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Monday, February 13, 2017

Trader Joe's Honey Walnut Shrimp

It should be pretty simple, really. Read a food package, have a reasonable understanding of what's inside and what it would taste like. Or read the ingredients or nutrition label, and figure out if it's a product you should/want to eat or not. That's not so easily always the case, of course, and I'm not talking about personal error to cause a misjudgement (though those rolls were still gross). Just last week I reviewed Trader Joe's Honey Butter Chips, and made mention of the bag stating 70 calories per serving. That caused several readers to report seeing signs at their local TJ's stating they were actually 150 calories per serving. Upon further reflection, a label error makes more sense than chips made from more or less the usual ingredients having half the caloric value of their fried spud brethren. Doesn't make that any less frustrating, of course.

Here's a less devious example: Trader Joe's Honey Walnut Shrimp.

Should be easy, right? Honey. Walnuts. Shrimp. I know what all those taste like separate, and can imagine what they would be like altogether, and my mental tongue thinks its delicious. Can't be much more straightforward than that.

So why do I taste nothing but pineapple?

Well, yes, the walnuts and shrimp are also present, and obviously so, but the honey? Not so much. It's there as a subtly sweet lingering flavor, in a delicious manner, but the overarching taste by far is pineapple. It totally takes over the milky sauce that, like other similar TJ's products, comes in a separate packet to defrost and pour over/mix in the shrimp. Unlike most other TJ's products, there's actually more than enough sauce, enough to leave a veritable puddle, instead of the usual just-barely-enough portions. Wish we had some cauliflower rice on hand to help sop all that up, because it's pretty tangy, sweet, and know, like a pineapple should be, at the expense of honey flavor that I'd be hardpressed to discern if I didn't know to look out for it.

It's all pretty good otherwise. The shrimp baked up extremely well in the oven, and were firm and fresh with a crispy tempiura batter that held up well in the sauce. TJ's got that down to a science. The walnuts were a little sparse, but when present added a little earthy crunch. Pretty tasty overall, but only if you like pineapple.

Sandy swears this is very similar to a dish we ate two years ago at a Chinese New Year celebration we attended. I'll take her word for it...I can barely remember dinner from two days ago, let alone two years ago on a night we were served about 20 different dishes. It was about $6 or $7 for the shrimp, and was ample enough portion for us two adults, so a good value compared to take out/delivery. We both enjoyed it quite a bit, but really, a more accurate product name would be Pineapple Walnut Shrimp, which sounds just as delicious to me. What say you?

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Honey Walnut Shrimp: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. Honey walnut shrimp is definitely a chinese festival item. So wife is probably right. White sauce is mayo, honey, condensed milk.

    It can be yummy with candied crispy walnuts. Interested in what this would taste like.

  2. Weird. The rather common Chinese version is pineapple free. Since the sauce is so simple you could certainly whisk together your own sauce while it cooks- although i think it's fine with milk or evaporated milk (previous comment about condensed milk i think should be evaporated milk- not the super sweet condensed milk)

  3. But does it taste like Panda Express's Honey Walnut shrimp?

    1. I just had it for dinner for the first time. I actually found it better than Panda Express. My Husband always gets it when he goes to Panda and he likes Trader Joe's better. It cooks quick and the sauce is a nice heavy sauce that is sweet. I got more of a honey butter flavor. It's really good.

  4. I just tried this and it was disgusting. I order this dish whenever I go to Chinese restaurants and this was nothing like Panda. The shrimp baked OK but it was the sauce they ruined it for me. A sour, sweaty sock smell. No honey flavor at all just sweet and really sour. Fail.

  5. Just made this. Good effort by TJ's but overall missed the mark. Shrimp baked up really well. It definitely does NOT taste like Panda Express or any other Chinese take out I've had, but it's still good. The sauce tastes more like a sweet and sour cream sauce with a strong pineapple flavor. Really didn't get the honey. You also get barely any walnuts so I toasted some and added them to my mix. I'd give it a 6/10; don't think I'd but it again because I prefer the creamy/honey flavor over the creamy/fruity flavor. In the future I'll just buy a bag of tempura shrimp (can get more shrimp for the same price) and make my own sauce and add my own toasted walnuts (which I usually have on hand as a pantry item).

  6. usually tj's food is pretty good... this did not taste anything like honey walnut shrimp. probably wouldn't eat it again if i got paid $20 to. the flour coating the shrimp was way too tough, and the sauce tasted disgusting relative to honey walnut shrimp at restaurants and Panda. the shrimp itself tasted decent, but the sauce and coating was nowhere near good. sorry, tj's!

  7. I'm a long time fan of Honey Walnut Shrimp (also known as Princess Prawns sometimes) - and for such a simple sauce I'm really disappointed with how bad it tastes!

    The sauce is mayo (I spring for Kewpie mayo from Japan, but I don't usually like mayo), condensed milk, and honey. I really don't understand where this sour flavor came from. Does the package say it has pineapple in it? Bizarre!

    There's also like, no candied walnuts! Usually this dish is made with whole walnut halves, candied, and usually about as many walnut halves as shrimp pieces.

    Overall, the first real bad experience I've had with Trader Joe's.

  8. Worst product I’ve tried at TJ’s. No exaggeration - the sauce tastes and smells like puke. I really don’t understand how this product made it to shelves. I will never ever buy it again. TJs I hope you’re listening.

  9. Just had it. Sauce was a bit too tangy and sour. No sweetness at all. Much like the taste of old. Shrimp was good. Walnuts were bitter and stale.

  10. Completely agree, not tasty at all. Take this L Trader Joe’s for this product.

  11. We tried this and did not like it. Nothing like what we’ve enjoyed in a restaurant.
    The sauce is not sweet at all and there was only about 10 walnuts total.
    We’ll never buy it again.

  12. This sauce was horrible. It tasted sour with a strange rotted pineapple taste. The shrimp baked up great in the oven, but the sauce destroyed the taste.

  13. Maybe I got a bad batch, but I didn't find a single walnut in my package. Plus, the sauce it came with almost had a cream cheese frosting flavor instead of the usual sweetened mayo. Definitely not purchasing this again.

  14. Disgusting! Sauce was milky, stinky, and tasted nothing like honey...too much batter on the shrimp left the inside raw and pasty while the outside was tough and chewy. So nasty. FAIL

  15. I was so excited to have this with some good rice noodles. I tasted before adding the sauce and it was great, but the sauce ruined everything. I literally wanted to puke when eating it. First time Trader Joe's has let me down so bad.


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