International Foods You Should And Shouldn't Buy At Costco

Costco International Food Products
Costco International Food Products - Static Media / Getty

By the end of 2023, Costco had over 860 warehouses and close to 128 million members worldwide, according to data from Statista. With such a global presence, it should come as no surprise that the company offers a slew of international products. The big-box retailer consistently brings in new products from around the world, so on any given visit you may be able to pick up Greek cheese, pre-made packets of Indian curry, or Japanese-style fried rice.

While you could stick to the tried-and-true Costco items with long-time cult followings, part of the fun of shopping at Costco is uncovering new finds. There's only one catch — it's hard to know whether those new-to-you products are good or not. International products can be tricky because there's a good chance you've never tried those particular brands before. And the last thing you want is to end up with a bulk-sized bag of French pastries or imported avocados that taste terrible.

To help you navigate Costco's international products, we scoured countless reviews to find out which imported foods customers say you absolutely must try and a few you may want to leave on the shelf. From pasta to dairy products and frozen desserts, these are the best and worst international foods you can find at Costco.

Read more: Mistakes Everyone Makes When Shopping At Costco

Buy: Charoen Pokphand Hand-Wrapped Shrimp Wonton Ramen With Yu Choy

Charoen Pokphand Hand-Wrapped Shrimp Wonton Ramen With Yu Choy
Charoen Pokphand Hand-Wrapped Shrimp Wonton Ramen With Yu Choy - Costco

The Charoen Pokphand company (also known as CP Foods) was born in Bangkok, Thailand, in 1921. Today, it sells its Authentic Asia line of frozen foods in 10 countries across the globe. If you're looking for a more substantial alternative to instant ramen noodles, keep an eye out for the Hand-Wrapped Shrimp Wonton Ramen With Yu Choy in the freezer section at Costco. Each box contains six bowls of Chinese-style wonton soup with shrimp wontons, ramen noodles, and yu choy (Chinese broccoli) in a savory broth.

Customers have great things to say about these microwaveable noodle soup bowls. For example, a Reddit user said, "As an Asian this is one of few Costco Asian foods I always have in my freezer. The pack size is not too big, portion is adequate for a light meal, taste is good." Other customers comment on the quality of the ingredients and the great texture of the shrimp wontons compared to other products on the market. Many say the soups make for quick and tasty meals that can easily be upgraded by adding ingredients like chili oil, a squeeze of lime, or more veggies.

Buy: Brie Le Crémeaux Triple Cream Brie

Brie Le Cremeaux Triple Cream Brie
Brie Le Cremeaux Triple Cream Brie - Costco

According to many customers, cheese is a must-buy at Costco thanks to the quality offerings at great prices. In the States, you'll find plenty of locally produced cheeses like cheddar and goat cheese, as well as imported cheeses from countries like Italy, Holland, and France. One cheese that gets rave reviews from customers is the Brie Le Crémeaux Triple Cream Brie. It's sold in wedges that weigh about a pound, which is perfect for parties, families, or those who can smash through a decent amount of cheese in a short time (guilty over here).

Costco also sells a Kirkland Signature double cream Brie from France, but many customers say they prefer the triple cream. That may be because triple cream cheese contains 75% fat content, while double cream cheese only contains 60% fat content. That extra fat gives the cheese a rich, buttery flavor and a luscious texture. It even says right on the package that it's "sinfully creamy." A reviewer said in a YouTube video, "The texture of the inside is very similar to butter ... this is probably one of my favorite cheeses."

Buy: Nutty & Fruity Spicy Chili Tamarind Bites

Nutty & Fruity Spicy Chili Tamarind Bites
Nutty & Fruity Spicy Chili Tamarind Bites - Costco

Tamarind candy is a popular treat in many tropical parts of the world like Southeast Asia, Mexico, and the Caribbean. You don't have to jump on a plane to try this tangy treat, though, if your local Costco carries the Nutty & Fruity Chili Tamarind Bites. Each 24-ounce bag contains bite-size pieces of tamarind coated in a sweet and spicy mix of sugar, chili pepper, chamoy powder, and cayenne pepper. Many customers say they're seriously so good.

