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Costco private brand and prepared food quality

We just joined our new Costco and made our first shopping trip there today. I was very impressed with the store and stocked up on a lot of items, but I didn't buy any of their prepared foods and didn't get any of their house brand items. They looked really good, but I wasn't sure. What's your opinion, in general, of their prepared meal and deli items, and of the foods they package?

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  1. I have purchased many of their private label goods: food, clothes, snacks, batteries, water, etc.

    They are better than "generic", I have had no problems with their Kirtland brand.

    1. I like their Kirkland Signature brand. Generally a lot of quality in most of their products, across the line for the price.

      I like their deli too...the sliced turkey and roast beef is very inexpensive and actually better than the groceries' standard sliced deli meats.

      1. Don't laugh, but their sparkling wine is NOT bad!

        3 Replies
        1. re: SChalfant

          Is that the Champagne? Or do they also make a sparkling wine? (the Kirkland Champagne is the real thing, from the Champagne district in France). I was wondering how it stacks up for $20 versus other sparklers.

          1. re: monkuboy

            The Kirkland Champagne is excellent - I think the $20 is a value. Also the Kirkland Shiraz is fantastic, and is ~$10/bottle.

            1. re: JudyHP

              Thank you! I've been wondering about trying the bubbly for the holidays. They don't have the shiraz at the Costcos near me, sigh.

        2. Go on the weekends and do all the sampling you can. There are some good things and some not as good. I tried some cashew granola that I really liked but couldn't buy it because I'd probably eat the whole thing. The last time I was there, I noticed a nice array of unusual (for most gracery stores)cheeses, too.

          1. as you go up and down the aisles, you'll see that many name brand operations -- for example, Mariani dried fruits and JellyBellys -- have allowed Costco to slap Kirkland on their products while keeping the nam brand on too. that shows confidence in Costco. how often do you see house brand products also carry a name brand too?

            1. well, most costco/kirkland products are made by the major manufacturers, even if they don't leave their names on them. For instance, i know that for years Levi's made Kirkland jeans. Don't know if they still do, but that's generally the costco method.

              1 Reply
              1. re: annimal

                That's often everyones method.
                Master Craft tools are made buy Fuller or Stanley (Can't remember which one) for example.


              2. At MY Costco warehouse you can watch them making a lot of the prepared stuff. They make it in what seems to be clean work areas and observe good practices and use quality and fresh ingredients. Then they put them in the display coolers and I get them fresh. Works for me!

                1. I hate the california rolls though. So bad.

                  Smoked Salmon is a great deal at 10 bucks a pound. Also like the pinwheels, rotissere chicken, and rotissere chicken salad......meatloaf I had came out dry.....the enchiladas were good......

                  1. Rotisserie Chicken and Chicken Pot Pies are outstanding. Lots of the fresh salads are good too, but they seem pricey to me.

                    1. Consumer Reports rated the Kirkland Pots and Pans a best buy in their December issue.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: camp1980

                        I received that set of pots and pans for Christmas 3 years ago. The set is in great shape, in spite of 3 teens abuse. It heats quickly, cleans up easily and goes from stove to oven. No piece has warped, scratched or failed.

                        1. re: camp1980

                          When I got them 5 years ago, they were made by Calphalon and were the exact same design as theirs...you couldn't tell them apart other than one had the brand name stamped on the bottom...$250 for the Costco set, $500+ for the Calphalon set.

                          1. re: camp1980

                            kirkland seems to be pretty competitive as consumer reports tends to rate many of the products (like dishwashing detergent, party holiday baskets, seafood selection, etc.) "good buys" =)

                            i like their roast chicken... better than the usual grocery story roast chickens... and when they have the alaskan king crabs, that's pretty good as well....

                          2. Try the caramel walnut apple crumb pie. Amazing at the price.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: weezycom

                              Oh, yes! That's a good pie. Huge, though. And their vanilla ice cream is actually Haagen-das, at about a quarter of the price.

                            2. You don't like anything even food, bring it back and you'll get a full refund no matter what the reason.

                              They are very liberal with their return policy on everything. Even electronics like computers they'll take back up to 6 months whereas your normal big box retailer will only give you 15 days.

                              1. My experience is very limited to one trip with a friend member about 6 months ago - everything I bought - frozen pot stickers, basil pesto - was top quality. As good as TJ's - and that's saying a lot. But we just joined this week so I'll be posting about me new discoveries.

