I used to work at Trader Joe's and I loved it — but there are 11 things I never buy there

  • I worked at Trader Joe's for almost three years and realized it's better to pass up some items.

  • The cod fillets, chicken-sausage burritos, and mahi-mahi burgers don't pack much flavor.

  • The franchise's sunflower-seed spread is too salty for me and I skip the Scandinavian Swimmers.

I loved trying many of the chain's products during my three years working at Trader Joe's. However, not every item was something I'd buy again.

Here are 11 things I never buy at Trader Joe's.

The cod fillets lack a satisfying crunch.

Box of breaded cod at Trader Joe's
I prefer to make my own cod fillet instead of buying a frozen version.Jonathan Chandler

Though I love many of Trader Joe's frozen items, this product in particular is a miss for me.

The breading is a bit much and the fish is sort of bland and not crispy enough, in my opinion. I feel you're better off making your own cod fillet.

Trader Joe's chicken-sausage burrito isn't as flavorful as I'd like.

The writer holds a package of a chicken-sausage breakfast burrito
A breakfast-burrito option seems convenient but I think it's best to skip this one.Jonathan Chandler

The chain's chicken-sausage breakfast is a miss because, in my opinion, its taste is bland and not as cohesive as a typical breakfast burrito. I wish the eggs were seasoned more and the sausage was a bit crispier.

Luckily, Trader Joe's has other awesome burritos like the frozen chicken chile-verde burrito or the delicious black-bean and cheese option.

These soft black-licorice twists are missing the classic bitter flavor I love.

Trader Joe's soft black licorice twists in a brown bag
Luckily, Trader Joe's licorice twists come in multiple flavors.Jonathan Chandler

If you're a fan of licorice, I wouldn't recommend getting these soft black-licorice twists. The aftertaste is incredibly apparent but the signature black-licorice flavor isn't all there for me.

Luckily, the soft red-licorice twists are amazing and can be found right next to the black version.

The buttermilk protein pancake mix is too chalky for me.

Box of buttermilk protein pancake mix with illustration of a man holding a weight made with pancakes
Trader Joe's buttermilk protein pancake is a miss.Jonathan Chandler

I recently tried this mix and wasn't a fan. Not only did it lack flavor but I thought the combination of the protein and buttermilk tasted rather chalky.

Instead, I would opt for a Trader Joe's protein bar or just add my own protein powder to the chain's buttermilk pancake mix.

I don't think Trader Joe's sunflower-seed spread pairs well with bread.

Jars of Trader Joe's sunflower-seed spread
Go for regular butter or another nut spread instead of the sunflower-seed option.Jonathan Chandler

Trader Joe's has incredible nut spreads and butter options, but this one falls flat.

I think the sunflower-seed butter is too salty and doesn't pair well with any type of bread. Instead, I use cookie butter. Or, if you want some saltiness, get the crunchy peanut butter instead.

Trader Joe's has much better vegan options than its Turkey-Less stuffed roast with gravy.

Box of turkey-less stuffed roast with gravy
I don't love the texture of Trader Joe's Turkey-less roast.Jonathan Chandler

Trader Joe's has a lot of amazing vegan options but I don't think the Turkey-less stuffed roast is one of them. Despite the stuffing, it doesn't pack a lot of flavors and has an odd texture.

If this product was remade with the correct seasonings and a better texture, I believe it could be a hit.

The Scandinavian Swimmers are just too chewy for me.

The writer holds a bag of Scandinavian swimmers
A lot of people love Trader Joe's Scandinavian Swimmers but I'm not a fan.Jonathan Chandler

This might be controversial but I, for one, don't like Trader Joe's cult-favorite Scandinavian Swimmers. I think they don't pack much flavor and they're way too tough for me to chew.

I wish there was fruit juice inside the gummy and they were a little softer.

Instead, I recommend the Gummy Tummies penguin gummies. They can be hard to find — rumor has it they're discontinued in some regions — but if you do see them definitely give them a try.

Even the chain's traditional meatloaf can't beat a homemade version.

Box of traditional meatloaf at Trader Joe's
I think Trader Joe's meatloaf tastes too bready.Jonathan Chandler

I'm a fan of this American classic but this version doesn't live up to the hype.

I didn't like the breadiness of the meatloaf and thought the tomato sauce was too thick. Instead, I'd recommend making your own meatloaf using Trader Joe's products.

Trader Joe's Cobb salad let me down.

Package of Cobb salad at Trader Joe's
The bacon in the Cobb salad was too chewy for me.Jonathan Chandler

Though Trader Joe's has an amazing variety of salads, this just isn't one of them.

The Cobb salad comes rather overpacked, leaving no room for the ingredients to be separated.

I didn't like the taste of the ranch dressing and the bacon was more chewy than crispy to me.

I think the turkey-sausage stuffing fried rice lacks seasoning.

Bags of tukery-sausage stuffing fried rice at Trader Joe's
I think this Trader Joe's fried rice could be better.Jonathan Chandler

I'm always elated to see new flavors at Trader Joe's, but this one wasn't as good as I expected.

I thought there was too much going on texture-wise and not enough happening flavor-wise.

I would've liked it if it was seasoned a bit more and made with chicken instead of turkey.

There are better fish-sandwich options at Trader Joe's than the mahi-mahi burgers.

Box of mahi-mahi burgers at Trader Joe's
Instead of Trader Joe's mahi-mahi burgers, try the salmon ones.Jonathan Chandler

This product is a fan favorite for some but I'd opt for something else.

I think the patties taste a bit rubbery. Although I like that these don't have an overwhelming fish smell, I feel like the flavor is lacking overall.

Instead, I would pick up Trader Joe's frozen salmon burgers.

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