- I'm a Parisian who put 10 of Trader Joe's French products to the test.
- I ranked the offerings from most to least authentic to help shoppers get a real taste of France.
- The mini Basque cheese and mini croissants were surprisingly spot-on and reminded me of home.
Trader Joe's carries French foods ranging from buttery croissants to gooey Brie, so Francophiles should have no trouble finding some of their favorite products at the American grocery-store chain.
As a Parisian who grew up immersed in French cuisine before moving to New York City, I decided to try out some of the store's offerings myself.
Here are 10 of the store's French products that I tasted, ranked from most to least authentic.
Upon tasting the mini Basque cheese, it was immediately apparent to me that the mildly flavored, slightly tangy product was made in France.
The ewes' milk cheese would pair especially well with jam and give any sandwich or cheese board an authentic taste of France. And if you were wondering — yes, you can eat the rind.
In France, the cheese is better known as P'tit Basque (translating to "Lil' Basque"). It's produced in Larceveau, a village in the Basque region that's perched on the Pyrenees mountain range separating France and Spain.
Buttery, flaky, and beloved for their versatility as both sweet and savory snacks, croissants are one of the best-known French foods around the world.
When it comes to trying French baked goods, Trader Joe's mini croissants are a great at-home option. They were very similar to the frozen croissants sold in French supermarkets.
They were made with just the right amount of butter, and the inside melted in my mouth when I ate them, which is exactly what I want to happen when I eat a croissant.
These are perfect to have for breakfast or an afternoon snack. Dip the croissant in coffee or hot chocolate in the morning, or cut one in half and put jam or another sweet spread inside for the ultimate French breakfast.
A specialty from the Northeastern region of Lorraine, this tart — consisting of ingredients like crust, custard, bacon, and cheese — was first enjoyed in the countryside before gaining popularity all over France. Now, bakeries across the country sell it.
Trader Joe's quiche Lorraine was very authentic when it came to its flavor and consistency. The main difference between the tarts in the American store and the ones in France was their size.
At home, a traditional bakery sells the tarts in a smaller size made for individual consumption, but the Trader Joe's version could feed at least two people.
Slice it in half if you're cooking for two people or want to make it into two meals. Or, if you're feeding several, you can cut it four ways and enjoy it as a starter.
This dish would also pair especially well with salads and dips at lunchtime.
Cornichons can be difficult to find outside of France, but of all the pickles I've tried in the US, the ones from Trader Joe's were the most similar to the cornichons I buy in Paris.
The only difference I noticed is that they were a tiny bit less crunchy than your typical French pickle.
Just like its American counterpart, the French pickle is the perfect addition to salads and sandwiches. In France, they're often found on charcuterie boards or on slices of bread with paté spread.
Recreate a typical French sandwich by pairing cornichons and salami on a baguette for a simple, effective combination.
In France, croissants are rarely filled with anything. Almond croissants — filled with frangipane, or almond paste — are an exception.
So if you like this almond flavor or almond paste in desserts, look no further than Trader Joe's almond croissants. They were a true delight.
The croissants were easy to bake in the oven, and I could easily reheat them by popping them into the toaster for a few minutes.
Once they're baked, you can eat them as they come out of the oven, or you can slice them in half and add a drizzle of honey on the inside.
If you like cheese, chances are you're already familiar with Brie, one of France's most traditional foods. Made with cow's milk, it's popular for its creamy texture and mellow flavor.
Trader Joe's triple-creme Brie cheese is a great option if you don't have access to well-known options like Brie de Meaux or Brie de Melun. It's my go-to purchase when I miss cheese from home.
It's very creamy and makes for the perfect appetizer, cheese-board addition, or sandwich filling.
When you're shopping for Brie, make sure the center is gooey. It'll make a huge difference, and it's the main reason this specific Brie is so authentic.
The city of Dijon has earned a reputation for making the best mustard in France.
Trader Joe's Dijon mustard was full of flavor yet not as strong as the regular Dijon I eat in France. But it's a must-have if you like red meat.
This whole-grain mustard can be spread onto meat before cooking it or used as a condiment when your meal is ready to eat.
It wasn't as strong as the whole-grain mustard commonly found in France, but it was just as flavorful.
Trader Joe's vanilla meringues are an accessible version of this treat.
However, the store's product was noticeably heavier, sweeter, and chewier than a traditional French meringue, which is lighter and melts on your tongue as you eat it.
I was a tad weary before trying Trader Joe's macarons, as the store kept them in the freezer. Nonetheless, I gave them a shot.
I was surprised that these macarons weren't frozen on the inside when I ate them. Still, these wouldn't be my French product of choice from Trader Joe's.
I found them to be very sweet and difficult to chew overall, and I missed the soft consistency and light flavor that come with the traditionally prepared pastries at home.
If you're looking to try an authentic French macaron, don't buy them frozen.
Croutons are named after the French word "croûte," which translates to crust.
Made with leftover bread and sometimes seasoned with herbs or garlic, croutons are traditionally tossed in salads or soups to add some crunch to a dish. When in soups, croutons are often topped with cheese.
I was very curious to try Trader Joe's rosemary-croissant croutons. The rosemary was a flavorful addition to the bread and would make a great addition to a salad or a cheese board.
However, I wouldn't add these to a soup. The croutons kept the flaky quality of the croissants they were made from and could therefore become soggy in broth.
Trader Joe's rosemary-croissant croutons had a lot of flavor, but they just weren't authentically French.