We combed through the aisles at Trader Joe's for the best Thanksgiving essentials so you don't have to

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Trader Joes grocery store entrance with sign
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Planning a Thanksgiving dinner can be stressful, especially this year amid the ongoing supply chain issues. But as a Trader Joe's superfan, let me tell you, everything you need to plan the perfect meal is all in one place.

Don't believe me? I went to my local TJ's (Court Street, Brooklyn, for those curious) and checked every item off my list for the 12-person dinner I'm planning.

Here's what to buy, with additional options just in case. Note: I'm not listing basic ingredients like vegetables, turkey stock, eggs, butter, cream, sugar, flour, etc., but know they're all there too. And obviously, this list can be amended based on how many people are coming to dinner at your house. There's even enough options if you're doing a Thanksgiving for just one or two.

Shopping at Trader Joe's with a curated list — surely that's something to be thankful for!

Trader Joe's Thanksgiving
Credit: dave quinn

BREAKFAST

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix ($3.29): "You can have your (pan)cake and eat it too," Trader Joe's writes on this 18.5-oz. box of deliciousness. They're not wrong, a killer way to start the Thanksgiving festivities is with this blend of rice flour, potato starch and tapioca flour (so good, you won't miss the gluten). Add in Trader Joe's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips ($1.99 for a 12-oz. bag) and top with the brand's Organic Vermont Maple Syrup ($4.99 for a 8-oz. jar) to up the decadence.

Trader Joe's Thanksgiving
Credit: dave quinn

COCKTAILS

Sparkling Cranberry Flavored Juice Blend ($2.99): This zingy but not too tart beverage makes an excellent mixer, but can also be served solo for your sober guests. 100% juice, 100% delicious.

Sparkling Cranberry Ginger "Beer" (4 pack, $3.99): Another alcohol-free offering, this "beer" — made with ginger juice, cranberry concentrate, carbonated water, and sugar — is incredibly refreshing. Serve it over ice with appetizers, and mix it with vodka for those looking for a punch.

Trader Joe's Thanksgiving
Credit: dave quinn

APPETIZERS

Mushroom & Black Truffle Flatbread with Mozzarella Cheese ($4.49): Pizza bagels were a staple appetizer treat at my childhood Thanksgivings. Elevate the appetizer with this flatbread. A crispy crust, gooey cheese, and savory umami flavor. A savory and satisfying treat.

Green Bean Casserole Bites ($3.99): Skip the green bean casserole, and go with these instead. Available in the freezer section in a pack of 10, these bite-size treats are the perfect sampling of the season.

Cranberry Chèvre Goat Cheese ($3.99): There are tons of recipes for baked bries, stuffed with cranberries and wrapped in filo dough. But who has the time to make those? Go with this log of Fresh Cranberry Goat Cheese instead. Soft, creamy, tangy goat's milk cheese, hand-rolled in sweet-tart, dried cranberries. What's not to love? Serve the 8 oz. chunk of cheese with crackers or cut it up for dinner and serve with a salad.

Unexpected Cheddar Cheese ($3.99): If that Cranberry Chèvre Goat Cheese isn't your style, you might want to go with a more traditional option. There's no going wrong with the Unexpected Cheddar Cheese — the absolute best cheese Trader Joe's sells. It offers the taste of an aged white cheddar with an "unexpected" hint of Parmesan. If you haven't tried it yet, this is a must. I always have my fridge stocked with it, and guests go wild for it.

Trader Joe's Thanksgiving
Credit: dave quinn

Raisin Rosemary Crisps or Pistachio Pomegranate Crips ($3.99): No cheese board is complete without these crispy, savory, sweet crackers. There are a few flavor varieties but any option will do.

Thanksgiving Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips ($2.29): Here's one way to prepare guests for what's to come. These Thanksgiving Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips offer all the herby aromatics and savory flavors of stuffing, packed into a gluten-free, crispy snack. Plus, what's an easier appetizer to prepare than chips? Throw some in a bowl and call it a day!

Nuts About Rosemary Mix ($6.99): Another super-easy appetizer offering. Each canister offers a mix of crunchy roasted almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and pecans — all blended with rosemary-sea salt seasoning and sprinkled with a dash of sugar. Here's a suggestion: Buy two, because these go fast!

Caramelized Onion Dip ($2.99): Listen to me now: If there's one thing you get from this article, it's that Trader Joe's makes the best pre-made onion dip on the market. None of that "sour cream and onion soup" mess; this will have you regretting the years you served anything else. Pair it with any chip (I highly recommend Trader Joe's Ridge Cut Potato Chips with Sea Salt, which retails for just $3.29 and provides the perfect combo of texture and saltiness).

Trader Joe's Thanksgiving
Credit: dave quinn

FIRST COURSE

Pumpkin Butternut Squash Bisque ($3.99): Starting with a soup? Try this pumpkin butternut squash bisque, which offers a rich yet delicate puree flavored with brown butter and sage. Yum!

