The 14 Costco Must-Haves, According To Professional Chefs

Costco is basically a magical land of deals. But, like any otherworldly space, it can be confusing and overwhelming, meaning that it's easy to make mistakes when you're shopping at Costco. If you're often unsure which products are worth buying and which are best left on the shelf, you're not alone. That's why we chatted with three professional chefs to get their recommendations for Costco must-haves.

These people are obviously in the know when it comes to food. So, unlike us mere mortals, they have a better idea of what's worth picking up from Costco. Whether they are buying ingredients for work or home, these professional chefs know some of the best products to buy from the warehouse giant — and now you're about to be let in on their secrets.

From handy pantry staples, like coconut oil and organic sugar, to ready-to-eat snacks, such as cookies and popcorn, there's something here for every kind of cook and shopper. Never again will you have to head to Costco without a plan and a chef-approved grocery list. Here are the 14 Costco must-haves, according to professional chefs.


For Jessica Chan — who used to be a professional chef and is currently a food blogger at Jecca Chantilly — croissants are at the top of her list when she heads to Costco. Why? Because they're both delicious and affordable. So, if you're a croissant fan, you should definitely follow her lead. Costco is known for its delicious croissants, amongst other baked goods. In fact, Costco changed its croissant recipe in 2020 to an all-butter recipe that you may find even more tasty. 

"Costco is all about savings and a box of a dozen croissants for $5.99 is an absolute steal," says Chan. "I like to keep the croissants in my freezer and pop them in a preheated 350F oven for 5 to 10 minutes when I need an easy breakfast or quick snack," she adds. "Reheating the croissant in the oven revives the croissant's flaky and crunchy layers which pairs deliciously with a cup of coffee or tea."

What's especially great about croissants is their versatility. You can enjoy them as-is or with a range of sweet or savory ingredients, including butter, jam, chocolate spread, cheese, or sauteed mushrooms. The only true limit is your creativity when it comes to croissant fillings. So, the next time you pick them up from Costco for such a steal, don't be afraid to experiment.

Kirkland Virgin Coconut Oil

Personal celebrity chef Ashley Jonique loves the Kirkland coconut oil from Costco. "The price is great and the oil is multifunctional," she says. "I use it for my hair, skin and in my dishes." So, next time you're in the market for cooking oil, consider picking up some of Costco's coconut oil.

Jonique's favorite is a virgin — or unrefined — coconut oil. But, what's the difference between refined and unrefined coconut oil? Well, notably, refined coconut oil has a neutral odor and flavor, while virgin coconut oil smells and tastes lightly of coconut. This means it's great in cuisines and dishes where a touch of coconut flavor is a welcome addition, such as Thai curry or certain Caribbean dishes. It's also nice in baked goods where you're happy to have some coconut flavor.

As Jonique mentioned, coconut oil isn't just great for cooking, but has beauty uses, too. It's good for moisturizing the skin and can be used as an intensive conditioner or hair mask. So, it's a versatile pick that you won't regret trying out. 

Norwegian Farm Raised Salmon

Chan recommends Costco's Norwegian farm raised salmon. While it has many uses, she says it's "great for making a budget-friendly sushi meal at home." She goes on to explain, "According to the FDA regulations, farm-raised salmon sourced from Norway is safe for raw consumption because they are parasite-free. This is a game changer for people who want to enjoy sushi at home without the restaurant price." So, sushi-lovers rejoice!

That said, the FDA notes that there may still be a risk of parasites even in farmed fish populations, which you may want to address by properly freezing raw fish. And some members of vulnerable groups, like pregnant people and those with compromised immune systems, will likely want to skip raw fish altogether.

Of course, you can do more than just make sushi or sashimi with Costco's salmon. There are so many things you can make with salmon that a whole new culinary world may open to you. From basic cooking preparations — like baking, poaching, and pan-frying — to recipes such as fish cakes, fettuccine, or Thai curried salmon, you have a wide range of options at your fingertips. Now that you know it's chef-approved, this is an ingredient many of you can snag at Costco. It'll give you the opportunity to get creative with new recipes without worrying about overspending.

Kirkland Signature Praline Pecans

Kirkland Signature Praline Pecans are whole pecans covered in a sweet caramelized praline coating. If you have a sweet tooth, they make an excellent snack when enjoyed in moderation. Or you can chop or crush them to use as a topping for ice cream, chocolate mousse, or other desserts. They've also made it on this list because they're one of Jonique's favorites.

She says they're "perfect for desserts," and we heartily agree. She notes that her "clients give rave reviews every time" she uses them. "Pralines are synonymous with New Orleans," says Jonique — and as a New Orleanian herself, that's a big part of why they're one of her Costco must-haves.

