The Complete Guide to Costco’s Chicken – Prices, Tips, and Recipes
Costco has most cuts of chicken available, either fresh or frozen, daily. In addition to raw chicken, they also have various marinated, pre-cooked, and chicken-related products.
Continue reading for all of Costco’s fresh and frozen chicken prices, the benefits of their unique chicken packaging, and the secret to the discounted Rotisserie chicken!
Check out our Costco Beef Guide for Prices, Value, and Tips on Costco’s beef.
Does Costco Have the best Chicken Prices?
When you shop by price, one thing you’ll notice is that Costco is not always going to be the cheapest. Grocery stores often beat Costco on price, and if a specific chicken cut is a weekly special, it may be considerably more affordable.
The big difference is going to be the quality of the meat.
I’ve had my local grocery store’s chicken, and it didn’t look or taste as good. The chicken pieces were smaller and more grungy looking, and the chicken was not butchered as neatly as at Costco.
I know when I go to Costco, I pay a fair price, and I get an excellent piece of chicken (explained why below). This is the same for almost anything in the meat section.
Fresh Costco Chicken
Costco's Unique Chicken Packaging - The Best!
Before we get into the specific cuts of chicken, I want to touch on Costco’s special packaging. It is atypical of what you would see in your everyday grocery store.
Instead of selling their fresh chicken in foam trays that are plastic wrapped like most grocers, Costco sells their chicken in unique and versatile packaging.
Costco's chicken packaging is unique and convenient
The first thing to note is that all of their fresh chicken cuts are portioned into 6 individual pouches per package. Regardless of the chicken cut (breast, drumstick, bone-in chicken thighs, wings, or tenderloins) or weight, the pieces will be separated into the 6 pouches.
These pouches are all connected when purchased and can be easily torn or cut off from one another.
Great for Freezing!
This allows you, as the consumer, to buy Costco chicken in bulk, separate off the amount that you are ready to eat, and then refrigerate or even freeze the rest directly in its original packaging.
The packaging is labeled as leak-resistant, and from my experience, it lives up to its name.
Costco deserves recognition for the packaging because it does make it easy to freeze or save the chicken for a later time, and this is especially important due to the nature of buying in bulk at Costco.
What is Air Chilled Chicken?
After slaughtering, chickens need to be cooled down to refrigeration temperatures. What makes Costco’s fresh chicken so special is that it is air chilled.
To bring down their internal temperature, many other grocery stores and retailers cool their chicken pieces by submerging them in chlorinated water.
Any way you spin it, chicken dipped in chlorinated water doesn’t sound appealing to me.
Costco air chilled chicken is so good!
Costco doesn’t use this method for their fresh chickens but instead cools them with purified air. This process takes a few hours, but there are a few substantial benefits.
First, the chicken isn’t dipped in any water, so the natural juices and flavor of the chicken are not going to be diluted.
Secondly, if the chicken has skin, it will dry out. This allows for an extra crispy skin on their drumsticks or bone-in thighs.
Kirkland Signature Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
Considered the most popular part of the chicken, you can purchase fresh boneless skinless chicken breasts from Costco’s meat section.
Costco Chicken Breast Price
The chicken breast sells for $3.49 per pound, while fresh organic chicken breast sells for $5.99 a pound.
Both are typically sold in 7-8 pound packages, which can be broken off into 6 individual tear-off pouches. This leaves approximately 1lb+ per individual pouch.
The individual pouches make it easy to pick out how much chicken you want to use at a time. For me, my wife, and 2 small children, we usually use three pouches per cook and are left with plenty of leftovers for the next day.
The Kirkland Signature Chicken Breasts are air chilled and contain no added hormones or preservatives.
Note: Costco does not sell bone-in chicken breast.
Costco Boneless Chicken Thighs
Costco doesn’t seem to offer frozen boneless skinless chicken thighs anymore. That leaves their Kirkland Signature Air Chilled Fresh Boneless Chicken Thighs as the only boneless thigh option left in the warehouse.
Costco sells its boneless chicken thighs for $3.49 per pound, which is the same price as its boneless chicken breast and tenderloins.
There used to be a time in the poultry industry when chicken thighs were more affordable than chicken breast, but it seems like the secret of dark meat chicken is out.
Check out our full review of Costco’s Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs.
Thighs are Easier to Cook
Their popularity has increased significantly, and in turn, the price has gone up as well. Chicken thighs contain quite a bit more fat than white meat, but that fat allows for a more forgiving cook and a juicer and more flavorful meal.
I love cooking boneless chicken thighs on a hot skillet or on the grill. They do a great job of soaking on marinades and are so versatile. They can be dressed up for almost any meal type.
