There are so many things to love about Costco. The wholesale giant has become one of the world’s largest retailers, achieving tons of success in just a few short decades. The first warehouse opened in 1983, and since then Costco has grown to nearly 800 locations around the world, raking in nearly $150 billion in sales annually. Costco’s secret? Ignoring the traditional rules of retail, as Hustle puts it. It’s why their stores look so different than a typical supermarket or department store. And it’s why you can get such incredible deals. Costco has some of the lowest markups of any retail brand, and is constantly finding ways to pass on savings to customers.
Costco generates a lot of its revenue from membership fees. Because of its untraditional retail approach that puts customer needs first, the company has amassed nearly 99 million cardholders, a whopping 90 percent of which renew annually. And among those loyal shoppers, some cult favorites have emerged among Costco’s distinct selection of food offerings. Grab your membership card, and keep scrolling for the list.
Costco’s Kirkland Signature Bacon
Bacon is one of those kitchen staples that most of us have in the fridge, even if we shouldn’t be eating it every day. Bacon makes so many dishes and recipes better, whether we’re talking breakfast, lunch, or dinner. And Costco’s in-house brand Kirkland Signature is known for having some of the best bacon out there.
It’s not only included on almost every list out there of the best products at Costco (Delish, Buzzfeed, The Daily Meal, and Business Insider all agree), but it’s also ranked higher than all the other grocery store bacon that’s out there. In fact, Consumer Reports did a bacon taste test with several popular brands, and determined that Kirkland Signature Bacon was "the only excellent product," adding that it "crisped up nicely and consistently had balanced fat and meat flavors complemented by wood smoke and a hint of sweetness." And while this is probably enough to get customers to shell out more money for such a premium quality product, they don’t have to at Costco, which sells its bacon for roughly 20 percent less than the competition.
Costco’s Kirkland Signature coffees
If you ask us, coffee is a basic necessity and should always be bought in bulk. So it comes as no surprise that so many shoppers and caffeine lovers out there love Costco’s Kirkland Signature coffees. There are a dozen different varieties to choose from, and they are all sold in two or three-pound bags, oftentimes in a two-pack. So, you can rest assured that you won’t be facing a morning coffee emergency anytime soon.
However, it’s not just the convenience of Kirkland Signature coffee that draws customers. The coffee is good, too. Not to mention it’s organic and fair-trade compliant across the board, meaning it’s better for you, the farmers, and the environment, per Coffee Cup News.
Several of the Kirkland Signature coffee blends have gotten high marks, especially the House Blend, which is actually custom-roasted by Starbucks. But you really can’t go wrong no matter which blend you brew. The coffee fanatics at Purely Coffee Beans say all of Costco’s Kirkland Signature coffees are "surprisingly delicious and affordable, offering a smoother coffee, with better taste, and lower caffeine content."
Costco’s Rotisserie Chicken
One of the best dinner hacks out there is picking up a fully cooked, deliciously seasoned rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Add a side dish or a salad, and you’ve got a full meal ready to go. How do you beat that? While almost every popular grocery store sells rotisserie chicken, the ones at Costco have been ranked above all the rest for their taste and value. And priced at just $4.99, these three-pound birds are some of the cheapest you can get. One shopper on Reddit says of Costco’s rotisserie chickens, "that is the best value in the store. I laugh at grocery store chickens — twice as expensive and half as big."
Costco sometimes actually loses money on this popular product, but the company is willing to make that sacrifice since the incredible value of the deal continues to pull customers into the store … where they might catch their eye on another, more expensive product. And there’s plenty of evidence to support this strategy. Costco’s rotisserie chickens are so popular among shoppers, they even have their own Facebook fan page, with more than 18,000 likes.
Costco’s Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil is a staple in most kitchens, whether you’re an amateur cook or a highly trained professional. There are so many brands to turn to, but for many, there’s no need to look further than Costco. It’s not just home cooks who swear by Costco’s Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This fan favorite is even beloved by nutrition experts and a celebrity chef for its amazing value and taste.
So what’s so special about this EVOO? It comes down to quality. A 2010 study from the University of California-Davis tested nearly 20 different imported extra virgin olive oils and found that Kirkland Signature was one of the only brands that actually met the taste and purity standards set by the International Olive Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Chef and cookbook author Samin Nosrat, who you may remember from her Netflix special, says Kirkland Signature is her go-to brand of olive oil, calling it one of the best brands you can get for your money.
Costco’s pizza from the food court
Any diehard Costco shopper knows that you don’t just go there to shop the aisles. Visiting the food court is an integral part of the experience, and Costco’s pizza has long been a favorite for customers and even employees. You can order pizza in the food court by the slice for $1.99 or go big and get a whole pie. Costco’s pizzas are so popular, in fact, that the annual sales actually make Costco one of the biggest pizza chains in America. According to a 2015 report from Business Insider, Costco ranked as the fourteenth largest pizza chain in the country.