You can try them in a range of pecan recipes, but if you use these pecans in place of regular, non-praline pecans, make sure you reduce the sugar in your chosen recipe to adjust for the extra sweetness this ingredient brings. That said, they're also delicious when enjoyed straight out of the package, so there's no need to get fancy unless you want to.

Kirkland Signature Variety Snack Box

The 51-piece Kirkland Signature Variety Snack Box is almost certainly worth picking up next time you're at Costco. If you often find yourself short on snacks, it's an easy way to stock up. It's also another of Jonique's favorite Costco picks, especially for anyone with a busy schedule. "I'm always on the go and this is a perfect snack for me to curb my appetite while catering for others," she says.

So, what do you get in this snack box? Well, it contains 51 Kirkland Signature products in total. Specifically, you'll get 10 of its Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars, 10 Nut Bars with Cocoa Drizzle and Sea Salt, 10 bags of trail mix, 6 bags of dried blueberries, 5 bags of dry roasted and salted almonds, 5 bags of roasted and salted cashews, and 5 bags of roasted and salted peanuts.

This is a huge number of what are largely healthy yet filling snacks, so whether you're buying for a large household or just for yourself, it's sure to be an excellent choice. You won't be running out of snacks any time soon.

Kirkland Signature Organic Sugar

"I'm from New Orleans! So of course, I use cane sugar for just about everything," says Jonique. That's why this 10-pound bag of organic cane sugar is at the top of her list. At $10.99 for 10 pounds, it offers excellent value, especially when you factor in the fact that it's USDA certified organic.

You might not know that some sugar isn't vegan. This is usually refined cane sugar because it's filtered through animal bone char during the refining process. But, this sugar is unrefined, which means that it's far more vegan-friendly. So, if you've been concerned about the provenance of your sugar, Kirkland Signature Organic Sugar helps you put those worries aside.

We don't need to tell you how versatile sugar is. Whether you want to get your bake on, make homemade jams or jellies, or simply stir a spoonful of it into your coffee and tea, there's no shortage of ways for you to use up this sugar.

Kewpie Mayonnaise

"Kewpie mayonnaise is an essential ingredient in my kitchen and luckily, Costco sells a jumbo 24-ounce sized bottle," says Chan. But what is Kewpie mayo and how does it differ from regular mayonnaise? "Kewpie mayo is a Japanese condiment that rivals regular American mayo brands," Chan notes. She goes on to explain, "What sets Kewpie mayo apart from American mayo is its richness and slightly sweet flavor. American mayo is usually made with whole eggs, however Kewpie mayo is made with only egg yolks, making it richer in taste and flavor."

You can use Kewpie mayo just about anywhere you'd use regular mayo. "I love using Kewpie mayo to make egg sandwiches, tuna salad, dips for chips, sauces, and more," Chan remarks. However, it's especially good in Japanese recipes, where Kewpie mayo would generally be the go-to in Japan. For instance, you might squirt it in a sushi roll, drizzle it over okonomiyaki, or use it as a dipping sauce for katsu or tempura. Whatever you choose to use this Japanese mayo for, you can get it at a great price from Costco.

Dunkin' Iced Coffee

For some, Dunkin' coffee is second to none. If you're in that group, then there's good news: Costco sells a 12-pack of bottled Dunkin' iced coffee, so you never need to be without. Jonique lists this as one of her top Costco picks. "On those mornings when I have to get up extra early for press interviews, these come in handy," she says. "Just grab and sip," she adds.

So, if — like Jonique — you're looking for a quick and easy pick-me-up, simply grab a case of Dunkin' iced coffee next time you're in your local Costco. Each bottle contains almost 14 fluid ounces of iced coffee with a total of 197 mg of caffeine. It's a mixture of milk and coffee, so it's a perfect choice for people whose go-to is an iced latte. You can enjoy it chilled straight out of the bottle or serve it in a glass or travel cup over ice, if you want a more authentic iced coffee experience.

Rotisserie chicken

For Diana Manalang, owner and chef at Little Chef Little Cafe in New York City, Costco's rotisserie chicken is where it's at. It's a bit of an iconic Costco item, to say the least. It might not have as big a fanbase as the store's $1.50 hot dog and soda combo, but Costco's $4.99 rotisserie chicken has a cult following of its own. And, why shouldn't it? After all, this is an extremely low price for a large (around 3-pound) rotisserie chicken. Plus, it's a real time-saver in the kitchen.

Often, after a day of cooking, chefs just want to have food that tastes good but doesn't take long to make for their own dinners. Manalang says that a rotisserie chicken "makes it so easy to whip up some stock or soup, or quickly add protein to a meal." Sometimes you want to spend hours in the kitchen, making an elaborate meal. Other nights, you just want to get that meal on the table as quickly and easily as possible. So, if you're looking for shortcuts, this might be the answer. You can add the famed Costco rotisserie chicken to salads, pasta dishes, and so much more with very little effort.

