21 Trader Joe's Fall Foods, Ranked by Nutritionists

Let’s face it, there are A LOT of health and wellness products out there. Who has the time to go through them to find the best of the best? You’re in luck because we do! In fact, it’s our job to tell you all about the latest and greatest finds. Welcome to THE/THIRTY Rankings, where we’ll test everything out and give you our honest reviews. (And sometimes we’ll have another expert weigh in, too). Have something you want us to review? Let us know with an Instagram comment or DM, or by tagging #T30ranks.

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

I think it's pretty safe to say that Trader Joe's has a cult following. Fans of the grocery chain can be found all over the United States (and most likely the world, too). The secret to its revered status isn't really a secret at all. Trader Joe's has delicious and unique offerings at crazy-good prices. Everyone who works there is your new best friend (seriously, how are all the crew members so nice?). The stores are filled with puns and funny signs. Who knew grocery shopping could be so delightful? Even when I lived in New York City and suffered through unbearably long lines and crowded aisles, I always felt so content with my haul when I left the store.

Yeah, we love Trader Joe's here at THE/THIRTY. But you know what makes the store even better? When it brings out the seasonal finds. That's when we like to find any and every reason to visit the store in hopes that there is something new to be discovered. 

With fall in full swing, we made it our mission to fill our Trader Joe's carts with every fall-related item we could find in the store. Then, we took on the hard (truly, we were so pumpkin-ed out by the end of it) task of taste-testing every item and letting you know what we really think. We even asked our whole office to weigh in. Then, to top it all off, we asked two experts, Sarah Rueven, MS, RDN, CDN, founder of Rooted Wellness, and her associate, Claire Virga, MS, RDN, to decode the nutrition labels for us. How's that for going above and beyond?

But before we share our reviews, let's keep a couple of things in mind. One, everyone's taste buds and preferences are a little different, so something we loved you might not. (And if you want to fight us on a review, we really want to hear you out). And two, when reading the nutritional reviews, just remember that it's okay to indulge sometimes, and we're not here to shame you for loving something sugary and not-so-good for you. We can't say no to Joe-Joe's either. It's all about balance, you know?

With that out of the way, drumroll, please… Here are our official reviews:

Apple Cider Jam, $3.99

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

Trader Joe's describes the jam as a mix of "chunks of sweet apples, tart apple cider, and the perfect amount of fall spices." They also recommend putting it on toast, pastries, or to "spice up" a pork or chicken dish. It seemed so versatile, so we were intrigued.

What we thought: "I love apple-flavored everything, so I would definitely use this to spread on some whole wheat toast or plain crackers." — Stephanie Limiti, Senior Social Media Manager at THE/THIRTY

What the nutritionists thought: "Although this jam is high in sugar, I like that apples are the first ingredient on the list. I prefer jams made with real fruit and sugar over sugar-free alternatives. Sugar-free jams often contain artificial sweeteners, which ultimately leave us unsatisfied and craving more sugar. Have this jam on occasion as a sweet treat paired with some fiber (like whole wheat or sprouted grain bread!) to help prevent blood sugar spikes." — Sarah Rueven

Boo Bark, $2.99

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

Imagine all your favorite candies (candy corn, Joe's-Joe's, candy "gems") having a Halloween party together… that's the Boo Bark. 

What we thought: "Gnarly clash of chocolate and candy corn flavors" — Sabrina Paparella, Manager, Search

"Adorable packaging and love the set-up. It wasn't my favorite, but it's definitely a solid candy." — Limiti

What the nutritionist thought: "With 17 grams of sugar and a mile-long ingredient list, this is a treat I recommend skipping!" — Rueven, MS, RDN, CDN

Candy Corn Popcorn, $1.99

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

Candy corn can be a polarizing candy. When people love it, they love it. When people hate it, well, they stay far away. So, this is one that we were really intrigued to see what everyone's reviews would be.

What we thought: "I'm a candy corn lover, so I had high hopes for this, but it honestly just takes like butterscotch popcorn. Good, but nothing special." — Courtney Higgs, Associate Beauty Editor at Who What Wear

"Yummy fall flavors, but the candy corn tasted a bit more maple-y actually." — Dan Perlee, Executive Director, Ad Ops

"Surprisingly not the worst thing I've ever had. Definitely on the sweeter side of kettle corn with a subtle salty mix." — Schuyler Youngstrom, Manager, Email & Partnerships

What the nutritionist thought: "This popcorn is loaded with sugar (17 grams per serving!). Trader Joe's makes a great organic popcorn with olive oil, and although it's not seasonal, it's delicious and full of heart-healthy fats (thanks to the olive oil!), making it a much better snacking option." — Rueven

Fall Harvest Salsa, $2.99

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

Whoever wrote the description for this salsa deserves a Pulitzer: "An autumnal melange of fruits and veggies including pumpkin, apples, and butternut squash. Fall Harvest Salsa is tomato-rich, with fire-roasted tomatillos, red bell peppers, jalapenos, and lime juice, giving it a traditional salsa profile that marries melodiously with its harvest-centered elements like apples and butternut squash."

