The 7 Best Trader Joe's Items for Summer Celebrations, According to Employees
Including three super-refreshing drinks and a coffee-infused barbecue sauce!
Each season, the brand's product development team researches, taste tests and perfects new items to add to their shelves to keep things fresh and fun. And often, their crew members offer sneak peeks of their favorites just as they're set to arrive in supermarkets across the country—just in time for us to start building our next shopping lists!
On episode 38 of the Inside Trader Joe's podcast, which was released June 28, co-hosts Tara Miller, marketing director, and Matt Sloan, vice president of marketing, dished about their personal favorite new Trader Joe's products coming soon. While a few of the foods and drinks they mentioned are "evergreen" (read: available all of the time), we selected the best of *their* best to feature here. All of the sauces, snacks, sips and barbecue stars ahead are ideal to share (or save for yourself!) this summer.
As with all Trader Joe's launches, availability and selection may vary by region, as may timing of these product drops. If you have your heart set on an item or two in particular, we suggest calling ahead to your local Trader Joe's to ask a crew member about availability before making a special trip.
The 7 Best Products at Trader Joes for Summer
Cold Brew Barbecue Sauce
We can't wait to try this buzzy new condiment on burgers, hot dogs, carrot dogs, or as a marinade for chicken, pork, seafood or steak.
"It's made with coffee. And before you say, 'Matt, that sounds totally nuts,' remember we also have that returning spice, the BBQ Rub and Seasoning with Coffee and Garlic. So wonderful. That coffee flavor works so nicely on grilled things. This cold brew coffee barbecue sauce makes me think of Creole coffee, coffee, chicory, and molasses, of course. And there's a lot of cold brew coffee in this barbecue sauce."
You can actually taste and smell a hint of the coffee, Miller confirms, and she already has plans to use this as a dipping sauce for chicken nuggets.
USDA Choice Grade Angus Tri-Tip Kebabs
The first of two new kebab products, Sloan says these lean and tender beef skewers are coated in a "sweet and savory marinade, with a tamarind-based sauce," he says. "And it's just meat. I love the visual of adding vegetables, but they cook at different rates and it's just a tricky thing. So this is just two skewers, eight ounces each, eight ounces of choice tri- tip or eight ounces of chicken thigh with those flavors, those marinades, very convenient, very, very easy."
And if you're worried that sauce might make these overly-sweet or burn-your-face-off spicy, Miller confirms that the sauce "has a nice tang to it. There's a teeny little kick...There's a smidge of heat there, but I wouldn't call it spicy."
Thai Coconut Curry Spicy Chicken Kebabs
In related good-to-grill news, these chicken thigh kebabs are dressed up with a Thai-style coconut curry sauce that's inspired by the flavors of a classic Thai Red Curry.
After sampling a bite, Miller says, "Oh my goodness! Lemongrass? Am I tasting lemongrass? That's so good. It's really tender. Sometimes thighs can be a little on the fatty side. I'm not getting any of that here. Like the meat has been so well trimmed."
Try these atop a salad, she suggests: "either warm or cooked and refrigerated because it just has so much flavor. I think with a whole bunch of greens you almost wouldn't even need a salad dressing."
Strawberry and Jalapeño Crisps
One of many new snacks coming to Trader Joe's this summer, these Strawberry and Jalapeño Crisps will make a perfectly seasonal and totally unexpected addition to any snack spreads. (Just add any of our healthy summer dip recipes and your favorite jams and cheeses!)
They're made by slicing up long, small loaves of bread after they've been baked and cooled. The slices are then baked a second time to crisp them up (the texture falls somewhere between a cracker and a crouton).
"They're like a seedy, fruity little slice of toast," Sloan says. "This just feels like it'd be perfect for lazily lounging on a lawn in the late afternoon. When you've got things that you know you should be doing, but darn it, have another Strawberry and Jalapeño Crisp and just relax. That is what I'm talking about. It's going to be my weekend." (Same here, Matt!)
Made with 12% juice so it's not too tart to handle, the new 70-calorie-per-can Sparkling Lemonade is made with carbonated water, sugar and lemon juice concentrate.
"If you want a sparkly cocktail, it's a great mixer," Miller says. "This would be really great with vodka and an additional twist of lemon. Either over ice or just, you know, chilled and straight up, almost like a sparkly lemon martini. You could rim the glass with sugar and do like a sparkly lemon drop kind of thing."
We like the way you think, Tara! Perhaps we'll add this to one of our citrus-forward healthy-ish 4th of July drink recipes...
Sparkling Pineapple Green Tea
Continuing on the drink theme, the Sparkling Pineapple Green Tea has 10 calories per 8.45-ounce can and is "incredibly refreshing," according to Miller.
Try it after your weekend workout, or a big day of yard work.
"It smells like a reward after a day, like a hard workout and you're in the spa. It's like, 'Good job! Here's a sparkling green tea,'" Sloan says.
Sparkling Watermelon Lemonade Water
We couldn't resist highlighting one more hydrating bevvie—especially since a large portion of the country is still sweating amidst a major heat wave.
"If you've seen cans of sparkling water, you've seen Blueberry Lemonade we've had for a couple of years now, lots of people love that. It's in that style," Sloan says. "This is a Watermelon Lemonade and that is meant to describe the flavor. It's not a lemonade, so it doesn't have any sugar added. There are no calories and this is just sparkling water."
It's an excellent choice for those who tend to grab a soda from the potluck cooler or party fridge since "there are zero calories, zero sugar, zero sweeteners of any kind in here ... no artificial sweeteners, no natural sweeteners," Miller adds. "That's kind of shocking that that much flavor arrives into this can just with essences."