The Ultimate Ranking Of Costco's Bakery Items

Costco has won the hearts of millions. The warehouse giant has turned grocery store preference into art with its low prices and impressive sales tactics (via CNBC). But all the gimmicks and tricks in the world would be nothing if the store did not deliver on quality. Costco's own brand, Kirkland, is well known for its quality, which often leaves visitors wondering how they can provide excellent items at such low prices. The bakery is no exception to this. According to surveys conducted by Mashed, Costco not only offers the best grocery store cookies but it was also voted consumers' favorite grocery store bakery. Those are some pretty impressive titles to hold up.

Since Costco's bakery is so beloved, we thought it would be a good idea to find out which products from the bakery are really worth it and which ones are a pass. This is not a definitive guide to every individual item in the Costco bakery, but this ranking will help guide you through the sweet aisles of the Costco bakery and find the best treats.

16. Braided apple strudel

Coming in last is the Costco Braided Apple Strudel. Like most things at Costco, quantity is not a problem. Each package of the braided apple strudel comes as an eight-count, and these strudels are bigger than one might typically find in a store. However, size cannot save this product. The strudel offers a flaky crust filled with an apple cinnamon filling. The pastry is braided to give it the signature look, and then more sugar is sprinkled on top. Costco states they are best served warm.

Now, unlike many other Costco bakery items, these are not made in-store. Instead, according to Redditors who previously worked for Costco, the braided apple strudel arrives frozen and is simply thawed before being set out. Additionally, some reviewers report that the apple filling has a slimy texture — not the most appetizing description. Additionally, unlike other Costco items that come in multiple flavors, these strudels are only available in apple. Overall the strudel is just okay.

15. Danishes

Who does not love a morning pastry? Sadly, you will not find the Costco danishes on our breakfast table. Costco's mix-and-match danishes are also among the lower-ranked baked goods on our list. Each danish is a circle of pastry with some type of sweet filling in the middle. Currently, the store offers cheese, cherry, apple, and almond. 

Each package comes with four generously-sized danishes. Now four does not sound like very much, especially for Costco, but that is because the sale price listed for the danishes is actually for two packages, not one. This is a double-edged sword, though. On the plus side, it means you can pick two different flavors of danish to enjoy. The negative side, though, is that you will pay the same price whether you purchase one or two packages. 

The flavor taste is also hit and miss; while the almond-flavored danish seems universally loved, the lemon cream cheese version is not. According to one reviewer, the cheese filling, in particular, makes for a soggy pastry. Additionally, like the apple strudel, the danishes are not baked in-house, but arrive frozen (via Reddit). For a store that prides itself on bang-for-your-buck, this selection merely fizzles.

14. Caramel tres leches bar

The caramel tres leches bar is one of Costco's few boutique-style desserts. It is also an item of which Costco bakery fans are most divided. Tres leches cake literally translates to "three milks cake." It is called this because three kinds of milk are poured over the cake, making it ultra moist, rich, and delicious. This all sounds great, but part of the problem for Costco is that their caramel version is not as reminiscent of the original as people would like. 

On Costco's Instagram page, one commenter derided it as "def not tres leches," while others compared the flavor to coffee and pancakes. On Reddit, one commenter pointed out that it is not as moist as other tres leches cakes, which is odd considering the cake should literally be soaked in liquid. While this large be delicious, and indeed some people enjoy it, that does not make it a tres leches cake. Additionally, this cake comes to the store frozen, and one Instagram commenter even reported that their cake was still frozen when they purchased it. All in all, this frozen, dry cake just does not hit the spot.

13. Butter pound cake

Costco butter pound cake — the name says it all! Seriously. There is not a lot to this one, but simple can be effective. The Costco butter pound cake is a classic dense butter cake. Each package comes with three loaves of cake, and each, as the name appropriately implies, weighs one pound. 

