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The Best (& Worst) Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Products

Living extremely close to a Trader Joe’s location during the fall means having every pumpkin product in existence basically at my fingertips. Over the past month, I have been splurging on pumpkin products, trying out pretty much everything the store has to offer. Don’t want to buy a ton of items, but still want a taste of something pumpkin-flavored? Look no further, because I’ve enumerated all my must-buys (as well as my don’t-buys) and a short description of the way I found them the most enjoyable. 

Favorites (in order):

#1: Pumpkin Pretzel Slims

The pumpkin spice definitely comes through in Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Pretzel Slims. I was worried that these would be too sweet, but I felt like the saltiness from the pretzel ended up balancing the flavor quite well. One minor complaint I do have, though, is that the bag is basically empty. It costs a lot for such a small amount of pretzels, so I only eat a treat of one or two after each meal, not as a regular snack.

#2: Pumpkin Pancake Batter

I try to make pancakes every Sunday, and adding this pumpkin spice batter to the mix really gave the mornings an autumn feel. I actually make pancake bites with a mini cupcake maker, and I would highly recommend adding semisweet chocolate chips to these pumpkin pancakes! I did notice that they seemed to puff a bit less than other pancake batter, so I added a little baking soda to the second batch, and they turned out more fluffy.

Blueberry Pancakes
Alex Frank / Spoon

#3: Pumpkin Ice Cream

I actually had to buy two cartons for me and my roommate for the month of October — we had a small spoonful almost every night! I would highly recommend having a scoop of this with a cup of hot chocolate as well (I found some hot chocolate packets at Trader Joe’s). It does have a very strong pumpkin and cinnamon taste. I don’t think I could eat it forever, but for the month of October, I really enjoyed this as a treat.

#4: Pumpkin Butter

I actually used this pumpkin butter as a spread on the pancake muffins I mentioned previously in #2. It’s pretty strong, like a jam. As such, I would use it sparingly, but it’s a great way to add a bit of pumpkin flavor to a piece of bread or a pastry. I’ve heard it’s also a great spread to put on Trader Joe’s Mini Brie Bites.

#5: Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps

I actually ate these with a chive and sour cream bagel spread that I got from Trader Joe’s as well. It was a great savory addition to this list of majority sweet items. To be honest, they’re not super “crisp.” Because of the cranberries, they’re on the chewier side, so if you’re really looking for that crunch, these may not be for you.

man's hand grabbing a chip out of an orange bowl
Phillip Goldsberry via Unsplash

#6: Pumpkin Spice Cookie with Maple Oat Milk

I highly recommend these iced pumpkin spice cookies with a glass of Trader Joe’s Maple Oat Milk. There’s actually quite a few of them in the box, unlike some other boxes of cookies which I’ve opened. They’re exactly what you expect, refreshingly: a lightly flavored icing around a soft pumpkin spice cookie. They do go stale if left out, so try to seal the plastic bag.

#7: Vanilla Pumpkin Candle

I’m always wary of scented candles and their impact on the environment. However, Trader Joe’s soy-based and lead-free candles are a great way to scent your room. I live in an apartment with a very strong smoke alarm, and it’s never been set off by these candles. I often light them and keep them at the corner of my desk — just be careful and remember to put them out before going anywhere!

Least favorites:

#1: Pumpkin Batons

This might’ve been because of the way I used them, but these batons are apparently supposed to be put in hot chocolate? The thin wafer absorbs liquid really quickly, and then it just floats around in soggy chunks in my drink. I ultimately just threw out my drink. The batons are more enjoyable dry. If you’re looking for something to dip into your hot chocolate, I enjoyed dipping Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Biscotti in mine.

Hot Chocolate in Mug on a wooden table surrounded by leaves
Brigitte Tohm/Pexels

#2: Pumpkin Bisque

I tried to eat this with a grilled cheese sandwich that I made with Trader Joe’s cashew cheese (do I even eat anything other than Trader Joe’s foods?), but I ended up just throwing away the entire container. The bisque is not creamy. It’s more of a broth, and it has the strong flavor of an herb medley which I really did not enjoy. I’ve heard much more promising things about this Trader Joe’s pumpkin bisque, though, so I’d recommend giving that a try.

#3: Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s

There was nothing wrong with these Joe-Joe’s, but they did taste a little stale. In my opinion, though, they’re just a bit inferior to #6 on my favorites list. They’re a little chunkier, and the pumpkin flavor is a little lighter. Also, I’m not a huge fan of anything that is heavy on cream filling, like Oreo’s. If you’re looking for a light cookie, I’d really recommend the Pumpkin Spice cookies instead.

OK, I’m sure you all have noticed my somewhat embarrassing Trader Joe’s addiction. I assure you, though, it’s not stopping anytime soon. I still have plenty more fall and winter products to try, and I can’t wait to see what new Thanksgiving and Christmas selections Trader Joe’s has to offer this year.

Freshman in EECS at UC Berkeley
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