I’m a spice hoarder. My excuse? The right spice or seasoning blend pulls together a recipe like a favorite accessory brings together an outfit—it might be fine without, but with it, amazing. And for that reason, the cabinet next to my stove is bursting with flavored salts, masalas, and an almost unwieldy collection of dried chiles, from Aleppo pepper to piment d’Espelette. In fact, I expanded beyond a kitchen cabinet to a shelf in the basement lined with all of the spices that I simply must have on hand to cook.
Though I'm always on the lookout for new seasonings—combing grocery stores and the web for the must-try blends—Trader Joe’s is a consistent source for some of the most creative, crave-worthy spice blends that are full of umami and surprisingly versatile. These are the top five Trader Joe's seasoning blends (staples in my pantry) that I keep close whenever I cook. I love them above all others.
I’m always trying to amp up the umami in my daily bowl of popcorn and true to its name, Mushroom & Company Multipurpose Umami Seasoning Blend, shaken up in the popcorn bag, delivers. I don’t dare cook mushrooms without adding this flavor blaster, which also instantly upgrades pastas, this stovetop meatloaf, and breakfast toast. Add a pinch to mayo for the best burger condiment ever.
A dry version of the classic Georgian-Abkhazian spice paste, ajika explodes with a bold, savory flavor that’s hard to pinpoint. Fenugreek, marigold, and coriander lend an aromatic quality, and it also packs a fiery punch. Use this ajika blend to spice up your roast chicken or pork chops, or sprinkle it in a cheese ball for a tasty surprise.
Modeled after the Mexican spice blend, Tajín, Trader Joe's combines salt, chile powder, and dehydrated lime juice to create a lip-smacking blend. This seasoning is perfect for topping fresh fruit like melon and mango, as is the custom in many Latin American countries, and it's a great finishing touch for ceviche. The best use? As a cocktail rimmer for mango margaritas.
Sure, you could use TJ’s Green Goddess Seasoning Blend to whip up a batch of green goddess dressing. There’s a recipe for it right on the bottle. But I’ve got other ideas: use this herbaceous, allium-forward sprinkled on french fries or as a garnish for artichoke dip. Shake it over your morning avocado toast, or better yet, garlic bread, where those oniony flavors shine.
Riffing on the flavors of Mexican street corn (aka elote), Trader Joe's blends Parmesan cheese, chiles, cumin, and dried cilantro. I always welcome it on a cob of corn or a bowl of esquites. But don’t sleep on its potential: perk up an otherwise basic potato salad or pasta salad, swirl it into corn chowder, or for something a little different, garnish a creamy pumpkin soup.