The nice thing about these cakes is that due to their relatively plain base they're easy to dress up. Commenters on Instagram recommend serving it with berries or as part of the base for a trifle. Although it is nice to have something you can make fancy, the problem is that on its own, this butter pound cake is not much. Many commenters were sad that it was not comparable to more flavorful loaves, such as cinnamon sugar. Reviewers on Reddit commented similarly, with one saying they should offer a variety pack of flavors. Still, if you are in the market for a pound cake, the Costco bakery version is a simple and uncomplicated delight.

12. Decedent fudge brownie

When Costco says "decadent," they mean "decadent." This brownie begins with a chocolate fudgy brownie base, which is followed by a fudge topping, a drizzle of more chocolate, and finally, even more pieces of crumbled brownie on top. All in all, this brownie tops in at nearly 4 pounds of decadent delight, according to an Facebook post by @TheCostcoConnoiesseur.

This brownie is definitely not for the faint of heart or those who do not enjoy rich dessert items. One reviewer commented that it was like eating brownie batter and referred to it as "dangerous" because it was so rich and luscious. Another commenter stated they had never had a better brownie. 

All of this is high praise, but there is a downside. The brownie is so dense that some commenters said it was like eating unbaked batter, and the texture was simply too off-putting to continue. If you are looking for a cake-like brownie, it is best to stay away from this one. For those that enjoy the fudge, though, remember, when you buy this, you are committing to nearly 4 pounds of brownie. Luckily, it freezes well, and you can take pieces out to enjoy at a later time as you wish.

11. Bagels

Since not every area has a craft bagel shop pumping out quality baked goods, many people turn to grocery store bagels as a substitute. It just so happens that there is a lot to like about Costco bagels. First, they come in five flavors: sesame, cinnamon raisin, everything, plain, and parmesan — although every Costco may not offer every flavor (via Costco Food Database). Additionally, this is another mix-and-match product, where you can choose two different flavors of bagel and pay the same price.  Second, Costco bagels are water boiled, which helps give the bagels that distinctive tough outside and chewy inside. 

In a taste test conducted by The Sun, they found that Costco bagels came in second place behind Einstein Bros., a company that specializes in making bagels. That is pretty impressive for a grocery store brand. Additionally, the price cannot be beaten, considering you get a dozen bagels in each package. 

While the price and flavor are right, there is one downside: They go bad pretty quickly. Commenters on Reddit have noticed that after just a few days on the counter, their bagels became moldy. Some have suggested a lack of preservatives, as well as additional trapped moisture in the bag as some possibilities for the decay. So unless there is a brunch party in the future, make sure to store bagels correctly in the fridge or freezer.

10. Bread

In 2015, Costco started a new initiative with its bread and completely rebranded itself in this category (via BakingBusiness). Previously, all Costco breads were shipped to the store frozen, partially baked, and then finished in the store bakeries, but the company knew it could do better. Costco started making "from scratch" bread in the stores and some even baked them on hearthstones. All of this was done to create a selection of high-quality bread that could be purchased right at the store. 

The company currently offers a large selection of freshly baked bread, including two-count baguettes, french bread, artisan rolls, multigrain bread, and a delicious cranberry walnut loaf. It should be noted though, that some former bakers at Costco claim that as of 2018, many of the breads were still coming in frozen and being finished in the store (via Reddit). When Costco says "scratch-made," in some instances it means that it's made from a mix in the store, but the company is still clearly putting time and effort into offering quality carbs for any meal.

9. Tuxedo chocolate mousse

What doesn't this cake have, really? The tuxedo chocolate mousse cake from Costco is every dessert rolled into one. It starts with chocolate cake, which is then layered with white chocolate mousse, chocolate mousse, brownie chunks, and chocolate ganache, and finally topped with even more chocolate decorations. The cake arrives frozen, but we will forgive them because it is so luscious and delicious.

While this cake is a chocolate explosion, it somehow avoids being too chocolatey by incorporating white chocolate into the filling. Unlike the brownie, which is dense and fudgy, the mousse and cake in this dessert help keep it light while being no less rich. A Costco reviewer at Costcuisine referred to it as her favorite bakery item and said she would rather have it than a cake from a fancy bakery. 