"Texture is sort of more crumbly than chewy," said one Reddit user. "First thing that hits you is the tang from the tamarind, then the crystallized sugar followed by a pleasant tingle from the chillies." Another customer commented, "So ridiculously good! I just finished a whole bag by myself." Customers are divided on just how spicy they are with some saying they're not very fiery, and others saying they're intense. They may be an acquired taste, but as one customer said, " If you like tamarind, chili powder, and a tangy flavor, these will make you happy."

Avoid: Peruvian Avocados

Avocados on display at a supermarket
Avocados on display at a supermarket - Costco

You can find some pretty decent produce on offer at Costco if you don't mind buying in large quantities. However, more than a few Costco shoppers say the avocados can be disappointing. The main culprits seem to be the avocados from Peru. In fact, there's a whole Reddit thread dedicated to it. One customer said, "Lately our avocados (the last two bags) have been horrible. It's like they are overly ripe and raw at the same time! Both bags were from Peru." Customers say the Peruvian avocados have no flavor, aren't creamy, and either never ripen at all or ripen way too quickly.

There may be a logical explanation for why Peruvian avocados taste different than their American and Mexican cousins. According to Equal Exchange, although many imported Peruvian avocados are the same Hass variety, they grow in drier conditions and are harvested when the oil content is lower to take into account the longer transport time. Another reason could be that the Peruvian avocados on offer are Fuerte avocados, which have a higher water content than Hass avocados. Either way, you may want to check the label before you purchase a bag of avocados at Costco.

Buy: Garofalo Organic Pasta

Garofalo Organic Pasta
Garofalo Organic Pasta - Costco

Garafalo has a lengthy history that dates back to 1789. The company was established in the Gragnano region of Southern Italy, which is known for its excellent spring water and climatic conditions that are ideal for drying pasta. Today, the company exports its pasta to 60 countries around the world. Costco carries several Garafalo organic pasta products, including spaghetti, penne ziti regate, and gemelli. The pasta is made in Italy with 100% organic durum wheat semolina flour.

Garofalo claims that the pasta is quality-checked at every step of the process, from sourcing the best organic wheat to assessing the mills and pasta factory to ensure the facilities adhere to the highest food safety standards. That may be why many customers agree that the quality is spot on. A Reddit user commented, "Many people don't realize that quality pasta makes a difference ... Poor quality pastas are difficult to cook to the ideal firmness. Quality pastas do this well while absorbing favors and providing a great taste of their own. Pasta Garofalo works well for this."

Buy: Binggrae Melona Fruit Bars

Binggrae Melona Ice Cream Bars
Binggrae Melona Ice Cream Bars - Costco

Costco carries a number of enticing ice cream products, but one frozen treat that has everyone talking is Binggrae's Melona Fruit Bars. The fruit-flavored dessert bars are creamy and rich, but bright-tasting and light at the same time. When the company was established in South Korea in 1992, it offered just honeydew melon bars. Now there are a range of flavors to choose from. Costco offers two variety boxes: one with honeydew, coconut, and mango bars and one with melon, mango, and strawberry bars. Each box contains 24 bars (8 bars of each flavor).

Customers can't get enough of these cool and creamy treats. One happy purchaser on Reddit said, "These things are sooooo good!" I always thought they were regular fruit bars then I saw they were made with cream! The honeydew is no joke!" The only complaint that many people have is that they're not available in their local Costco warehouses. Some say the bars can be completely sold out, while others say they're just not available at their stores. If you come across them in the freezer section, you may want to stock up on a few boxes just in case.

Buy: La Vie Gourmand Mediterranean Flatbread

La Vie Gourmand Mediterranean Flatbread
La Vie Gourmand Mediterranean Flatbread - Costco

La Vie Gourmand offers a wide range of frozen products at Costco that are imported from Europe. One of the most popular is the Mediterranean Flatbread. If you've ever had Turkish or Greek pide before, you'll be familiar with these boat-shaped bread vessels filled with tasty toppings like tomato sauce, cheese, and herbs. They're similar to pizza, except football-shaped. The company claims they're made with an authentic Turkish recipe and that the secret is all in the dough.

