Costco is like the adult version of Disneyland in my opinion. To be fair, I’ve never been to Disneyland, but the amount of fun I have at the elite wholesale club I feel is bound to be comparable. There are free samples everywhere, I can get a soda and hot dog for $1.50, and I can stock up on Kirkland vodka, which has long been rumored to be the exact same as Grey Goose. What’s not to love? While Costco is fun to peruse of course, most who enter its giant automatic doors have specific products in mind that they stock up on time and time again.
Of course, it’s always possible to walk out of the store with some impulse buys, like a two-person Kayak or a 93-Inch Plush Bear, which seemed just too good to pass up at the time. But most of the time, Costco shoppers tend to stick to their shopping lists and head for the bulk items they're looking for.
If you’re like me and curious as to what the items are Costco members swear by, then you’ve come to the right place. Through extensive online research and by polling my friends, family, and co-workers who have that coveted Gold Star membership, I’ve compiled a list of cult-favorite Costco items that everyone seems to buy. From the food court to the frozen foods section, here are 14 tried-and-true products that Costco members love to purchase en masse.
1. Sabatasso’s Frozen Pizza
Everyone knows that frozen pizza doesn’t hold a candle to freshly made ’za, but honestly, Sabatasso’s comes pretty darn close. It even took the top spot when we tested frozen pizzas in spite of it being gluten-free for its gooey cheese, zesty sauce, and thin, crunchy crust, which altogether made it indistinguishable from the real deal you’d order at a pizzeria.
2. Kirkland Signature Olive Oil
Any Italian will tell you that not all olive oils are created equal. Many brands try to skimp on quality ingredients and don’t meet the standards for the extra-virgin grade. According to Samin Nosrat, the chef who stars in Netflix's Salt Fat Acid Heat, Costco’s Kirkland Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil actually passes the criteria for a high-quality olive oil, and is her ideal choice for everyday use. Plus, you can’t beat the price for a 2-liter bottle (only $16.99!).
3. Rotisserie Chicken
Rotisserie chickens are always a quick and easy option for a family dinner, but there are a couple reasons why you should hop over to Costco to pick one up instead of heading to your local grocery store. Firstly, Costco sells their ready-to-eat, 3-pound rotisserie chicken for just $4.99, which is a bargain that’s basically impossible to find elsewhere. In addition, Costco has a strict policy when it comes to poultry health and welfare. Those factors combined with the convenience (and tasty, juicy meat, of course) are what make this chicken so well loved by loyal Costco shoppers.
4. Kirkland Signature Vanilla Extract
Good quality vanilla extract can cost upwards of $5 an ounce, but Costco usually sells its Kirkland brand 16-ounce bottle for just $26.99. Their version is pure vanilla, too, with no added flavoring or dyes, so bakers can be sure they’re using only the good stuff. Plus, just like a bottle of Kirkland Signature wine, it should last indefinitely as long as it’s stored in a cool, dark place.
5. Kirkland French Vodka
If you’ve tasted any of Costco’s delicious, yet inexpensive booze, then you can understand why it’s garnered such a cult-like following. One of their most talked about spirits is their in-house Kirkland brand vodka, but for reasons you might not expect. Many people suspect their vodka is actually Grey Goose in disguise. According to legend, both are sourced from the Cognac region of France and use 100% fine French wheat as well as pure artesian spring water from the Massif Mountains. The real surprise, at least in my opinion, is that Costco is selling this high-quality vodka for just $20 a handle.
6. Tires and Gasoline
While the food at Costco might be what draws shoppers in, their gas and tire prices are a huge reason as to why members keep coming back. For one thing, their gas is on average 20 cents cheaper a gallon than at competitor stations, not taking into account the extra discounts you nab if you pay with a Costco credit card. Their tires, on the other hand, are well-made and super affordable, with discounts of up to $80 at certain times of year. As an added bonus, the price factors in free maintenance including services like tire rotation.
7. Hot Dog and Soda Combo
For many a Costco shopper, no trip to the big-box store is complete without getting one of their legendary hot dogs and soda combos for just $1.50—arguably one of the best deals on this meal you’ll find anywhere. The hot dogs are all beef, the toppings are unlimited, and the deal includes free soda refills—added all together, it’s a win-win for hungry shoppers.
8. Kirkland Signature Maple Syrup
Short of driving to Vermont and tapping a tree yourself, Costco’s Kirkland maple syrup is the next best thing. This Grade A Amber syrup is certified organic and 100% pure maple, so if you love waffles as much as Leslie Knope, you can trust it’s the real deal. You won’t be scoffing at the price tag either, as a 34-ounce jug costs only $13.29, which is a better bang for your buck than you'll likely find at your local grocery store.
9. Baked Goods
Costco’s bakery section is a dangerous place. Their tantalizing croissants are as buttery and flaky as those straight out of a cafe in Paris, while their gigantic blueberry muffins are just too good to pass up, or put down for that matter, once you start eating one. Another one of Costco’s surprising bestsellers is their sheet cake, partially because it’s big enough to feed an entire office or birthday party full of hungry children, but also because they do a superb job of customizing their cakes—flavors, fillings, frostings, and all.
10. Kirkland Signature Mac and Cheese
Costco’s premade Kirkland Signature macaroni and cheese is rich, creamy, and decadent, meaning it may just put you into a food coma after eating. With 10 servings per container, it’s a perfect no-fuss family dinner that’s not too expensive, plus it’s bound to leave you with leftovers for lunch the next day. It’s so delicious that there are dozens of copycat recipes online, but none as good as the original we bet.
11. Kirkland Peanut Butter Pretzels
There are few snacks in the world that are nearly impossible to stop eating, and Costco’s peanut butter pretzels is one of them. This heavenly tub is the answer to both your sweet and salty cravings, but be forewarned: these bite-size pretzels are addicting as heck and hard to put down. The serving size reads 8, which in my opinion is a play on “yes, I ate them all.” Snyders, eat your heart out.
12. Kirkland Signature Almond Butter
While nut butters can err on the expensive side, Costco saves the day with their 27-ounce jar of Organic Almond Butter, which will only set you back $8 and is probably the best price for this expensive nut butter. Not only is it a great protein source for a morning boost of energy, but you can pair it with toast, fruit, or ice cream so you know each jar will go a long way.
13. Sheila G's Brownie Brittle
Costco shoppers can’t get enough of the giant bags of Sheila G’s popular Brownie Brittle, apparently. Each piece is crunchy, chocolatey, and seriously delicious if you need a sweet-tooth fix, not to mention the fact that at $7, it’s a better value for a bag than you’ll find elsewhere. If you’re looking for a post-dinner treat or midnight snack to last for many a night, you’ve found it.
14. Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto
All you need is a spoonful of pesto for a yummy pasta dish, but for the best flavor, you’ll want one that’s of the highest quality and made with fresh ingredients. Costco’s Kirkland Basil Pesto is a fan-favorite and features a DOP label, which certifies the basil is imported from Italy. It comes in a large tub, so you can store it in your freezer and get a ton of mileage out of it. Pro tip: you can even freeze it in ice cube trays and pop out a couple cubes any time you’d like to add it to a recipe.