Costco is known for selling in bulk. If you want one can of chicken soup, go to your local grocery; but if you have a big family and enough storage room for 24 cans, Costco is your place.
So you may be hesitant about the baked goods at Costco. They’re also sold in giant quantities, but breads and cakes aren’t as easy to keep fresh as canned goods or paper products. Recently, I tried to buy one pack of Danish pastries at my local Costco, and the cashier told me I needed to go back and get a second pack or he couldn’t sell them to me.
There’s a solution: Make room in your freezer. Baked goods tend to freeze well, and many Costco products, such as muffins or bagels, can be easily stored as individual servings. (You may want to slice loaves of bread before freezing, so you can pop out a piece at a time.)
Here’s a look at some of the best things to try at Costco’s bakery.
1. Blueberry muffins
The first thing you’ll notice about the blueberry muffins is how huge they are. They’re the size of softballs, with fat, fresh blueberries generously distributed throughout. But you won’t find yourself picking out the fruit and discarding the rest — the cakey part of the muffin is worth eating too. It’s neither overly sweet nor bland.
There’s something magical about a good croissant, and Costco does it right. Those endless flaky layers hold up to butter or jam or anything else you want to fill them with. They’re evenly baked to a golden shade, and they’re enormous — I tend to cut mine in half and see if anyone else in my home is up to share.
Before sampling Costco’s bagels, I was wary. So many bakeries offer up cottony, doughy circles while a good bagel should have a toothy chew that holds up well to toppings. But I was won over. While Costco’s bagels won’t beat out a fresh-from-your-favorite-New York-deli bagel, they’re a solid and tasty offering. Slightly softer than I would like, but a spin in the toaster oven solved that almost completely.
4. Almond-filled Danish
Costco has numerous versions of Danish pastries, but the unassuming almond-filled variety is my family’s favorite. It’s a rounded circle of buttery, flaky pastry dough filled with almond cream and topped with thinly sliced, toasted almonds. Very flavorful. If you’re iffy on almonds, this isn’t for you because every bite sings with the nutty flavor. And while they’re each the size of an adult’s hand, my husband and my teen daughter’s friend each devoured an entire pastry pretty much without stopping.
5. Cherry Danish
You’re required to buy two packs of Danish pastries (four per pack) at a time, so if you’re buying the almond version, nab yourself a pack of the cherry-filled as well. These are delightful for lovers of cherry pie. The buttery circle of pastry is slicked with a vanilla glaze, and the center is filled with sweet cherry filling, plump with fruit.
6. Pound cake
Costco sells three loaves of pound cake in one package, and while they may look plain, don’t be fooled. The cake is dense and sweet and makes a perfect base for a strawberry shortcake. Don’t love strawberries? Top it with any fresh fruit, such as blueberries or peaches, and don’t forget the whipped cream.
7. Chocolate tuxedo cake
Chocolate lovers, are you looking for a new favorite dessert? Wander over to your local Costco bakery’s refrigerated case to snatch up a chocolate tuxedo cake. It’s rectangular, layered with a dense chocolate cake, then a creamy mousse studded with brownie pieces, then white chocolate mousse, more cake, and then topped off with chocolate ganache. Your guests are sure to mistake this for a dessert from a fancy bakery as no one will believe it came from a warehouse store.
8. Caramel tres leches cake
You’ll find the caramel tres leches cake in the refrigerated cooler too. “Tres leches” means “three milks” in Spanish, and a traditional tres leches cake is a sponge cake soaked in a mixture of whole, condensed and evaporated milks. The resulting cake is moist and flavorful, and Costco adds a caramel icing topping for extra indulgence.
9. Chocolate chip cookies
Don’t be surprised if the fragrant aroma of Costco’s chocolate chip cookies gives you a flashback to your childhood kitchen. This classic American treat comes in a package of 24, and they’re a nice lunchbox size — not enormous, plate-sized treats. Note that these are the soft variety of cookies. Some people love that; others prefer crisp and crunchy cookies. But if soft cookies work for you, these are chocolaty, sweet and almost homemade tasting.
Baguettes are my favorite kind of bread. When we visited Paris, I got up early every morning to try out a different bakery’s offering. Costco sells them in a two-pack, and while they may not quite match up to my Parisian memories, they’re a crusty, crunchy delight. Serve one, freeze one — perfect when paired with artichoke dip, spread with cheese or just topped with butter or jam.
11. Artisan rolls
Want to make a batch of sandwiches? Costco’s artisan sandwich rolls are a squarish ciabatta-style bread, pre-sliced, and perfect for small sandwiches of all types. The bread is airy and chewy, and they toast really well. Note, however, that multiple online reviewers warn that the rolls have a short shelf life, so you may want to freeze the extras within a day or so of opening the bag.
12. Braided apple strudel
Apple pie gets all the attention (and Costco has a good one), but I’ll pick apple strudel any time. Costco serves up a package of eight strudels, each featuring a pretty braided pastry wrapped over an apple filling with a just-right sweetness level. All the goodness of apple pie and much less messy to eat — you can even carry it around a picnic without needing a plate or fork.