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Food and Nutrition

Grocery Spotlight: Trader Joe’s Crunchy Chili Onion (Chili Crisp)

Stephanie Chen, RD | Nutrition Specialist
/ March 3, 2023
Grocery Spotlight: Trader Joe's Crunchy Chili Onion blog

Chili crisp is a delicious and versatile condiment that can add a kick of flavor to your meals. I found this gem of a product while searching online for a chili crisp made using olive or avocado oil, and also that did not have added sugar or MSG (all hallmarks of highly processed food). This is the only one that turned up! There are other gourmet chili crisps out there, but would you believe that they are all made with canola or other seed oils? The only other olive oil based chili crisp I found contains added sugar unfortunately.

Seed Oils vs. Olive Oil

As an aside, expeller-pressed seed oils, while not harmful in small to moderate amounts, are rich in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. The average person already consumes plenty of these through a combination of processed foods, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and animal fats. However, most of us do not get enough heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fatty acids (or omega-3’s, but that’s a topic for a different day). About 75% of olive oil by volume is composed of monounsaturated fats, whereas for avocado oil that number is about 69%. 

Crunchy Chili Onion (Chili Crisp)

Enter Trader Joe’s Crunchy Chili Onion — a delicious chili crisp product containing simple aromatic ingredients and olive oil. The full ingredients list: olive oil, dried onions, dried garlic, dried red bell peppers, crushed chili peppers, toasted dried onions, sea salt, natural flavors, paprika oleoresin (color). While the natural flavors give me pause, you’d be hard pressed to find a cleaner ingredients list unless you make chili crisp yourself at home! 

Like other chili crisps, this Crunchy Chili Onion is savory, packed with umami, and offers the tiniest bit of heat. If you are sensitive to spice, maybe skip this product. For most palates, it is pretty mild. 

If you look at the bottle up close, you’ll see a thick layer of oil on top. I like to dip a spoon into the jar and drain off the excess oil before adding the chili crisp to absolutely everything. If you mix the product evenly before serving, it’s about 110 calories per tablespoon. For VLCD, limit the serving size to 1-2 teaspoons in place of other fats at your meal. 

Try Trader Joe’s Crunchy Chili Onion in stir fries, bowls, wraps, roasted veggies, and more!

Trader Joe's Crunchy Chili Onion (Chili Crisp)
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