Trader Joe’s Taste Test: Three Curious Frozen Foods

I visited Trader Joe’s with the intention of buying the three, strangest frozen food items I could find for this taste test.

I lost my nerve when I encountered microwavable shrimp tacos sprinkled cotija cheese and an unsettling cheap bag of frozen paella listing “fish powder” as one of its ingredients .

See my running list of things we’ve tried at Trader Joe’s. 

In the end, I chose three items that peaked my curiosity. I’ve walked by them on many visits, wavering on whether or not I wanted to finally buy them. After work one evening, I heated them all up for dinner. Here’s my thoughts:

Steak & Stout Pies

These pies come in two flavors; Steak & Stout, and Chicken Balti Curry. What’s kept me from purchasing these before is the price. At $6.99, these pies are some of the most expensive frozen entrées.

As positives, the pies are hefty. The crust is rich and flaky and the gravy tastes flavorful.

What I liked the least about these pies is the beef. It didn’t taste bad, but it didn’t taste good. “Old fridge beef” came to mind.

Maybe the chicken curry filling is better? I wouldn’t purchase these steak pies again. You’re better off applying that $7 on a  different product. There are plenty of yummier things to be had.

Honey Walnut Shrimp

This dish goes by many names. Crisp, fried shrimp are tossed in a sweet, mayonnaise sauce with walnuts.  Prepared fresh, it’s a delicious sweet and salty thing. But a boxed $5.99 frozen version?

First, I want to point out the portion size. The shrimp are relatively small. The pan on the left is a half-sheet pan and the bowl right is my smallest mixing bowl. This is all OK because it doesn’t taste very good.

There’s a note somewhere on the package that mentions a hint of pineapple in the sauce. I’ve personally never encountered a version of this sweet mayonnaise/milky crispy shrimp versions that tasted of pineapple.

When the shrimp and sauce are tossed together, the dish gives off a stinky sweet smell. It tastes better than it smells. Everything’s fine as long as you don’t smell it!

I laughed running across this review of the product. “How do I say this. THIS SMELLS LIKE CHEESE. WHY. WHY DOES THIS SMELL LIKE CHEESE. WHY.” This blogger liked it and said it’s the closest frozen thing in a bag you’ll find to the real thing, so idk. 

Jackfruit Curry with Jasmine Rice

Now for some good news. The jackfruit curry is really good.

Jackfruit has become a popular meat substitute. I’ve never tried it before because I worried it would taste fruity or have a strange alien pod texture.

This frozen entrée costs less than $3. The portion size is generous for one, fine for two smaller. What we liked most was the spicy coconut curry sauce. I expected it to taste bland, but it was flavorful and surprisingly spicy.

The package’s photo makes the jackfruit seem very prominent. We enjoyed the other veggies in the curry like the bell peppers but hardly noticed the jackfruit. The strands melted into the curry kind of like the inside of super soft eggplant.

Overall, a win!

Feel free to share any thoughts below. Tried anything new at Trader Joe’s? 



  1. Beth Ann Chiles

    Hmm— well I am disappointed in the meat pie. What a missed opportunity for Trader Joe’s . Just improving the beef seems like a simple way to improve the dish. Jackfruit is showing up everywhere and this option looks great. Thanks for the reviews.

    • Jeni

      I keep seeing a brand at Target that sells Aussie pies. I’ve been curious if they’re like the ones you might have tried in Australia

  2. katie

    I buy a lot of Trader Joe’s frozen foods but haven’t bought these three, with the shrimp its because of the fried aspect (I love the orange chicken though). For the steak pies, your description of the meat is what I feared. I love a good steak, hate a bad one. And the jackfruit I will definitely be buying, because it is very interesting to me!

    • Jeni

      Yeah, this isn’t good steak. Some kind of stewed beef would have been so much better. Hope you like the jackfruit!

  3. Katy F

    You’re a lot braver than me to try all these! Lol!

  4. Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids

    Love it! At least 1 out of 3 was a win 😉

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