The Best And Worst Costco Finds For Your Next BBQ

image of costco BBQ foods
image of costco BBQ foods - Static Media / Shutterstock / Getty

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Oh barbecue season -- the time of year where the grill sizzles melodically as you catch up with your friends over a cold beer. The air is warm, the sun is blazing, and stomachs are aching to be fed. But before you host your dream BBQ of the summer, you'll need to head over to the grocery store.

When you're cooking for a lot of people, shopping can be stressful. It's hard to know how much to buy and what exactly to throw in your cart. Many people opt to shop at Costco, which is a great option especially if you are buying items in large quantities. It'll help save you money while ensuring you have a bit of extra food in case your guests are hungrier than predicted.

Most people attending a barbecue expect a few staple items: burgers, dogs, steaks, drinks, snacks, fruit, and salads. We've combed through the Costco subreddit and other blogs to see which of these staples are worth getting at Costco and which you should shop for elsewhere. Taste, variety of options, and price were all taken into account when ranking the items in this list, as we'll elaborate on further. Please note that any prices mentioned are accurate as of the publication date and vary for each location. If you want to host a BBQ and serve delicious food while keeping it affordable, you'll want to read on.

Read more: Mistakes Everyone Makes When Shopping At Costco

Best: Burger Patties

burgers on grill
burgers on grill - Grandriver/Getty Images

A barbecue simply can't be considered a barbecue without a classic burger. Considering most people tend to add one to their plate to start, you'll want to make sure you have more than enough for your guests. You'll also want to guarantee they're good quality burgers -- ones that are flavorful, not too dry, and not too thin.

Costco's Kirkland Signature brand has four varieties of frozen burger patties: Angus, Wagyu, ⅓-pound sirloin, and grass fed. They each come in packs of about 15 to 18 patties and range from $30 to 35, or about $2 per patty. The variety is great because everyone will have options depending on their personal preference. You can also mix it up and buy a few different packs, giving your guests a choice of patty.

Frequent Costco shoppers on Reddit claim these burgers never fail them. Overall, there doesn't seem to be a clear favorite as to which type of burger to get. One user wrote, "Hands down the Wagyu are the best my husband and I have had. We've had all the Costco frozen burgers and they are by far the most juiciest and most flavorful." People upvoted many comments about the Angus and sirloin, while others made positive comments about the grass fed beef. Overall, it seems you can't go wrong with a Kirkland burger.

Best: Hot Dogs

hot dogs on grill
hot dogs on grill - Ali Majdfar/Getty Images

Some may say that Costco hot dogs have a cult following. If you've ever finished off your shopping trip with a freshly made hot dog at the food court, you know just how satisfying they are. Made with 100% beef, extra large in size, and characteristically juicy, there really isn't anything not to love.

Costco's hot dogs aren't just limited to the food court, however. Kirkland Signature sells these bad boys in the refrigerated section. Look out for the blue packaging labeled Beef Dinner Franks and you've found them. We recommend picking up these Costco brand dogs not only because they are a fan favorite, but because they are a great price too. Depending on your region, you can get a pack of 14 links for about $17, making the cost of each hot dog just above a dollar. Considering the Kirkland hot dog clearly states on the packaging "no corn syrup, phosphates, or fillers," you know that you are getting a quality dog.

There are plenty of positive reviews about Costco's hot dogs online. One YouTube review channel shared a taste-test after they cooked them on the grill, commenting that these aren't just any hot dogs, they are art. They also said the flavor profile has some complexity, perhaps because there are spices added to the recipe. As well, the casing on the hot dog is very thin, making it more enjoyable to chew. Our mouths are watering just thinking about it!

Best: Hot Dog And Hamburger Buns

Wonder hot dog buns
Wonder hot dog buns - Costco

You can't really serve hot dogs and hamburgers without buns. The good thing is that Costco sells a large variety of bun brands and offers packages that contain a high quantity. Along with Kirkland brand buns, it sells popular brands like Wonder, Mrs. Baird's, Gai's Bakery, Sara Lee, and more.

The main reason to get your burger and dog buns at Costco is because of the amount you can get in each package. You'll find options with up to 32 buns, as well as smaller quantities like 24, 18, 16, and even less. Most grocery stores don't sell any more than 12-count packs. In one easy swoop you can get all of the buns you'll need with one or two packs. If you don't use all of the buns, you can freeze the remainder for another time -- or use the leftovers to make a personal pizza.

On the Costco subreddit, some users discussed which buns go well with the Kirkland burgers. One user claimed that the large package of Kirkland buns fit the ⅓-pound sirloin burgers perfectly. Others suggested trying Hawaiian buns, pretzel buns, or potato buns. The good news is that all of those options are available at Costco, so pick out whichever bun your heart desires.

