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I Tried All the Chicken Wings at Costco & the Winner Was Crispy, Sweet & Spicy

The popular warehouse club offers several wing options, but which one tastes the best?
FACT CHECKED BY Mura Dominko
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Snackable, sharable, and guaranteed to make you thirsty, chicken wings are the quintessential sports bar food. But, there are times when even the most social sports fan just wants to hunker down at home and catch the game from the comforts of his or her own couch—even if the craving for hot, meaty wings is unrelenting.

Of course, you can order delivery and gnaw on your fingernails in the meantime, but it's even better to have a reliable supply of your favorite game-time snack ready to go. And there's arguably no better place to stock up on wings than Costco.

America's leading warehouse club offers several options to stock your fridge or freezer before the on-screen action begins, but which one provides the absolute most mouthwatering wings that you can easily prepare right at home?

I recently ran my own option play, lining up five different Costco-sized varieties to determine the tastiest course of action. With one notable exception, I cooked them all in my air fryer (also from Costco) because the trendy device is uniquely well-suited to producing crispy, juicy chicken wings with little fuss and, in many cases, it's explicitly recommended on the product's packaging.

Here's how each Costco purchase stacked up, ranked in descending order from my least favorite to the truly top-tasting wing.

Kirkland Signature Cooked Garlic Pepper Seasoned Party Wings

Cooked garlic pepper seasoned party wings at Costco
Chris Shott for Eat This, Not That!

If you're looking for wings that you can start gnawing on right away, you can find them in the deli section under the heat lamps—right next to Costco's famous rotisserie chickens. But, while the roasted whole birds are legendarily cheap, the cooked wings will cost you a heckuva lot more. A hefty 3.2-pound tray set me back $20.77 at my local warehouse.

The look: Unevenly browned and specked with spices, these wings seemed very similar appearance-wise to the store's oft-discussed whole chickens. The skin, in particular, looked soft and squishy—a condition likely worsened from steaming inside its plastic container.

Cooked garlic pepper seasoned party wings from Costco
Chris Shott for Eat This, Not That!

The taste: Not bad but a bit too soggy for my liking. These wings felt remarkably hot when I picked them up from the deli counter, and they stayed pretty warm even after slogging through a packed checkout line. I liked the balanced flavor of the seasoning. Both the garlic and red pepper made their presence felt but neither overpowered the other. The meat was tender and moist, but that swampy skin spoiled everything for me. Even reheating in the air fryer back home failed to crispen it up much.

RELATED: I Tried the Wings at America's 4 Most Popular Chicken Chains & One Reigns Supreme

Kirkland Signature Garlic Seasoned Party Wings

Kirkland Signature Garlic Seasoned Party Wings from Costco
Chris Shott for Eat This, Not That!

Nearby, in the prepared foods section, you'll find all sorts of pre-marinated meats chilling in the cooler, from St. Louis-style dry-rubbed pork ribs to these garlic-flavored chicken wings. Yes, they're essentially the same wings from the deli, just uncooked. (Comparing the listed ingredients confirmed this.) But, if you're willing to heat them up yourself, you can better control the results—and you can get a whole lot more for a little less money. A whopping 5-pound package cost me $17.48 at the warehouse.

The look: Big and bathed in garlic. Upon opening the package, you immediately notice two things: the drumsticks and flats seem much larger than average, and the reddish marinade comes loaded with measurable chunks of chopped garlic. Cooked in the air fryer for about 25 minutes, the dressed wings took on a visibly bumpy crust.

Garlic seasoned party wings from Costco
Chris Shott for Eat This, Not That!

The taste: Intensely garlicky. The flavor was so much stronger than the precooked deli version, presumably because the chicken had more time to soak up those spices while lingering in the refrigerator case. Though quite potent taste-wise, the texture left a lot to be desired. Even in the air fryer, these wings didn't get very crispy outside and the meat inside felt much too chewy.

