Give your lunchtime sandwich a lower-carb and higher-protein makeover.
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Trader Joe's Cauliflower Thins and cauliflower on designed background
Credit: Courtesy of Courtesy of Trader Joe's © 2022; Getty Images / Creativ Studio Heinemann

From gnocchi and fried "rice" to Cheddar bay biscuits and even smoothies, we're fond of finding new ways to sneak cauliflower rice into recipes for a vitamin and fiber boost. (Not to mention the gluten-free possibilities, if wheat doesn't agree with you.)

While we've mastered our own DIY cauliflower hamburger buns, we love a good shortcut come busy weeks. So we were delighted to spot one of our favorite cauli-boosted products back in the Trader Joe's refrigerator section during our last stock-up session: Cauliflower Slims. 

With a name like that, they sure sound nutritious. But as proven by things like keto ice creams and protein bars that are actually more like candy bars, looks can be deceiving. 

So are Trader Joe's Cauliflower Slims healthy? Let's dive in.

What Are Cauliflower Slims?

Think of Trader Joe's Cauliflower Slims like flourless sandwich thins, or a mini version of their Cauliflower Pizza Crusts. When they first launched, Trader Joe's Cauliflower Slims were called Cauliflower Thins, so you may recognize them more by that name.

The ingredient lists and nutrition facts are quite similar to those for Outer Aisle's Cauliflower Sandwich Thins. Outer Aisle's thins have become so popular in the age of all things low-carb and vegetable-boosted that they now come in four flavors: original, Italian, everything and jalapeño. TJ's version has been available since May 2020.

Each package of the refrigerated Trader Joe's Cauliflower Slims contains two "buns," which means four pieces total. Each two-thin serving delivers: 

  • 100 calories
  • 5 g fat (3 g saturated fat)
  • 3 g carbohydrates
  • 9 g protein
  • 2 g fiber
  • 260 mg sodium

The Cauliflower Slims ingredients include cauliflower, eggs, Parmesan, skim milk, cheese cultures, salt and yeast, and the package touts that the recipe is made with over 60% cauliflower. 

For comparison, a whole-wheat sandwich thin from Brownberry, a flour-based competitor, has:

  • 140 calories
  • 2 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat)
  • 28 g carbohydrates
  • 6 g protein
  • 4 g fiber
  • 300 mg sodium

In addition, the USDA estimates the average white hamburger bun offers:

  • 110 calories
  • 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat)
  • 21 g carbohydrates
  • 4 g protein
  • 1 g fiber
  • 200 mg sodium

Are Cauliflower Slims Healthy?

The answer depends on what you define as "healthy," explains Jessica Ball, M.S., RD, EatingWell's associate nutrition digital editor.

"Cauliflower Slims are made with fresh cauliflower as the first ingredient, so they might help you boost your vegetable intake if that's your goal. They're also slightly higher in protein from ingredients like eggs and Parmesan, which might help you feel more full," Ball says. "That said, traditional flour-based buns can be part of a healthy diet and include many nutrients as well, especially if you choose whole wheat."

These Cauliflower Slims could be a good option for someone who has an intolerance or allergy to gluten, or for someone aiming to eat a more low-carb diet, Ball says. The replacements for the flour (those aforementioned eggs and Parm), however, mean these are not suitable for a vegan diet. And at $4.99 for the equivalent of two hamburger buns, they're not cheap. 

"As a person who is on a budget and doesn't avoid gluten, I don't think I would ever buy these. They use several whole-food ingredients and could help you increase your vegetable and protein intake, but it seems unlikely that they would taste similar to a traditional hamburger bun. Personally, I would prefer to choose a whole-grain bun and enjoy my cauliflower as a delicious side instead of as a replacement for a bun," Ball says. But if you enjoy the flavor, have a flexible grocery budget and are seeking an easy way to eat more veggies, go for it.

The Bottom Line

As long as you don't have any food allergies or intolerances, Trader Joe's Cauliflower Slims and regular bread can both be part of a well-balanced diet. If you do choose to invest in Cauliflower Slims, Ball suggests pairing them with a source of protein (egg, turkey, salmon, tuna or cheese), vegetables (for a boost of nutrition and fiber) and a healthy fat (such as olive oil, hummus or avocado) to make it a balanced meal or snack.