What makes Costco’s pizza so delicious that customers keep coming back for more? For one, they don’t skimp on the topping. Plus, they use machines and a very regimented process to make sure that each pie is fully loaded and assembled to perfection. Adding a full one-and-a-half pounds of "aged buttery cheeses" (per The Costco Connection) doesn’t hurt either.
Costco’s Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle
You can find all kinds of yummy snack foods at Costco, and for better or for worse, you can buy them all in huge quantities. One such item that shoppers can’t stop raving over is Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle. It’s got the rich taste of a fudge brownie, with the crisp crunch of a cookie. Fans describe this sweet, chocolate-y snack as everything from "pure heaven" to "delicious and addictive" to "crack in brownie brittle form."
You can find this popular product at other major retailers but not for the sweet deal you can get at Costco. According to Hip2Save, the brownie brittle is sold at Costco’s warehouses (but not online) in 16-ounce bags that you can get your hands on for less than seven bucks. And you can get two bags for that price during Costco’s buy-one-get-one sales. That’s compared to nearly $18 for a single bag on Amazon.
Costco’s Salmon Milano with Basil Pesto Butter
Costco isn’t just the place you go to load up on bulk items and stock your freezer. You can also find a great selection of pre-prepared entrées in the deli and frozen sections for those times that you just don’t feel like making dinner from scratch, which is understandable after a long shopping trip to Costco. Among the variety of prepared options, Costco’s Kirkland Signature Salmon Milano with Basil Pesto Butter has become a major hit among shoppers. All you have to do is pop the fish in the oven, and 30 minutes later, you’ve got flaky salmon fillets smothered in an herby basil pesto butter that melts into the salmon as it cooks. Food and wine blog, Good Cheap Vino, says the dish is "easy to prepare and great for entertaining." Plus, it pairs well with a Pinot Noir.
While we’re on the subject, Costco’s Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto is a fan favorite all on its own. Costco product reviewer Costcuisine says it’s "delicious, high quality, priced right, and I would buy it again."
Costco’s Kirkland Signature Liquor
For frugal drinkers looking for great-quality alcohol without breaking the bank, Costco’s Kirkland Signature Liquor products are the ultimate deal. The company sells an entire line of in-house liquors, from vodka and tequila to whiskey, bourbon, cognac, and even some mixed drinks. And because it’s Costco, you know you’re getting a genuine deal.
For example, Kirkland Signature American Vodka is less than $20 for a 1.75-liter bottle. According to a report from Vice, it’s made from the same water that’s used in Grey Goose, but a 1.75-liter bottle of that vodka will cost you more than double the price of Costco’s private label version.
It’s worth noting that shoppers seem to love the quality of Kirkland Signature alcohol and not just the price. It’s been reported that Costco uses very high-end producers to source its alcohol products, and that, along with a growing consumer preference for private-label products has put Kirkland Signature at the top of many people’s lists for the best-value alcohol.
Pretty much any variety of nuts at Costco
It’s no secret that nuts are one of the more expensive items at the grocery store. Their status as a health food has grown over the years, increasing the demand for all kinds of varieties, some of which are difficult and costly to harvest, as reported by Money Inc. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that nuts are another cult favorite among Costco shoppers, who can be sure they are getting good quality nuts at a price that most likely can’t be beat anywhere else.
Cooking Light compared prices on several varieties of nuts and found that Costco wins on value across the board. In fact, both almonds and walnuts are roughly double the price on Amazon than they are at Costco. Cashews in particular rank high among shoppers. You can get a two-and-a-half-pound container for just under $17, far below the average which is closer to $14 to $5 15 per pound, according to Nuts.com. Another favorite are the mixed nuts from Kirkland Signature. Reviewer Costcuisine calls them "the freshest, highest quality nuts you can purchase at the most reasonable cost."
Costco’s Kirkland Signature Protein Bars
It’s an understatement to say that if you’re in the market for a protein bar, there are a lot of options out there to choose from. But once again, many shoppers choose to turn to Costco to stock up on their Kirkland Signature Protein Bars, which claim to be made with real chocolate and no artificial flavors. The bars come in mouthwatering flavors like chocolate chip cookie dough, chocolate brownie, and chocolate peanut butter chunk … and shoppers seem to love them.
The protein bars have tons of reviews on Costco’s website, with a high average rating. They’ve been called a "must-buy item" by Costco Insider, according to Thrillist. And one Redditor called these "the greatest protein bars ever." If you want to really indulge and enjoy these as a warm dessert, others suggest warming the protein bars up for a few seconds in the microwave to make them even more soft and tasty.