Kirkland Signature Bone-In Thighs
Tasty and Versatile
My personal favorite of Costco’s fresh chicken selection.
I consider the thighs to be the tastiest portion of the chicken and at only $1.29 per pound and with an average package weight of 10lbs, I can feed my family for just a few dollars.
These come bone-in with skin on and go great on the grill, air fryer, or oven. The meat is firmer and juicier, and when cooked with a crispy skin, they are an easy family favorite and dinner staple.
Costco bone-in chicken thighs are the ultimate value item
Again, like Costco’s fresh chicken breast, these are partitioned into 6 individual pouches. Typically we break up the 6 pouches into 3 separate meals, using 2 pouches per meal.
We can have delicious crispy chicken for our young family of 4 for only $2 total.
My favorite way to cook these Kirkland Signature Bone-In Chicken Thighs is going to be in the air fryer until the skin is golden brown and crispy and the meat is tender. 20 min at 400°F.
Drumsticks, aka chicken legs, are very affordable, easy to cook, and full of flavor. Also coming in at $0.99 a pound and sold in an 8-10lb package, they are a great mix-up to bone-in thighs.
Takes on Flavors
Kirkland Signature Drumsticks will be best cooked on the grill, deep-fried, pressure cooked, or in the crockpot.
They are incredibly versatile and do an excellent job of taking on additional flavors. Drumsticks are great with sauces, marinades, curries, and seasonings.
We love to use these chicken drumsticks to make some easy homemade fried chicken.
A chicken tenderloin, aka chicken tender or chicken tendies, is a thin muscle that’s attached to the chicken breast.
Costco sells these for $3.49 per pound and $5.99 per pound for organic chicken tenderloins, and each package usually weighs about 7 pounds.
This is the same price as the chicken breast for both organic and non-organic.
What exactly are chicken tenders?
Chicken tenderloins taste very similar to chicken breast as they come from the same area and, believe it or not, are actually quite tender.
They are thinner and smaller than chicken breasts, allowing them to quickly take on marinades or additional cooking flavors, but they are also easily overcooked.
How to cook chicken tenderloins
Chicken tenderloins are an excellent substitute for chicken breasts in recipes, but you may have to adjust the cooking time to ensure a moist, juicy piece of chicken.
My favorite ways to cook chicken tenders include deep frying them, using an air fryer, or cooking them on a skillet. They are best when cooked on high heat to sear the outside and seal in the juiciness.
I also love to make homemade breaded Costco chicken tenders, either air fried or deep-fried in oil.
Costco Chicken Wings
Costco Chicken Wing Prices
Costco sells fresh Kirkland Signature Party wings for $2.99 a pound in an approximately 8-pound package.
The organic chicken wings go for $3.99 per pound, which is only a $1 increase over its non-organic counterpart. For reference, the organic boneless chicken breast and thighs are double the non-organic price.
Kirkland Signature Party Wings
When most people think of chicken wings, they think of what you would get at a chicken wing restaurant, either a drumette or a flat piece.
Those pieces are actually called party wings, and an actual chicken wing will consist of the party wing pieces (drumette and flat) and the tip. The tip, which does not contain a lot of meat, is usually cut off from the wing, and the remaining pieces of drumette and flat are separated and served.
Costco sells party wings, which means you don’t have to break down the wing yourself, nor do you have to remove or pay for the tip piece. These packs will have drumettes and flats and are ready to be cooked with no additional butchering.
Whole Chickens at Costco
If you are not in the mood for a $4.99 rotisserie chicken – You can still purchase fresh whole chickens at Costco. Most Costco’s will usually offer organic and non-organic whole chickens, and depending on your warehouse, they will be sold individually or in a 2-pack.
The fresh chickens go for $.99 a pound, while the organic chicken will be priced at $2.49 a pound. One whole chicken usually weighs about 5 pounds.
Same Price as a Rotisserie Chicken
While you can get a whole cooked Rotisserie chicken for about the same price as an uncooked one, it is still a great deal at $.99 a pound.
A whole chicken will be the same price as the most affordable cuts of chicken (the bone-in thighs and drumstick) but will also include the breast and the wings.
By butchering the chicken yourself, you should be coming out ahead even when factoring in the carcass, which can and should be used to make some delicious and hearty chicken bone broth.
Garlic Marinated Chicken Drumsticks
In addition to selling fresh chicken, certain Costco’s will also sell raw garlic marinated chicken drumsticks. These are usually found in the deli area with other items such as the beef bulgogi, chicken street tacos, or shrimp cocktail or at the end cap of the poultry section.
