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I Tried 7 Costco Frozen Meals & the Best Was Crunchy and a Bit Sweet

Which of these mega-sized family meals is worth the space it'll take up in your freezer?
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The Costco freezer aisle can be a time-saving mecca or an overwhelming experience with its mega-sized meals. After all, freezer space is limited, and if you gamble on a meal that isn't well received, you may end up with unwanted food collecting freezer burn. However, when you do find a freezer meal that's fast, easy, and a crowd-pleaser, the feelings are pure joy.

Like most people, what I buy at Costco is usually based on recommendations from friends, something that was offered as a sample, or a dish I've had my eye on for a while. To find some new favorites, I hit the freezer aisles and did a little taste testing on what's out there.

Since there's no way I could try it all, I taste-tested seven of the more popular freezer selections, including a few mainstays, some newer finds, as well as items under Costco's own private label, Kirkland Signature.

I often buy the Motor City Detroit Style Pizza and Five Cheese Bread, which weren't included in this test. They remain highly recommended in my book.

Here's what I thought of the freezer meals from least exciting to most delicious. I will note that there wasn't a single meal that was terrible. Most of the ranking comes down to personal taste preference and what works best for a particular family.

Beecher's Hatch Chili Mac and Cheese

Costco Beecher's Hatch Chili Mac and Cheese
Samantha Lande/Eat This Not That
Per Serving (1 Cup): 460 calories, 24 g fat (15 g saturated fat), 640 mg sodium, 41 g carbs (4 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 21 g protein

This Beecher's mac and cheese is wildly popular among the Costco folk on Reddit, so when I spotted this hatch green chile version, I knew I had to try it. Costco is filled with mac and cheese options, from its take-and-bake version to boxed options and even mac and cheese bites. This version goes in the oven for about 30 minutes with a 10-minute rest. It was super simple to heat up. The box costs $16.99 for a 46-ounce tray in the warehouse.

The look: The long cook time was worth the wait as this one came out cheesy, bubbly and with good browning around the noodles at the edge. Each noodle was coated with cheese like a good mac and cheese should be.

The taste: The mac and cheese was delicious; you could tell it was real cheese, and a lot of it, but it was too spicy for my kids, who have a relatively high spice tolerance. After a few bites, even I had to stop eating it. The dish was too indulgent and rich. It'd be perfect for a party where everyone takes a small scoop, but as a main course, it was just too heavy (and spicy) for our crew.

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Kirkland Signature Chicken Breast Chunks

Costco Kirkland Signature Chicken Breast Chunks
Samantha Lande/Eat This Not That
Per Serving (3 oz): 140 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 530 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 16 g protein

These newer nuggets are what I believe to be Costco's answer to the Just Bare version that has been flying off the shelves for the past few years. Chicken nuggets are always a great kid dinner to have on hand. The 4-pound bag is $13.99.

The look: I was glad to see that there were a variety of sized nuggets with a nice light but even coating of golden breading. Nothing freaks me out more than chicken nuggets that are completely round and uniform in size (and likely not made of chicken).

The taste: Overall, the chicken nuggets were good but not great. We cooked one batch in the oven and one in the air fryer, and they weren't quite as crispy on the exterior as we wanted them to be. The coating was soggy. For the most part, we liked these and felt like the chicken was decent quality chicken until we each hit a few weird pieces that felt just a little too chewy and off-putting. For that reason, I may go for the Just Bare variety. That didn't stop my kids from making them later in the week.

Ajinomoto Yakitori Chicken Fried Rice

Costco Ajinomoto Yakitori Chicken Fried Rice
Samantha Lande/Eat This Not That
Per Serving: 440 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 900 mg sodium, 70 g carbs (2 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 19 g protein

This fried rice was probably the easiest of all of the meals we tested. Priced at $14.99 in my local warehouse, the box comes with six bags of chicken fried rice that need to be microwaved for three minutes and then dumped into a bowl. It was so easy that my kids (ages 9 and 11) could make this independently whenever they wanted. For that reason, this pick-up is a winner. However, we were mixed on taste.

The look: Just like homemade fried rice should look, except it came from the microwave. Good chunks of chicken and a variety of colorful vegetables peeked out from under the browned rice.

The taste: I make a mean fried rice, and this one lacked flavor, but nothing that couldn't be doctored with a bit of chili crisp and soy sauce. It included a variety of frozen vegetables and white meat chicken that didn't look gross or taste rubbery. I think it's an excellent pick for a super simple pre-sports meal. Otherwise, I'd keep it as a quick, easy side dish.

