Review of Trader Joe’s Marinated Meats

Update: May 11th

I could write about something meaningful like Ferguson, but instead, I’ll review the marinated meat aisle of Trader Joe’s. I’m a working mom, with an infant. I love cooking, and have this idea of cooking for my small family each night. The reality, of course is “fend for yourself,” — FFY– eating leftovers or Mac & Cheese. I’ve started making compromises, in hopes of actually being able to do this more. So, introducing: Trader Joe’s marinated meats. It’s more expensive than buying raw meat and cooking, but does speed up (sometimes) the process. Here is my informal review. I live 2 blocks from TJ’s, so it’s quite easy. I’m also trying to get more experimental about spices and flavors. My default mode is: vinaigrette. So trying these new marinades is opening me up to new flavors. Enjoy, and please comment if you have ideas & suggestions.

Flat Iron Chipotle Beef Chuck Steak Flavored in Chipotle Pepper Sauce

This was by far the best marinated meats. We both got a bit of an upset stomach, I think because we ate it so fast and so hard. Amazing marinade. Very spicy- baby didn’t get any. Something about it, the peppery loveliness of it. Strongly recommend.

Marinated Chicken Tenders

This was my first foray. Pretty good, and pleased with the time to make. Flavoring was OK, not spectacular (like below). I believe I served it with Trader Joe’s refrigerated dough biscuits (which were amazing, and a dessert for a few nights since), a fresh salad with – guess! – vinaigrette dressing, and kale. My partner loves kale, so just assume it’s with every meal.


My favorite so far. Fast to make, very flavorful. Accompanied by rice, steamed string beans in vinaigrette, salad. So nice and fast to make. Easy, since I start the rice cooker, heat up the pan, and quickly fry the meat. And, wow, flavor. I serve with steamed rice, and it is a great plain accompaniment. That really set my expectation for the other ones. I’m a bit biased for bulgogi since my best friend growing up was Korean and her mom taught me this recipe, which is pretty complex, so I appreciate a good pre-made marinade. Served with it: Home-made biscuits that sucked, brown rice with wild rice mixed in, green salad.

Pork Tenderloin Peppercorn

My least favorite, this looked absolutely disgusting raw, and not much better cooked. And, it took forever to make. 20 minutes on the stovetop to “brown” (relative term, it went from flesh colored to dark tan), then in the oven for 30 minutes.

But how did it taste? Not as good as a pork tenderloin I had the night before. It is cheaper than the others- weighing in at $10 (1.5 lbs). Pork is so cheap, and I actually have some good recipes for pork, so I won’t buy this again. As pork goes of course, we got a lot of meat and it’ll be great for lunches. The flavoring was so/so. My partner loved it, I was not impressed. The problem with peppercorns is actually eating a whole one. So I did, a few times while I was cooking, testing the done-ness of the meat, and that skewed everything. Served with it: kale and fennel bulb roasted in- surprise!- vinaigrette, butter and wine (trying to mask kale’s bitterness), steamed brown rice.


  1. Comment by Sally Schroeder

    Posted on December 15, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    Nils's favorite is the bulgogi, but we cook the Peppercorn Port Tenderloin all the time. Make sure you don't over cook it…just a little pink inside is nice. When browning, have your pan on high eat with olive oil, it will sear quickly. Also yummy, is making plum sauce (saute chopped onions or shallots in a small pan, add plum jam to simmer gently, and maybe add a bit of red wine vinegar or balsamic for kick, pour over sliced pork tenderloin.

  2. Comment by banane

    Posted on December 15, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    omg thanks for the sauce recommendation! Yeah I had the pan on too low, and was multi-tasking, ha. Still, I felt it took too long. Baking was fine because the fennel/kale was in with it. We were both scarred from seeing it raw, haha.

  3. Comment by Rainbucket

    Posted on December 15, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    With the pork tenderloin I've had good results doing a super fast sear over high heat and the rest in the oven. How did it end up on the stove for 20 minutes?

  4. Comment by banane

    Posted on December 15, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Yeah, you & Sally are right- I had it on too low.

  5. Comment by NancyPinSF

    Posted on December 15, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Yeah, be sure to pat the meat dry before searing — that also helps. Good tip
    on the bulgogi, we'll have to try. I just ran across something I'd
    never heard of but is basically this concept but homemade – “dump”
    chicken or whatever. Sounds delish when they put it that way, no? But the idea is you put a few ingredients
    in a gallon zip bag, mix and add whatever (like boneless chicken
    breasts), throw it in your fridge overnight. and cook however you want
    the next day. Some of these sounded pretty good — and probably better
    for you since you can control salt and won't have some of other
    additives that might be in store-marinated meats.

  6. Comment by Lorraine Nelson Tom

    Posted on December 16, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    TJ's Thai Green Curry sauce in a jar. Saute chicken and peppers (you can chop up fresh or get the package of frozen). Pour in the sauce. Put some dollops of sour cream in at the end. Serve over rice. Oh la la. Better the next day. Also, we love stir frying pork with their fresh stir fry veggies (in a tub in the veggie aisle). Then, we put in a bit of the General Tsao Sauce (or just some soy). Serve over rice. Since I live in type 2 diabetic land I serve all this stuff over steamed cauliflower. Works fine.Oh la la again. TJ's rules. And only 2 blocks away. Awesome.

  7. Comment by banane

    Posted on December 16, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    oh good call!

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