Trader Joe's proprietary foodstuffs are notoriously hit or miss. When they're on target, enthusiastic consumers can't get enough and stand in line to stock up. When they miss, they sometimes do so spectacularly. Knowing this, we weren't sure what to expect when we dished up Trader Joe's Chunky Salsa ($1.99 for a 16-ounce jar) and passed out the tortilla chips.
As it turns out, this one was more a hit than a miss. The strength of this salsa, labeled Trader Jose's, is its savory taste. Bright with tomato acidity and spicy but not too hot, it extracts maximum impact from jalapeños, coriander, paprika, and onions, among other ingredients. Panelists particularly noted its "chili powder flavor."
The texture is where Trader Joe's Chunky Salsa unravels a bit. It has the consistency of a well-blended tomato purée, and although it has substance, it's a little more watered-down than our tasters preferred. The homogenous pulpiness of this salsa gives it what one panelist called a "funky mouth feel." Although our reviewers found room for improvement in the texture, they still ranked this salsa fairly high on the list.
Online reviews are almost nil, but the brand loyalists behind the niche blog What's Good at Trader Joe's profiled this salsa in a post a few years back. While consistency bumped the salsa from great to good in the minds of our tasters, it had no such effect on this review. The salsa claimed 9.5 out of 10 points for having good flavor with a little "kick."
Trader Joe's Chunky Salsa is on the cheaper end of the price range, at 12 cents an ounce, solidifying its status as a good cheap salsa.