I Tried Trader Joe’s New Pumpkin Empanadas—and Was Sorely Disappointed

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Empanadas

I think it’s common knowledge by now that Trader Joe’s goes hard in the fall-themed items. Every year when September hits, their shelves seem to be overwhelmed by pumpkin, squash, and other overtly autumnal flavors. Each year they bring back old favorites like butternut squash macaroni and cheese and cinnamon bun spread, as well as dropping new projects, like these new Pumpkin Empanadas. I don’t usually love super-sweet fall flavors, so I was excited to see these hand pies, and snapped them up immediately.

Now, I’ll just come out and say it—I was ultimately disappointed. The pumpkin-filled empanadas couldn’t quite seem to decide if they wanted to be sweet or savory. I typically associate empanadas with a savory filling, though they’re made differently across Central and South American countries. Trader Joe’s version… while they’re not distinctly sweet, are also not distinctly savory. Which means they’re really just kind of bland.


And so it begins

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I baked mine for about 15 minutes, just as the package directs, and was excited to see that they definitely cooked up crispy and golden. When I bit into them, though, I felt like I was eating a filling made of straight-up canned pumpkin. There wasn’t a super-strong sweetness, but I could definitely taste the presence of traditional baking spices. One look at the package confirmed this: The ingredient list includes cloves, cinnamon, ginger and allspice, as well as brown and cane sugar.

The box, which contains 4 empanadas, would probably work as dessert. If you paired the empanadas with sweetened whipped cream or ice cream; lots of people would be excited to eat them, I’m sure. But they need that extra push—without an additional sweet flavor, they seem kind of unsure of their identity. Are you a snack or appetizer? An easy lunch option? One thing is for sure—they won’t be showing up in my freezer again anytime soon.

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