Skinny Pop Popcorn

Another item that Jonique always picks up at Costco is Skinny Pop popcorn. "I pack these for my son — he loves it in his lunchbox," says Jonique. So if you're looking for an easy snack for lunchboxes, or just for yourself, Skinny Pop Popcorn is an excellent pick.

Jonique adds that this can also be a great product for especially hectic times, noting "on the days I don't feel like cooking for myself, this is dinner." While we wouldn't necessarily condone eating popcorn for dinner as a healthy habit every day, we've all been there. Sometimes you just want something you can open up and eat, whether that's as a meal or a snack. And, we can especially understand chefs who don't want to spend their time cooking after a lengthy kitchen shift.

Costco sells Skinny Pop either in boxes of the original flavor or in variety packs. These variety packs contain a mix of original, sweet and salty, and white cheddar. So, there's something to suit most popcorn preferences in the box.

G2G Almond Chocolate Chip Protein Bars

Jonique loves these almond chocolate chip protein bars from Costco. Containing 18 grams of protein per bar, these will surely keep you going when you need it. Protein bars like this can stave off hunger between meals, especially if you end up eating later than you'd planned to. They're also much tastier than most people give them credit for.

"When I'm on my health kick, I still need a guilty pleasure like chocolate," Jonique remarks. "These fulfill that craving." While we don't think that chocolate is something you necessarily need to avoid, we do appreciate how good these bars taste. They contain a blend of chocolate chips and almond butter. Plus, they're sweetened with honey and flavored with cinnamon, making these bars a delicious choice in their own right — not to mention that they're also rich in protein. Whether you're trying to build muscle or just want some tasty new snacks, don't overlook these bars on your next Costco trip.

Kirkland Signature Soy Beverage

If you're looking for non-dairy milk, Costco is an excellent place to pick it up for cheap. For Jonique, Kirkland Signature Soy Beverage is an essential on her Costco grocery list. She buys it for her son who doesn't drink dairy milk. "These are a must-have in our house," she notes. Jonique is a fan of the vanilla flavor, but it also comes in plain, which is better suited to savory recipes.

One of the reasons she likes this soy milk in particular is that "the prices are great" — just as you would expect from Costco. You get 12 cartons of 32 ounces, which is impressive, even for this warehouse store. One thing to note about this milk is that it's USDA certified organic, which is great for anyone who prefers to consume organic food and drink. However, it means that the milk isn't fortified with vitamins and minerals, the way non-organic dairy-free milks often are. So, if you rely on fortification to get the nutrients you need, you might want to avoid this product or start taking a multivitamin to supplement (checking in with a doctor before starting a vitamin supplement is always a smart move).

Hickory Farms Party Favorites Gift Box

Another of Jonique's top Costco finds is the Hickory Farms Party Favorites Gift Box. "You want to be the life of the party?" she asks. "Walk in with this bad boy as a gift!" Whether you're heading to a party, hosting guests, preparing for a big holiday gathering, or just want an indulgent weekend, you can't go wrong with this box.

As Jonique puts it, this box is "fully loaded with all the best meats and cheeses." It contains three packs of beef summer sausage, a smoked gouda blend, Italian herb cheddar, a jack blend, a smoked cheddar blend, farmhouse cheddar, a harvest cheddar blend, two packs of crackers, and sweet hot mustard. Short of the board itself, that's everything you need to set up a charcuterie board without the fuss — and the decisions. So, the next time you're not sure what to serve your guests or what to bring to a party, this should be at the top of your list.

Grandma's Cookies Variety Pack

Who doesn't love cookies? Sure, they're great when freshly baked and straight from the oven, but sometimes you just need them ready to eat. That's where Grandma's Cookies come in. Jonique recommends the variety pack as one of her Costco favorites. She says, "This box doesn't contain the mini vanillas, which are my favorite, but for this price, you can't pass it up."

So, what do you get in this variety pack? Well, it contains five fudge chocolate chip cookies, six oatmeal raisin cookies, 11 chocolate chip cookies, and 11 peanut butter cookies. That's quite a selection! However, if these don't all strike your fancy, you can find other Grandma's Cookies flavors at Costco, such as the vanilla sandwich cookies.

These treats might not be exactly like your grandma used to make them, but to many, they're pretty close. So, make sure to grab a box next time you hit up Costco. Your snack time is about to get elevated.


To get the lowdown on the best Costco products, we interviewed three current and former professional chefs. We first spoke to chef Ashley Jonique, a personal chef from New Orleans who has cooked for celebrities such as Missy Elliot and Kendrick Lamar. We also had a quick word with Diana Manalang, who's the owner and chef at Little Chef Little Cafe in New York City. 

Then, we caught up with Jessica Chan, a former professional chef and current food blogger at Jecca Chantilly, who talked us through her current Costco faves. We then took the products recommended to us in these interviews and created this list of 14 Costco must-haves.