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Rating Trader Joe’s Foods: Cacio E Pepe 

Trader Joe’s grocery store has been around for quite some time. They engage the public with their unique products that “you can only find at Trader Joe’s”. A new fandom has arisen among TikTok where many people review different products from the store. I decided to take matters into my own hands and taste these good foods. My name is Carly Busfield and this is Rating Trader Joe’s.  

Today, I am discussing two enticing products from the store that encase the simple, two-ingredient dish: Cacio E Pepe. This dish is literally just cheese and black pepper, but it tastes more complex than that. Cacio E Pepe is comforting and warm during these colder months. This pasta gives a big hug and makes for a great, easy family meal.  

Ingredients for Cacio E Pepe from Bon Appetit.

Product Review: Cacio E Pepe Puffs

I tried the puffs first immediately. I was drawn to the sleek, black packaging that showed the cheesy product on the front. “Puffed snacks” are in now as people are trying to eat healthier and cleaner. These air-fried snacks are less calories for a plentiful serving. These were $1.99 for 4.9oz.  

The Trader Joe’s site shares an in-depth description of these airy snacks: “Starting from a base of puffed organic corn meal and organic brown rice flour, our supplier coats these delicately crispy Puffs with a seasoning blend that includes dried, organic Cheddar and Romano cheeses and organic black pepper.” 

Organic Cacio E Pepe Cheese & Pepper Corn & Rice Snacks sure is a long snack name/description, but the taste wholeheartedly made up for the dreary naming. These puff snacks reminded me initially of Pirate’s Booty, but more of a Jax Cheese Curls texture. The ratio of cheese to black peppercorn was perfect because the pepper taste was very notable. I’d say it was more of a 60/40 ratio with the black pepper being more notable, but that’s what I think people would want.  

They have that notable, cheesy fingertip one would get from eating Cheeto’s. It provides the “Cheeto Effect” with a twist because it’s Trader Joe’s AND Cacio E Pepe. How much more unique can you get? It is a shame I am not amidst a Trader Joe’s much of my year because these would be in my pantry weekly. These would definitely get a high spot on my weekly list.  

I would rate this Trader Joe’s snack a 9/10. These puffs tasted THAT good, but there’s always room for improvement.

Product Review: Cacio E Pepe Gnocchi

Being a college student, sometimes you get sick of pasta. I’m sure plenty of other undergrads can agree with me. It’s a simple easy meal that is hard to mess up. Let’s take it up a step with Trader Joe’s Cacio E Pepe Gnocchi. The bag held three servings and was $2.99.

This was an easy meal because it was made to be cooked straight from the freezer, not that I have had it frozen necessarily long. It had a nice potato text and the individual pieces were quite large. All you had to do was add a little bit of water to a non-stick pan, add the gnocchi from the freezer bag, and cover for a few minutes. After you have covered and let it cook for a few minutes, uncover them and occasionally stir until fully cooked with the sauce. Easy! 

One touch I admired was that you could actually see and taste the whole peppercorns scattered. There were some crushed, but to see whole peppercorns made me happy. I will admit it was rich and filling, but the size of them was deceiving. I was not sure how much to make unless looking that the serving size. The portion of gnocchi was not something to eyeball.  

I was unsure that the flavor would be distinguishable or if the texture would end up being too soft. However, this freezer-based meal hit the spot. I do think the temperature ranged throughout the gnocchi which prolonged the cooking for me. I read in previous reviews that some found these to be mushy, but I think this affect was from them being frozen which I cannot complain much about.

They did not need any added flavor. Although, shredded cheese would have been a nice touch. This rich meal satisfied and made for a nourishing warm, winter dinner for a first week back at college.  

I would rate this Trader Joe’s meal a 7.6 out of 10. I think this meal was very tasty and filled in as a unique change to a traditional college pasta or macaroni and cheese. Yet, I felt like I needed something more. Maybe a vegetable or a protein along in it would have been nice.