You have a few different flavors to choose from depending on which ones your local Costco stocks. These include the Margherita, Cheesy Garlic, Spinach and Mozzarella, and Caramelized Onion and Balsamic Glaze. Customers have mostly positive things to say about the flatbreads. One Reddit user commented, "The ones sold by Costco are made in Turkey and they taste just like the frozen ones you can buy in Greece. Definitely highly recommended." Another Reddit user said, "I think these are absolutely spectacular. Just make sure to have them a bit well done. It's otherworldly."

Avoid: Tasty Bite Organic Indian Madras Lentils

Tasty Bite Organic Indian Madras Lentils
Tasty Bite Organic Indian Madras Lentils - Costco

If you're craving Indian food, you may be tempted to pick up a box of Tasty Bite Organic Madras Lentils from Costco. Each box contains eight pouches of lentils and red beans in a creamy tomato-based sauce seasoned with spices like cumin, chili pepper, and ginger. Unfortunately, customers have a few problems with this product. First, many say the taste isn't authentic, even though the package is labeled "Product of India." Some also say the product has changed for the worse.

"I thought these would taste like Indian food, but they taste more like mild American chili to me," said one customer on Reddit. Another reviewer said, "These are terrible for Indian food ... this brand is quite salty and lacks flavor in my opinion (as an Indian person)." Other customers commented that the Organic Indian Madras Lentils used to be thicker, but now they seem soupy and watered down. The lentils may be quick and convenient to make, but you may need to do some serious doctoring to make them a hearty, flavorful meal.

Buy: Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter

Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter
Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter - Costco

Peruse the dairy section at Costco and you'll likely find a few different butter options. You could opt for the Salted Sweet Cream Butter from the States or the Kirkland Signature Grass-fed Butter from New Zealand. However, many shoppers will tell you that Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter is the only way to go. One box contains four bars of butter that weigh 227 grams each. The Irish butter may be a tad pricier than some of the Kirkland offerings, but many say it's worth the splurge.

The main difference between Irish butter and regular butter is that Irish butter has a higher fat content, which makes it creamier and softer. In addition, the milk from grass-fed cows makes the butter ultra-flavorful and gives it a rich yellow color. In a Reddit thread comparing the difference between the Irish brand and Kirkland butter, one Reddit user commented, "There is a very noticeable difference in taste between the two with my strong preference for Kerrygold. It's much richer in flavor." Another Reddit user said, "It's creamier, and it softens differently. It's easier to spread directly from the refrigerator vs the NZ which is very hard."

Buy: Hanwoomul Fried Tofu & Vegetable Kimbap

Hanwoomul Fried Tofu & Vegetable Kimbap
Hanwoomul Fried Tofu & Vegetable Kimbap - Costco

Fans of Korean food will probably be familiar with kimbap. The popular dish is similar to sushi, as it includes ingredients like veggies, seafood, or meat rolled up in rice and encased in a seaweed wrapping. There are a few differences between sushi and kimbap, though. Kimbap typically features cooked ingredients as opposed to raw fish, and the rice is often seasoned with sesame oil instead of rice vinegar. If you want to taste the difference for yourself, many Costco warehouses now offer Hanwoomul Fried Tofu & Vegetable Kimbap in the freezer section.

Each bag of Hanwoomul Kimbap from Costco contains six rolls filled with fried tofu and veggies like carrot, spinach, burdock, and pickled radish. The rolls are sliced into nine pieces, making it easy to pull out of the freezer, microwave, and serve right away. If you're wondering how they compare to Trader Joe's wildly popular kimbap, Tasting Table stated that Costco's are far superior in terms of taste and texture. Customers tend to agree. One buyer on Reddit even said, "I'm Korean and they're better than most kimbap I've bought from Hmart and other stores."

Buy: Papious Halloumi Cheese

Papious Halloumi Cheese
Papious Halloumi Cheese - Costco

Looking to switch up your international cheese game? The next time you're at Costco, consider picking up a package of Papouis Halloumi. If you're not sure what halloumi is, it's an incredibly diverse white cheese that's typically made from sheep's milk or goat's milk. It's quite firm and has a high melting point, so it's great for grilling, frying, or grating over hot dishes. The flavor is slightly salty and tangy without being too overpowering, which means it goes well with a wide range of dishes.