Costco sells these for $1.49 a pound, which is a $0.50 premium per pound over their fresh unseasoned chicken drumsticks. That is a hefty price to pay for some seasoning, and you are better off buying the $.99 drumsticks and seasoning them yourself.
Check out my full chicken drumstick review.
Costco Chicken Prices - October 2022
Prices and average package weight will vary by warehouse.
Weights are pretty standardized when it comes to regular fresh Costco chicken, but there is an extreme disparity in package weight regarding fresh organic Costco chicken.
I have seen 4-pound packages of chicken right next to 7.5-pound packages. If you want smaller chicken packages at Costco, look around and do a little digging.
|Product||Fresh||Avg Package Weight||Fresh Organic||Avg Package Weight||Frozen||Package Weight|
|Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast||$3.49||8.5 Pounds||$5.99||6.5 Pounds||$2.92||6.5 Pounds|
|Chicken Tenderloins||$3.49||7 Pounds||$5.99||6.5 Pounds||$2.99||6 Pounds|
|Chicken Wings||$2.99||8.5 Pounds||$3.99||5 Pounds||3.49||10 Pounds|
|Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs||$3.49||8.5 Pounds||$5.49||5 Pounds||X||X|
|Bone-In chicken Thighs||$1.49||11 Pounds||$1.99||5 Pounds||X||X|
|Chicken Drumsticks||$.99||9 Pounds||$1.99||5 Pounds||X||X|
|Whole Chicken (2 Pack)||$.99||10 Pounds||$2.49||10 Pounds||X||X|
Costco Chicken - Fresh or Frozen?
I have a family of four, and we shop at Costco to buy in bulk. When I was single, I would also shop at Costco and buy in bulk. Regardless of where I am in life, I’ll probably always shop at Costco, and in doing so will always have to at least freeze some of the food that I buy.
Knowing this, I often have to decide to buy fresh items or their frozen equivalents. With so many options when it comes to chicken, it’s essential to know the difference and make an informed buying decision.
What is chicken plumping?
One of the significant differences between fresh and frozen Costco chicken is going to be the “plumping” or injecting of solution. Plumping is now a standard process in the chicken industry when fresh chicken pieces are injected with a solution consisting of water, kosher salt, or even other ingredients such as chicken stock or seaweed extract.
Often, chicken can be plumped up to 15-30% of its weight, meaning one pound (16 ounces) of chicken could actually be only 12 ounces of chicken with 4 ounces of water/salt solution.
Plumping is not good for the consumer - Its a rip off
The industry claims this makes the chicken more flavorful and juicy, but many critics say this is more about plumping up their own wallets than adding real benefits to the consumer.
When buying frozen chicken, it’s imperative to always make a note of how much solution is injected into the chicken before buying it.
If a bag of frozen chicken costs $20, you may be paying $3 for saltwater and receiving only $17 for actual chicken.
Additionally, frozen chicken will have higher sodium content with an added salt and water solution. There is no way around this since it’s injected directly into the chicken.
If this is a concern for your diet or health, then go with the fresh chicken which has no added solution, hormones, or additives.
Benefits of buying frozen chicken from Costco
One benefit of frozen chicken compared to fresh chicken is that frozen chicken at Costco is frozen individually.
If I wanted to defrost, eat, and cook one single chicken wing piece, I could do that if I purchased the frozen bag of chicken wings.
When purchasing fresh chicken wings, the realistic smallest portion I could have would be 1 individual pouch. Eating one chicken wing may be an extreme example, but this also applies to all chicken pieces.
I could easily take one chicken breast out of a frozen bag versus having to use the 2-3 breasts in an individual pouch. Make sure to factor in the normal portion size for your family and your affinity towards leftovers when deciding between fresh or frozen chicken.
Why its better to buy fresh chicken over frozen chicken from Costco
Considering all of this, comparing the prices of fresh and frozen chicken (which are essentially equal at Costco), buying fresh and freezing uneaten portions is the way to go.
Costco’s unique packaging makes freezing poultry as easy as cutting on the dotted line. It’s so convenient and easy to freeze any excess uncooked chicken that I don’t even bother with Costco’s frozen chicken anymore.
The fresh chicken will also be air-chilled instead of water chilled and will not include any additional salt/water. The excess water in water cooled chicken will evaporate, and the chicken is more prone to shrinkage and becoming rubbery when cooked on high heat.
Frozen Chicken at Costco
While fresh Costco chicken may be the better option most of the time, there still is a variety of frozen chicken options that may suit your lifestyle better.