                                1. I don't really buy a lot of their prepared foods, but their baked goods (muffins, cookies, etc.) are really good. I also noticed that they had some Costco brand candies that I had recently bought in another store, and was definitely the same name-brand product with a different label. So I concur with the general consensus that Costo/Kirkland brand is pretty good.

                                  1. Anything with Kirkland Signature is a corporate wide account and is going to be in all of the Costcos. And that is huge. The sheer volume rules out most manufacturers, so if it says Kirkland Signature on it, it will most likely be made by a really large company that markets a similar product.

                                    1. One of the problems they have is that they can overwhelm a small, high quality producer.

                                      At this time of year they have large sizes of baking and entertaining products. And something extra in the cheese coolers.

                                      Also, I still can't get over the 25# of high gluten bread flour for about $6.39. I'll save all the careful shoppers the trouble. Twenty-five and a half cents a pound.

                                      1. To second a lot of the above, baked goods (muffins! cookies! cinnamon rolls, croissants, pies), rotisserie chicken, fresh lobster/crab, sliced honey turkey, dips, crudite platters, things like frozen chicken cutlets... Less excited about the cakes (average)

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Emme

                                          Yeah, but I'm working my way through that box of mini black and white cookies.

                                        2. Hi Andiereid.
                                          I moved from Miami to Harrison Ar a year ago,getting good food here is almost impossible, so we go to springfield mo to do some of our shopping,we belong to Sam's club also as we are not lucky enough to have a Costco there,Sam's club knows they have no competition so they really give us garbage.
                                          Well we just came back from a trip to Costco all the way to Kansas City Mo.I have been a member of Costco's for years and never really had anything bad,I'm mostly into food and I love the kirkland brand,one thing though if you buy the fresh packaged fish always check it out before you leave the store,that sometimes can go bad as they don't lay the fish on Ice,that is the only problem I've ever had with Costco, right now before the Holidays they have already cooked duck from mable farms,3 to a package I just paid $8.99 for one half and they have it for $14.99,so I loaded up for the year so if you are a duck lover load up cause they'll only carry it at Christmas.Also if ever your unhappy with any purache you've made they will take it back with no problems, your very lucky to have a Costco.Mutti.

                                          1. foods i buy at costco:
                                            bags of red peppers, spanish marcona almonds, 3 pigs pate or foie gras, cases of pellegrino, Hannah's hummus.

                                            1. The fresh chicken pot pie was a winner right before Thanksgiving we gave that a first try. Always enjoyed the pinwheel sandwiches. Turned out the roasted beans were Starbucks under the Kirkland label. Not everything at Costco is a winner but its a great shopping experience if you like trying new things, buying a commercial-like product or need to buy fresh items/prepared foods in large qtys.

                                              Has anyone tried Costco's own tiramisu or cream puffs...two new items I noticed recently..

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                My husband and son brought home a package of the cream puffs recently. One of the only items at Costco that I would wholeheartedly NOT recommend. The filling is really nasty. Sort of like extra-thick Cool Whip. No actual cream in it, I think. We left a few in the fridge and a week later they looked exactly the same.

                                                Other than that, I'd say most Kirkland stuff is excellent - from coffee beans, bagels, baguettes, and roast chicken to socks, vitamins, and luggage.

                                              2. My family and I have been Costco members since I can remember. We've probably tried every prepared food item they've got (except for the cream puffs, which I need to get soon) and we've always had great experience with it. I thought the chicken pot pie was a little salty, but that's just me. Everyone else I know loves it.

                                                We also often buy electronics since the return policy is great.

                                                Also, the kirkland brand pet stuff, cleaning supplies, coffee, clothes, paper products, water, and more are all great items. Oh yeah, jelly beans too.

                                                1. Agreed-and they treat their help like human beings.

                                                  1. I'm a big fan of Kirkland items. If Kirkland is one of the choices for something I need, I will buy it without question, it's that good. In my opinion it is much better than the house label of other stores. Their prepared foods are very good also, and such a bargain to boot.

                                                    1. The produce is just fine if you can use large quantities before it spoils. The big jars of nuts and snacky stuff are a good deal if you're having a party that requires lots of nibbles. I've bought cheese and shrimp too. I was underwhelmed by a carrot cake (sheet cake) a couple of years ago -- overly sweet and not particularly well decorated. But then, you get what you pay for, and it cost about a third of what my local bakery charged. However, I've never been tempted to buy another Costco cake.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: ClaireWalter

                                                        Like so many in-store bakeries, I think the cakes can vary, depending on the combination of cake/filling/icing-I've had great carrot cakes from Costco- try it with the apricot filling and the cream cheese icing.
                                                        I love that they carry the mixed packages of Mrs. Mays crunch. Also, the pretzel crisps. I've had my eye on that 9-pack of chocolate cupcakes- anyone tried it?

