ATK Reviews

Should You Buy Costco Smoked Salmon? 

We compare the giant $20 packs of Kirkland Smoked Salmon to our longtime favorite brand of smoked salmon. 

Published Mar. 23, 2023.

I love a bargain. 

I also love a bagel with all the fixings. 

When I kept hearing coworkers talk about Costco’s Kirkland Smoked Salmon, I was intrigued. Could a bagel piled high with smoked salmon be an everyday breakfast instead of an occasional treat? 

Sign up for the Notes from the Test Kitchen newsletter

Our favorite tips and recipes, enjoyed by 2 million+ subscribers!

Is Kirkland Smoked Salmon a Good Deal? 

Good smoked salmon is expensive. The curing process removes moisture, which means that the fish weighs less at the end. Because of that loss of mass, the price per pound must go up. 

A 4-ounce package of Spence & Co. Traditional Scottish-Style Smoked Salmon, the winner of our smoked salmon taste test, costs $12.79 at my local Whole Foods Market. It’s excellent smoked salmon that I’ve bought before and will very happily buy again, but it’s something of a special-occasion item at my house. 

In comparison, the Kirkland Smoked Salmon really is a bargain. I got a two-pack of 12-ounce packages for just $20.00. It works out to a savings of more than $2.00 per ounce. 

IACP Award Winner

Foolproof Fish

Want to broaden your seafood scope? No matter what you buy from the fish counter, this award-winning book will teach you how to cook it.

That’s a Lot of Salmon. How Long Does It Last?

It’s one thing to buy 24 ounces of smoked salmon for a party. It’s another to bring it home to a small household. 

If you’re worried about eating that much smoked salmon at once, you’re in luck. You only have to open one pack at a time. The expiration date on the package I purchased was about a month away, so I just tucked it away in the fridge to eat later.

You can also pop the second package in the freezer; just let it defrost in the fridge overnight or thaw it in cool water the way you would a fillet of salmon.

Still have leftovers? You can always turn it into a party-ready dip.

A surplus of smoked salmon is always a good reason to invite a few friends over for brunch.

Is Kirkland Smoked Salmon Any Good?

Costco’s smoked salmon has a great reputation, but I wanted to see for myself if people were just being swayed by its low price. 

I set up a taste test between Kirkland Smoked Salmon and Spence & Co. Traditional Scottish-Style Smoked Salmon (our winner). I gave each smoked salmon a randomized three-digit code, hid the packaging, and asked coworkers to sample each and provide detailed notes. 

I’ll jump to the chase: We liked both! Kirkland Smoked Salmon is delicious. Spence & Co. Traditional Scottish-Style Smoked Salmon is also excellent. But there are differences. 

These two 12-ounce packages of smoked salmon are only $20 at Costco.

The rosy-pink slices of Kirkland Smoked Salmon had a “silky,” “buttery,” and “velvety” texture that we associate with luxuriously high-fat salmon. Each slice was supertender, which makes this salmon ideal for piling onto a bagel you’re going to bite into. It was lightly smoked, and that smokiness lingered pleasantly. 

Spence & Co. salmon was also shingled beautifully in its packaging, with little plastic strips between each layer to help remove them easily. The slices were an “equally nice peachy-pink color,” with a thicker, chewier texture. They were also more intensely flavored—more salmon-y, smokier, and saltier—which many tasters really enjoyed. 

The bottom line? Kirkland Smoked Salmon is a great deal and we liked it a lot. We’ll buy it again, and we think you should try it if you haven’t already.

This is a members' feature.