The Basic Trader Joe's Seasoning You'll Never Find In Our Pantry

bottles of spilled spices and seasonings
bottles of spilled spices and seasonings - Easybuy4u/Getty Images

Trader Joe's is famous for carrying a diverse array of unique, internet-viral food products you can't find anywhere else. From the frozen food section to the snack aisle, the grocer hardly misses — but there is a certain Trader Joe's seasoning that you'll never find in our pantry. Don't get us wrong: There are TJ's seasonings we never skip, like the furikake Japanese seasoning blend and the trendy Everything But The Bagel seasoning. But when it came to the Cheesy Seasoning blend, our taste testers were rightfully skeptical.

Trader Joe's Cheesy Seasoning blend likely wouldn't strike you as anything out of the ordinary. Described as a topping for everything from pizza to popcorn and pasta, you might see this product as TJ's spin on a cheesy chip seasoning, with an organic twist. Spoilers: It's not nearly as good as that.

In Tasting Table's ranking of 18 Trader Joe's seasoning blends, our taste testers found that — despite the promise of familiar flavors like cheddar cheese and herbs — the Cheesy Season blend had an artificial cheese flavor that was almost impossible to mask. The taste was likened to Cheez Whiz, tainting everything it touched. What did TJ's do wrong? To start with, the blend lacked a certain ingredient that could have cut the artificiality, and when they didn't see it on the label, our testers admitted that their expectations weren't too high.

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Where Is The Nutritional Yeast?

Trader Joe's Cheesy Seasoning bottle
Trader Joe's Cheesy Seasoning bottle - Tasting Table

Powdered cheese is all a manufacturer needs as the base of a cheesy seasoning — or so you might think. Most cheesy seasoning blends on the market are full of additives and dyes, as well as more whey, oil, and anti-caking ingredients than actual cheese. Trader Joe's omits artificial flavors, preservatives, colorings, and hydrogenated oils from its private-label products, not to mention each one undergoes rigorous testing in its test kitchen, yet it couldn't deliver an impressive cheese powder. How did this blend with real cheddar came out tasting so fake? It all could've been avoided if TJ's used some nutritional yeast.

Many people consider vegan nutritional yeast to be the best powdered cheese alternative, including our taste testers. It's a favorite staple in vegan kitchens because of its versatility and impressive amounts of protein and B vitamins. The yeast powder has a cheesy and nutty flavor that would've not only saved the taste of Trader Joe's Cheesy Seasoning, but would also fit right into its usual product standards — not to mention it would make the product inclusive of dairy-free diets.

Our alarms were raised when we didn't see nutritional yeast on the label of TJ's Cheesy Seasoning blend, and our skepticism proved to be warranted. Trader Joe's isn't one to shy away from dairy-free products, and it missed the opportunity to go for it here. Odds are, the yeast would've tasted more like cheese than the combo of cheddar and various powdered flavorings.

Read the original article on Tasting Table