What we thought: "I liked the pumpkin salsa and chips [Ed note: We'll get to this one later]. The salsa was sweet; I would buy this." — Brianna Schultz, Chief Financial Officer

"Too squash-y." — Virginia Yapp, Senior Editor, Branded Content

"I know the package says this salsa has a special blend of fruits and veggies, but it tastes just like any other regular store-bought salsa. It's tasty, though!" — Higgs

What the nutritionist thought: "This salsa is made with real, whole ingredients including many nutrient-dense veggies like pumpkin, tomatoes, onions, butternut squash, and red bell pepper. I like using salsa as a condiment because it's low in calories and sugar and rich in immune-boosting antioxidants thanks to all the veggies." — Rueven

Ghosts & Bats Crispy Potato Snacks, $1.99

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

Okay, how adorable are these?! If only eating something based on looks, we would snack on these cuties all day long.

What we thought: "Tasted like college-ruled paper." — Paparella

"They were really plain. If you want something light, maybe try them. They're cute, but if I'm going to get a Halloween-themed snack, I'd rather have something sweeter." — Limiti

"Hard pass. Although they're probably the cutest snack I've ever seen, they are also tasteless and not what I call a potato chip." — Youngstrom

What the nutritionist thought: "Processed snack foods such as this lack fiber and protein and therefore will not keep you full, making it all too easy to mindlessly snack on these chips all afternoon long!" — Rueven

Halloween Gummies, $3.49

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

Another cute find from Trader Joe's. You know this one was made with kiddos in mind. But if you're a full-fledged adult, there's no shame in adding these to the cart.

What we thought: "Tasted like regular fruit snacks but could be a great option to give out to trick-or-treaters!" — Limiti

What the nutritionist thought: "These are loaded with sugar (14 grams per one mini bag!) as well as some questionable ingredients, including 'natural flavors,' a very deceptive labeling term. To be qualified as a 'natural flavor,' the flavor must originate from a natural source. However, in addition to the original flavor source, preservatives and other artificial ingredients can be added without disclosure on the ingredient list." — Rueven

Harvest Spice Trek Mix, $6.99

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

The packaging reads, "A blend of roasted almonds, holiday spiced cashews and pecans, candied ginger, and dried apples." Perfect for a fall hike? We'll see…

What we thought: "Dove in first with the dried banana (big mistake)—tasted like cardboard with the texture of rubber. This is the kind of trail mix that you pick around until the end." — Youngstrom

"Tastes sort of plastic-y." — Caitie Schlisserman, Senior Editor, Branded Content

"It's like a walk through a forest with a delicious snack." — Brandon Chreene, Executive Director, People & Organization

What the nutritionist thought: "These are candy in disguise! Raw nuts make a great protein-packed snack, but these nuts are coated in sugar, making this more of a sweet treat versus a filling snack." — Rueven

Maple & Sea Salt Kettle Corn, $2.49

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

It's kettle corn with a fall twist! Enough said.

What we thought: "Liked it, but nothing too unique." — Nicole Shoohed, Social Strategy Manager

"It's caramel corn." — Paparella

What the nutritionist thought: "The first ingredient in this popcorn is cane sugar! Ingredients on a nutrition label are listed in order of predominance, meaning this kettle corn is mostly sugar. Pick up a bag of Trader Joe's Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil Popcorn instead." — Rueven

Organic Frosted Toaster Pastries Pumpkin, $2.69

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

Trader Joe's says these are made with organic ingredients and without artificial flavors, preservatives, or synthetic colors. Sounds good, but is it too good to be true?

What we thought: "I'd rather just have a regular Pop-Tarts. This didn't do much for me." — Limiti

"Very good, but doesn't compare to real Pop-Tarts." — Schlisserman

"Too dry." — Yapp

What the nutritionist thought: "Don't let the organic label fool you here! These toaster pastries are highly processed and full of sugar. Just because the ingredient list is organic doesn't make this a nutritious option." — Rueven

Petite Pumpkin Spice Cookies, $2.99

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

Seriously, Trader Joe's does adorable snacks well. The orange shortbread cookies are supposed to be pumpkin spice-flavored while the white ones are yogurt-based.

