Trader Joe’s Vegan Food Smackdown

Trader Joe's Snickerdoodles

Since I only shop at Trader Joe’s occasionally, I was delighted to see some new (at least new to me) vegan food. While they’ve always had vegan items, there’s many more options now. So what’s the best of the various vegan offerings? Time for a little Trader Joe’s vegan food smackdown!

First up is the cookie round, Soft-Baked Snickerdoodles ($2.99) vs Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies ($3.99). The snickerdoodles just edges out the chocolate chip cookie, so soft and chewy with a bit of a cinnamon taste. The chocolate chip cookies were good too with plenty of chocolate chips and bits of walnut, but not quite as soft and chewy.

Trader Joe's Chocolate Chip Cookie

Next, is the Asian frozen food entree round, Vegetable Panang Curry with Jasmine Rice ($2.99) vs True Thai Vegetable Pad Thai ($1.99). The curry had a nice spicy flavor, plenty of sauce and veggies ranging from zucchini to kale to baby corn, all for 590 calories.

Trader Joe's Vegetable Panang Curry

The pad thai had a tad less calories, weighing in at 520. It also had a spicy flavor. The veggies, mostly bean sprouts and chives, were on the bottom with the noodles on top, which seems to help prevent overcooking of the veggies. It was also very light on the tofu, only a few small pieces were included.

Trader Joe's Vegetable Pad Thai

It wasn’t too bad but the vegetable curry was definitely the better of the two. Both entrees also were fairly high in fat and sodium – probably something to get only once in awhile.

Trader Joe's Thai Vegetable Gyoza

Continuing on with Asian food, up next is the frozen dumpling round, Thai Vegetable Gyoza ($3.79) vs Cucumber Wonton Rolls ($2.69). I didn’t care for the cucumber wontons and so, there’s no photo (I couldn’t bring myself to buy another bag of it). I guess I’m just not used to having a cucumber filling in wontons. The gyoza on the other hand are quite tasty.

Trader Joe's Thai Vegetable Gyoza

The filling is nicely seasoned with a gingery and chive taste. The wrapper is the chewier, thicker potsticker variety. It comes already lightly browned on the bottom, just steam or pan-fry to heat up.

Trader Joe's Thai Vegetable Gyoza

Onto the savory snack round, Crunchy Curls ($2.69) vs Baked Onion Rings ($1.99). I struggled with this round as I liked them both, so I’m going to have to call it a draw. You really can’t go wrong with either one.

Trader Joe's Crunchy Curls

Trader Joe's Crunchy Curls

Made out of lentils and potatoes, the curls are nice and crunchy. It doesn’t really taste like lentils at all, it’s kinda like Pringles but in a thicker, curly form. 130 calories in a serving of 31 curls with 4 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein. Fun to dip in hummus too.

Trader Joe's Baked Onion Rings

Trader Joe's Baked Onion Rings

The Baked Onion Rings are basically the vegan equivalent of Funyuns but with fewer ingredients and no artificial colors or flavors or preservatives. They’re crisp with just a bit of sweetness. Nutritionally, they don’t stack up as well as the lentil curls, 150 calories in a serving of 14 pieces with less than 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of protein.

Lest you think I only stock up on sweet treats, snacks and frozen dinners, I do like Trader Joe’s tofu, tempeh, fresh bread, olive oil, tortillas, soy yogurt, nuts…

20 Comments so far

  1. ApartmentGF on July 31st, 2011

    Thanks for the post. I shop at TJ’s all the time, but I tend to get the same stuff and not notice anything new. I will definitely be trying the snickerdoodles!

  2. VegSpinz on July 31st, 2011

    Nice to know about these products- I’ve had the Thai dumplings and love them, but there are just not enough dumplings in a bag for a family of 5 adults (same goes for their sweet potato fries) -LOL! You’re right about the cucumber ones- not a favorite. But I didn’t know about the cookies, which I MUST sample! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Tiffany on July 31st, 2011

    Great post. I haven’t tried any of those frozen entrees yet, but the gyoza always seems to get positive reviews, so I may just have to try them soon. Love those lentil curls; the onion rings aren’t bad, either.

  4. Andy on July 31st, 2011

    the potato lentil curls are my favorite snack food ever. they are super delicious.

  5. I am VERY jealous. I wish I was back in the US. I LOVE Trader J’s! But I totally missed ALL of these when I shopped there last in April! THey are on my list now of things to try when I return (please God..soon, v.soon!) Hey, have you tried the black bean and tofu enchiladas and the vegan marshmallow bars? There brown rice wraps are good too. Oh and the mock kievs aren’t bad. They do a defatted peanut flour which is HEAVEN too…oh TJ (said dreamily with puppy dog eyes!).

