Even Chefs Admit to Stocking These 9 Store-Bought Frozen Desserts in Their Freezers

We're melting about how amazing these nostalgic treats sound.

A variety of frozen treats on a blue background
Photo: Meredith

Sure, many restaurant chefs have access to world-class desserts from the pastry chefs that whip up tender cakes, crunchy-topped crème brûlées, and other fancy confections as the final course for their patrons.

But chefs rarely have time to sit down for a plated dessert in the middle of dinner rush. So just as they're secretly in love with these 10 Trader Joe's products, many executive chefs (and even pastry chefs!) from coast to coast admitted to us that they're hopelessly devoted to some store-bought frozen desserts.

As a general rule, anything goes, with one rule of thumb: "Look for products with as few ingredients as possible on the label," suggests Meg Walker, CEO and executive chef of Made by Meg in Los Angeles. "Also try to avoid sugar alcohols, which make for harder frozen treats, since real sugar is what makes frozen treats soft. And if you're feeling 'stuck,' try a brand that you don't recognize. Just open the freezer door and look for something new because it's probably from an awesome company that just made it onto the shelf!"

Discover which widely available and sweetly nostalgic desserts help these talented chefs keep their cool.

Klondike Oreo Ice Cream Sandwiches

Klondike Oreo Ice Cream Sandwiches box on a white background

Victor King, the executive chef and co-owner of The Essential and Bandit Patisserie in Birmingham, Ala., echoes Walker's sentiments about sugar substitutes or other "light" ingredients. "My one and only tip is don't buy diet things. Decadence is rewarding!" For that reason, he adores Klondike Bars ($3.49 for four; Target). "They're unbeatable, and the Oreo flavor is best."

Tillamook Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches

tillamook SALTED CARAMEL ICE CREAM SANDWICH on a white background
Courtesy of Tillamook

Walker also loves Tillamook Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches ($3.99 for four; Target), which features silky salted caramel ice cream stuffed inside two chocolate-coated brown sugar-scented waffle cone cookies. (These are also available in Chocolate Mudslide and Vanilla Bean varieties if you prefer even more classic flavors.)

Blue Bunny's Butter Pecan Ice Cream

A pint of Blue Bunny butter pecan ice cream on a white background
Courtesy of Blue Bunny

If a pastry chef stocks it in her own freezer, you know an old-fashioned frozen dessert has to be good!

Felicia Mayden, executive pastry chef at Lovage in the Ace Hotel Chicago, is big on the custardy texture and the decadent buttery and nutty flavor of Blue Bunny's Butter Pecan Ice Cream ($4 for 48 ounces; Instacart).

"It reminds me of the ice cream that my family used to make in one of those old-school churners! I eat straight up scoops in a bowl or in a cone. I like to let the ice cream or sorbet speak for itself." she explains. She frequently also grabs pints of ice cream by Ben & Jerry's, Häagen-Dazs, or Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams.

Talenti Dairy-Free Roman Raspberry Sorbet

Talenti Dairy-Free Roman Raspberry Sorbet on a white background
Courtesy of Target

"I typically look for products that use as many natural ingredients as possible," Mayden adds. "That attention to detail gives the ice cream or sorbet a better flavor." She's particularly fond of this dairy-free sorbet that's made with just five ingredients and "tastes so pure; like frozen raspberries. I've tried to recreate this raspberry sorbet at work!"

Trader Giotto's Tiramisu Torte

Ann Kirk, pastry chef at Little Dom's and Little Dom's Seafood in the Los Angeles metro area often fills her freezer with desserts that are ideal for year-round occasions — to turn to on her nights off.

"I like many of the frozen desserts at Trader Joe's! The Trader Giotto's Tiramisu Torte [$6.99 for a seven-serving, 19-ounce torte; select Trader Joe's locations] is designed to be served frozen, so no thaw time is necessary. That factor makes this ideal for last-minute entertaining," she says. The coffee-flavored torte "is super-creamy yet light, and not too sweet. With a nice balance of espresso, mascarpone and chocolate, this tiramisu is a perfect way to end the meal without knocking you out."

Trader Joe's New York Deli-Style Baked Cheesecake

"Another from Trader Joe's is their New York Deli-Style Baked Cheesecake [$6.99 for a four-serving, 30 ounces cake; select Trader Joe's locations]. Yes, it's plain but that makes it customizable," Kirk says.

After thawing it at room temperature for about an hour, she enjoys dressing up her pre-made cheesecake with fresh berries, a seasonal fruit compote, chocolate sauce, or lemon curd. "The options are endless to make it seem homemade!"

Blue Bunny Load'd Sundaes

three blue bunny load'd sundae cups on a white background
Courtesy of Blue Bunny

It's all about the texture — and the simplicity — of Blue Bunny Load'd Sundaes ($3.69 for 8.5 ounces; Instacart) for Meg Walker, CEO and executive chef of Made by Meg in Los Angeles.

"They're so soft! Usually, really soft ice cream is a sign of a cleaner ice cream with less chemicals and preservatives, making it naturally soft and delicious," Walker adds, and these are made mostly with buttermilk, sugar milk, coconut oil, whey, cream, and cocoa powder. "The sundae-in-a-cup concept is slick; it's a complete dessert that you can just take right out of the freezer," she says.

Walker's favorite is the Mint Chocolate Chunk variety, "which has fudge, mint chips, chocolate chunks...the whole biz! I always keep these in my freezer for simple entertaining or just for the kids. I'll either pop the top off and serve as-is, or if I'm feeling fancy, I'll top them with whipped cream and sliced almonds."

Marinela Gansito

Marinela Gansito snack cakes on a white bckground
Courtesy of Walmart

Originally designed as a room temperature pantry staple for brown bag lunches and after-school snacks, Katsuji Tanabe, executive chef at A'Verde Cocina and Tequila Library in Cary, N.C., has a frozen dessert hack for these Mexican snack cakes: "I first had Gansito in my school cafeteria. And today, I still have it at home in my freezer! Gansito, which means 'little Geese,' is a vanilla cake topped with strawberry preserves, pastry cream, covered in chocolate with chocolate chips. Many years ago, it was impossible to find in America, but in the last couple of years, you can find it at many stores or bodegas [and online: $28.50 for two 24-cake boxes; Amazon]. You won't find Gansito in the freezer section, though; they're sold in the same section as Twinkie's. We put them in the freezer to bring back those memories as a kid in Mexico." Eat one straight from the freezer or slightly thawed for a refreshing sweet treat.

Dove Vanilla Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Bars

Dove Vanilla & Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Bar
Courtesy of Target

Who needs hot cocoa bombs when you can try this far-easier and much-quicker fix? Kraig Hansen, executive chef at Fable Lounge in Nashville, keeps a box of Dove Vanilla Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Bars ($4.29 for three; Target) in his freezer to grab any time he's in the mood for a makeshift milkshake. "I warm a glass of milk, and then put a bar into the glass, stick-side up, then stir the milk using the stick to make a creamy chocolate shake. It's a great dessert that is not overly sweet and perfect for after a late-night meal," and can be customized with any of their wide variety of flavors, including vanilla ice cream with milk chocolate, chocolate ice cream with dark chocolate, vanilla ice cream with milk chocolate and almonds, raspberry sorbet with dark chocolate, and caramel swirl ice cream with milk chocolate cashew.

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