Most halloumi is made on the island of Cyprus, and Papouis Halloumi from Costco is no exception. Each package contains two half-pound blocks of cheese made with a mix of cow, sheep, and goat milk. There aren't too many reviews from Costco members yet, possibly because the product is relatively new to warehouses in the States. However, the cheese gets great reviews on other retail sites. One fan on Parthenonfoods.com said, "Excellent Haloumi ... we fry it in a skillet in olive oil. It comes out crispy on the outside and beautifully soft in the center ... This brand is particularly tasty."

Avoid: La Boulangère Pains Au Chocolat

La Boulangere Pains Au Chocolat
La Boulangere Pains Au Chocolat - Costco

You're pretty spoiled for choice when it comes to pastries and sweet treats at Costco. In fact, some might argue that the Costco bakery items are worth the price of the membership alone. With so many delicious cakes, strudels, croissants, and cookies on offer, it seems silly to head to the freezer section for pastries. One product that many customers say proves that point exactly is the Pains Au Chocolat by La Boulangère.

At first glance, the La Boulangère Pains Au Chocolat may look legit. After all, the package claims they're crafted by French bakers, and who knows pastries better than the French? Each package contains 16 individually wrapped brioche-style puff pastries filled with chocolate. Unfortunately, shoppers say the taste is pretty sub-par. As one Reddit user said, "It tastes like Hershey's chocolate in a hot dog bun." Another said, "Unfortunately these were WAY too sweet and the bread is not flaky at all." Most agree that the frozen pains au chocolat don't even come close to Costco's own croissants.

Buy: Ajinomoto Yakitori Chicken Fried Rice

Ajinomoto Yakitori Chicken Fried Rice
Ajinomoto Yakitori Chicken Fried Rice - Costco

Ajinomoto is a Japanese-based company that was formed in 1909 to sell the world's first umami seasoning. Since then, the company has expanded exponentially and it now offers a vast array of products, including Japanese dumplings, soup stock, and rice and noodle dishes. One popular product that you can find at Costco is the Ajinomoto Yakitori Chicken Fried Rice. It's sold in three-pound boxes that contain six servings of fried rice with chicken and veggies like edamame, roasted sweet corn, and carrots.

Many Costco shoppers say that the Ajinomoto Yakitori Chicken Fried Rice is surprisingly good considering it's frozen and meant to be microwaved. One customer on Reddit said, "It tastes so good! Like it's freshly made, almost." If you want to upgrade the dish, customers suggest adding fried eggs, oyster sauce, or teriyaki sauce to make it restaurant-quality. Or take one Reddit user's suggestion and add some sesame oil and teriyaki sauce and then toss it in a pan after microwaving. As they said, "[It] kicks it up to a whole new level. Better than any fried rice from Chinese restaurants around here."

Buy: Delici Chocolate S'mores Soufflé

Delici Chocolate S'mores Soufflé
Delici Chocolate S'mores Soufflé - Costco

Delici is a Belgian company that specializes in desserts. To be more specific, it specializes in layered dessert pots featuring rich chocolate, creamy mousses, and flavorful fruit. The Chocolate S'mores Soufflé is a twist on the American classic campfire dessert. Delici elevates the dish with layers of graham cookie crumbs, dark chocolate soufflé, and marshmallow creme. You can find the soufflés in the refrigerated desserts section at select Costco warehouses. Each box contains six individual soufflés.

The Delici Chocolate S'mores Soufflés get a good reception from customers, many of whom say they're rich and satisfying. One reviewer on Cost Cuisine said, "The graham crackers in the bottom mix with the chocolate center creating a cake-like consistency that's very reminiscent of a lava cake! The chocolate is very decadent and tastes like dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate." Some say they're a tad sweet, but overall customers say they're very good, especially when warmed up.

Methodology

Costco storefront
Costco storefront - Ken Wolter/Shutterstock

To determine which international foods at Costco are worth buying, we went straight to the people who know best — customers. We pored over forums like Reddit, as well as food review blogs and videos to find out what shoppers think of the imported products on offer at Costco. Flavor was the most important factor, but we also considered aspects like texture, convenience, and how well the products compared to similar local products. These are the international Costco products that got the most hype and the most hate.

Read the original article on Mashed.