  6. Stacy on August 1st, 2011

    Not that it’s specially vegan, but for anyone who likes potato chips… POTATO TRIO POTATO CHIPS are so flavorful, my favorite chips ever, and I usually don’t even like unsalted chips!

    Oh, and DAIRY FREE MOCHI are filled with coconut ice cream deliciousness.

    Besides that, I’m really fond of the TJ’s spicy spinach pizzas, bruschetta, sunflower seed butter, eggplant wrap with spicy tahini sauce, cafe twist cookies, and peanut satay and kung pao noodles. And I second the crunchy curls and brown rice marshmallow bars. I could go on a while about TJ’s, I’m a fan.

  7. Tanya on August 1st, 2011

    Sniff….everyone is talking about Trader Joe’s these days and we don’t have any!! When I visit the Northeast, I always go there. I grew up with them in CA and so I know what it’s like to have them. Lucky you!

  8. Erin on August 1st, 2011

    Great post! I shop at TJ’s maybe one out of three trips, so I definitely have my faves there. Last time I got a frozen entree, tofu in black pepper sauce, that was pretty tasty, but like you said it was high in fat and sodium. Love the crunchy curls! I’m a big fan of their seaweed snacks too.

  9. shaheen on August 1st, 2011

    You so make me wish that there was a Trader Joes in the U.K, the next option for me is to visit the USA and that isn’t happening in a hurry – guess I will just have to drool over your blog then.

  10. Sarah S. on August 1st, 2011

    I don’t even bother looking at the cookies, I have probably walked right by those numerous times! The snickerdoodles are the most tempting.

    LOVE those onion rings and lentil curls, and I agree, too hard to choose between the two.

  11. Hannah on August 1st, 2011

    Your assessments here are all spot-on! I take my TJ’s food very seriously, and find it necessary to try anything new that’s vegan… I’m just not at all a fan of those new onion rings. They strike me as strangely sweet.

  12. Elise on August 2nd, 2011

    I’m with Shaheen, very jealous about the lack of Trader Joe’s in the UK. However my friend is visiting NY in a week, I might send me on a cross atlantic mission to bring back snickerdoodles!

  13. chow on August 2nd, 2011

    ApartmentGF – I use to do that too. While looking for my usual things, I see new things to try.

    VegSpinz – Yeah, there’s only 3 servings in a bag of Thai dumplings. Lately, I’ve been getting 2 bags just to have enough of them around.

    Tiffany – Give them a try, they’re good. :-)

    Andy – The lentil curls are SUPER delicious.

    India-leigh – Thanks, I haven’t tried any of those items, I’ll have to look for them next time. So many yummy things…

    Stacy – I saw those potato chips, I was wondering if they were good. Now I’ll have to try them and some of those other things too. Thanks!

    Tanya – California is lucky to have so many Trader Joe’s around. It seems like there’s one nearby pretty much anywhere in CA.

    Erin – Love the seaweed snacks!

    Shaheen – Bummer there’s no Trader Joe’s in the UK, that actually would be an awesome export. :-)

    Sarah S. – For some reason, the snickerdoodles weren’t with the other cookies. I found them above the frozen food. Maybe because it’s in a box?

    Hannah – Me too, I see that V icon on a package, and I want to try it. :-)

    Elise – Crossing my fingers that your friend succeeds in the snickerdoodle mission. :-)

  14. Gauri Radha ???? ???? on August 5th, 2011

    Didn’t know about some of these, thanks so much for the post!!:-)

  15. Caitlin on October 20th, 2011

    There’s a great Vegetarian Times Vegetable Gyoza and Edamame Succotash recipe that I used these dumplings for. TJ’s had both the dumplings as well as the edamame succotash. So yummy!

  16. Brian on November 25th, 2011

    Thanks for putting this list together. My family just watched Forks over Knives so we’re going vegan for 30 days to see if we can do it. So glad to see the onion rings made the list! The Veggie chili is really good too although I’m not 100% sure it’s vegan… Will have to ask them. Cheers!

  17. [...] (source – By the way, check out this blog!! Especially this post- a great round up by Chow Vegan of Trader Joe’s vegetarian and vegan offerings. I learned some things reading this post!) [...]

  18. Melissa on August 3rd, 2012

    I tried the Thai Vegetable Gyoza and LOVED them. I am not a vegan and not particular fond of all veggies but this was AMAZING and consequently is all I want to eat. I’d consider being a vegan if there weer more delicious meals like this one. yum!

  19. chow on August 8th, 2012

    Melissa – Aren’t they great? I go thru a bag of them much too quickly. :-)

  20. Marlena on February 15th, 2013

    While they’ve always had vegan items, there’s many more options now.

    there’re (pleural)

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