Costco’s Kirkland Signature Turkey Jerky
If you haven’t jumped on the turkey jerky train yet, you’re missing out. It’s easy for grabbing on the go, packed full of protein, and can be flavored in so many different ways, making for a tasty snack that’s actually good for you. And you can get it for a major bargain at Costco, which sells its Kirkland Signature Turkey Jerky for just $11.99 for a 13.5-ounce bag.
But that low price doesn’t mean low quality. This turkey jerky is made from premium turkey breast that is completely antibiotic-free. The meat is marinated in a seasoning blend for 24 hours, packing in tons of flavor. It’s also 97 percent fat-free and loaded with ten grams of protein per serving. Best Choice Reviews puts Kirkland Signature on their list of the top ten best turkey jerkies, calling it "tender, tasty, and healthy." Delish says Kirkland Signature Turkey Jerky is "a must-have for jerky enthusiasts," and who knows… you may just try this and become one.
Costco’s bakery muffins
Another secret Costco pros know is that you can find delicious deals in the bakery section. A long-time favorite from Costco’s bakery are their giant muffins. They come in a variety of flavors, from blueberry to chocolate chip, and they are sold in packs of 12 for just ten bucks (via Instacart).
Anyone who tries them knows how addicting these muffins are. One shopper called the chocolate chunk muffins "the great thing that has happened to me," per Buzzfeed. And one writer for SheKnows admitted flat out, "I didn’t believe the Costco muffin myth until I tried them myself but call me converted because these little delicacies live up to all the hype."
Keep in mind, even if you can eat one of these muffins in a whole sitting, you probably shouldn’t. While they are fluffy and tasty, they are also packed with calories. Luckily, many smart shoppers have suggested that you can easily freeze these muffins to keep them fresher longer. Simply defrost once you’re ready to eat one, and warm it in the microwave.
Costco’s Kirkland Signature Organic Maple Syrup
Real maple syrup can feel a little like a luxury product. The pure, sweet organic stuff — not the sugary, artificial substitutes that you throw on frozen waffles — usually comes in small quantities with higher price tags than most other items on the condiment aisle.
So it’s no surprise that shoppers flock to Costco where they don’t have to splurge to get high-quality ingredients. The company’s Kirkland Signature Maple Syrup is no exception. Costco’s maple syrup is USDA-certified organic, and Grade A Amber, giving it a rich, well-rounded flavor. The best part is that it’s only about $13 for a liter-sized jug of it, which, according to Yahoo Finance, is cheaper than you’re going to find anywhere else. Consumer Reports says Kirkland Signature Maple Syrup delivers "good value and flavor." And one true fan went so far as to call it a "nectar of the gods" and "one of Costco’s best items" (via Reddit).
The $1.50 hot dog and soda combo at the Costco food court
Perhaps the biggest cult favorite among all the different and delightful items you can get at Costco is the food court’s hot dog and soda combo. For the unchanging price of $1.50. you get a quarter-pound beef hot dog and a 20-ounce soda (that comes with free refills!). It makes for the perfect quick lunch or shopping break snack, and you just can’t beat that price.
The hot dog and soda combo has been a beloved food court staple for decades. It was first introduced for a buck and a half in 1985, and it’s remained the same ever since. And clearly, you just can’t beat nostalgia and a good deal. Costco’s CEO Craig Jelinek, speaking to 425Business, says the stores sell around 135 million hot dogs each year. That’s more than every MLB stadium combined, according to Mental Floss.
Costco’s half-sheet cakes
Pandemic aside, 2020 hit hard for many Costco shoppers when the company stopped selling its famous half-sheet cakes. These large, rectangular frosted cakes were considered by many to be one of Costco’s biggest treasures. The half-sheet cakes have been the centerpiece of many a birthday party, graduation celebration, baby shower, and many other life events in between. One Reddit user wrote, "Costco sheet cake is my life. I buy one for every birthday and cut it into pieces to freeze." The large cakes, which could feed dozens, were offered in vanilla and chocolate varieties, and customers could choose from a range of decorative designs, plus add a personalized message.
In the summer of 2020, Costco quietly announced that it would no longer be selling sheet cakes, and reportedly said it has no plans to bring them back anytime soon, without really explaining what was behind the decision.
Fans’ reactions ranged from heartbreak to outrage. One shopper begged, "PLLEEEEEEEEEASSE bring back the half sheet cakes!! Best cakes ever! Worth the price of membership on its own! Birthdays are disappointing without one!!" At the time of writing, over 1,000 people have also signed a petition on Change.org to demand Costco bring the half-sheet cakes back.