Condense Cream of Portabella Mushroom Soup ($1.99): Serve this inherently autumnal treat — with it's deep, savory umami notes — as a soup, or use it in a casserole dish.

Harvest Apple Salad Kit ($3.99): Time is of the essence on Thanksgiving — don't waste it by making your own salad. Grab two of these pre-made 9.2-oz. bags, to serve up a flavorful bowl everyone can enjoy. The base is a spring mix, with cheddar cheese shreds, apple cinnamon chips and pecans mixed in to up the flavor. Bringing it all together? A pouch of apple vinaigrette dressing.

Trader Joe's Thanksgiving
Credit: dave quinn

MAIN COURSE

Trader Joe's Whole Turkeys: These always fresh, never frozen whole turkeys are famous for producing tender, juicy meat. The all-natural birds raised in large, open-air grow houses in the U.S. are never given any antibiotics or hormones, and are vegetarian-fed. Ranging in weight from 12-16 lbs. or 17-22 lbs., shoppers have options;

  • Brined Fresh Young Turkeys ($1.99 per pound): Smoked in a sweet-savory brine to amp up the flavor. They may contain giblets.
  • Glatt Kosher Fresh Young Turkeys ($2.99 per pound): Same as above, but without the brining and giblets. Instead, they're soaked and salted with a kosher-certified method.
  • Free Range Organic Young Turkeys ($3.49 per pound): These birds have full access to the outdoors and are fed an organic, vegetarian diet. Not brined, they do contain giblets.

Brined Bone-in Half Turkey Breast ($9.99 per pound): Don't have enough diners for a full turkey? Trader Joe's has a Brined Bone-in Half Turkey Breast that should do the trick.

Turkey and Stuffing En Croute ($15.99): There's also a turkey Wellington if you're not doing a whole bird. Wrapped in cornbread stuffing and puff pastry, it's a perfect alternative. (Everyone knows Thanksgiving is all about the sides anyway!)

Turkey-Less Stuffed Roast with Gravy ($12.99): For those who don't eat meat, try this! The vegan offering (made from wheat gluten) is stuffed with wild rice, cranberries, celery, and onions. Around it? A breaded coating mixed with herbs and red pepper flakes. Thaw it 24-hours before cooking, then serve with the included packet of gravy.

Trader Joe's Thanksgiving
Credit: dave quinn

SIDES

Brussels Sprouts Sauté Kit ($4.99): Okay, this is the one vegetable I'll highlight. Trader Joe's sells beautiful stalks of fresh Brussels sprouts for $3.99 — but for just $1 more, save some time with this read-to-heat sauté kit which features sliced Brussels sprouts, chopped hazelnuts, and shaved Parmesan cheese with a lemon garlic vinaigrette. Way easier, right?

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Pecans ($4.99): Speaking of easier, everything one would need to make a sweet potato casserole can be found in the Trader Joe's aisle. But try grabbing these creamy and buttery mashed sweet potatoes instead. It's way less prep time, and you can always add in the mini marshmallows ($2.99) and brown sugar clumps later!

Four Cheese Scalloped Potatoes ($5.99): As we talk through potatoes, these thinly sliced, savory potatoes are smothered in a rich cream sauce flavored with garlic, leeks, and a mix of four different cheese (Parmesan, Asiago, fontina, and provolone). Yes, please!

Scallopini Potatoes ($3.99): There's also TJ's Scallopini Potatoes, which features layers of thinly-sliced white potatoes swimming in a four cheese sauce of provolone, Montasio, Grana Padano, and fontal cheese.

Trader Joe's Thanksgiving
Credit: dave quinn

Cornbread Stuffing: Want stuffing? You have more than one option here:

  • Cornbread Stuffing Mix ($3.99 for original, $5.99 for Gluten free): Made with a combination of lightly toasted white bread and cornbread, and complimented by a blend of savory herbs, this stuffing is simple to prepare — just add butter and water — and always satisfies.
  • Cornbread Stuffing with Apples and Cranberries ($5.99): Available in the refrigerated section, this pre-made version adds roasted apples and dried cranberries to the mix. Each 17-oz. package yields about five servings.

Creamed Greens ($5.99): One of the things I love the most about Trader Joe's is how they offer new twists on well-known dishes. In this take on creamed spinach, Brussels sprouts have become the flavor focal point, with kale filling out the "greens." Garlic and onion are added for a depth of flavor, and a Parmesan béchamel sauce takes the place of the cream. Find a 16-oz. tray in the frozen section. Pro tip: top with Trader Joe's Gourmet Fired Onion Pieces ($2.99).