This cake is also large but easily cuttable, given its rectangular shape. This makes it ideal for serving at a party or freezing if you bought it just for yourself. And if that is the case, we have absolutely no judgment; this cake is sublime.

8. Cinnamon pull-a-part

Costco was not holding back when it released the cinnamon pull-a-part bread. These rolls will rival any you find at a bakery. In each container, you get a full dozen substantial cinnamon buns, filled with brown sugar and cinnamon, and topped with ooey gooey cream cheese frosting. If that sounds amazing, it is because they are. One commenter on Instagram said they were even better than the ones from Cinnabon.

Part of what makes these so amazing is the price. Costco is known for a good deal, but one person on Instagram mentioned that making an equivalent batch of rolls from scratch would cost $5 at the time, and a pan was selling for just $6.99. That is definitely a good deal when you consider the effort that goes into making cinnamon buns. 

The best part about these, though, is that they are good any time of day. They make the perfect breakfast or brunch accompaniment, are great with afternoon coffee or tea, or make a delightful dessert. If you do manage to prevent yourself from eating the entire pan in one day, do not worry — they can be frozen and taken out to defrost when you're ready for them.

7. Pie

Pie is such a versatile dessert as it can be filled with just about anything. Costco pie is a fan-favorite, making the top five in a Mashed survey on consumers' favorite bakery items. It is no wonder, either. Costco pies come in a variety of flavors according to Costcuisine, such as apple, strawberry rhubarb, and blueberry. Meanwhile, people on Reddit, enjoy the key lime, classic apple, and signature pumpkin. The real problem is choosing a favorite.

The quality of the pies varies, though. Employees' comments on Reddit note that some of the pies, such as their apple variety, come frozen, while others are made from scratch in the stores. But this does not mean they are bad; Costco pies are both tasty and generous, measuring in at a whopping 1-foot in diameter, according to People. That is a lot of pie. 

Additionally, flavors such as pumpkin pie hold a special place in consumers' hearts. According to Business Insider, the pie first appeared in 1987 and has used the same classic recipe without any preservatives ever since. Even though it is only available from September to December, Costco sells millions each year.

6. Croissants

Croissants might be one of the most perfect breakfast foods; they are light, flaky, and buttery. It is a travesty when someone bites into one only to be met with mediocrity. Luckily, Costco croissants are a delicious crowd-pleaser. 

According to Costco's website, their croissants are made fresh daily. They are also made with a lot of real butter, but this was not always the case. According to one Redditor who worked as a baker for Costco, a previous incarnation of the croissants was made primarily with oil and just a bit of butter, which made a lower quality and less tasty pastry than what is baked today.

Costco cares about its reputation and quality, though, and kept the price similar when it changed to a butter-forward recipe. This definitely upped the quality and people noticed. When a group of Redditors was asked what their favorite bakery item was, many voted for the croissants. Similarly, when Mashed conducted a survey on popular Costco bakery items, the croissants came in third place. These croissants are everything you need to start a day.

5. Cookies

Cookies may be one of the best desserts around. They can be eaten with your hands, they don't require plates or cutlery (which means minimal clean-up), and there are so many tasty options. 

Costco offers the classic chocolate chip cookie in two ways: a 60-count box of mini cookies and a 24-pack of cookies in the standard size. Additionally, a mixed pack of 24 cookies is available, which includes chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and white chocolate macadamia. If you're not into chocolate, no worries, Costco also offers a raspberry crumble cookie, which is basically the delicious offspring of a pie and a cookie.

Costco cookies are not just good, they are exceptional. In fact, these baked goods were voted the best grocery store cookies, according to Mashed. The cookies are undoubtedly a good deal, especially in the quantities in which they come. The only faults we can find are that the cookies are shipped frozen (via Reddit), and if you opt for fancier ones, such as the raspberry crumble, they may cost a little more (via Costcuisine).