Costco Frozen Chicken Breast
Costco is typically going to offer a few different frozen chicken breast options. These can vary by location; the main differences are brand, price, and package weight. For the most part, you can expect to pay around $3 a pound for frozen chicken breast regardless if it is Kirkland Signature, Foster Farms, Tyson, or any other large poultry producer.
Depending on your location, you may see a couple different frozen chicken breast options at Costco. Here is a quick overview of the frozen chicken breast options.
- Kirkland Signature Frozen Chicken Breast
- Kirkland Signature Frozen Chicken Breast Thin Sliced
- Foster Farm Frozen Chicken Breast
- Tyson Frozen Chicken Breast
Avoid thin cut chicken breast
As you can see, you will have the “name brand” chicken breast and Kirkland Signature. The thin-cut breast will contain up to 15% solution of salt and water, while the regular-cut chicken breast will contain up to 8%.
For the longest time, I preferred the thin-cut chicken breast because I found the thinner pieces easier to cook correctly. Now knowing that the Costco chicken includes a 15% injected solution, I buy the fresh chicken breast and freeze the unused portions.
To recreate the thin Costco chicken breast, I get the regular cut, and if desired, I would slice them lengthwise to create my own “thin” chicken breast.
Boneless Chicken Thighs - Gone for Good?
O boneless chicken thighs, boneless chicken thighs, where art thou? Unfortunately, it’s been a long while since I’ve seen frozen boneless skinless chicken thighs available at Costco.
Are Costco's frozen boneless chicken thighs discontinued?
I’ve searched Costco locations all throughout the bay area as well as north texas, and I cannot find frozen boneless chicken thighs. When I first noticed them unavailable at regular Costco’s, I would have luck at the business center, but even now, they seem to be out of stock there as well.
When they did have them, they were sold in a yellow Kirkland Signature bag and went for approximately $13-$14 (pre-everything inflation) per 6.5lb bag. This equates to $2.15 a pound (pre-inflation), containing only 8% salt/water solution. They were, without a doubt, my go-to Costco chicken purchase.
Please let us know in the comments if anybody has more information about the chicken thighs.
Costco Chicken Tenderloins
Costco offers one frozen chicken tenderloin option, which is the Kirkland Signature Frozen Chicken Tenderloins, which comes in a 6.5lb bag and sells for $17.99.
Again, like all other frozen chicken, the Costco chicken will be injected with a salt/water solution, and in this case, the tenderloins are injected with up to 8% salt/water.
These tenderloins are the same price whether you buy them fresh or frozen, both going for $2.99 a pound. I recommend going with fresh tenderloins and freezing the rest if you have the option, for the sole reason of avoiding the 8% injected solution.
Kirkland Signature Frozen Chicken Wings
If you are throwing a party or just a chicken wing lover, Costco sells a 10lb bag of chicken wings for $33.99.
The chicken wings are injected with an 8% salt solution, and each piece is individually frozen. This allows you to pick out precisely as many wings as you like when you are ready to eat some chicken wings.
I typically make half a bag’s worth and have some leftovers the next day. I won’t ever complain about leftover wings for lunch.
Each Costco chicken wing is good-sized and larger than what you might find in a typical grocery store or a frozen pre-cooked bag of wings.
Costco also sells Foster Farm Frozen Take Out Wings which are pretty darn good as an alternative for those who don’t want to make wings from scratch.
Costco Chicken Wing Price Increase(s)
For those familiar with the Kirkland Signature frozen chicken wings, you may have noticed the price has increased considerably this past year. This bag held a steady price of $21.99 up until recently when it increased to $24.99, then $28.99 and finally $33.99.
The nearly 50% price increase gives me a slight pause anytime I want to get a bag of chicken wings from Costco. Keep in mind the fresh chicken wings at Costco are $2.99/pound.
On the bright side, the increased price of plain Costco chicken wings caused me to give the Foster Farms Crispy Take Out Wings a chance.
When the Kirkland Signature wings were $2.20 a pound, it was an easy decision to make my own wings, but now with the price up to $3.40 a pound, you can make a case that the convenience of the crispy take-out wings at $4.75 a pound is worth the premium.
Cooked Chicken at Costco
Costco's Rotisserie Chicken
As one of Costco’s most well-known foods, no Costco chicken guide can be complete without mentioning the famed rotisserie chicken. The $4.99 price tag makes this one of the best deals in the entire warehouse.
Why is the rotisserie chicken so cheap?
Costco hasn’t changed its price in over 12 years, and even with increasing cost across the board, they have no plans to increase the price of the rotisserie chicken!