RELATED: The Best Way to Cook Chicken Wings in an Air Fryer

Foster Farms Take Out Crispy Chicken Wings Classic Buffalo

Foster Farms Classic Buffalo Crispy Wings from Costco
Chris Shott for Eat This, Not That!
Per Serving (3 oz wings + 2 tbsp sauce): 160 cal, 9 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 1790 mg sodium, 7 g carbs (<1 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 12 g protein

While fresh wings might seem like the smart choice, you can actually find even better options in the freezer section at the warehouse. Customers have been raving about the Foster Farms brand, in particular. One fan on Reddit boldly described these as the "best wings I ever bought." Another fan said this brand "ruined" takeout wings forever because its frozen ones are so much better. Not everyone loves the accompanying Classic Buffalo-flavored sauce, however, so I was interested to try them for myself. A 4-pound bag normally costs $15.99 at the warehouse, but I found these on sale for just $12.49.

Foster Farms Classic Buffalo Crispy Wings from Costco
Chris Shott for Eat This, Not That!

The look: Smaller on average than the Kirkland-brand wings, but far crispier looking after air frying for 20 minutes. The fiery red-orange tone of the Buffalo sauce gave these wings a vibrancy that hints at a bracing first bite.

The taste: Bright, acidic, and spicy. Though certainly not rating very highly on the Scoville hotness scale, these were unquestionably the spiciest wings in this survey, with an undeniable tongue-tingling impact right up front. These wings had a nice crisp first bite and the tender meat pulled easily off the bone. Unlike some online critics, I didn't hate the flavor, either—it seemed like a pretty standard vinegary, hot sauce-forward Buffalo-inspired rendition to me. Still, two other varieties impressed me more.

RELATED: The One Chicken Wing Chain Where Chefs Actually Eat

Pilgrim's Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings

Pilgrim's Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings from Costco
Chris Shott for Eat This, Not That!
Per Serving (3 oz): 210 cal, 14 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 860 mg sodium, 3 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 19 g protein

This new product from Pilgrim's recently appeared in the freezer section at Costco. Flavored with parmesan cheese, garlic, and butter, these wings "give you all the flavor without the hassle of sauce," according to the manufacturer. A 4-pound bag cost me $12.97 at my local warehouse. 

The look: Super crispy. You notice the caramelization as soon as these wings come out of the air fryer. They're perfectly golden brown and just begging for you to take a bite.

Pilgrim's Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings from Costco
Chris Shott for Eat This, Not That!

The taste: Salty and pungent. The parmesan flavor dominates, delivering that umami goodness that doesn't always make an immediate impression but soon envelopes your whole palate and makes it hard to stop snacking. But, beyond the taste, the best thing about these wings is the crunch factor. They were by far the crispiest samples in this survey. The crackle upon each bite proved immensely satisfying, both on the teeth and the ears. The only thing lacking with these wings was heat. The savoriness was off the charts, but if you like your wings with a little kick, you'll need to gnaw on something else.

RELATED: 7 Restaurant Chains That Serve the Best Chicken Wings

Foster Farms Sweet Chipotle BBQ Take Out Crispy Wings

Foster Farms Sweet Chipotle BBQ from Costco
Chris Shott for Eat This, Not That!
Per Serving (3 oz wings + 2 tbsp sauce): 230 cal, 9 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 950 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (4 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 12 g protein

Made by the same popular brand as the aforementioned Buffalo flavor, these wings similarly promise a "restaurant-quality" experience, but with an altogether different and arguably better sauce. One fan on Reddit, in fact, called the barbecue flavor "top tier." Normally $15.99, this 4-pound bag was also marked down to $12.49 when I picked it up at the warehouse.

Chris Shott for Eat This, Not That!

The look: Small but mighty enticing. These wings came nicely browned and sizzling right out of the air fryer, and the dark reddish-tinted glaze added gloss and visual richness to their appeal.

The taste: Tangy, smoky, and sweet with the perfect amount of heat. These delectable morsels had all the qualities that I expect from a truly tasty wing: tender, easy-to-chew meat with a satisfying crunch, a noticeable but not overpowering kick, and an overall crave-worthy flavorful sauce that leaves you sucking on your fingertips after you're done gnawing it down to the bone.

The next time you're at Costco looking for game-day eats, steer clear of the ready-to-eat wings and grab a bag of the Sweet Chipotle BBQ from the freezer instead.

Chris Shott
Chris Shott is the Deputy Editor covering restaurants and groceries for Eat This, Not That! Read more about Chris