Trader Joe's Thanksgiving
Credit: dave quinn

Cranberry Sauce: Here's one section shoppers might want to skip in favor of that jiggly, can-shaped gelatin cranberry sauce (a personal favorite!). But for those who want something fresher, Trader Joe's has a few to choose from:

  • Jarred Cranberry Sauce ($1.99): This sweet, tart, spoonable sauce provids a pleasant counterpoint to more savory options. Made from cranberries, sugar, and water, the slow-cooked sauce is offered in 12-oz. jars.
  • Fresh Cranberry Sauce ($3.79): Not much complication here, just whole cranberries, stirred and brought to a boil with water and sugar until they pop. Trader Joe's 16-ounce tubs are in the refrigerated section.
  • Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish ($3.79): Here's a twist on the traditional cranberry sauce. The Cranberry Orange Relish comes uncooked with added Valencia oranges into the mix. Like the above, it's also sold in 16-oz. tubs in the refrigerated section.
  • Whole Cranberries ($1.99): Some people like making cranberry sauce themselves. For those overachievers, a 12 oz. grab a bag of organic tart berries can be found amid TJ's other produce offerings. Might we suggest using Bobby Flay's recipe?

Turkey Flavory Gravy ($1.49): Creamy and savory, with Thanksgiving flavors of garlic, onion powder, and other spices, this 17.6 oz. container is a life-saver. It'll make your meal sing. Heat over a saucepan.

trader joes
Credit: dave quinn

Buttermilk Biscuits ($2.99): This one is a no-brainer. Head to the refrigerated section and grab a role of these flaky, buttery biscuits. They bake in no-time and will soak up that gravy perfectly.

Sweet Pull Apart Aloha Rolls ($2.99): Not into baking? Try these light, fluffy, pull-apart rolls, which come in a pack of 12.

Pumpkin Seeds Ciabatta Rolls ($2.99): Last bread option, I swear, but these are extra good to have on hand if you like a leftover sandwich the next day. Pro tip: toast them!

Apple Cider ($3.99): A pitcher of apple cider perfectly complements any Thanksgiving spread. The Trader Joe's version is not from concentrate, has no preservatives, and has no added ingredients: just fresh pressed apple juice!

Trader Joe's Thanksgiving
Credit: dave quinn

DESSERT

Apple Pie ($7.99): The lattice-leaf crust screams fall, and the apples below are perfectly seasoned. Feeling sneaky? Toss the box and tell folks you made it yourself.

Pumpkin Pie: ($5.99): Pumpkin pie can be hit or miss for me. Luckily, Trader Joe's pumpkin pie is always a hit. The perfect consistency, the perfect blend of spices, and the perfect crust. You can't miss.

Make your own pies: Some people like to make their own pies, and obviously, Trader Joe's has you covered:

  • Organic Canned Pumpkin ($1.99): Pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, or any other pumpkin desserts you might want to make will likely need canned pumpkin. For sale in 15 oz. cans.
  • Pie Crusts ($3.99): Every pie needs a buttery crust! The ones at TJ's bake super light and crispy, with a delicately sweet and faintly salty flavor. Plus they're bigger than other store-bought crusts, so you'll get more to work with, especially if you're one of those fancy people who knows how to cut the excess trim for decoration. Find them in the freezer section.
Trader Joe's Thanksgiving
Credit: dave quinn

Thanksgiving Pie Chocolate Truffles ($4.49): How's this for a twist on dessert? This Belgian-made candy collection consists of chocolate confections shaped like little pie slices and filled with traditional pie-style fillings. Choose from apple pie (caramel apple cinnamon filling in a milk and white chocolate shell topped with biscuit crumbs); pumpkin pie (cranberry ginger cinnamon filling in a milk and dark chocolate shell decorated with milk chocolate pieces); pecan caramel pie (salted caramel pecan filling in a milk and dark chocolate shell topped with caramelized pecan nuts); or silk mouse pie (chocolate and vanilla crème filling in a milk and white chocolate shell topped with brownie cookie crumbs).

Turkey Cookie Decorating Kit ($5.99): Introduced in 2015, this kid-friendly gift has become a staple for families looking to keep their kids busy during the day. The kit features a pack of four, turkey-shaped gingerbread cookies with a sea of decorating options (including tubes of pre-made orange and black icing, leaf-shaped sprinkles, and colored candy beads). TJ's says customers can use the finished cookies in place of name cards, which sounds super cute.

Trader Joe's Thanksgiving
Credit: dave quinn

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MISCELLANEOUS

Trader Joe's Bouquets ($3.99-$12.99): Did you know TJ's has fresh flower bouquets? They're gorgeous and will dress up any Thanksgiving dinner table. (For those not hosting their own dinner, these make an affordable and effective hosting gift).

Chew-Cuterie Doggie Treats ($3.29): Have a guest coming with a dog? This assortment of dog biscuits will be perfect for your four-legged friends. Made with dog-friendly ingredients, they're shaped and flavored like prosciutto, salami, Cheddar and provolone — all the meat and cheese fixings you'd find on a charcuterie board. Fun!