The rotisserie chickens are placed in the back of the store in hopes that along the way, you’ll pick up other products that may catch your eye. The chicken is a loss leader to attract people into the warehouse. (Is it possible to walk in to buy one rotisserie chicken and nothing else?)
Due to its affordability and versatility, the Costco rotisserie chicken has been a long-time staple of our family meal plans.
We have turned the simple chicken into various meals, including enchiladas, pasta, soups, quiches, and more! The carcass can be used to make a delicious chicken stock that is great for soups, stews, or rice.
How to pick a juicy and tender rotisserie chicken from Costco
While everybody has their own strategy for picking the juiciest rotisserie chicken, there are a couple commonly accepted best practices.
Rotisserie Chicken Tips:
1. Find the biggest rotisserie chicken. Since all chickens are cooked for roughly the same amount of time, a large chicken is least likely to be overcooked.
2. Look for a chicken that has great skin. Chicken skin will start to wrinkle or look shriveled when it sits for too long in the warming rack. The longer it sits, the longer it has to dry out.
3. Check out the chicken legs. Generally, the legs will split when overcooked, which causes dried-out meat and juices to leak out. You want a rotisserie chicken that is still intact and not split at the legs.
4. Peak into the bottom of the tray and check for chicken juice. Chicken juice at the bottom of the tray is chicken juice that has left the chicken. Little to no chicken juice at the bottom of the carton is ideal.
Costco Rotisserie Chickens can be had for less than $4.99
Something to Know: Rotisserie chickens weighing less than 3 pounds will not cost $4.99 but instead will cost $1.66 per pound. I recently purchased a 2.9-pound chicken and paid $4.81 instead of the flat rate of $4.99.
At the $1.66 per pound rate, a 3-pound chicken will cost $4.99. With the smaller chickens, you are paying the exact price per pound for that Costco rotisserie chicken. The better deal is indeed to buy any random rotisserie chicken off the rack, as any poundage over 3 pounds is essentially “free” chicken.
Hand Pulled Rotisserie Chicken
Costco will break down any additional rotisserie chickens into packaged cuts. They offer hand pulled rotisserie chicken breast as well as rotisserie chicken quarters. These can often be found in the deli section near the prepared meals.
Expensive for leftover chicken
There is a markup for this chicken breast. Costco sells a 42oz (2lbs 10oz) package for $12.99, which breaks down to $4.95 per pound.
This is at quite the premium compared to the fresh chicken breast sold at $2.99/pound or rotisserie chicken (with bones) at $1.66/pound.
You are getting fully cooked and seasoned hand-pulled chicken breast meat, and there’s always a price for convenience.
Only White Meat
The package only includes the hand pulled rotisserie chicken breast and not any dark meat, bones, or chicken carcass.
If the rotisserie chicken breast is your favorite portion of the chicken or if you want a quick and easy base protein for a meal, then this is a great option.
You can make enchiladas, fry them in a pan for an easy dish, or use this chicken in any way you see fit.
Kirkland Signature Canned Chicken
Found in the canned goods area of the warehouse, the Kirkland Signature Canned Chunk Chicken Breast is a quick, easy, and delicious way to have cooked chicken on hand at all times. They are sold in 6-can packs for $9.99, which is $1.67 a can. (Now $13.99 and $2.33 per can)
Kirkland Signature Canned Chicken Breast at Costco
The chicken is canned with water and weighs 12.5oz in total, with a drained chicken weight of 7oz. Each can contains 3.5g of fat, 0 g of carbs, and 45.5g of protein. The chicken is lean and provides a significant amount of protein. The one drawback would be the higher sodium content (735mg/can, 32% DV) which is common in canned foods.
The chicken is seasoned but not overly salty or flavorful. I don’t need to add any additional salt, but other seasonings or flavors are needed.
Canned Chicken Recipes and Uses
My favorite uses for the Kirkland Signature canned chicken are to make buffalo chicken dip, chicken salads, or quesadillas. The Costco canned chicken is cooked already, so it’s super convenient to open the can and combine it with other ingredients to make a meal.
Great Emergency Food
The Kirkland Signature Canned Chunk Chicken Breast is a great emergency/preparation food and is one canned protein item that I usually always have on hand. I personally keep at least a 6 pack in my pantry for emergency use and will incorporate it into meals/snacks when we are near the best-by date.
The best-by date printed on the can is usually at least a year away, if not two years from purchase. Realistically when it comes to canned foods, the food is safe and edible for much longer if needed, but do respect the best-by date. Always use discretion and avoid eating the chicken if it looks off or there is a foul order.
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