The 21st of September has come and gone, and pumpkin spice season is upon us! When it comes to fall flavors, Trader Joe’s (TJ's) debuts an ambitious line-up of limited-edition autumn favorites. Which ones are worth the hype? 

1. Pumpkin Spice Batons

Denisa Stavri

If you’re asking yourself, "What is a pumpkin spice baton?" you are not alone. Consider these batons as delicate wafer cookies in a straw-like shape — as a matter of fact, they function quite nicely as eco-friendly straws! I was pleasantly surprised by the delicate crispiness and richly smooth filling of these sweet batons. Although I got more of a creamy, buttery flavor from the filling than the warmth of pumpkin spice, the crunch made for an enjoyable eating experience. 

Pumpkin spice flavor: 3.5/5

Worth the hype? Yes — very tasty straws.

2. Pumpkin Blondie Brownies

Denisa Stavri

Next up on the list is Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Blondie Brownies! These little bars are deliciously fresh and equally as moist, lightly drizzled with a sweet white chocolate icing. My only complaint was that the flavor and texture resemble more of a pumpkin loaf than the “blondie brownie” name would suggest. Nevertheless, the smoky pumpkin spice flavor and strong notes of nutmeg and cinnamon pair perfectly with crunchy pecans and white chocolate chips.

Pumpkin spice flavor: 5/5

Worth the hype? Yes, buy these immediately.

3. Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

Denisa Stavri

I was especially excited to bake and eat these cookies, and they did not disappoint. The recipe* was easy for the average home cook, and after a quick bake at 350° F, I had a delectable array of slightly crispy, slightly chewy pumpkin-hued cookies. These definitely tasted the best after cooling and setting for a few minutes, and paired nicely when dipped in Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Original Almondmilk. The pumpkin spice in these cookies was by far the strongest of the entire lineup, from the first bite to the subtle aftertaste. The chocolate chunks were plentiful, but not overpoweringly sweet, and deliciously contrasted with the textured oatmeal base. 

*I substituted 1 stick of butter for 3/4 cup grapeseed oil. In the dorms, we work with what we have.

Pumpkin spice flavor: 5/5

Worth the hype? Yes, I ate 6 of them. 

4. Pumpkin Spice Caramel Danish Kringle

Denisa Stavri

Trader Joe’s seasonal Danish Kringle is hands-down the highlight of this entire bunch! It has a deliciously smooth pumpkin spice filling, is slathered with a sweet caramel icing, and is perfectly topped with crunchy pecans. The Kringle is a delightful blend of crispy, crunchy and chewy textures, all of which complemented each other nicely and made for a delightful eating experience. The best part of the Kringle is that it’s huge!

Pumpkin spice flavor: 6/5

Worth the hype? A resounding yes.

5. Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans

Denisa Stavri

I had very high expectations for these, considering that I am borderline addicted to Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans. While these taste great and supply a little boost in energy, the pumpkin spice flavor is more of a slight aftertaste than the star of the show. For a more satisfying treat, I would rather go for the original dark chocolate version.

Pumpkin spice flavor: 1/5

Worth the hype? No, stick to the classic.

6. Maple & Sea Salt Kettle Corn

Denisa Stavri

Trader Joe’s Maple Kettle Corn was a nice departure from so much pumpkin! At first, I couldn’t tell if I was tasting maple or just normal kettle corn, but after the first handful, the maple flavor grew stronger and settled in with a warm maple aftertaste. Perfect for a cozy fall movie snack, this maple kettle corn will satisfy your sweet tooth and your fall flavor cravings all at once!

Maple flavor: 3.5/5

Worth the hype? Yes, I'm never eating regular movie theater popcorn again.

7. Pumpkin Butter

As you can see from the image below, TJ’s Pumpkin Butter is quite the hit. Luckily, I had already purchased not one, but two jars ahead of time. I tried the spread atop a good old-fashioned toasted bagel and it was delicious! The velvety smoothness and nicely balanced pumpkin flavor were delightful, but the level of sweetness is just bordering on the line of too sweet, so a little goes a long way. After I bought 2 jars of this stuff and realized I do, in fact, live alone, I was worried about having so much pumpkin butter and nowhere to put it. With a bit of creativity, however, I’m already making plans to top some warm oatmeal and vanilla sundaes with this spread. Check out this Spoon article if you’re looking for more pumpkin butter inspiration!

Denisa Stavri

Pumpkin spice flavor: 4/5

Worth the hype? Yes, the shelves are empty for a reason.

8. Pumpkin Spiced Teeny Tiny Pretzels

Denisa Stavri

These teeny tiny pretzels are heavenly. One bag was not enough. These yogurt-covered pretzels are elevated by their coating of Trader Joe’s specialty crushed pumpkin spiced pumpkin seeds (try saying that three times fast). The crunchiness of both the pretzel and the crushed seeds creates a satisfying textural contrast to the smooth yogurt covering. Sweet, salty, crunchy, and smooth, this meld of textures and flavors is like no other, and the pumpkin spice flavor shines brightly through it all.

Pumpkin spice flavor: 5/5

Worth the hype? Immediately yes.

9 & 10. Fall Zucchette Pasta & Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce

Denisa Stavri
Denisa Stavri

Trader Joe’s Fall Zucchette Pasta and Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce show the versatility of fall flavors by trekking over to the savory side! The pasta’s adorable pumpkin hue and shape made me immediately biased, and I thought that some pumpkin alfredo sauce would be a perfect addition. Despite its appearance, the pasta didn’t have a distinctively “fall” taste, even though it was made with butternut squash. Likewise, the alfredo overpowered any pumpkin flavor in the sauce. With some added sundried tomatoes and fresh Pecorino Romano, there was a rich and warm fall quality to the dish (but that may be the placebo effect in action, considering the dish had the color and shape of a literal pumpkin). Overall, this dish is delicious, creamy, and flavorful, but does not make my tastebuds scream pumpkin.

Fall flavor: 5/5

Worth the hype? Yes, that pumpkin shape is definitely something.

Are Trader Joe's Fall Products Worth the Hype?

Trader Joe's definitely has a special flair when it comes to fall products, and for the majority of their seasonal lineup, they deliver on their promises. Next time you head to TJ's, be sure to try out some items from their fall lineup. If all else fails, do yourself a favor and try the Pumpkin Spice Caramel Danish Kringle!

Until peppermint season...