We Tried Trader Joe's Holiday Appetizers & Absolutely Loved 5 of Them

Cooking a big holiday meal is an all-day affair. After prepping the roast beast, mixing up the Who pudding and cooking your eighth can of Who hash, the last thing you want to have to worry about is whipping up appetizers for the big meal. That’s where Trader Joe’s comes in. Lucky for us, Trader Joe’s carries a wide variety of easy appetizers and this year, they added over 84 new seasonal products including appetizers specifically for holiday feasting.

We already tested their holiday sweet treats and hot cocoas so we felt obligated to try the best of their appetizer selection and provide you with all the info you need before you go shopping. While we enjoyed most of them, we did encounter some subpar bites that you may want to skip. One general note to keep in mind before you make your shopping list: all of these appetizers were pretty small. If you’re planning a meal for a large crowd (more than 5 people), you’ll likely need 2-3 packages of each appetizer. Now, let’s get into the fun details.

French Onion Soup Bites

These little bites DESPERATELY needed salt. Underseasoned food is my biggest pet peeve when it comes to cooking so I was pretty bummed after my first bite. I added a hefty amount of sea salt to these and it completely transformed them. They tasted exactly like the little cup of French onion soup that I hoped they would be. If you plan on buying these, add a liberal amount of salt as soon as they come out of the oven and you’ll be set. 

Pimento Cheese Puffs

I am so torn on these! I loved them but I think they are just too spicy to be served as an appetizer. If you do serve them, make sure your guests have a drink in their hand because they’re going to need something to tone down the heat of these pimento cheese puffs. The flavor, however, is flawless.  

Cornbread Bites

The amount of heat in these little bites was spot on. They were just spicy enough without overpowering the other flavors. The sweetness from the corn was the perfect counter balance to the chile’s heat. 

Uncured Bacon Wrapped Dates

I baked these a few minutes longer than the instructions said because I like my bacon extra crispy. I expected these to be sweet (duh, dates) but I wasn’t prepared for how sweet they would be. Maybe it’s just personal preference (I am much more into savory foods than sweet), but I found them to be too sweet for an appetizer. You really couldn’t taste the goat cheese because the sweetness from the dates was so overpowering. 

Truffle Dip and Scalloped Cracker Trio

There are only three foods in this world that I absolutely loathe and truffles are one of them (uni and fennel are the other two in case you’re curious). But in an effort to try all of Trader Joe’s holiday appetizers, I reluctantly picked up this truffle dip. I opened the tub of dip, willing myself to take just one little bite but as soon as the smell hit me, I knew there would be no tasting involved. So I enlisted the help of my truffle-loving friend to try this one instead. She Loved it! In fact, she said it was “her new favorite dip of all time” So, if you can stomach truffles, apparently this dip is quite delicious. 

I did, however, try the scalloped cracker trio that we paired with this dip and am happy to report that every single cracker flavor (rosemary, red chili and garlic) was fantastic. I highly recommend them for any dips or cheese boards. 

Mini Quiche

This box comes with two flavors of quiche — mushroom and Swiss and bacon and sweet onion. Despite my aversion to truffles, I am a huge fan of every other mushroom and these mushroom and Swiss cheese quiches were no exception. The sweet and salty bacon and onion quiche was equally delicious!

Creamy Roasted Cauliflower & Onion Dip

I will honor this dip with my “Most Pleasantly Surprised” award. I was not expecting this microwaved dip to be nearly as good as it was. I dipped the cracker trios in this and had to stop myself from eating the entire thing. 

Savory Corn Pie

The sweet corn, savory cheese and heat from the chiles gave this pie the perfect balance of flavors. It was ever-so-slightly dry but I still enjoyed it. 

Mini Brie En Croute

You get exactly what is advertised with these — creamy, buttery brie wrapped in a flakey puff pastry. I would be proud to serve these at a dinner party any time. 

Crispy Vegetable Pouches

I wish these had come with some kind of dipping sauce. They taste great, but it’s the kind of food that will always taste better when you have something to dip it in. I tried dipping them in soy sauce and a sweet chile sauce and both variations were exquisite. On their own, these vegetable ppuches were a little too bland for my taste.

Camembert Cheese With Cranberry Sauce Fillo Bites

These were the sweet and salty bites I hoped the bacon-wrapped dates would be. The fillo pastry provided a nice, crunchy contrast to the creamy camembert cheese. 

Scallops Wrapped in Uncured Bacon

Flavor-wise, I loved these! If I were to make them again, I think I would fry them in a pan instead of baking them because I baked them longer than instructed to get crispy bacon, but the extended oven time overcooked the scallops. I think frying them would get the bacon crispy without overcooking the scallops and if I’m right, then these would be a near-perfect appetizer. 

Pastry Bites

These little cups have everything you could want in a bite-sized appetizer — super flakey and buttery pastry crust, sweet (but not too sweet) onions and salty feta. No complaints on my end!

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