Grocery

The 10 Best Kirkland Signature Products You Should Buy at Costco

Grocery-store whisperer Katie Workman reveals which items are as good as—if not better than—name brand.

June 24, 2019
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Costco has been killing it in recent years with their house brand, Kirkland. According to Business Insider, 25 percent of their total sales (excluding gas) come from private-label items. That’s a total of $39 million dollars in 2018, Costco reports in their annual report. And the Costco consumer is a savvy buyer, so we know that means that there is quality in them there hills. No longer something to buy when you feel like saving a few bucks, Kirkland products are well known for their quality and value, and many shoppers are picking Costco products out of preference, not just out of frugality.

Many of these Kirkland goods are made by the very same manufacturers that make the name-brand items that have risen to the tops of their arenas. This means that the excellence you might expect from some brands is very much present in the Kirkland version. Sometimes the manufacturer is easy to discern, sometimes it’s a little more don’t-ask-don’t-tell, but suffice it to say that when you choose Kirkland, you’re often still getting a top-of-the-line item, just not paying extra for the brand name. (But hey! Kirkland is now a respected name in its own right.)

Here are some of the Costco-brand products I often have in my cart, and according to sales, so might you!

1. Balsamic Vinegar

Slightly amusing story here. My older son Jack has always been a balsamic vinegar nut. As in, he dresses his salads with balsamic and often leaves it at that. One time when my kids were little, we were at a salad bar in Florida, and Jack and I were dousing our plates with their balsamic and chatting away about how delicious it was. I asked the manager what the brand was and she came out with a huge bottle of Kirkland balsamic vinegar, and we were loyal fans for life. It’s made in Modena, Italy, home of true balsamic, and the price compared to other balsamic vinegars is terrific: $10.99 for 33.8 ounces (a very big bottle that lasts forever, unless Jack is in your house). We love it in:

2. Olive Oil

I use around a liter of olive oil a week in my daily cooking and recipe development, and if I don’t have a jug or two for backup, I feel a little wobbly—it’s that important of an ingredient to me. Kirkland makes a stellar olive oil, and more than a few professional chefs use it—it’s not diluted with any other oils, and is one of the few to pass both U.S. and international standards for high-quality olive oil. And boy, is the price great: $16.99 for 2 liters. You can buy it in bigger amounts as well for even more savings, if you use copious amounts in your kitchen like I do. Stock up, and try it out when you’re making Parmesan-roasted broccoli, spicy lemon shrimp over rice, or Greek roasted chicken thighs.

3. Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is always high on the list of recommended Costco products because it’s excellent in quality and downright cheap, especially compared to what you might pay for pure maple syrup in a regular supermarket. At Costco you’ll pay $13.19 for a 33.8-ounce jug of organic Grade A pure maple syrup (39 cents per ounce!). We love maple syrup on pancakes, French toast, and spoonbread.

4. Saffron

Surprised? Kirkland makes some terrific high-end ingredients, and the pricier an ingredient is, the bigger the savings ounce for ounce (usually). A gram of saffron can easily run around $20 elsewhere, so if it’s an ingredient that makes its way into your cooking, have at it! Here 1 gram is $11.89—plus, it’s organic and from Spain, home to some of the best saffron in the world.

5. Eggs

Many of us have made the switch to cage-free eggs, and once again, Kirkland to the rescue. If you are an egg-loving family or a big baker, then their 24-pack of 2-dozen cage-free eggs are just $3.49! And if you want to go organic, 2-dozen extra-large brown eggs are a steal at $5.99. Well worth making room for in the fridge to make deviled eggs, frittatas, and more.

6. Bacon

Consumer reports rated Kirkland bacon number one in their bacon comparison, giving it their only “excellent” rating. They said it crisped up nicely, had great balanced meat and salt flavors, with a hint of wood smoke and sweetness. Sounds pretty good to me. You can get thin-sliced ($12.99 for four 1-pound packages) or thick-cut ($10.99 for two 1.5-pound packages), perfect for lardons. And remember: Bacon freezes really well.

7. Butter

A couple of things about butter: Yes, sometimes “better” butter (meaning that with a higher fat content and usually a higher price tag) is where you might be heading, particularly if you're using it straight up smeared on bread. But for everyday butter—butter you use to bake with, for instance—the stick butter you can find at your everyday supermarket is just fine. It clocks in at around 80 percent milk fat, whereas the pricier European butters get up to 83 or 84 percent. Costco butter is of very high quality and sold at a compelling price: $10.99 for FOUR pounds, each pound packaged in regular 1/2-cup sticks (and again, don’t forget—you can freeze butter!). I don't know about you, but I'll be whipping up these fudgy one-pot brownies and chocolate–peanut butter squares.

8. Quinoa

Kirkland’s Signature Organic Quinoa gets consistently high marks, and if you are a quinoa family, then you should grab one of their big bags. It boasts lots of fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants... (If you're a quinoa person, then you already know this.) But what's most exciting is the fact that this 4.5-pound bag costs just below 14 cents per ounce. Another leading brand retails at 26 ounces for $13, which comes out to about 50 cents per ounce. Big difference! And if you need a refresher course, here’s how to make perfect quinoa on the stove.