Worst: Watermelon

cut up watermelon on table
cut up watermelon on table - Yasir Mirza/Shutterstock

Costco isn't necessarily known for its fruits and vegetables, and many shoppers tend to skip the produce section on their weekly shopping trip. It could be because of the large quantities of produce being sold at once, and the odds of all of it being fresh are slim, or it could be a quality issue. The main thing to know is, many customers report bad experiences from buying produce at Costco.

Now, let's specifically talk about watermelon -- the summer fruit that makes hot days feel just a little cooler by keeping you a bit more hydrated. Not to mention, it is just downright tasty and a great addition to your barbecue. A few slices of watermelon gives your guests something delicious to snack on while waiting for the grilled food. Unfortunately, we don't think you should pick up your watermelon at the warehouse.

Costco famously sells extremely large watermelons. One might think that is great when you're hosting many people, however, we'd advise against it. Users on Reddit regularly report less than satisfactory watermelon experiences at Costco. One user lamented, "no matter how hard I try to pick a good one, it usually ends up being soggy inside." Another chimed in, saying, "Against my better judgement I purchased one two days ago. And as always, it was bad." A bad watermelon can really dampen the vibe of your barbecue, so we suggest buying the fruit wherever you get trusted produce.

Worst: Soda

tops of soda cans
tops of soda cans - Petrenkod/Getty Images

Drinks are another important factor to take into account when hosting a barbecue. Along with your alcoholic beverages of choice, you'll need some non-alcoholic options at your barbecue as well. Quenching your thirst with a soda is always satisfying, and it's easy for guests to be able to grab a can from the cooler or top up their cup from a bigger bottle.

Unfortunately, Costco isn't the best place to get soda, so you'll want to go elsewhere to pick up your barbecue drinks. Since the warehouse is known for its price deals, this may seem a bit surprising. The secret is, grocery stores have regular soda deals, especially when it gets closer to a holiday. Costco, on the other hand, doesn't participate in sales. On an everyday basis, it may have cheaper soda prices, but the supermarket sales trump that number.

For example, at the time of this publication, Stop and Shop is currently running a sale on soda, selling a 12-pack of full sized cans for $7.99, with a buy one get one free deal. So, four boxes (48 cans of soda) would cost $15.98 -- only 33 cents per can. Now, Costco sells a 36 pack for about $21.99 -- which is 61 cents per can, almost double! Overall, you would be saving quite a lot by shopping this Stop and Shop sale versus picking up the soda at Costco.

Best: Heinz Picnic Pack

Heinz picnic pack on shelf
Heinz picnic pack on shelf - The Image Party/Shutterstock

No hot dog or hamburger is complete without ketchup, mustard, or relish. They are absolutely necessary at a barbecue, and the bottles can be used up surprisingly fast. You can choose your condiments individually, or you could go for the Heinz Picnic Pack -- which Costco sells at an amazing deal.

The pack includes two 32-ounce ketchup bottles, one 26-ounce relish bottle, and one 28-ounce yellow mustard bottle. Selling at just $10.99, this combo-pack is a major steal. The same exact one is sold at Walmart for around double the price. Buying one or two packs will barely put a dent in your wallet, and it's better to be safe than sorry with the amounts of condiments people consume at a barbecue.

Heinz is one of the most popular ketchup brands out there. As for mustard, customers seem just as happy with Heinz as well. One customer on Amazon said, "The Heinz brand is one to be constantly reliable and continuously stable with their products. The yellow mustard will be nice in color, texture, and taste each and every time." The sweet relish also has a 4.7 star rating on Amazon and many glowing reviews.

Best: Chips

Kirkland brand kettle chips Costco
Kirkland brand kettle chips Costco - The Image Party/Shutterstock

Snacks are some of the best parts of a barbecue. Who doesn't love to snack endlessly while the designated griller cooks up the much-anticipated spread? Besides some fruit and veggie platters or small appetizers, bowls of chips are always a crowd favorite.

You can get most popular chip brands at Costco in varying sizes, like Doritos and Lay's Potato Chips. Costco's Kirkland brand also sells some of its own chips, which have rave reviews online. The Organic Tortilla Chips come in large 40-ounce bags, which Costco shoppers on Reddit claim to be incredibly addicting. One reviewer wrote, "You don't even need a dip or salsa or guac ... just the freaking chips are so good!"

Costco also sells a popular multigrain tortilla chip by the brand Late July, if you are interested in a healthier yet equally tasty option. They are whole grain and made with seeds, and a great vehicle for any dips you might be serving. One Reddit user wrote, "These chips are delicious, pretty sturdy (gotta hold the toppings), relatively low sodium compared to most tortilla chips, and don't make me feel like crap after I eat them."

Not only will you have enough chips for all of your guests if you buy the party sizes at Costco, but you'll also be able to purchase a large variety of brands and flavors. It's a great tactic to prevent any hangry barbecue guests, too.