What we thought: "Perfect balance of cinnamon, frosting, and pumpkin." — Angela Cung, Staff Accountant

"A pumpkin version of a circus animal cookie." — Kristen Nichols, Managing Editor at Who What Wear

"Like circus animal crackers, but not as sweet. Wouldn't be able to eat more than one." — Darin Medina, Finance Operations Manager

"Subtle and cute. Love the taste." — Paulina Galoostian, Senior Influencer Marketing Manager

What the nutritionist thought: "With zero grams of fiber and 13 grams of sugar per serving, these cookies are going to raise your blood sugar quickly. When your blood sugar spikes and inevitably crashes, you'll be left craving more sugar to stabilize your blood sugar." — Rueven

 

Pumpkin Biscotti, $3.99

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

Pro tip: Have a biscotti with your morning coffee, close your eyes, and pretend you're in Italy. Cheapest international trip ever. Too cheesy? We're not sorry.

What we thought: "Light and delicate; would eat on a fainting couch." — Paparella

"Little tough but tasty and great for hosting." — Galoostian

What the nutritionist thought: "Compared to many of the other sweet treats on this list, the pumpkin biscotti has fairly simple ingredients. I like that the ingredient list is made up primarily of real foods you could find in your own kitchen. The less processed the ingredient list, the better." — Rueven

Pumpkin Bisque, $3.99

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

At the end of a long, cold day, what could be better than having a warm, comforting bowl of soup? 

What we thought: "I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin, but this was just the right mix of creamy, sweet, and savory. A bowl of this and perhaps a side salad would make an easy weeknight meal." — Sarah Yang, Managing Editor at THE/THIRTY

What the nutritionist thought: "This pumpkin bisque has 23 grams of sugar per serving, which equates to almost six teaspoons of sugar per one-cup serving! There's no need for all of this sugar in a pumpkin soup." — Claire Virga, MS, RDN

Pumpkin Butter, $2.29

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter is the real deal, so we had high hopes for this pumpkin treat. The retailer suggests using it as pastry filing, poultry glaze, ice cream topping, on toast, or even mixed with fat-free cream cheese. Um, yes?

What we thought: "Tasted like a cozy Sunday morning." — Paparella

"Too sweet and spicy, not very pumpkin-y." — Schlisserman

What the nutritionist thought: "While this pumpkin butter is high in sugar (nine grams per tablespoon), the ingredient list is short and made up of natural ingredients. Add a spread of this to a piece of whole-wheat toast for an occasional treat." — Virga

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookie Mix, $3.99

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

This one requires some mixing and baking, but all you need is butter, egg, and water. Voilà! You've got "homemade" cookies.

What we thought: "My favorite! The oatmeal didn't crumble, and it's nice that you can tell people you 'baked' it. — Galoostian

What the nutritionist thought: "I'd prefer you made your own pumpkin cookies using Trader Joe's organic canned pumpkin puree and other simple items in your pantry. However, if you are tight on time and rushing to a holiday party, these cookies aren't as high in sugar as many of the other sweets and snack foods on this list." — Virga

Pumpkin Rolls with Pumpkin Spice Icing, $3.99

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

If a pumpkin and a cinnamon roll had a baby, this would be it.

What we thought: "Just like a regular cinnamon roll with a hint of pumpkin. Amazing warmed up." — Anneliese Dominguez, Associate Editor, Branded Content

"As someone who isn't huge on pumpkin, I felt like this was a really yummy fall treat that isn't overwhelmingly pumpkin-flavored. I could definitely see myself making these Thanksgiving morning as I tune in to the parade." — Limiti

What the nutritionist thought: "Loaded with sugar, lacking in fiber, and made with highly refined oils, this would not be how I'd recommend starting your day! Reserve these for a special occasion or, better yet, make your own version at home." — Virga

Pumpkin Joe-Joe's, $2.49

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

If there was a VIP list of Trader Joe's products, Joe-Joe's would probably be at the top of the list. The brand has made so many different variations: regular chocolate and vanilla, mango, peppermint, Neapolitan, and "Slims." So we had to put the pumpkin ones to the test. Of course, everyone had a lot to say about these.

