In the immortal words of one Ina Rosenberg Garten, “You don’t have to do everything from scratch. Nobody wants to make puff pastry!”
And if that philosophy is good enough for the woman who spends hours on a soufflé before sending it off to the oven with a ceremonial “how easy is that?” it’s good enough for us. Which is why we’re adopting a more pared-back approach to cooking, starting with the appetizers—why spend hours slaving in the kitchen when you can find the perfectly prepared menu item at none other than your local Trader Joe’s? We all have our favorite things to buy at the ever-popular supermarket, and with a wide assortment of delicious dips and globally-inspired bites available, you’re sure to find something to kick off your next party (or solo snacking session).
Keep reading for our favorite appetizers from our favorite supermarket. Prices vary according to location.
Fig & Olive Crisps, $3.99
Like regular crackers, if regular crackers were attending a black-tie gala. Ideal for anyone who loves the sweet and savory combo, these crisps pair perfectly with cheese or jam… or just eaten on their own, by the handful, straight out of the box. Made with Kalamata olives from Greece and figs from California, they’re super flavorful.
Peach Bellini Jam, $3.99
One of the newer additions to the TJ’s snack roster, this sweet spread is actually made with prosecco (!!) for a twist on traditional jam. It definitely deserves a spot on your appetizer spread. Bonus: You can even incorporate this multipurpose treat in your dessert to get maximum use out of your purchase. Simply heat up the jam for a few minutes in a small pot to thin it out, then drizzle over yogurt for the ultimate summertime dessert.
Asiago Cheese, $7.99/pound
We love a good cheese board, and as far as we’re concerned there’s no such thing as a real appetizer buffet without a decent variety of cheeses. Relatively inexpensive and offering a nutty, saltier flavor to offset the sweeter items on the menu, Trader Joe’s asiago cheese is a safe bet for a mild cheese that all your guests will love.
Mini Vegetable Samosas, $3.49
Don’t let the bite size of these Indian pastries fool you: There’s heaps of flavor packed into each little triangle. A mixture of vegetables and a newly improved recipe tweaked slightly to make the samosas just a smidge healthier make for an appetizer that’s comparatively guilt-free. Okay, maybe not guilt-free… but definitely reduced guilt.
Jerk Chicken Thigh Skewers with Mango Chutney, $5.49
Pre-grilled and fully seasoned to perfection, you’ll find these chicken skewers in the frozen aisle. Pop them out a few minutes before you need them to re-heat, and glaze with the included mango chutney for a no-fuss heartier appetizer your guests will love.
Chѐvre with Honey, $2.99
Need a creamy cheese to round out your cheese board? Go with this one: The revamped TJ’s favorite blends sweet and tangy flavors for one easy-to-spread and versatile product. It’s the perfect companion for some good crusty bread and will only set you back $2.99. Win-win.
Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Dip, $2.99
More of a game-day staple than an haute cuisine essential, but whatever. This dip is totally worth it. It comes frozen in a block, which admittedly doesn’t look very appetizing… but once it’s microwaved and stirred, it turns into a pool of creamy goodness that’s sure to be a hit with everyone. And this is coming from someone who doesn’t even like artichoke. Serve with the equally addictive corn chip dippers for a more casual appetizer.
Fancy Mixed Nuts, $7.99
While you’re waiting for the entire gang to arrive, set out a few bowls of these fancy mixed nuts. With almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, and cashews, this peanut-free nut mix version is irresistible. The mix is made with less salt so guests won’t find themselves parched for the rest of the night.
Greek Stuffed Olive Triumvirate, $6.99
Pitted and stuffed with jalapenos, piri-piri peppers, and almonds, these Greek olives are as beautiful as they are yummy. Olives are a favorite finger food, and these big-time flavors make your gathering feel and look especially celebratory.
Wild Mushroom and Black Truffle Flatbread With Mozzarella Cheese, $4.69
Yes, you can have truffle—even on a small budget. This mushroom and black truffle flatbread will make your guests feel like they are dining at a trattoria in Italy, even if they are perched on the edge of your futon eating over a paper plate. This flatbread looks suspiciously like a pizza, so you may even be able to win over children…and expose them to the wonders of black truffles.
Mini Quiche, $3.99
Everyone loves mini quiches. This package provides a duo of truffle and swiss cheese quiche and bacon and sauteed onion. Both are rich, indulgent, and deeply addictive.
Arancini Bites, $3.49
Bake these cheesy, chewy little bites until they are golden brown. When guests bite into these Italian treats, they’ll find gooey melted cheese. It’s a quick bite that packs substantial flavor.
This story was originally published on December 22, 2016. It has been updated with new information.
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