                                                      2. Kirkland is not bad for certain things. I LOVE their hummus! its SO good! they also have great rotisserie chickens! Most of the things that I buy at Costco are more popular brands, but what i've had thats Kirkland has been better than generic!
                                                        My dad buys the meat at costco a lot and its excellent. Really good cuts! We also buy their fish all the time!

                                                        1. I'll be a dissenting vote on the Chicken Pot Pie. I thought the crust tasted like the shortening used in it was burnt or something like that. They also used giant chunks of Chicken breast and no dark meat at all. I've liked most other prepared things from Costco though. I often buy the enchiladas as an easy dinner after shopping.

                                                          1. Has anyone tried the fresh lasagne noodles there? I'm thinking of giving them a try. I want to make C.I.'s Lasagne Bolognese.

                                                            1. I've had their tiramisu - bought it for a large family cook-out last summer. It's made with chocolate cake - not ladyfingers or pound cake. It's definitely not traditional tiramisu but it's good - my family loved it! I also like their triple layer chocolate cake - topped with vanilla ice cream and my raspberry sauce - yum.

                                                              I routinely by their paper products, bottled water, coffee, red peppers, meats, other vegies and fruit. I often get their enchiladas or pizza when I want something quick.

                                                              Their prices on paperbacks and CDs are excellent too.

                                                              1. We really like their Salmon with basil butter. On special occasions we'll buy the 7# chocolate cake (YUM!) Every trip we buy the Einstein bagels (a dozen for 3.xx which is a bargain!)

                                                                In produce, we always buy the mixed bell peppers.

                                                                1. We are members of store #1, so we've been shopping there since I was in grade school.

                                                                  Some of the Kirkland brand stuff is better than the name brand. For example, the Kirkland albacore tuna is outstanding, better and cheaper than Chicken of the Sea or Starkist.

                                                                  Oh, and our plumber recommends the Kirkland toilet paper. It's gentle on your sewer and septic system.

                                                                  As for prepared food, their bakery rocks. Their pies are standard for our family Thanksgiving. I'm particularly fond of their pecan pie which is seasonal. Muffins are reliably good and cookies too.

                                                                  I don't eat cheese so I haven't tried many of the prepared stuff. The sushi is subpar, like bad supermarket quality. The party trays are pretty good and an amazing value. I routinely get the fruit and veggie platters.

                                                                  The rottiserie chicken is good and feeds a crowd. I always make chicken salad with leftovers.

                                                                  I don't buy everything at Costco: #1 sometimes you just don't want bulk and to have to store it or consume it all before it perishes; #2 sometimes they don't have the best price (really do the math); #3 Trader Joes often has a lot of similar frozen food items in more reasonable quantities for less or the same cost per item.

                                                                  They also have the most flexible return policy of any store except maybe Nordstrom. They will take almost anything back for any reason with an unlimited time frame. I have often witnessed people in the return line in front of me who would have been told where to go at other stores treated politely and given their money back. Unfortunately some people take advantage of their generous customer service policy.

                                                                  1. The Kirkland frozen lasagna is unbeatable. It's my girlfriend's absolute favorite dinner.

                                                                    Their trail mix is also very high quality and quite a good value.

                                                                    As far as non-food items, the Kirkland brand men's dress shirts are the nicest shirts I've ever bought -- I'd say they even beat Brooks Brothers. And at $15 each you really can't go wrong. Now, if they only sold khaki pants at that price too ...

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: politicfool

                                                                      They DO offer khaki pants at $15. Or at least they did late last year and earlier this year. I think it's a seasonal thing so I'm expecting them to return sometime later this year. Nice quality for $15.. as good or better than Dockers, etc.

                                                                    2. The Kirkland branded items seem ok for quality. The meat Costco sells is about average a little better quality than the what it typically sold at the typical supermarket chain, and I do not purchase prepared foods from anywhere.

