Costco is a favorite go-to for grocery shoppers looking for a bargain. Not only can you can you buy some of your favorite brand names in bulk (Hello, giant box of Cheerios!), but the store has its own Costco brand, Kirkland, that allows you buy products similar to your favorite brands for less. But does the Kirkland name really measure up to the brands you’ve known and trusted all your grocery-shopping lives? While brand loyalists might have their doubts, according to grocery aficianados, not only does it make a comparable match in most situations, but there are some Kirkland products that actually surpass their brand name counterparts. In fact, some Kirkland products are in fact made by the same company that makes the brand name version, making it an even better deal.
So before your next shopping trip, here’s a list of some of our favorite Kirkland items for your money-saving pleasure!
Kirland Signature Olive Oil
While people can be pretty picky about their olive oil, especially when using it for cold dishes when the flavor and unrefined quality really matter, it turns out you might do better buying Costco’s varieties of olive oil than the fancier brands. Chef and cookbook author Samin Nosrat says that one of her favorite olive oils comes from the Kirkland Signature brand (via Huffington Post). She told the publication that it “regularly scores well on independent administered quality analyses.” Specifically, she sings the praises of Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a 2-liter bottle of which costs $21.49. Even New York Magazine has included Kirkland in on its list of best olive oils, noting that their USDA organic option is particularly delicious and is, according to them, the best olive oil you can buy in bulk.
Kirkland Signature Animal Crackers
Animal crackers are a snacking staple for young children. As part of school lunches, an at-home snack with a movie, or a grab-and-go treat for the park, they’re easy, quick, not terribly unhealthy, and kids love them. So if you’re seeking to buy them in bulk, a jar of Kirkland Signature animal crackers are the best deal you can find. According to Business Insider, Kirkland Signature brand Animal Crackers compare favorably to its competitors in virtually every respect. While the Costco brand crackers look a little different because the animal faces are stamped onto the cookies rather than cut out of the dough, they take home the gold more often than not when it comes to taste tests thanks to their good vanilla flavor and smooth texture.
Kirkland Signature Granola
Granola is a versatile food many of us keep in our pantries to toss into some yogurt for breakfast or into a to-go-baggie before a hike or bike ride. High in whole grains and featuring nuts and dried fruit, it’s a healthier options for breakfast and snacking than other convenient items like a pastry or a bag of chips. Costco’s Kirkland Signature Ancient Grain granola is an excellent choice, not only for its affordable price point, but because granola fans have actually found it to be tastier than its competitor brand Nature Valley’s version. According to Business Insider, tasters found Nature Valley’s offering a little too sweet, while they felt the Costco granola to be rich and complex. It also had a greater and more interesting variety of ingredients, including more whole grains.
Kirkland Signature Peanut Butter Pretzels
Yum, peanut butter-filled pretzels! Crunchy, creamy, salty, and sweet — it’s the perfect addictive little snack, so we only recommend buying Costco’s delicious version in bulk if you have some excellent will power! Business Insider compared them to the Good Health name brand peanut butter pretzels and found Kirkland Signature to be superior. Not only did taste testers find the Good Health brand drier and overly salty compared to Kirkland, but Kirkland’s Signature peanut butter pretzels are a better deal; when comparing the prices of both brands, it turns out that the price per weight is better with the Costco brand, meaning you get more for your money.
Kirland's French Vodka
You didn’t really think we’d leave booze off the list, did you? Of course not. We’ve got your back. Vodka is such a versatile spirit that many keep it in the house for entertaining or to make an occasional cocktail at home. And while some feel you need to buy higher-end Vodka if you’re going to make a quality drink, Kirkland’s Signature Vodka continually astounds taste testers with its smoothness and good taste. In fact, it’s a long-held belief by its many fans that Costco’s vodka is actually the exact same product as Grey Goose because it’s made in the same distillery. While no one has ever been able to corroborate that there is not difference between the products, and some naysayers point to the fact that at about $20 for nearly two liters, it’s one-third the price of the Goose and therefore can’t possibly be the same product, it sure does hold up to its name brand competitor in taste tests.
A writer for The Kitchn hosted a taste test that included name brands like Grey Goose, Chopin, and Ketel One vodkas, and Kirkland’s French Vodka topped all of them, taking the the number one slot. Yes, really. Tasters found it to be “silky,” and “supple,” with a “sweet and bright” flavor and a medium-weight heft similar to white wine while other brands were declared more “watery.” An impressive boozy bang for your buck!
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