9 Best Meats to Buy at Costco, According to Chefs
Of all the goods and services at Costco, groceries are perhaps the biggest draw, but some departments attract more fanfare than others.
The enticing bakery, for example, gets a lot of love for its fragrant array of cookies, pastries, and enormous desserts. The freezer aisle, packed with long-lasting foods of all kinds, is another fan favorite. The produce section, on the other hand, often leaves a lot to be desired.
But, what about the warehouse club's meat counter? Similar to most other sections of Costco's stores, the meat counter comes with many perks and many praise-worthy items. If you know anything about Costco, then you probably know about the club's famously low-priced rotisserie chicken. But, experienced chefs know first-hand that Costco's top-quality selection reaches far beyond just that.
Read on to find out what these experts have identified as the best poultry, pork, chicken, and even seafood to pick up at the big box retailer.
Bravo TV's "Below Deck Mediterranean" star and celebrity chef Dave White personally loves shopping at Costco for bigger cuts of meat. White says they're great quality while also being affordable. And, the cut that's at the top of his favorites list is Costco's brisket. "I smoke that sucker for 12 hours on my Kamado Joe and it's to die for!" he shares. For those of us who aren't professional chefs, Kamado Joe is a highly versatile brand of ceramic duel grills and smokers. But, don't worry. This premium equipment isn't required to cook a great brisket from Costco at home. A standard grill, slow cooker, or even a normal convection oven will suffice.
If you're a seafood lover, Costco is swimming with options for you as well. Specifically, White is a big fan of the store's octopus, which is sold whole—tentacles and all. He likes to prepare it sous vide, he says, referring to the popular method of vacuum-sealing and submerging the protein in warm water. "I then char on the grill to get that epic Basque/Spanish finish to it," he says.
"Costco also has lamb racks which are normally imported from New Zealand (as they do have the best lamb)," White says. "You can pan roast them whole after a simple marinade to get that medium rare finish." He additionally explains that, fortunately, the lamb racks come already French trimmed–meaning they are already cut in a way that cleanly exposes the bone and makes the process of preparation and serving easier. "You can also slice them into cutlets and caramelize that sweet fat on the grill," he suggests as another cooking method.
Chicken Thighs and Whole Chicken
While average shoppers can't get enough of Costco's famed $4.99 rotisserie chickens, established chefs tend to reach for the warehouse's uncooked poultry options instead. Chef Brian Malarkey specifically opts for both the raw whole chickens and chicken thighs at Costco. The former "Top Chef" finalist and founder of Chefs Life Cooking Oils explains that these are both economical protein options. Malarkey adds that, "the Costco whole chicken is great for cooking and meal prepping early in the week and can be utilized in a various number of ways from wraps to salads, sandwiches, dinners and even for breakfast."
Chef Ron Stewart is also quite fond of Costco's meat department. In fact, he says, "Costco has some of the best meats around," adding that the store has "something to satisfy every palate," whether you're just shopping for your weekly groceries or hosting a fancy dinner party.
A culinary consultant and executive chef with extensive experience in local eateries, restaurants, and catering to A-list celebrities, Stewart gravitates towards the store's poultry in particular. "Their chicken breasts are also outstanding; big, fat, juicy chunks that never taste dry no matter how long you cook them for," he says. "Plus they come already boned so there's less work for you when preparing your meal!"
In the beef category, one specific cut at the warehouse has Stewart's heart. "The absolute best meats at Costco include their rib eye steaks, which are incredibly tender and juicy due to the marbling on them," he says. "This marbling allows the steak to cook quickly and evenly so you can get the kind of restaurant-quality steak everyone loves." Pair these Costco thick-cut steaks with a bottle of one of Costco's popular Kirkland-brand red wines and you have yourself the perfect date night!
According to Stewart, Costco's pork chops are another big hit in the warehouse meat department. He describes them as "thick cutlets with a ton of flavor from slow oven roasting," and says that these features make the chops "an exceptional entree to serve any night of the week." Plus, Stewart adds that Costco's pork products are typically organic and free of antibiotics. And, since some selections are pre-smoked, they tend to have a fantastic flavor that can impress even the most critical dinner guest, he notes.
Lastly, Stewart points to Costco's bacon, which he describes as "second-to-none" and "sure to add some extra deliciousness into whatever dish you decide to prepare with it." He specifically mentions the thick-cut hickory wood smoked pepper bacon "that brings a bit of spicy kick in each bite."
Don't forget to check out the Kirkland Signature Fully Cooked Bacon as well. It may not be as extravagant as some of these other options, but members say it's one of the most underrated items the warehouse has to offer.
Organic Ground Beef
Pitmaster Kevin Turner, founder of The Grilling Master blog, listed just one Costco meat that he is most passionate about: organic ground beef. For the veteran chef who has worked at some of the best BBQ joints in both Kansas City and Texas, the ground beef is a step above for multiple reasons.
"Kirkland signature organic ground beef is the best from Costco," he states. "This is sold in bulk at Costco and can serve as value for money. As it is organic and grass-fed, the beef is free from chemical and synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and other harmful chemicals, making it a certified organic beef."
Turner additionally explains that eating organic is not only healthier for you as the meat is leaner and also higher in healthy, omega-3 fatty acids, but it's also healthier for the environment—making organic ground beef the perfect choice for those who are both health and environmentally-conscious.