                                                                      I prefer to make items myself, and am very lucky to have a top notch butcher shop locally that I can get meat that is on another level than what Costco offers.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: swsidejim

                                                                        It's hard to beat Costco for their beef. Their contracts with their suppliers specify "USDA Choice or better", so every now and then, you can find USDA Prime in the case...at the same price as the Choice. It only happens when a supplier runs out of Choice and has to substitute to meet the contracted quantity. I sometimes dig though the meat case of sub-primals to see if there are any Primes in there, whether I need to get any meat or not.

                                                                        What really convinced me to shop Costco for meat was the time I saw a family friend at Costco with a pallet full of boxes of beef. He owned a small restaurant, and said that in the relatively small quantities he required, Costco was better and cheaper than the local wholesalers.

                                                                        1. re: ricepad

                                                                          The beef i have purchased @ Costco on a rare occasion was average.

                                                                          I prefer my local meat market/butcher who has been in business since the late 1800's to Costco. I can get Prime beef whenver I go in there, and the service is top notch.

                                                                          Also, Costco wont invite me out back to drink a beer right before they are closing on a Saturday afternoon like my butcher does. For me its about the high quality, and the personal touch a family owned place can give me.

                                                                          I know some folks dont have access to a small town high quality butcher, so Costco is probably a good option. My grocery run typically is made up of a few stops, so I can pick and choose where to buy which items.

                                                                      2. Our parents organization buys the Costco sheetcakes for refreshments at school events. We always get a lot of compliments on the carrot, chocolate and vanilla cakes. Three cakes serve 200 people. Not bad at $16 each.

                                                                        1. Having worked with a private label manufacturer supplying Kirkland, I can give you some perspective on their store-brand philosophy, though it is general, and not specific to their food products.

                                                                          Most "store brands" are sold strictly on price. They may not be as good as national brands, but they offer a lower cost option. Wal*Mart has this philosophy..their goal is to significantly undercut national brands on price, even if it means lower quality.

                                                                          Costco's philosophy is different. They actually say that they will not offer a Kirkland version of a national brand, unless they beleive it is at least equal to, if not better than the national brand in quality, and are less concerned about being priced well below the national brand.

                                                                          Assuming this is true for their food products as well, I'd say Kirkland branded items are certainly worth trying. Food may be a bit more subjective than say, disposable diapers, or paper towels, but certainly worth a try...

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: ChefBoyAreMe

                                                                            The only "Kirkland" brand item I don't automatically choose over the name brand stuff is for their wines. That's more of a subjective thing. But everything else, I will purchase Kirkland first over the brand names because I've yet to find any instance in which the name brand was better. Plus Kirkland is cheaper, too. Clothes, food, pots/pans, etc., they make 1st class products.

                                                                            1. re: ChefBoyAreMe

                                                                              Well they all say who the real manufacturer is ...Kirkland by Paul Newman....Kirkland roasted by Starbuck's...Kirkland by Quaker Oats...

                                                                              Only the pink salmon and dishwasher powder are labeled "Kirkland SIgnature" only.

                                                                              I hardly consider it even to be a store brand. It is a real brand that costs even less.

                                                                              1. re: Cathy

                                                                                I also buy Kirkland laundry detergent, paper towels, toilet paper, shampoo, etc., and none of those mention who makes them. You might be able to make an educated guess but it doesn't say for sure.

                                                                                1. re: monkuboy

                                                                                  I thought the liquid detergent was Clout or something like that (I only buy Tide powder so don't really look). I know that before some items had the Kirkland Signature brand on them, they were just sold there as an item on their own (singular) brand name. The items I mentioned above all have both Kirkland and that company listed on the packaging.

                                                                            2. This a old thread but you can buy any product at Costco with confidence. They have a policy that more or less says that if your not satisfied with any product purchased at costco, they will refund your money.

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: blackcvpi

                                                                                True dat blackcvpi. If you don't have the receipt they will look it up and give you a costco cash card. Took something back today but of course I spent way more than was on the card. Go figure. :)

                                                                                1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                  Costco dog beds are a steal at $18.00 !!

                                                                                  1. re: debw1946

                                                                                    We got one today! It's a beauty. I was thinking of throwing it on the rug a taking a nap on it myself. The thing is about 40" across.

                                                                                2. re: blackcvpi

                                                                                  Buying a lot from Costco for many years, I find that "Kirkland" brand of different items may be increasing. I never hesitate to buy a Kirkland brand because it says, "Kirkland." On the contrary, I will buy a Kirkland brand in preference because I feel that I have better value for money. This may not be true of all articles, but so far I have not regretted it.