What we thought: "I was very into this at bite one, but by the time I finished one cookie, I realized it was sickly sweet. It tastes just like a ginger snap with a rich cream filling. Delicious in theory, but honestly too sweet to have more than one." — Higgs

"Pretty yummy (and pairs excellently with the TJs seasonal maple coffee), but this doesn't taste much like pumpkin or pumpkin spice. Ginger is the star of the show, and, in fact, it has such an overwhelming ginger flavor that it gives more of a Christmas/holiday flavor vibe." — Perlee

"Delicious pumpkin-y goodness." — Samuel Schultz, Producer

"Buttercream pumpkin amazingness with a yummy biscotti biscuit on top. Loved it."Dominguez

"A little too pumpkin-y to me."Shoohed

What the nutritionist thought: "From a nutrition perspective, these are a no-go! A serving of two small cookies has 13 grams of sugar and 150 calories." — Virga

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Ginger Brew Sparkling Beverage, $2.99

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

This brew is sweetened with apple juice concentrate and sugar. It's just waiting to be brought to a fall-themed potluck or gathering (and maybe spiked with something?).

What we thought: "Too sweet, not enough ginger." — Paparella

"Good ginger flavor, but a bit weak on the pumpkin spices and not as good as its OG seasonal ginger brew (which comes out around the holidays)." — Perlee

"Unique; would be good with whiskey. Tastes like ginger beer with a spice kick." — Thoung Nguyen, Accountant

"Love! Great with vodka as a mule." — Medina

What the nutritionist thought: "This ginger brew is on par with soda thanks to a lot of added sugar. If you are craving the fall flavors of this drink, I recommend cutting it with plain, unsweetened seltzer water to reduce the overall sugar content." — Virga

Pumpkin Spice Almond Beverage, $2.29

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

Trader Joe's takes on the PSL. The retailer says you can serve it chilled or warmed, and it contains calcium, vitamins D, E, B12, and A. 

What we thought: "For the sophisticated palate; delicate." — Paparella

"Pretty nice pumpkin spice flavor, but the flavor is likely not strong enough to put in your coffee for a convincing at-home PSL alternative." — Perlee

What the nutritionist thought: "With a lengthy ingredient list and 15 grams of sugar per one-cup serving, pass on this drink! To get the same flavor without all of the sugar, add a dash of Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice seasoning to your unsweetened almond milk. If you can’t live without this product, portion control is key; add a small splash (about a tablespoon) to your morning coffee." — Virga

Pumpkin Spice Rooibos, $3.99

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

Chilling at home, with a cup of tea and a good book—that's the perfect fall activity in our opinion, especially when you feel like hibernating. So this tea might be a good option to add to your rotation. It has natural pumpkin flavor, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

What we thought: "It's kind of like chai tea. Very subtle. It reminds me of fall." — Cung

"Tastes more like apple sauce tea than pumpkin spice." — Perlee

What the nutritionist thought: "Rooibos tea is a great source of antioxidants, which can help fight inflammation and reduce your risk for cancer and other chronic diseases!" — Virga

Pumpkin Tortilla Chips, $1.99

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

Trader Joe's says these are "crafted with simple ingredients including pumpkin puree, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, and nutmeg." We paired these with the Fall Harvest Salsa in our office taste-test.

What we thought: "I loved this combo [with the salsa]. The fall flavors are subtle, and the cinnamon adds an unexpectedly yet really nice flavor to the chips." — Jessica Baker, Entertainment Director

"SO. GOOD. This was my favorite thing that I tried. They're unexpectedly sweet, so they pair well with savory salsa or dip." — Higgs

"Meh, but was amazing with the salsa, which I loved." — Shoohed

"Neither the chips or salsa taste like pumpkin, but I like the non-salty taste of chips." — Medina

What the nutritionist thought: "I like that these chips are flavored with real ingredients like pumpkin puree, pumpkin seeds, and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. However, I don't love that these chips are made with highly processed oils like sunflower and safflower oil, which can be inflammatory when consumed in excess. Look for tortilla chips made with avocado oil or coconut oil instead." — Virga

This Pumpkin Walks Into a Bar... Cereal Bars, $1.99

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Jacqueline McLennan Lee, THE/THIRTY

Cereal or granola bars are just so easy to grab and go. We were really curious about the pumpkin filling in these and if they'd be overwhelming.

What we thought: "There's a weird taste… like the scent of flowers?" — Schlisserman

What the nutritionist thought: "This is not something I'd recommend starting your morning with! Low in protein and fiber and high in sugar, these cereal bars will cause a spike in blood sugar and a subsequent crash, leaving you fatigued and hungry just an hour or two later." — Virga

Next up: The Only Foods You Should Be Eating This Fall, According to Nutritionists