We’re less than a week out from Hanukkah, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably left all the event planning to the eleventh hour. Well, there’s no need to fear because America’s darling casual grocer Trader Joe’s offers a plethora of Hanukkah items amongst their other fan-favorite snacks. From frozen latkes you can buy in bulk, to easy gift cards with a Hanukkah grocery list literally printed on the side, your Hanukkah party definitely won’t require any miracles this year.
1. Frozen Potato Pancakes
Eating frozen latkes from Trader Joe’s are a huge core holiday memory of mine, and you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. These potato pancakes keep crazy good in your freezer and can be warmed up in a well-oiled skillet or even — shh — in the microwave. There’s a reason these can be bought year-round.
2. Cauliflower Pancakes
Personally, seeing cauliflower products sometimes sends a shiver down my spine due to the great vegetable-substitute agenda of the late 2010’s that shoved items like zucchini noodles and cauliflower rice down our throats. However, even though Trader Joe’s does propport these pancakes to be “on trend” — they’re pretty dang good. Flavored with parmesan cheese and leeks (a nuanced nod to Sephardic Hanukkah fritters?), they’re an extra-delicious way to get some vegetables on the table without it feeling like a chore.
3. Organic Apple Banana Fruit Sauce Crushers
Ok, these crushers could potentially be baby food, but you know what they also are? A convenient way for your friends to dress all those frozen latkes you made them. Never worry about germs at your next Hanukkah function again with these individual portions of apple (and banana sauce). They still hold up from your lunchbox days.
4. Sour Cream
I’m well aware of the different latke topping factions that people fall into, so for all my sour cream girlies — Trader Joe’s has a big tub waiting for you. It’s creamy, it’s classic and as their website puts it: “No babushka necessary!”
5. Sparkling Cider
Ah yes, the champagne of juices. It’s practically heresy to not offer your guests something bubbly during a celebration; plus, with all that fried food? You need some cider to wash it down.
6. Dark Chocolate Star Cookies
Although these aren’t specifically branded as Hanukkah treats — star shaped? In blue packaging? C’mon. Bringing a box of these to a party is infinitely easier than trying to decorate a haphazard dreidel sugar cookie, and although “addictive” gets thrown around a lot when it comes to food, with a semisweet chocolate coat and crunchy sprinkles you can crush at least 20 of these at a time.
If you’re wondering why this is on here, clearly you haven’t visited our easy two-ingredient sufganiyot recipe in a while. To refresh your memory: You stuff biscuit dough with a classic filling of your choice and deep fry it. The flaky, buttery pastry works perfectly for flavorful, last-minute donuts, and you can get all the ingredients at TJ’s.
8. Hanukkah Gift Cards
Eight days of gift giving is a little intimidating, so if you’re pressed to find a couple more, a Trader Joe’s gift card would probably be a life saver for a lot of people during the holiday season. This year, they’ve designed some Hanukkah-specific gift cards with a Hanukkah grocery list of applesauce, sour cream, latkes, challah and blintzes (interesting) printed on the back. A perfect way to celebrate the flavors of the season without all the heavy lifting.
The Trader Joe’s candy section brings out the kid in me every time I find myself strolling through the aisle, most likely due to the fact that everything is either shaped like a penguin or an octopus. Thankfully, TJ’s got the memo and also keeps buckets of shiny golden gelt well-stocked during this time of year. It’s classic, it’s essential for a high-stakes dreidel and now, you don’t have to go to any other retail store to get it on your grocery run.
10. Challah Greeting Cards
You really forget how much random stuff Trader Joe’s makes until you get to the front of the store and say to yourself: “Since when did they sell body exfoliant?” No matter, they also keep kitschy greeting cards on deck for those last minute apology flowers, or a thoughtful Hanukkah gift. They have special food design ones this year, with printed challah and festive latke party-themed cards. Even if you can’t cook to save your life, sometimes, a card showing you care is plenty. Especially if it has a hand-drawn challah on it.