Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Trader Joe's Peppered Uncured Turkey Bacon

Nathan's right. It s kinda silly that leading up to Thanksgiving we've featured Thai products two posts in a row. So let's talk some turkey, shall we? Chances are, in just a few days time, you'll have more turkey leftovers than what you'll know what to do with - too good to throw out, the food pantries won't take it, but before too long you'll be sick of it. Never fear; there's some okay looking recipe websites out there that'll give you plenty of tips (although some look a little gross. Like Thanksgiving in a Cone. Blecch).

Not a single one of these sites will tell you how to make turkey bacon, though I can presume how it's made: mix and mash up all the random turkey bits you can, process them down with a couple random spices, form into a thin loaf-like shape, put a heavy coating of pepper on the outside, and cut into thick strips. To cook, drizzle some oil in a pan and cook to either it's limp, greasy and heated, or burn the crud out of it and hope for the best.

If that doesn't sound so great, well, there's a reason: it isn't. I've extolled my love of bacon before so I'm not going to go over that all over again. But dangit, bacon is either pork, or it isn't bacon at all. Trader Joe's Peppered Uncured Turkey Bacon is no exception. It tastes just like how presume it was made, which kinda left me with the impression it was Turkey Spam. For cooking, we went the "blacken and pray" route, and while the outside got burnt and semi-palatable, the insides were left chewy, kinda funky, and Turkey-Jerky-esque. The cooking instructions say to heat for a couple minutes on both sides but all that produces is the aforementioned big floppy greasy strip of meat. The directions also ominously say "results may vary." Tastewise, it's mostly pepper, though the meat is a little sweet from the applewood smoking it undergoes. It's okay, but it doesn't taste enough like bacon to either one of us. I should've guessed that before buying, with poultry being such a lean meat and fat being such a key part of the bacon equation, but the thought didn't cross my mind. I just saw cheap ($2.99) bacon and decided to try it out.

I can understand people liking it though. Nutritionally, it's a bazillion times better for you. Almost no fat or calories, no nitrates, yada yada, all that good stuff. And perhaps things like turkey bacon are an acquired taste, and perhaps this is good for the aficionados out there, and if it is, go enjoy. For Sandy and I, we're just a little confused that while TJ's can consistently offer a reasonably good alternative meat products like soy chorizo, veggie sausage, beefless ground beef, or heck, even a meatless corn dog, they can't do the same for one animal stepping in for another one. I made us a panfull for breakfast over the weekend, and for once my scrambled eggs were the highlight on the plate. Sandy, who I thought would be in a better place to appreciate this TJ product, actually had much the same thought as I did. "It just doesn't get crispy, which I like, and it tastes kinda weird," she said. I concur. She went with a 2.5 for it, while I'll knock it a half-spoon down from there.

Bottom line: 4.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. bake it. it gets crispy and delicious.

  2. I had heard turkey bacon has more calories and is not all that great nutritionally... Saw it discussed on a talk show and even the host (oprah) was surprised because she was a proponent of turkey bacon... and yes, there are a few things that tj's puts out that isn't all that.. just ask the employees- they'll be truthful... Your store should have a house taster on site- mine does.

  3. This is not my favorite thing. When it comes to bacon, I want bacon, not something pretending to be bacon. :-), Susan Cooper

  4. We tried baking the last half of the package this past weekend. Better, but not by much n our opinion. Susan, once again, I agree with you completely :)

  5. If you DO like turkey bacon already though the TJ's one is a billion times better than the Oscar Mayer or whatever at the regular grocery store. TJ's is a thicker cut and better quality.

    It's not bacon, but it is the best TURKEY bacon I've ever found.

  6. I get their regular uncured turkey bacon (1.5 g fat, 180 mg sodium). Microwave a slice for 42 sec in a paper towel, cut it up and mix it into a salad with a bit of bleu cheese crumble.

  7. TJ's Turkey bacon is my favorite. I bake it at 400 for 18 minutes on parchment paper. The paper absorbs the watery and greasy and leaves the crunchy and tasty. True, it's not bacon bacon, but 3 slices with 1/2 of a TJ's quiche is a perfect breakfast. But you HAVE to get up in time to bake it. There is no way to nuke it and get this consistency of crunchy yummy goodness.

  8. I know this is an old post but it as a late in life turkey bacon lover (my 3yo cannot have pork), I can say that for starters this was probably gross because it contained carrageenan, which is not only horrible for you but you can taste it in foods as well. We stick with Applegate Farms turkey bacon, best and closest resembling to pork bacon we have found. Hope that helps!