9. Virginia Peanuts

All of the Kirkland nuts at Costco have avid fans—but peanuts are my addiction, and I cannot resist the oversized Virginia-style ones. The Costco tin weighs in at a hefty 40 ounces (dangerous), and they are perfectly salted, fresh, and crunchy, ideal for snacking or for using in recipes both savory and sweet. (Salty peanuts in sweet treats? Heaven.) And, uh, it costs $6.69! As opposed to $23.29 for a 32-ounce comparable tin on Amazon. Crunch.

10. Peppercorns

Most of us never think about peppercorns...that is, until our pepper mills are empty. And then we’re like, “WOW, are peppercorns pricy!” To the tune of $4 or $5 for a small jar. At Costco, you can get a 14.1-ounce jar for $4.99. Do yourself a favor and buy one—it should fill your pepper mill many, many times.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“You clearly just don't like Costco, but point of clarification, I buy 'real brand name' Cheerios, Raisin Bran, Quaker oats and Nellie's cage free eggs... all at Costco. (Also I don't think freezing chicken ruins its flavor. )”
— hungrybruno
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What are your favorite Costco-brand products? Tell us in the comments below.

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Author of The Mom 100 Cookbook and themom100.com blog. A New Yorker, cook, and mom, I don't sit still very much.

17 Comments

ellen C. June 30, 2019
I like there Kirkland canned chicken breast. I prefer rotisserie chicken for chicken salad, but Kirkland's canned breast is very good.
 
Debra G. June 30, 2019
Yes I like your recommendations except on the bacon. Unless the hogs are being raised humanly stay away from pork. Whole Foods carries pork brands like Peterson that rate the companies on the raising of these animals. If there is no mention on the packaging stay away. These animals are crated most of their lives and inhumanly raised. Please take notice
 
Mark S. June 25, 2019
Just a brief correction. In the first paragraph, it is stated that Costco sold $39 million in Kirkland products. My guess is that the actual number is 1,000 times larger. Their overall annual sales is closing in on $150 BILLION. They probably sell $39 million in peppercorns alone.
 
Smaug June 25, 2019
Good point- to us old timers, $39 million seems like a lot of money but to today's corporations it's petty cash.
 
Kelly June 25, 2019
I love all of the products you mentioned in the article, but I have stopped buying the eggs and the olive oil because there packaging is not recyclable.
 
Sandy July 1, 2019
But the egg crates make dandy watercolor or acrylic paint palettes. Or sorting bins for beads. Perhaps you could expand your definition of 'recyclable'!
 
Mihiro S. June 24, 2019
Pft. Kirkland just got rid of their brand of mouthwash. All of their brand items are too large and don't keep well so they're in fact a waste of money.

Some say the de-shelled pistachio are a good deal. I have no idea why they think that's true.
 
Corj June 24, 2019
Kirkland roasted, shelled and salted pistachios are always on tap at our house. No kirkland butter or Virginia peanuts in QC Canada though.
 
Gordan June 24, 2019
Katie, I do not know which Costco you shop at, but it is not one in the Washington DC area or Richmond either. Lidl has better oilve oil and balsamic vinegar. Their fish is just OK. Asian markets have a better selection and more variety. And their peanuts! Have you ever tried real Virginia HUBS or Parkers peanuts? Puts Costco to shame. I find Kirkland berands to be about the same as Aldi house brands. Very acceptable, but not the same as the name brand. Always a bit off. I will mention the competition here, Sams Club carries real BRAND name stuff. Real General Mills, real Egglands Best eggs. You should give them a try. Then you should go check out a Wegmans. The Bergdorfs of supermarkets. And Wegmans will set you back a very pretty penny. But the quality is always there. And while we are at it, how does a single person or even a couple eat 10 pounds of chicken without freezing it and ruining the flavor? Quantity and quality do not go hand in hand.
 
Petros H. June 25, 2019
you don't like Costco do you? LOL
 
hungrybruno June 26, 2019
You clearly just don't like Costco, but point of clarification, I buy 'real brand name' Cheerios, Raisin Bran, Quaker oats and Nellie's cage free eggs... all at Costco. (Also I don't think freezing chicken ruins its flavor. )
 
Kathleen D. June 24, 2019
What is the fat content of Kirkland butter...you do not state it, just English and regular butter?
 
Kathleen D. June 24, 2019
Nevermind I see it's
80% thank you
 
HalfPint June 24, 2019
I love the Kirkand brie Isigny Ste. Mere and the smoked salmon.
 
Smaug June 24, 2019
At least some Kirkland products are available through Amazon.
 
Kathleen D. June 24, 2019
Oh gosh good to know sincene I do not have my own car, thanks
 
Christine O. June 24, 2019
Careful with that however. It’s from outside sellers so the popcorn which is $9 at Costco, it’s around $25 on Amazon.