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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Trader Joe's Chili Onion Crunch

In my neighborhood growing up, every couple years, PENNDOT would oil and chip all the street tops. It'd drive everyone in my family crazy. For me and my siblings, it was so much harder to bike on, and when your biggest source of income was an after-school paper route for which you needed to bike, it made for the rough juvenile equivalent of a hard day at the office. For my parents, it'd ding up the bottom of the cars and set my dad off on an occasional "this crap is what they do with my taxes??" rant (usually mild around us kids)...but I could tell it was just one more thing to aggravate the living heck out of them. As a parent now myself, I can understand it - one added thing atop of work, family, bills, taxes, whatever else. It'd set me off too.

Wait a minute delivering newspapers after school? Did I just date myself? I'm only in my mid-thirties I swear.

Anyways, oil and chips...kinda like Trader Joe's Chili Onion Crunch.

No, no, I'm not suggesting this newish product tastes like asphalt. Indeed, it's infinitely more suitable for a potluck rather than a pothole.

Just open it though. There's a huge pool of olive oil at the top. Stir it up, and you can hear all the crunchy tidbits swirling around. Crunchunchunchcrunch. It's absolutely audible, in some sort of edible slurry concoction. Dried onions. Dried garlic. More dried onions. Dried peppers. All literally swimming in oil in still crunchified state.

Needless to say, this is some oily, gritty stuff. I can absolutely see this being a textural stumbling block for some people. Sandy and I plopped some atop some grill-toasted baguette and it worked well as the bread sopped up the oil a bit leaving only the crunchers. Could work tossed in with some veggies or on some grilled chicken or pork, too. But something like eggs? No way, at least not in my book. Gritty eggs. Blecch.

And taste? Ehhh. The chili onion crunch got a little heat, that's for sure. It's more palpable if you get a heavy dose. But really, what the dominant flavor seems to be is the garlic. And it's not necessarily good garlic either, depending on your criteria. Karen, our favorite local TJ's employee, warned it was garlicky but "not in a good way" and I can see what she means. Garlic can either be strong and robust, or kinda "musty" for a lack of better word. This stuff strays towards the garlic stank and not the garlic strength. Any other flavor kinda fills in a little bit to give a little body to lead up towards the heat.

In the end, I think this could be one of those "a little goes a long way" type items. Add a little atop a burger, on some bread, mixed in with some grilled veggies or whatever, but just enough to get a little added flavor, and not enough to turn your dish into an oily, gritty, garlic-stanked dish. We'll use it for sure but I'm not yet convinced it's a repurchase. Set us back about $3 if I recall right.

Four spoons from the Mrs - she loved it more than I did. I'll be nice and give it a 3.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Chili Onion Crunch: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. Am I the only one who’s wondering how the onions stay crunchy in oil? And am I the only one who had to google oil and chip roads?

  2. Super toasted onions...and maybe oil and chip roads are more of a PA thing?

  3. Thank you!! I have been looking for a good review for this stuff. Think I'll take a pass - not into stanky garlic

  4. Maybe use the oil for cooking. Giving it flavor. Mix in with burgers and then brush the oil on it. Or make bagels out of it.

  5. I have to disagree. I think this product is amazing. So much flavor and texture and a little kick of heat at the end. We are finding endless uses for it. One of our top 5 favorite Trader Joe”s items of all time. You should definitely give it another try.

  6. Sounds a bit like lao gan ma chili crisp, but less good!

  7. I loved the idea of this and the flavor is great. It was oddly gritty - almost like sand, but I still want to play with it since I think the flavor is good.