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La Paloma Mini Empanadas Beef Nacho Style

La Paloma Mini Empanadas Beef Nacho Style
Samantha Lande/Eat This Not That
Per Serving (4 pieces): 260 calories, 15 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 360 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 8 g protein

This wouldn't be considered a meal in some houses, but when you have a tween who is out the door for sports most nights, this is perfect. The box runs $11.69 in the warehouse.

The look: These mini empanadas are certainly not fashionable, but they'd look how you'd expect them to. I would have liked a little more browning, crispy looking edges, but they fly off the plate so fast nobody really inspected them.

The taste: We air-fried these two-bite empanadas, and they were what you'd expect. Easy to eat, they would make a great appetizer for watching sports on TV, and they flew like hotcakes. The flavor was good, exactly what you'd expect—nacho-style beef. Although this is probably not a meal I would make for myself, it is precisely what I want in a freezer meal—quick to make and appealing to kids. It's also the perfect meal for a babysitter to make. Healthier would be nice, but hey, you can't have everything.

Kirkland Signature Italian Sausage and Beef Lasagna

Kirkland Signature Italian Sausage and Beef Lasagna
Samantha Lande/Eat This Not That
Per Serving (1 cup): 410 calories, 22 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 890 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (3 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 23 g protein

Although people rave about the Kirkland lasagna—right now, our store features both ground beef and ground beef plus sausage—I didn't have high expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised with this version. You get two trays for $16.69 in the warehouse.

The look: The exterior package made it look like a perfect lasagna. The visuals once cooked weren't exactly the same. The top was a mound of cheese and sauce with sausage poking through. Once you cut into it, the layers were better but this doesn't look quite as beautiful as a homemade lasagna would.

The taste: Far better than your average frozen lasagna, and it's made with choice ground beef, sausage, real cheese, and tomatoes. After two bites, I needed to gulp down water, likely due to all the meat. A salad would provide some balance.

This dish bakes for an hour-plus, so it's ideal to bake as you wrap up the day. The one downfall (or plus, depending on your brood) is that the two-tray package takes up a lot of freezer space. I recommend buying it the day you plan to make it and stashing the other tray in the freezer.

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Rao's Eggplant Parmesan

Rao's Eggplant Parmesan
Samantha Lande/Eat This Not That
Per Serving (1 cup): 350 calories, 14 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 640 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (3 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 19 g protein

I wasn't sure how this dish would go over with my family. We regularly use Rao's marinara, but whenever I suggest eggplant, it's shunned. The eggplant Parmesan comes in two trays. The serving size for each says five people, but my family disagrees. We made both trays for four people and probably went through about a tray and a half, so I would say the serving size is closer to three people for full-sized eaters. We served ours with a side of bucatini. A pack of two trays costs $16.99 at the warehouse.

The look: Not pretty! It's like a puddle of cheese and sauce with two giant mounds (the eggplant) in it. If I served this for anyone other than my family I would certainly figure out how to jazz up the presentation.

The taste: Certainly better than it looked! The delicious sauce was exactly what you'd expect. The eggplant was good, breaded, and not overly crispy, but not soggy. I felt like I was eating real food. It does take a full hour to bake, so if you are short on time, this is not the dish for you. If you can throw it in the oven and focus on other responsibilities while it cooks, it's a great option for a meal, and cleanup is minimal.

Royal Asia Coconut Shrimp

Costco Royal Asia Coconut Shrimp
Samantha Lande/Eat This Not That
Per Serving (4 oz): 370 calories, 25g fat (10 g saturated fat), 600 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (0 g fiber, 16 g sugar), 10 g protein

Costco usually has a half-dozen shrimp choices, so I wanted to take one for a spin. My kids don't usually eat a dish if they know shrimp is involved. (Shh … don't tell them what's in their Trader Joe's gyoza!) But, I figured out of all the choices, they might try the coconut shrimp. It's $14.99 in the warehouse for a 2-pound box.

The look: Exactly how'd you would expecta nice golden coating with visible pieces of coconut with the tails poking out. Put these on a nice platter and they are ready for any guests coming over.

The taste: I didn't have high expectations, but these coconut shrimp were my favorite. They were crunchy and a bit sweet from the coconut, and the shrimp had the consistency you wanted: firm but not tough. They weren't fishy-tasting. I could do without the dipping sauce, but that's more of a personal thing. Both of my kids tried the shrimp and liked it—even knowing that they were eating shrimp! They were easy to bake in the oven, too. Aside from dinner, they'd also make an excellent appetizer for a party. I'd buy these coconut shrimp again.


Samantha Lande
Samantha is a freelance writer who covers food, health, wellness and other lifestyle subjects. Read more about Samantha