The 7 Best Trader Joe's Sides to Add to Your Thanksgiving Menu, According to Employees
We don't know about your neck of the woods, but near us, it was like a scene in Cinderella at the stroke of midnight on October 31. Well, minus the carriage, glass slippers and ball gown...
But after the calendar changed to November, all of the stores seemed to be in full Thanksgiving and Christmas mode already. And the elves at Trader Joe's were already set to prime us for Thanksgiving menu planning, as they released their 2021 Thanksgiving Guide Fearless Flyer roundup of products on November 1.
It's never too soon to talk about the latest and greatest TJ's finds, if you ask us, and the crew members have lined up quite a dream team to potentially grace our tables come Thursday, November 25. In addition to the turkey, of course, and several Thanksgiving dessert ideas, the employees selected a stellar lineup of snacks and side dishes that really caught our eye.
The 7 Best Trader Joe's (Semi-Homemade) Sides to Add to Your Thanksgiving Menu, According to Employees
Mom might never let us stray from her signature roast turkey, classic apple pie and pecan pie recipes (yes, as many times as we try to tempt her with this Chocolate Caramel-Peanut Crunch Pie!), but we do have a bit of wiggle room to outsource and get creative in terms of the sides selection. At least one or two of these Trader Joe's employee favorites will likely be gracing our tables this year.
Harvest Apple Salad
The Harvest Apple Salad kit "means you only need a big ol' bowl to move it from fridge to table," the crew members say. In said serving bowl, toss together the spring mix of leafy greens, shredded Unexpected Cheddar cheese (one of the ultimate grilled cheese ingredients, crew members claim), apple cinnamon chips and pecans, then drizzle that all with apple vinaigrette. Voila: the salad course is done, and in a fast and affordable fashion. ($3.99 per 9.2-ounce salad kit)
"A creative twist on the classic steakhouse side, creamed spinach," per employees, these Creamed Greens will inspire everyone to load up on vegetables this holiday. Shaved Brussels sprouts and kale team up and taste incredible once simmered down in a Parmesan-spiked béchamel sauce. These come in a tray that's ready to reheat in the microwave (AKA no need to take up oven space!). ($5.99 per 16-ounce package)
Four-Cheese Scalloped Potatoes
Slicing spuds with a mandoline for gratins and scalloped sides can be a time-intensive—and a potentially precarious project, if you're not familiar with using the sharp countertop slicer. Enter: Four-Cheese Scalloped Potatoes that come fully prepared "with layers of thinly sliced, savory potatoes, smothered in a rich cream sauce flavored with garlic, leeks and a mix of four different cheeses: Parmesan, Asiago, fontina, and provolone," employees explain. Just reheat in the microwave, hide the box in the recycling and go ahead and take all the credit for this potato side dish that's "creamy and comfy that tastes like it was made from scratch." ($5.99 per 17-ounce tray)
Related: Our 50 Best-Ever Thanksgiving Sides
No need to wait for the bird to finish cooking—or to take up refrigerator real estate—with Trader Joe's Turkey-Flavored Gravy. It's shelf-stable and ready to reheat and "pour with abandon over roast turkey, mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts on Turkey Day," employees say. To make it feel fresher and taste homemade, sauté TJ's Mirepoix mix (or your own combo of diced carrots, celery and onion) to fold into the warm, garlic- and onion-scented turkey gravy. ($1.49 per 17.6-ounce container)
Green Bean Casserole Bites
As a pre-meal snack or fun side dish, these Green Bean Casserole Bites look like dinner winners. "We've taken that famous Green Bean Casserole, and re-imagined it in appetizer form,"the employees say. Green beans, mushrooms, heavy cream, Cheddar cheese and crispy fried onions are all stuffed inside bite-sized phyllo dough cups. Come snack o'clock, reheat this freezer aisle find for 7 minutes or so in the oven or air fryer. ($3.99 per 4.8-ounce package of 10)
Slow cooked in small batches so the texture is spoonable and the sweet-tart flavors shine, the shelf-stable Cranberry Sauce at Trader Joe's sounds so great, we wish they stocked it all year to star as one of our MVP charcuterie board condiments. Made simply with cranberries, sugar, water and pectin (to thicken), this is just as good over turkey as it is swirled into oatmeal or yogurt, crew members rave. We already have plans to put leftovers to work in Katie Lee Biegel's over-the-top Thanksgiving pot pie! ($1.99 per 12-ounce jar)
New to the Trader Joe's Thanksgiving product lineup, the refrigerated Cornbread Stuffing is an upgrade on the fan-favorite boxed Cornbread Stuffing Mix the staff has been stocking on shelves since 1995. Similar to its boxed sibling, this starts with cornbread croutons. But what makes this recipe different is the fact that it includes roasted apples and dried cranberries—in addition to the usual celery, onion, parsley, sage and rosemary—plus the fact that you don't need to add butter or water. "The tender, sweet apples and pleasantly chewy, tart-sweet cranberries bring a most delicious contrast to the soft cornbread and savory herbs," crew members say. To enjoy it, you just need to unbox the stuffing and reheat it in the oven or microwave. ($5.99 per five-serving, 17-ounce package)