crust while the inside remains soft. 

Hot Red Calabrian Pepper Sauce Spread

The Ultimate Sauce

This one requires a little mixing and matching. According to an employee at a Trader Joe’s in Virginia, you can achieve the ultimate pasta or pizza sauce with this combination: one part Baba sauce — a Calabrian chili sauce — and two parts garlic dip, both found in the grocery store’s refrigerated case. Throw it over some gnocchi, or use it as a pizza sauce.

Chili crisp

Chili Crisp Grilled Cheese

Chili crisp is all over the place right now, and — according to a Trader Joe’s staff member — should be served with grilled cheese. They recommend spooning Crunchy Chili Onion into a pan and cooking a grilled cheese sandwich in it. 

Cake with caramelized pineapple
Nataliia Chubakova/istockphoto

Pineapple Cake

You know about pineapple upside-down cake, but have you made it with sparkling pineapple juice? That’s the idea behind this hack, which uses Trader Joe’s yellow cake mix, eggs, butter, and — instead of milk — a can and a half of sparkling pineapple juice. The result is ultra moist and airy.

Carbonated water on wood grain background

Balsamic Cola

There are plenty of soda alternatives out there, but if it’s a funky-tasting Coke you’re after, there’s this unsuspecting medley: sparkling water and balsamic vinegar. At Trader Joe’s, you can pick up either Glaze, a traditional balsamic vinegar, or Agrodolce, a white wine vinegar, mix it with sparkling water, and say “later” to your Diet Coke habit. 

Frozen Mini Tacos on Plate

Taco Nachos

You know Trader Joe’s mini chicken tacos (and the beef version)? Here’s what you’re going to do with them: Stick them in an air fryer, take them out, cover them in cheese, and pop them in the microwave. They become a cheesy, gooey mess, which you can top with other nacho staples such as guacamole, sour cream, and salsa. 

Woman using moisturizing cream for clean and soft skin

Freezing Face Cream

This one’s not about food, but after sharing that a bunch of TJ products taste a bit better frozen (especially cookies), Miller recommends throwing face cream in the freezer. Facial mists and gel moisturizing cream provide a little something extra when applied extra cold. (Another freezer hack that is about food: Frozen ginger is easier to grate.)