Best: Desserts

Costco cookies on display
Costco cookies on display - The Image Party/Shutterstock

Once all of the main barbecue items are demolished, most people's sweet tooths tend to sink in. Don't make the mistake of not having any desserts at your barbecue -- Costco has tons of options for you to choose from to top off the day.

The great thing about the Costco bakery is the selection is practically endless. In the bakery as well as the freezer section, you can choose from any kind of dessert -- pies, cookies, cupcakes, chocolate covered fruit, cake, ice cream bars, sorbet, and more. Costco also tends to have themed desserts if your barbecue is for a holiday, like red, white, and blue colored treats for Memorial Day, 4th of July, or Labor Day.

One great item to highlight is the Island Way Sorbet. This brand isn't sold in many stores, and Costco has a pack with 12 sorbets in each box. They come in an assortment of flavors and are served in natural fruit shells. This is a refreshing, tasty dessert that your guests are sure to love. A Costco shopper on Reddit said, "These are like our summer tradition. Amazing. I really love the use of the fruit as the shell."

Another great dessert option for your BBQ is the chocolate chunk cookie. Everyone loves chocolate chip cookies, but Costco's are particularly delicious. If you pair them with Kirkland vanilla ice cream, you can make DIY ice cream sandwiches as well.

Worst: Alternative Meat Options

holding plant based meat package
holding plant based meat package - Chay Tee/Shutterstock

If anyone attending your barbecue is vegetarian or vegan, you're going to need some meat alternatives to cook up. Costco has great substitutes for hot dogs and hamburgers. Recently, however, some Costco members noted their stores weren't carrying the variety of options they were used to having.

One user started a conversation in the Costco subreddit, saying, "Stopped by my Brooklyn store last week and was told they are no longer selling any non-meat burgers and sausages ... I was told they may start to stock them again during the summer." Other users chimed in, explaining that depending on your region, you may or may not have those vegetarian options year-round.

We'd recommend picking up your veggie patties and dogs somewhere that consistently carries your preferred brands. Standard grocery stores typically carry popular options like Beyond Burger (they even sell a special cookout style burger) and Beyond Sausage. Another great option is Trader Joe's, as it carries its own brand of plant based meats. Costco may have Beyond or other brands in stock, however, it is not always dependable.

Best: Chicken Wings

Kirkland chicken party wings bag
Kirkland chicken party wings bag - Costco

Chicken wings are a great addition to a barbecue. Whether you like them doused in BBQ or Buffalo sauce, simple seasonings, or charred to perfection, they're bound to hit the spot. Costco sells a large variety of wings, so you can pick whatever type fits your purposes. For example, if you want to have one less thing to grill, you can opt for the premade chicken wings in the rotisserie section. Costco sells a pack of about 30 wings, already warm and ready to serve. Customers say the wings are so good they have to control themselves from eating the entire container once they get in the car.

Costco also sells fresh wings that you'll need to throw on the grill, and you can choose between seasoned and unseasoned. If you opt for the seasoned wings, you'll be getting a spice mixture that is similar to the seasoning on the rotisserie wings. However, if you season them yourself, you can choose whatever flavor your heart desires. You also have the option of choosing frozen wings, which is the best bang for your buck. You can get about 60 to 70 wings for just $20. In this case, it's just like buying the fresh unseasoned wings, except you'll need to include thawing time.

Best: Steak

steaks on grill
steaks on grill - Mphillips007/Getty Images

Not all barbecues need to have steaks, but if you want to go above and beyond, we recommend picking some up at Costco. Whether you want to serve steak as a main entree or as the topping on some appetizer nachos, they're sure to be a crowd favorite.

According to a Reddit thread, many Costco members choose to get their steaks from the store. One member, who used to be an owner of a specialty butcher shop, chimed in saying, "People should buy their steaks from Costco. Costco moves so much volume, they dictate to their suppliers the spec[ifications] they want at the price. They receive higher spec[ification] choice and prime grades than anyone, even the high end exclusive shops." Along with many other customers boasting about the quality of steaks they've gotten at Costco lately, we'd say this is a safe place to pick yours up.

Another great option at Costco is grabbing a ready-to-eat sirloin. This is a good idea if you want to stick to just grilling dogs, burgers, and chicken, and have a prepared sirloin to use as part of your appetizers. You don't need your BBQ to be nerve-wracking, so adding in a few ready-to-go food options might help alleviate some stress. One member on Reddit said, "We used it for a sandwich bar at our baby shower and it was a hit. Everyone loved it and was asking how we made it." Sounds like a win to us!


people getting food at bbq
people getting food at bbq - Morsa Images/Getty Images

Costco stores vary region to region, and its website doesn't show every item that is available if you were to shop in person. We chose our items on this list based off of personal shopping experience, Reddit reviews and threads, and food blogs. We took into account price, customer reviews, quality, and availability in the stores.

Read the original article on Mashed.