4. Cheesecake

Who needs The Cheesecake Factory when you have a Costco membership? Costco cheesecakes are out of this world. According to a survey run by Mashed, cheesecake is the consumer's favorite bakery item from Costco, and we can see why. Costco cheesecakes are made onsite (via Reddit) and are absolutely scrumptious. The cheesecake is creamy and light, yet rich. They are just about everything a person could want from cheesecake.

According to Aisles of Shame, Costco offers cheesecakes in five flavors under the Kirkland brand: plain, strawberry-topped, red velvet, pumpkin, and German-style chocolate. In typical Costco style, the cheesecakes are also substantial in size; the label has them clocking in at a whopping 4.5 pounds, per Wide Open Eats. That is a lot of dairy-filled goodness; thankfully, they freeze well (via Reddit.) The only thing that keeps them from being in the top three on our list is that other items are even better!

3. Cake

As grocery store cakes go, Costco cakes are pretty darn delicious, as evidenced in a survey of best bakery items conducted by Mashed. Costco cakes come in two flavors: white cake with a vanilla cheesecake mousse, and chocolate cake with a chocolate mousse filling (via Costco Menu). The mousse fillings are equally smooth and delicious, and the cakes contain just enough filling so you are not overwhelmed by their presence. Cakes can be purchased in-store or special ordered, and are available in 10-inch rounds and half-sheets.

The Costco cakes are affordable and delicious. Like the cheesecakes, they are nearly perfect, but not quite. The problem is that although they are affordable and of good quality, they do not come in enough varieties. Even with a special order, there are still only two options and you cannot mix and match. Additionally, there are only two sizes available: a 10-inch round that serves 16 and a half-sheet that serves 48, per Frugal Hotspot. That is a big spread in serving sizes. Ultimately the quality is fantastic, and the cakes are made in the store (via Reddit), but the options are too limited.

2. Muffins

One item that has nearly unlimited options is the muffin. Costco muffins are in a league of their own. Not only are they much larger than traditional muffins, giving you more muffin goodness, but they are also a mix-and-match item. While this could be considered a negative, as it is the same price to buy one package versus two, for the muffins, this is an advantage. 

The muffins freeze well (via Reddit), which means you do not have to worry about wasting the extras. And since you are purchasing two packages, you can try two of their many flavors. Costco has a whole host of tasty muffins, such as blueberry, corn, coffee cake, pumpkin strudel, almond poppy, and lemon raspberry, per Costco. Not only are there plenty of amazing options to choose from, but Costco does not scrimp on size either, with each muffin weighing 5.5 ounces. The muffins are also made fresh at the bakery. 

It is no wonder that the muffins were a close second on the Mashed survey for best Costco bakery item. These muffins tick almost every box.

1. Mini cake

With so many good choices, it can be hard to choose the best, but here it is: The overall best Costco bakery items are mini cakes. And do not confuse these with cupcakes, as they are far bigger. The size is somewhere between a cupcake and a layer cake, with one being either a large single-serving or enough to split between two people. 

Costco mini cakes come in a whole host of regular and seasonal flavors. One flavor that long-time Costco fanatics will be happy to see on the shelf is the All-American Chocolate Mini Cake. According to Aisle of Shame, this cake started as a larger cake but disappeared during the 2020 pandemic. The flavor was so beloved that Costco brought it back as a mini and reviewers loved it. One Redditor stated, "[expletive] THESE ARE AMAZING!" 

Costco doesn't stop there, as it offers other flavors on a rotating basis. The raspberry cake, which features white cake, raspberry frosting, and a dollop of jam, has some Redditors saying it may be their new favorite. Commenters on Instagram describe the carrot cake as "so good," while others rave about the snickerdoodle and lemon

Each container offers six mini cakes. Not only is that plenty of cake, but they're all made fresh in-store, too (via Reddit).