Taste-testing and ranking popular Trader Joe’s dips

Infographic depicting rankings of Trader Joe's dips
Christina Owen/Staff

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With relatively affordable prices and a short walk from campus, Trader Joe’s is where UC Berkeley students probably spend a fair amount of time conducting grocery hauls. It’s easy to feel like a kid in a candy store, browsing all the different aisles and niche goodies in stock. Trader Joe’s boasts a variety of dips and sauces that can elevate any meal, making it more flavorful and exciting without breaking the bank. I decided to ask a few of my family and friends what their favorite vegan dips were and rate them in a taste test!  

Hummus Dip

Rating: 10/10

There isn’t much room to complain about the traditional Trader Joe’s Hummus Dip. Made with garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, oil and other spices, it has a perfectly creamy consistency and rich garlicky taste. It’s super smooth and easy to spread, melting in your mouth with every bite. Just grab some pita chips or baby carrots and enjoy a delicious snack with this classic hummus dip!

Organic Creamy Cashew Fiesta Dip

Rating: 9/10

Are you craving the taste of cheese without having to ingest dairy? Try Trader Joe’s Cashew Dip, the perfect cheese alternative! A blend of cashews, potatoes, carrots, onions, green chile peppers, jalapeno peppers and garlic powder, this dip mimics the traditional cheese flavor pretty well with an added kick from the garlic and chiles. It’s the ideal fun, plant-based substitute for cheese! The texture is a little hard at first but turns creamier the longer you leave it out of the refrigerator. 

Salsa Especial

Rating: 8/10

For only $2.99, Trader Joe’s Salsa Especial makes a decent dip for those days when you crave tortilla chips and salsa to dip them in. Composed of tomatoes, onions, cilantro, oregano, roasted chili de Arbol peppers and garlic, the dip has a nice kick to it without teetering on the verge of too mild or too hot. However, the tomato flavor is very overpowering on this one. I wish Trader Joe’s could tweak the recipe a little to add more acidic, citrus tones so it feels less like eating canned tomato sauce. 

Vegan Kale, Cashew and Basil Pesto

Rating: 7/10

Trader Joe’s Vegan Kale, Cashew and Basil Pesto is a versatile dip that can be used in pasta sauce or as a topping on toast and salads. With few additives and simple ingredients such as kale, cashew butter, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice, this dip is great for health-conscious folks who want to spice up their meals with little effort. The consistency of the dip and its umami tones mimic that of real pesto quite well. However, the aftertaste can be a little pungent and the initial vibrant green colors turn into a more unsightly dark green after a little while. 

Are you ready to see if any of these dips catch your taste buds off guard? Run or catch the next 51B bus to Trader Joe’s and see for yourself!

Contact Madeleine Lorie at [email protected].